2018 gets off to an exciting start as Cray Wanderers travel to Greenwich Borough for a clash between two in-form sides. Kick off at the DGS Marine Stadium is 3pm.
This will be the first meeting of the season between the clubs and one which promises to be dramatic between two attack minded sides.
Cray have had a very good first half of the season with 18 unbeaten and just one defeat in the opening 25 games of the games. They are also the top league scorers with 61 and with just 18 goals conceded have also given away the least goals.
The Wands have had a good December winning 5 and drawing 2 of the 7 games and on Saturday defeated Faversham Town 4-2 at Hayes Lane which meant they maintained their unbeaten home league record. Well crafted goals from Lea Dawson, Aaron Rhule, Michael Freiter and Mitchell Nelson put Tony Russell’s side 4-0 up before a late Faversham rally gave the scoreline a close look but the Town keeper Simon Overland made at least six saves second half which kept the score down.
Despite the excellent start to the season everyone is keeping their feet firmly on the ground as there are 21 games still to go and some very big matches coming up in January including home games with Walton Casuals and Lewes who have both been up at the top for most of the season. Nothing has yet been decided but Cray have put themselves in and amongst the leading pack and now the challenge is to stay there as the season starts to wind down to the last couple of months.
There is no doubt that New Years Day’ game will be a tough one against a very good Greenwich Borough side who lie fifth in the table with 51 points, three behind Cray. Gary Alexander’s team have been on a good run themselves and since losing at Shoreham in September have lost only two of their last twenty games and are unbeaten in 8 with four straight wins. On Saturday they came from behind to win away at Ramsgate with Jack Barham scoring twice in the second half.
They are a very strong side at home and have beaten Phoenix Sports (3-0), Molesey (4-1), Corinthian Casuals (2-0), Ramsgate (3-0), South Park (2-1), Ashford United (5-0), Sittingbourne (5-1) and Guernsey (4-0). They drew with Whyteleafe, Walton Casuals, and Lewes. Their only two defeats both came in consecutive games against Carshalton Athletic (1-2) and Horsham (0-2). Away from home they have become hard to beat and picked up wins at Guernsey (2-1), Thamesmead (4-2), Carshalton Athletic (3-0), VCD Athletic (1-0), Phoenix Sports (2-0) and Ramsgate (2-1). They drew at East Grinstead Town, Whyteleafe, Walton Casuals, Hythe Town, Chipstead and Faversham Town with just two defeats against Corinthian Casuals and Shoreham. Joint top league scorers are Charlie MacDonald and Barham with 11 goals.
In the cups, they defeated Three Bridges in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup before losing at Folkestone Invicta in the next round. In the FA Trophy they went down to a home defeat to Hanwell Town and in the Isthmian League Cup won at Ashford in the 1st Round before losing at Dulwich Hamlet in the 2nd Round. In the Kent Senior and London Senior Cup they were beaten on penalties in the 1st Round by Folkestone and Cray Valley respectively.
Greenwich were highly expected to do well this season after coming third in their first ever season in the Bostik League South last season and were beaten in the Playoff Semi-Final in an amazing game against Corinthian Casuals (3-4).
The Wands and Borough were regular opponents in the Kent League days and played for twenty consecutive seasons between 1984-2004. Borough were elected to the Kent League in 1984-85 and won the title twice in 1987 and 1988 and were a very strong side at that level for a number of years.
They did struggle for a few seasons but had a resurgence from the 2013-14 season with astute financial investment and became first a major cup side under former Wands manager, Ian Jenkins and then in 2015-16 won the Southern Counties East league to earn a crack at the Bostik League at their new home of the DGS Marine Stadium (Badgers Sports Ground) after a couple of seasons playing at Princes Park, Dartford. Overall, Greenwich have the better of the head to head with a record of P. 42 W. 11 D. 10 L. 21.
Last seasons encounters saw Greenwich with 3-1 at home on Boxing Day 2016 with Lee Prescott scoring for Cray and the teams drew 0-0 on Easter Monday in the last Cray Wanderers home game played on grass.
The stakes will certainly be high for this game and should be a tremendous watch perhaps for the neutrals but a little tense for those involved.
