League action in 2019 begins for Cray Wanderers on Sunday, 6th January as the Bostik South-East league leaders take on an in-form Three Bridges side at Hayes Lane in what should be a cracking contest. Kick off is 3pm.
Cray recovered well from their first defeat of the season at Horsham on 15th December with two wins over the festive period with impressive performances against Sittingbourne on 23rd December and with Freddie Parker’s 88th minute winner at a resolute Sevenoaks Town last Saturday.
The win at Sevenoaks was Cray’s eighth win out of nine on the road and came close a number of times through Jay Leader, Tom Phipp, Mitchell Nelson and when Jerome Federico saw his effort in the first half tipped on to the bar before Nick Blue’s penalty save from Luke Coleman five minutes before the break. Cray kept going to the bitter end and Parker’s winner after Nelson’s header was saved was just reward for Tony Russell’s side for their enterprise.
Cray’s lead at the top is eight points but this could be cut to five if Hastings United beat Sittimgbourne on Saturday so there is a lot of tough games still to play and no-one is yet getting carried away with the lead.
Three Bridges have been on a great run since a narrow defeat at Hastings United in early November they have won six of their last seven games which has taken Martin Dynan’s side to ninth in the table with 26 points and earned the former Cray Wanderers player the December Manager of the Month award. This after a difficult start to the campaign following their promotion from the Southern Combination last season losing their first four league games. Last time out they beat Whyteleafe 3-2 at home in an exciting second half with five goals and an injury time winner from Brannon O’Neill.
Away from home, Three Bridges have won at Ashford United (4-2), Sittingbourne (1-0), Herne Bay (3-0) and Guernsey (3-0). They drew at Whitstable Town (1-1) and Greenwich Borough (2-2) and were beaten in their other games at Phoenix Sports (2-5), VCD Athletic (1-2), Haywards Heath Town (0-2) and Hastings United (1-2). At home they beat Sevenoaks Town (2-0), Ramsgate (3-1), Horsham (2-1) and Whyteleafe (3-2). Their other games ended in defeats to Guernsey, Faversham Town, East Grinstead Town and Hythe Town. Leading scorer is Conner French with 11 goals.
Games between the two sides have been few and far between in the league with our paths crossing in league football for the first time in the Bostik South in 2016-17 with Cray winning both games, 3-2 at Hayes Lane in September 2016 and 4-0 in April 2017 in a match played at East Grinstead. The only other meetings were in cup ties. Three Bridges were promoted to the Isthmian League for the first time in 2011-12 as then Sussex League Champions and remained in the South Division until 2016-17. They bounced back with an immediate promotion behind Southern Combination champions Haywards Heath Town last season.
This has the makings of a great match and one to get the last remnants of the Christmas break out of your system and a return to normality in style.
Admssion is £10 adults, £5 concessions but don’t forget the Football For A Fiver offer for Season ticket holders of Premier League, EFL and National League clubs on receipt of season ticket throughout all home league games this season.