Cray Wanderers are on their travels this weekend in the second of three consecutive games against Sussex opposition as the Bostik South-East league leaders travel down to Hastings United on St Patricks Day weekend. Kick off at Pilot Field is 3pm.
The Wands extended their lead to 16 points after a very professional and solid 2-0 win against 2nd placed Horsham at Hayes Lane last Saturday. Although the game might not have been the classic some expected it was nonetheless a very good Cray Wanderers performance which after the initial spell of sparring saw Cray take the lead when Junior Dadson clinically converted Jerome Federico’s cross after 25 minutes and from here never looked back. Twelve minutes into the second half, Joe Taylor converted a penalty after the excellent Karl Dent was brought down and this really sealed the win along with the visitors going down to ten men half way through the second half. Such was the quality of performance you could possibly make an argument for any of the 11 players who started the game as man of the match and there were too stylish cameos from Tom Carlse and Freddie Parker from off the bench.
Despite the win and lead at the top no-one at Cray Wanderers is putting the bunting and balloons just yet as with eight games to go, Tony Russell’s side are not yet over the line and out of respect to the quality of the teams in this league and the fact that most of the teams Cray have to play have much to play for either at the top, playoffs or relegation places until mathematically impossible to be caught, Cray will be professional in their approach to every game.
Certainly Hastings United deserve respect and Chris Agutter’s side are 4th in the Bostik South-East on 53 points and come into the game on the back of a good 2-0 win at VCD Athletic last Saturday with late goals from David Rodari and Jordan Mongoy.
It was a cracking game the last time the two teams met at Hayes Lane on 11th November as Cray edged a 2-1 win with goals from Wilberforce Ocran and a stunner from Tom Phipp while an own goal gave Hastings hope in the second half. For out and out quality it was possibly the game of the season at Hayes Lane and Hastings had one or two chances in the first half to show how much of a threat that they could be.
Their home form has been good with 11 wins at Pilot Field. They have beaten Faversham Town (2-1), Greenwich Borough (4-0), Herne Bay (5-0), Horsham (2-0), Phoenix Sports (3-0), Sevenoaks Town (1-0), Sittingbourne (5-0), Three Bridges (2-1), VCD Athletic (2-1), Whitstable Town (3-1) and Whyteleafe (3-0). They drew with Guernsey (1-1) and their only defeats came at the hands of East Grinstead Town (2-3) and Haywards Heath Town (2-4), two weeks ago. Away from home they won at Ashford United (2-0), Guernsey (1-0), Ramsgate (3-2), Sevenoaks Town (3-2) and VCD Athletic (2-0). They drew at Faversham Town, Horsham, Phoenix Sports and Whyteleafe and were beaten at Cray Wanderers, East Grinstead Town, Haywards Heath, Herne Bay, Hythe Town and Whyteleafe. Hastings possess one of the leading scorers in the division in Daniel Ajakaiye who has 20 goals to his credit.
The two sides last met at Pilot Field in November 2017 and finished in a 1-1 draw after Calum Davies put Hastings ahead early on with Michael Power volleying home before half time.
This is a game many Cray supporters have had marked on the calendar as one the season’s key matches and with so much at stake for both sides should be another great game in front of a good crowd and one to savour.
DIRECTIONS TO HASTING UNITED
Hastings United FC. The Pilot Field, Elphinstone Road, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 2AX
Admission Prices: £10.00 adults, £6.00 concessions, U18s free (accompanied by adult)
By Car – From our neck of the woods best to go via the A21.
Travelling South on the A21 – As you reach the northern outskirts of the town you will see a sign “Hastings & St Leonards, birthplace of television” on your left having passed Sainsburys on your right, go straight ahead at two mini roundabouts and turn left at the third onto the A2101 St Helens Road (The Pilot Field is signposted at this point). After approximately a mile and a quarter, take the fifth turning on the left into St Helens Park Road, which leads into Downs Road. At the end of this road, turn left and the ground is situated immediately on your right.
From the East on the A259 – Turn right at the traffic lights just past the Aldi supermarket onto the B2093 Old London Road, which leads into The Ridge. After approximately one mile, turn left opposite the main entrance to Hastings Crematorium into Elphinstone Road and the ground is situated down the hill on the left hand side, the second of two adjacent pitches.
Parking – Please note that there is no spectator parking available within the ground itself, but there are plenty of roads within close walking distance that have no parking restrictions. Please be sure to park legally though, as traffic wardens are known to patrol the area on matchdays.
By Public Transport – Bus Routes 21 and 21A from Stand A at Hastings Rail Station. These run every half hour on a Saturday (04 & 34) and take you to Elphinstone Road.
It is a fairly long walk from Hastings station, around 1.4 miles so leave yourself plenty of time if you choose this option. From Station approach, turn left onto Devonshire Road and then after 0.1 miles turn left onto South Terrace and then right into Braybrooke Road. For 0.2 miles continue to Bethune Way and then at the Queens Road Roundabout take the second exit onto Elphinstone Road, go over one more roundabout and Pilot Field should be on the right after about a mile and uphill.
You can also get there from Ore station (technically nearer) and is about 20 minutes away. Head down Beaconsfield Road to the roundabout and turn right into Elphinstone Road as above.
If you are going by train to Hastings and thinking of going from Orpington, on the 16th March there are no direct trains going to Hastings that day. You would need to change at Sevenoaks for a connecting bus service to take you to Tonbridge where you can get a train to Hastings which will take an hour. This is the same for the return journey, Hastings to Tonbridge then bus to Sevenoaks and a train back to Orpington.
Due to a landslip at Wadhurst there are no direct trains to Hastings going from London Bridge on Saturday. The quickest way would be to change at East Croydon and get a connecting train to Hastings (which also stops at Ore) (leaving at 10.39 or 11.39 will get you to Hastings but this could take up to 2 hrs 35 minutes to get there. There are direct trains that go from London Victoria that go direct to Hastings at 46 mins past the hour but these take 2 hrs 7 to get to Hastings and going back your best bet (as no direct trains back to London) is to change at Haywards Heath. It is possible to go from Bromley South changing at Ashford International but this could be pricy as you may have to get more than one train ticket.
If you prefer to go to Ore or to check for other options for train travel best to check National Rail Enquiries – http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
Hastings is a place steeped in history and in particular the approach to Hasgints and the town particularly the old town has many pubs and bars and eateries that must surely satisfy even the most hardest to please of people. The Dolphin in the Old town comes highly recommended as does the Anchor in George Street. In All Saints Street is the Crown which is considered to be one of the best pubs in the country. There is also the Clown in Russell Street (close to Hastings or Ore Station). There is at the ground, the Elphinstone Social Club if your prefer something quieter. There are just too many chippies to recommend although the Life Boat Restaurant in the Parade is 4.5 star rated as is Maggie’s Fish Bar in Fishmarket Road.
Hastings is famous around the world for the Battle of Hastings of 1066 following William the Conqueror and his Norman army invading England and led to a bloody battle in which King Harold was killed by Willam’s army. Since those days the town has really thrived as a historical location, it was one of the Cinque ports strategically placed to prevent invasions and later as a very large fishing port.