Address: Greenwich Borough FC. DGS Marine Stadium, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham SE9 5HP
The ground is really easy to find if you are coming by car. It is located just off the South Circular A205 at the Yorkshire Grey roundabout. If you are coming from the A2 (either north or south), head onto the South Circular s/p Catford. At the roundabout take the second exit into Middle Park Avenue. The entrance to the ground is on your right hand side.
If you are coming up the A20 then when you reach the Cliftons Roundabout (junction with A205 South Circular) go all the way around the roundabout and head back onto the A20 then turn left immediately before Goals 5-a-side centre into Eltham Palace Road. At the end turn left at the roundabout and the entrance to the ground is on your left hand side. There is ample free parking at the ground.
Please note on New Years Day they are no trains on the Sidcup line to Mottingham. There is a rail replacement bus service in operation up to Lewisham. You can catch the 160 bus which stops pretty much outside the ground which goes from Sidcup, Chislehurst or New Eltham.
The nearest train station is Mottingham and if you find yourself around there via the Rail Replacement bus it is about 15 minute walk away. Exit the station (from London turn left, from Sidcup/Dartford cross bridge then turn left) into Middle Park Avenue and follow this for about a mile. The ground is at the end of this road on your left hand side. A 124 bus from outside the station will take you half way up Middle Park Avenue but if you alight at the Bingo Hall at Eltham Hill/Kingsground just walk down towards the Yorkshire Grey roundabout (about 10 minutes) and the first left before the roundabout is Middle Park Avenue and it is a minute walk up that road.
Eltham Station will be open is also fairly close and a 162 from Beckenham, Bromley or Chislehurst will take you there but no bus will take you there from the station to the ground otherwise it is around a fifteen/twenty minute walk up to the High Street and then at the church cross over the zebra crossing and go down Eltham Hill which can test the legs at a fast past. Once you get to the Yorkshire Grey roundabout (there is a McDonalds there) take the second exit into Middle Park Avenue and it is a one minute walk up that road.
THE CRAY MASSIVE ON TOUR – Local Derby time off to the Palace, Eltham Palace.
If you come in to Mottingham the Royal Tavern opposite the station on the Sidcup Road is ideal if you have time on your hands. The nearest pubs to the ground are in Eltham High Street like The White Hart, the Bankers Draft (Wetherspoon), and the Rising Sun. In Passey Place just off the High Street are the Eltham GPO, an old post office converted to a pub and the Park Tavern opposite the Medical Surgery is very relaxed and pipes through classical music for the culture lovers amongst you. There is also the club house at the DGS Marine Stadium (or Badgers Bar as I prefer) which is very good and one of the best in the league.
For a chippie I would recommend the Eltham Grill House in Chequers Parade near Argos that does fantastic chips, ideally open. There are chippies in Mottingham but I wouldn’t insult your taste buds by recommending them here. Perhaps the Fish Inn near Mottingham Station which does your fish and chips boxed. For Indian food there are three good choices in Eltham, Spice Island, Eltham Yeti and Star of India all in the High Street. On the approach to the ground down Eltham Hill (from the High Street) is the Golden City Chinese restaurant,
Greenwich itself to me anyway (Sorry Bromley), is London’s finest Borough with its huge links to the Thames and British Maritime History and of course of being the main focal point of time from the Meridian. A bit out of the way I suppose but if you are in that area a nice stroll through Greenwich Park might help to ward off any New Years Eve hangovers or a steep walk up to the Observatory and Meridian. Or perhaps a walk through the foot tunnel under the Thames (takes about five minutes) and from the other side you can see all of Greenwich in its splendour. The Cutty Sark vintage tea clipper has now been fully restored since it burned down a few years ago and worth a trip but a bit pricey. There are loads of pubs in Greenwich but they tend to be quite expensive.
Much nearer to the ground is Eltham Palace, the former home of Henry VIII when he was a Prince which is open on New Years Day and worth a look round the impressive gardens. Mottingham and Eltham feature as part of Green Chain Walk a 50 mile stretch of green walkways over 12 sections across South East London which you can get to from Oxleas Wood and also covers Middle Park, Avery Hill Park and the Tarnwood Park which is a bird sancturary and has an Ice Well and you could start your walk up Middle Park Avenue to the ground. From Mottingham Lane, the 8th and 9th sections take you to Beckenham Place Park.