Cray Wanderers vs Tooting & Mitcham United – London Senior Cup 1st Round – Wednesday 8th November, 7.45 pm – Match Preview
Cray Wanderers make their London Senior Cup bow for the season on Wednesday evening as the Wands face Tooting & Mitcham United at Hayes Lane. Kick off 7.45pm with the match to be decided on the night. The winners of the tie will be at home to Fisher in the 2nd Round.
Cray will come into the game in good heart after a crucial win at Wingate & Finchley on Saturday which moved Neil Smith’s side out of the bottom three up to 17th in the Isthmian Premier.
Gary Lockyer has looked sharp in recent weeks and his goal at Wingate made it three in four games for the striker. After Wingate levelled before half time, Cray showed their quality in the second against a ten man home side and fine strikes from Frankie Raymond, his second goal in three games and an Anthony Cook free kick made it 3-1 and the third away win of the season.
Since the last home game vs Chesham United on 28th October, the Wands have added to the squad, striker Antonio Dembele who arrives from Harrow Borough and loanee defender, Emmanuel Kwartchey from Leyton Orient with both making appearances off the bench on Saturday. Defender Tom Penfold has departed to join Hastings United. This match could see a mixture of experienced and young players for the Wands but will be a competitive game under the lights.
Tooting & Mitcham United had some great battles with the Wands over many years especially since the Isthmian seasons and the sides meet in the London Senior Cup for the sixth time with Tooting & Mitcham winning the last four meetings with Cray winning in the 2001-02 season (pictured). Tooting & Mitcham are six times winners of the London Senior Cup including as recently as 2020-21. The Wands are three time semi-finalists in the competition and last season reached the 2nd Round.
Tooting & Mitcham United last season were relegated from the Isthmian South-Central and left the Isthmian League for the first time since 1956 and now play in the Combined Counties Premier South. The U’s are currently sixth on 23 points and unbeaten in four league games. Their last outing was a 3-1 win at home to Sheerwater on 28th October. Away from home, Tooting & Mitcham United have beaten Jersey Bulls (1-0), Tadley Cardena (1-0) and Camberley Town (4-1), drawn with Fleet Town (0-0) and lost to Horley Town and Knaphill. At home, Jamie Byatt’s side have beaten Balham (4-2), Croydon Athletic (4-2), Guildford City (4-1) and Sheerwater (3-1) and drawn with Abbey Rangers and were beaten by Alton and Spelthorne.
Tooting & Mitcham United were formed in 1932 after a merger of Tooting FC and Mitcham Wanderers and were a force in non-league football in the late 50’s twice winning the Isthmian League in 1957-58 and 1959-60 and reached the 3rd Round of the FA Cup in 1958-59 losing to eventual winners Nottingham Forest and were twice London Senior Cup winners. Future European Cup Winning goalkeeper Alex Stepney played for Tooting & Mitcham United in 1958.
Tooting & Mitcham have reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup nine times and reached the 4th Round in 1975-76 beating Romford, Leatherhead and Swindon Town before losing at Bradford City. Over the intervening years the club played in Isthmian Premier, Division One and Two earning promotion in 2001-02. In 2004-05 they met the Wands the Isthmian Division One and in 2006-07 finished 2nd losing to Tonbridge Angels in the playoffs. The following season they finished 2nd again and earned promotion after ex-Wand Billy Smith’s side beat Ian Jenkins Cray Wanderers 1-0 in the Playoff Final at Imperial Fields to earn promotion to the Premier. Cray joined them for the 2009-10 season and met for three seasons with Tooting & Mitcham relegated in 2011-12. In 2016-17, Tooting & Mitcham were promoted as Isthmian South Champions but only stayed in the Premier for one season and after a couple of seasons in the Isthmian South-Central were relegated to the Combined Counties League Premier South.
This should be a great evening’s entertainment as the Wands continue their return in the London Senior Cup after missing out for seven seasons and a chance to rekindle memories of some great battles with Tooting & Mitcham United in the past.
Admission £10/£5 either on the gate (cash only) or online at www.cray-wanderers.com/tickets/