There is midweek action for Cray Wanderers on Wednesday as VCD Athletic are the visitors to Hayes Lane in a match which has been a long time in the making following a couple of re-arrangements due to Cray’s FA Trophy involvement. Kick off is 7.45pm.
This will be the first league match between the sides since 2004 in the Kent League and having missed each other for a few years VCD’s switch from the Bostik North to South in the summer meant a first ever Isthmian League match is possible between the teams.
Cray extended their unbeaten league run to 20 games on Sunday but had to settle for a point after Youssef Bamba’s bolt from the blue earned Walton Casuals a draw in stoppage time.
The Wands had twice gone in front through Jerome Federico’s third goal of the season after quarter of an hour and then Lea Dawson notched his third goal in four games just after Walton had tied the game. It was certainly a candidate for game of the season with both keepers making good saves, shots cleared off the line and some good goals. There were positives in the performance particularly from Brandon Scott playing down the left due to Aaron Rhule’s injury and set up the Federico’s goal as well as Karl Dent putting in 65 minutes with his usual industry and came close with a floated free kick which the keeper had to push behind and put in the cross from which Dawson scored.
The league table got even tighter at the top following the weekend but Cray moved back up to second place on goal difference over Corinthian Casuals on 56 points but have a chance to narrow Lewes lead at the top to a point on Wednesday.
However, despite VCD Athletic being without a win in four games they are a resolute and very capable side which will work extremely hard and Cray will have to be at their best to pick up three points as proved by their win at Corinthian Casuals in December.
Keith McMahon’s side come into the game on the back of a narrow defeat at in form Horsham on Saturday with Warren Mfula scoring twice in a 2-3 defeat. They are 19th in the league table with 29 points so well clear of the relegation place.
Their away form has been mixed but have picked up wins at Ashford United (5-2), East Grinstead Town (3-0), Ramsgate (1-0) and Corinthian Casuals (1-0). Their other matches have all ended in defeats at Whyteleafe (0-3), Herne Bay (0-4), Sittingbourne (2-3), Faversham Town (1-3), Hastings United (1-2), Hythe Town (1-2), Guernsey (2-4), Walton Casuals (1-3) and Horsham (2-3). At home they beat Thamesmead Town (3-1), Walton Casuals (3-2), Molesey (4-0), Ramsgate (3-1) and Shoreham (1-0). They drew with Whyteleafe and were beaten by Faversham Town, Hythe Town, Chipstead, Lewes, Greenwich Borough, South Park and Phoenix Sports. Leading scorer is Kerno Darboe with 11 goals.
VCD Athletic were transferred over from the Isthmian North in the summer after finishing 15th last season along with Thamesmead Town and Phoenix Sports.
The club was formed in 1916 as VIckers (Erith) during the First World War by workers at the Vickers armaments factory in Crayford. Much of their early life was spent in the Kent Amateur League later Kent County League and were promoted as champions of the Kent County League in 1996-97. They met Cray Wanderers for the first time in league competition in the Kent League and more often than not were in the top half of the table.
They came runners up to Maidstone United in 2001-02 on goal difference and came third behind champions Cray Wanderers in 2003-04. In 2008-09, the Vickers won the Kent League Championship thereby gaining promotion to the Isthmian North where they held their own but due to one of the more controversial and dare I say it wrong decision to demote them on a ground upgrade technicality meant a lot of hard work under Paul Foley had gone to waste.
After a couple of seasons in the Kent League, under Tony Russell’s management the club were promoted back to the Isthmian North as runners up behind Erith & Belvedere in his first season in 2012-13 having been appointed in November and stormed away with the North title in 2013-14 earning a first ever stint at the Premier Division. With six games to go it seemed they were heading back to the North but a remarkable run of six wins kept them up against the odds. From there Tony left to join Cray Wanderers and Keith McMahon took over. In 2015-16 they were relegated to the North and consolidated before moving across to the South.
Matches between the sides have been relatively few with just 14 matches played in the league with VCD having the better of the series. Cray have won 3, drawn 4 and lost 7. The last time the two sides met at Hayes Lane was in April 2004 where the game finished 1-1 with Richard Dimmock scoring for Cray with a penalty. A few weeks later the two sides met again with Cray winning 3-1 with goals from David Gray, Richard Dimmock and James Taylor.
This is a game which will mean so much with so many ex VCD connections in the Cray Wanderers set up but promises to be another close match against local opponents.
Admission costs £10.00 adults, £5.00 concessions/U16s/Students on presentation of card.