Cray Wanderers vs Whitehawk – Isthmian Premier, Wednesday 29th November, 7.45 pm – Match Preview

Cray Wanderers play the second of back to back home matches on Wednesday evening as Whitehawk are the visitors for only the second time.  Kick off at Hayes Lane, 7.45 pm

The Wands come into the game on the back of a hard fought point from a 1-1 draw with Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday.  In a game of few chances in the first half, Cray had to come from a goal down early in the second half and levelled with a superb strike from Gary Lockyer, his 7th goal of the season and similar to his strike at Weston-super-Mare the previous weekend.

There were some good performances throughout the side with debutant Tom Bonner impressing alongside Jack Holland at the back.  In midfield, David Ijaha, Frankie Raymond, Ellis Brown and Nyren Clunis had impressive games while Lockyer worked very hard up front and held the ball well and brought players into the game.  There was also the bonus of George Porter getting half an hour in the second half after missing recent games through injury.  

Cray remained 17th in the league table after the game on seventeen points and are unbeaten in the last three league matches.  After the game with Whitehawk, Cray have back to back away games with Folkestone Invicta and Bognor Regis Town as December gets underway and one of the busiest times of the season.

Whitehawk have returned to the Isthmian Premier for the first time since 2017-18 after promotion from the Isthmian South-East last season and have settled well and lie 12th after fourteen games on 21 points.  Whitehawk are unbeaten at home in the league but are without a win in the last three league games and on Saturday were beaten 0-1 at Potters Bar Town with a second half goal.

Shaun Saunders side came 3rd in the Isthmian South-East last season and in the playoffs beat Beckenham Town (1-0) and Hythe Town (1-0) to earn promotion and after losing the season opener at Margate went ten league games without defeat to move up the table.  Whitehawk have also done well in cup competitions and reached the 3rd QR of the FA Cup and are through to the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy and travel to Hythe Town on 9th December.

Away from home, Whitehawk have won at Billericay Town (3-1) and Canvey Island (2-1). They drew at Folkestone Invicta (1-1) and Enfield Town (4-4) and were beaten at Margate (0-1), Chatham Town (0-1) and Potters Bar Town (0-1).  At home, Whitehawk beat Horsham (3-1), Haringey Borough (2-1) and Bognor Regis Town (3-2) and drew with Hastings United, Wingate & Finchley and Dulwich Hamlet.  In the FA Cup, Whitehawk beat Sevenoaks Town after a replay and Redhill before losing at Worthing in the 3QR.  In the FA Trophy, Whitehawk have advanced past Ascot United, Kingstonian and Lewes to get to the 3rd Round. Charlie Walker is the leading scorer with 12 goals in league and cups.

There have been just two previous league matches between Cray Wanderers v Whitehawk, both in the 2012-13 season in the Isthmian Premier. Whitehawk won both matches, 2-1 at Hayes Lane on 21/8/2012, Leigh Bremner scoring while the Hawks won 2-0 at home on 26/2/13 en route to winning the league that season.  The teams did meet in the FA Trophy Preliminary Round on October 31st 2020 at Whitehawk with Cray winning 3-0 with goals from Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Charlie Allen and Freddie Parker.

Whitehawk from just east of the city of Brighton were formed in 1945 and spent many years in the Brighton, Hove & District Leagues and then the Sussex County League where they remained until a meteoric rise into the Isthmian League as Sussex County League Champions in 2009-10 and also reached the Semi-Finals of the FA Vase losing to Wroxham. Playing at a revamped Enclosed Stadium including stands from the old Brighton & Hove Albion ground at the Withdean their first season in the Isthmian South saw them finish 3rd and a playoff semi-final defeat to Leatherhead on penalties. However, the following season in 2011-12 they won the Isthmian South to take their place in the Premier for the first time.

They took the Premier by storm and won the title at the first attempt to reach the Conference South. After a narrow escape from relegation in 2013-14 in 2014-15 Whitehawk finished 4th and reached the playoffs beating Basingstoke Town before losing in the final at Boreham Wood. The following season they reached the 2nd Round of the FA Cup losing to Dagenham & Redbridge and after a shaky start to the season came from nowhere to finish 3rd before losing to Ebbsfleet United in the playoffs. After survival was attained in 2016-17, the following season Whitehawk were relegated to the Isthmian Premier and in 2018-19 were relegated again to the new Isthmian South-East where they were 4th when the season ended in 2019-20. In 2021-22 Whitehawk finished 16th to avoid relegation before last season’s promotion campaign.

This should be another very competitive game under the lights and perhaps the need to wrap up warm as we bring November to a close.

Admission £12/£6 – on gate (cash only) or online at, printed programme £2, Golden Goal £1