Saturday sees Cray Wanderers return to league action after last weekend’s break with a first ever league trip to Haywards Heath Town. Kick off at Hanbury Stadium is 3pm.
It seems a very long time ago now since the final whistle went at Herne Bay on 20th October since the last Cray Wanderers match. On that very sunny and warm afternoon (that show’s how long ago that was) the Wands had to be patient after dominating the first half without scoring and straight after the restart Ben Mundele let fly with a goal that has become something of a trademark blockbuster for him to give Cray the lead. Tom Phipp was also impressive at Herne Bay and scored his first Cray goal from the penalty spot after Sean Roberts was brought down. Despite a late goal for Herne Bay Cray saw out the three points and remain after ten games the only unbeaten team in the Bostik League. Hastings United’s victory against Greenwich Borough on Tuesday night cut Cray’s lead at the top to seven points with a couple of games in hand but definitely no-one can fault the start to the league season for Tony Russell’s side. With the success of the Youth team in reaching the 2nd Round of the FA Youth Cup there is a real feelgood factor about the playing side of Cray Wanderers just at the moment.
Cray’s unbeaten record though will be put to the test on Saturday as Haywards Heath Town have made a very solid start to their first ever season in the Isthmian League and Shaun Saunders team lie 7th in the South-East league table with 15 points from their ten matches. It is not often that Cray take on a team that recently scored ten goals in a match but Haywards Heath did just that on Tuesday winning 10-0 at Lancing in a Sussex County Cup 3rd Round tie. Their last league match saw them lose 1-3 at Guernsey last Saturday ending a six match unbeaten run.
Haywards Heath Town have been an upwardly mobile club in Sussex County football for a few seasons now, climbing up the Sussex County League and later Southern Combination and last season saw them win the title gaining promotion to the Bostik South-East. They had looked like being promoted in 2016-17 after winning the league but points deductions cost them the title to Shoreham but bounced back in the best way possible.
Their home form in the league has seen them beat Three Bridges (2-0) and Sittingbourne (2-0) and drew with Ashford United (1-1). They were beaten at home by VCD Athletic (0-1) and Hythe Town (0-1). Away form has been decent winning at Horsham (5-4) and Faversham Town (4-2) and drew at Sevenoaks Town (2-2) and Whitstable Town (0-0). Their only away defeat came at Guernsey (1-3). Top league scorer is Karl Akehurst with five so far.
In the FA Cup they were knocked out in the Extra-Preliminary Round stage 0-2 at home to Lancing and lost in the Isthmian League Cup 2-5 at home to Horsham. In the FA Trophy they reached the Preliminary Round after beating Ashford United 3-0 at home after a replay before losing 2-3 at home to Bracknell Town.
There are very few new grounds for Cray Wanderers supporters to visit this season so Haywards Heath will be a welcome addition to the ever growing list of clubs visited during the Isthmian League era.
DIRECTIONS TO HAYWARDS HEATH TOWN
West Sussex RH16 3PT
Admission prices: £8.00 adults, £5.00 concessions, £1.00 U18s
This is the first time we have played here but many of you may have passed this way for holiday’s day trips to the South Coast.
From the Cray’s it is about 40 miles to Haywards Heath. Take Court Road/Orpington bypass/A224 for 2.9 miles. At Hewitts Roundabout take 2nd exit onto M25 heading to Sevenoaks/A21 for 0.8 miles.
At roundabout take 2nd exit on M25 slip road to M23/M3/M4/Gatwick/Heathrow/Hastings/Sevenoaks/A21 for 0.4 miles and then merge onto M25 for 3 miles. At Junction 5 use left 2 lanes to take M25 exit to M23/Gatwick/Heathrow/M4 for 0.8 miles. Continue onto M25 for 11.7 miles and at junction 7 use left 2 lanes to take M23 (S) exit to Brighton/Crawley/Gatwick for 1 mile.
Then merge onto M23 for 10.7 miles. At Junction 10a use left 2 lanes to take B2036 exit. After 0.3 miles at roundabout continue onto Balcombe Road/B2036 for 3.1 miles. At roundabout take 1st exit onto Haywards Heath Road for 1.3 miles and then continue onto Stonehall Lane (0.4 miles), then straight onto Borde Hill Lane (1.9 miles), then onto Balcombe Road (0.7 miles), then a right onto Mill Green Road (0.2 miles), then a left onto Queens Road (0.3 miles). At the roundabout take 2nd exit onto Oathall Road/B2112 for 0.2 miles then at roundabout take 1st exit onto Oathall Avenue (0.2 miles), then a left onto Washington Road, a right onto Little Bentswood, then a left onto Bentswood Road (0.1 miles). At roundabout take 1st right onto America Lane then turn right onto Allen Road for 0.1 miles turning left to stay on Allen Road for Hanbury Stadium.
Please note due to engineering work the on the Brighton Mainline there are no direct trains from London Bridge or Victoria to Haywards Heath this weekend. To get there you will need a rail replacement bus from Three Bridges station which should take 25 minutes.
Once you get to the station it is about a 1.2 mile walk so about half an hour. The Bus no 39 from Perrymount Road will take you to the Recreation ground where it is a three minute walk to the ground. Otherwise a cab might be an option.
If you choose to walk it there does seem to be a few little lefts and rights to head there from the town centre. From the station walk east towards and onto Market Place. At Roundabout take 1st exit onto Perrymount Road/B2028 for 0.1 miles. Then turn left towards Oathall Road/B2112 for 0.2 miles and then a left onto Oathall Avenue/B2112 going over one roundabout (0.2 miles). Then turn right towards Washington Road (0.2 miles) then a right onto Washington Road then right towards and a left onto Bentswood Crescent then towards and right onto Pilgrim Gardens. Thurn left staying on Pilgrim Gardens and then onto Boston Road turning right to Hanbury Stadium. You could also just follow the driving directions once you get to Oathall Road and Oathall Avenue.
If travelling via London Victoria there are trains to Three Bridges at 16 or 46 past the hour or the 21 and 51 requires another change at East Croydon to Three Bridges. Check with staff for directions for Rail replacement buses stops but bear in mind some are these may head for Brighton so could be busy, so if you are going by train best to perhaps leave a tad earlier than normal. There should be a fairly regular service for getting back to Victoria or even via East Croydon but best to check National Rail Enquiries for the smoothest way of getting there.
There doesn’t seem to be too many pubs around close to the ground so perhaps the delights of the club house might attract you but otherwise the Burrell Arms at Commercial Square close to the station might interest you. There is also the The Star on the Broadway and the Lockhart Tavern and the Orange Square in the main part of the town. For a recommended chippie, the Washington Chip Shop on America Lane fairly close to the ground should suffice.
Haywards Heath is a Commuter town in West Sussex about 14 miles from Brighton. Mostly an agricultural area its prominence grew with the London-Brighton Railway and many commute into London from Haywards Heath with its links to London Victoria and London Bridge. There is plenty of green countryside with a conservation area at Muster Green (the site of a small English Civil War battle in 1642) and also the Ouse Valley (a very decent viaduct to remind you of the Cray’s) and close to the Weald, South Downs and Ashdown Forest. A very prosperous area and perhaps similar to places like Burgess Hill, Godalming and East Grinstead in terms of a decent quality of life. For those that like to exercise before a game there is the Dolphin Leisure Centre