Wednesday night sees Cray Wanderers make their first ever trip to the Parkside stadium for the Buildbase FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round replay against Grays Athletic. Kick off is 7.45pm and the match goes to a finish tomorrow. The winners of the tie will be away to Evo-Stik Southern League South & East Division leaders Moneyfields on 11th November.
The Wands were perhaps very relieved to still be in the competition after the drama of Ralique Lawrence’s 94th minute equaliser which brought Cray back from 0-2 down early in the second half and maintained a ten game unbeaten run in league and cups. Tony Russell’s side in front of the BOTN TV cameras for the first time were not at their best in the first half and went a goal down through Kieran Bishop’s 17th minute goal for Grays and Jamie Slabber had an opportunity to make it 2-0 shortly after.
It was Ralique Lawrence’s introduction for the second half which saw increased pace and urgency in Cray’s game which got Cray back into things but it looked like Grays had won the tie when Slabber scored in the 54th minute against the run of play.
Cray though stuck at their task well and Lawrence earned the penalty from which Michael Power scored to make it 2-1 and then with practically the last kick of the match struck to take the game to a replay which Cray probably deserved at the end of the day.
Lawrence has now scored five goals in three appearances for the first team and is an extremely confident player with a good first touch, tremendous pace and an excellent finisher. The two other substitutes who came on, Freddie Parker and Kyron Lightfoot both had a hand in the second goal and they helped against a tiring side late on keep Cray going to the end.
Jamie Stuart’s Grays side were perhaps rather disappointed not to see the game out but they looked a good side particularly in the first half and will be formidable opponents for Cray. There is a lot of experience in the side and players like Stanley Muguo, Joao Carlos, Adeyinka Cole, Bishop and ex-Bromley player Slabber made a big contribution on Saturday and will likely do so again on Wednesday night. They took their own unbeaten run to five games and are 12th in the Bostik North.
Grays who were relegated from the Isthmian Premier last season began the season as tenants of Aveley’s new Parkside ground and had a sticky spell in September but have started to impress in their new surroundings. At home they have beaten their landlords 4-2, Bowers & Pitsea 1-0 and Tilbury 3-1 and drawn against Haringey Borough last Wednesday 3-3. They have been beaten at home by AFC Hornchurch, Brentwood Town, Canvey Island and Potters Bar Town. In the Preliminary Round of the FA Trophy Grays defeated Norwich United 4-3, whilst in the FA Cup they were beaten in the 1st Qualifying Round at home in a replay to Hertford Town after beating Redbridge in the previous round.
Cray made their first appearance in the FA Trophy in 2004-05 following promotion from the Kent League to the Isthmian League and the draw on Saturday was the eighth time they have drawn a tie in the competition. The previous seven replays have seen Cray win three (against Folkestone Invicta, Tilbury and Arlesey Town) and lose four (St. Albans City, Kingstonian, Yeading and East Thurrock United).
Both sides now know each other well and this should be a highly competitive cup tie on what promises to be a chilly early November evening and could go the distance if Saturday is anything to go by.
DIRECTIONS TO GRAYS ATHLETIC FC
Essex RM15 4PX
STUDENTS: £6.00 (valid ID required)
KIDS FOR A QUID (16 & under)
Clockwise on M25:
– At junction 30/31, Use the 2nd from the left lane to take the A13 exit to Dagenham/Tilbury/Thurrock (Lakeside).
– Take Ship Lane to Park Lane in Aveley
: At Mar Dyke Interchange, take the 2nd exit
: At the roundabout, exit onto Ship Lane
: At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto High Street
: Continue onto Stifford Rd
: At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Aveley Bypass/B1335
: At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit
: Merge onto Park Lane. Parkside will be on the right
Anti-Clockwise on M25:
– Merge onto M25
– Use the left 2 lanes to take the M25 N exit
– Merge onto M25
– Take the A2(E) exit toward Dartford/A225/Canterbury/M2
Via the A13
Follow the A13 until reaching the junction with the A1306. Turn left (Rainham / Wennington) then immediately turn right into Sandy Lane (B1335) to Aveley. At the next roundabout go straight over onto the Aveley bypass (B1335). At the next roundabout take the first exit on the left onto Park Lane, the entrance to the ground is 300 yards on the right hand side.
Bus 372, which operates from Hornchurch to Lakeside, passes the ground.
London Underground travellers can get off the tube at Elm Park on the District Line and catch the 372 which stops outside the station.
You can also pick up the 372 from Rainham Railway Station (London Fenchurch Street to Grays).
THE CRAY MASSIVE ON TOUR – AVELEY FC – NEW GROUND ALERT
This is a new ground for many Cray supporters but certainly not a new location as we have taken on Aveley many times in recent years and the new ground isn’t far from the old one.
Nearest Pubs are Sir Henrys (Romford Road, Aveley RM15 4XB or the Park Tavern also on Romford Road/Usk Road. As it is a new stadium it may well be worth using the club house facilities at the ground. The Aveley Chippy in the High Street is the nearest Fish and Chip shop for those hungry and with time on their hands.
Aveley is fairly near for Wands supporters to travel to on a Wednesday night and have travelled to that neck of the woods many times in recent years when playing Aveley, Grays or near neighbours Thurrock. Cray supporters may remember Aveley’s old Mill Field ground saw the very Isthmian Premier match for Cray in August 2009.