Cray Wanderers bring a busy October to an end on Wednesday night in a pre-Halloween Kent derby as the Kent Senior Cup 1st Round sees the Wands face VCD Athletic at Hayes Lane.  Kick off is 7.45pm.

Both sides have made solid starts to their league seasons but Wednesday sees a chance for some cup progress to be made in what always a competitive encounter between the teams. This will be the first of three successive home matches for the Wands which follows a run of four away matches in a row.  Cray take on Worthing on Saturday and then Cheshunt in successive Saturday home games.

Cray will be looking to bounce back from Saturday’s FA Trophy defeat at Maldon & Tiptree.  The game was a lot closer than the 3-0 scoreline would suggest but a confident Maldon & Tiptree took their chances when they came while Cray who had been playing with great confidence themselves before then had a rare off day this season.  The good thing about football is you don’t get to dwell on a defeat too long and you move swiftly onto the next game.

The game on Wednesday sees a chance for Tony Russell to have a look at his squad options and perhaps give players who haven’t had much game time a chance to show their hand, rest some players and maybe to give an opportunity for some future stars to feature in a competitive cup tie.

VCD Athletic have made a decent start to their Isthmian South-East season after finishing sixth last season just a point and place outside the playoffs.  Keith McMahon’s side are 7th in the table after nine matches with 15 points.  Away from home they have won at Phoenix Sports (2-1), East Grinstead Town (2-1) and Faversham Town (2-1) while drawing at Whitstable Town (1-1) on Saturday.  Their only defeats came at Whitehawk (2-3) and Guernsey (1-3). At home they beat Three Bridges (4-3) and drew with Ramsgate (2-2) and Hastings United (0-0).  Ex-Wands striker Charlie MacDonald is leading league scorer with 4 goals.  In the FA Cup VCD made it past AFC Uckfield on penalties after a replay before losing 1-2 at home to Moneyfields in the 1st Qualifying Round. In the FA Trophy VCD were beaten 1-4 at home to AFC Sudbury while strangely all three of their Velocity Trophy matches against Sittingbourne, Cray Valley PM and Phoenix Sports all ended in penalty shootout losses after draws in all three games.

Surprisingly considering the relatively close proximity between the two clubs matches between the sides have been relatively few and this is the first ever meeting in the Kent Senior Cup.  The sides did meet once in the sister competition Kent Senior Trophy in the Semi Final in 2003 which Cray won on penalties after a 3-3 draw at Hayes Lane.

The sides have played just 18 league matches with VCD having the better of the series.  Cray have won 6, drawn 5 and lost 7.  Last season’s games both went the way of Cray winning 2-1 at VCD in September 2018 with goals from Freddie Parker and Bradley Pritchard while Cray won 3-1 at Hayes Lane in January 2019 with  Parker, Ben Mundele and Tom Phipp scoring.

Admission costs are £10.00 adults, £5.00 concessions. The Football For A Fiver offer does not apply to this match but will do for the Worthing and Cheshunt games.  There is always something special about evening games under the lights at Hayes Lane and especially when the weather starts to get that bit fresher and Bovril is a must have requirement. This should be a great evening for football and a good way to bring October to an end.