Cray Wanderers look to re-ignite their season after six straight defeats as Wingate & Finchley are the visitors to Hayes Lane and under the lights on Wednesday night. Kick off 7.45pm.
After winning the first two games of the season, Cray have lost the last five in the league and without a goal in the last three will be looking just to get the show back on the road as we head into October with Danny Kedwell’s side lying 18th in the table.
It has to be said that luck hasn’t been in good supply since the start of the season and Cray have been creating chances but this league can be unforgiving and other teams are taking their chances when they come while at the other end keepers make great saves, the ball skims across the box or hits the woodwork. You can add injuries to key players as well early in the season with Charlie Allen going off on Saturday but with the exception of Joey Taylor just signs the situation is easing.
Cray have also been fielding some very good young players in a tough league with Freddy Barton, Quaine Bartley, Kasim Aidoo and Jack Hanson making their league debuts on Saturday against Brightlingsea Regent and perhaps at the moment with so many changes not ample time for players to gel.
Wingate & Finchley are three places above Cray Wanderers on 8 points and in a three game unbeaten run. The North London side are the only team to beat league leaders Kingstonian in the league so far this season and Marc Weatherstone’s side drew 2-2 at Bognor Regis Town on Saturday with goals from Bilal Sayoud who has six for the season and an own goal the scorers. Away from home Wingate & Finchley won at Leatherhead (2-1) but were beaten at Haringey Borough (1-4) and Bowers & Pitsea (1-3). At home they beat Kingstonian (3-1) and drew with Corinthian Casuals (2-2) with the only defeat against Margate (0-1) on the opening day of the season.
They have also made good progress in the FA Cup beating Basildon United and Baldock Town scoring nine goals in the process and now face Corinthian Casuals away in the 3rd Qualifying Round next Saturday.
The sides have met eight times previously in the league, all in the Isthmian Premier and Cray have won three, Wingate & Finchley one and four draws including the most recent meeting which finished 0-0 at Hayes Lane on 4th January 2020 as well as a handful of matches in cup ties in the past. Wingate & Finchley were 20th when the 2019-20 season was stopped in March 2020 and in the shortened 2020-21 season were 16th after eight games.
Wingate & Finchley have been members of the Isthmian Premier since 2011-12 so now well established. The club were formed in 1991 after a merger of Wingate FC and Finchley FC and the sides playing at Finchley’s ground at Summers Lane were placed in the South Midlands League. In 1994-95 they were promoted to Division Three of the Isthmian League and were promoted in 1998-99 before being relegated the following season. They then moved between Division One North and the Eastern Division of the Southern League before returning to the Isthmian North. In 2009-10 they finished third in the North losing to Enfield Town in the Playoff Semi Final. The following season was their most successful winning promotion via the playoffs after a third placed finish and beat Harlow Town and Brentwood Town to go up. This was alongside winning the Isthmian League Cup and London Senior Cup in the same season. They settled well into the Premier Division although survived relegation in 2013-14 via a reprieve and in 2016-17 finished fifth losing to Bognor Regis Town in the playoff semi-final.
This looks like being the only game on in the Isthmian Premier on Wednesday and nights under the lights at the Lane are a great experience if you’ve never witnessed it especially when it starts to get chillier. Tickets are available online priced £10/£5 at www.cray-wanderers.com/tickets/ or you can pay on the gate on the night.