Hornchurch vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier, Saturday 2nd March, 3 pm – Match Preview



Cray Wanderers begin the month of March with a visit to the Isthmian Premier League leaders Hornchurch on Saturday as the season goes into its final two months.  Kick off 3 pm.

The Wands, after a good run of form in late January-February which moved Neil Smith’s side up to 13th in the league table, will be looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s 0-2 defeat at Whitehawk.  That was Cray’s first defeat in eight games and overall was a game of few chances but not too much damage was done in terms of league placing and Cray remain eighteen points clear of 19th placed Cheshunt on 42 points.  

Cray won four games during February including away wins at Carshalton Athletic and Cheshunt and also drew at Folkestone while home form has been very good with the Wands unbeaten in fifteen matches with Hornchurch the last side to win at Hayes Lane in October.  Anthony Cook and Gary Lockyer are the leading scorers both with ten for the season. Defensively, Cray have been strong during February and Jack Holland and Tom Bonner at the back have been outstanding and both came closest to scoring on Tuesday night.

This will certainly be a huge test for Cray on Saturday as Hornchurch have set high standards this season and currently top the table on 73 points, nine clear of second placed Chatham Town and have two games in hand.  They also have an exceptional goal difference of +51 as they have scored the most goals (74) and conceded the fewest (23) goals.

Daryl McMahon took over as manager at the end of January after Steve Morison’s departure and on Tuesday night, Hornchurch were 3-0 winners at Concord Rangers with Femi Akinwande scoring a hat-trick which made it six straight wins and are unbeaten in twelve games. 

When the two sides met at Hayes Lane on 15th October, Hornchurch were 4-1 winners with goals from Liam Nash (2), Tom Wraight and Ollie Muldoon with Nyren Clunis scoring for Cray.  The last meeting at Hornchuch was a dramatic night on 26th April, 2023 in the playoff semi-final which finished 3-3 after extra time as Cray twice came from behind to take the game to penalties with goals from David Ijaha, Nyren Clunis and Sam Wood after Sam Higgins (2) and Liam Nash put Hornchurch 2-0 and 3-2 up. Ultimately Cray were beaten on penalties but produced a fine performance and came close to reaching the final which Hornchurch lost at home to Aveley.

Hornchurch are unbeaten at home having beaten Margate (4-1), Hashtag United (3-0), Dulwich Hamlet (2-1), Hastings United (4-1), Bognor Regis Town (4-1), Folkestone Invicta (4-2), Enfield Town (2-0), Potters Bar Town (3-0), Canvey Island (2-0), Cheshunt (1-0) and Haringey Borough (3-0). Hornchurch drew with Carshalton Athletic (1-1), Whitehawk (0-0), Lewes (1-1) and Horsham (1-1). Away from home Hornchurch won at Horsham (2-1), Wingate & Finchley (4-1), Haringey Borough (2-1), Cray Wanderers (4-1), Cheshunt (6-0), Kingstonian (3-0), Enfield Town (2-1), Folkestone Invicta (2-0), Dulwich Hamlet (3-2) & Concord Rangers (3-0). Hornchurch drew at Lewes, Carshalton Athletic and Billericay Town and the only defeat came at Chatham Town on 16th December. Liam Nash is the leading scorer with 17 goals and three other players are in double figures for the season.

Cray generally have tended to fare better at Hornchurch in recent seasons winning four times there in the Isthmian Premier years with the last win being in August 2021 (2-1) than at home but definitely will be a tough but exciting challenge for the Wands and should (weather permitting) be a great game.


The Stadium

Bridge Road



Admission costs:  £12.00 adults, £7.00 concessions – £3 1U16s–U12’s + free with an adult.  Cash or contactless payments accepted.

Programme:  Printed, £2

Hornchurch Stadium is actually located in Upminster, Essex – just north of the Dartford River Crossing and is easily accessed via car or public transport.

By Tube:  There is no engineering work expected on the District Line on 2nd March. Upminster Bridge underground station (District line) is close to the ground. Turn right out of the station, walk under the railway bridge and take the second right turning into Bridge Avenue.

By Train. Services from London Liverpool Street/Stratford or via the Elizabeth Line require a change at Romford for trains to Upminster or you can go by train from West Ham station. The Jubilee line is running so you can get there from London or North Greenwich.

If you want to catch a bus, the 248 or 370 to Romford Market goes to Upminster Bridge Station or Upminster Windmill which is nearer still to the ground.

By Car:

Take the M25 to junction 29 on the A127 towards London. Come off at the next major turn-off (signposted to Upminster) and turn left into Hall Lane. Follow this road for about a mile and a half, passing Upminster station on your left, until you come to a major crossroads with traffic lights. Turn right at the lights into St Mary’s Lane. Continue down the hill and take the second turning on the left (Bridge Avenue). The stadium is found about 200 yards down Bridge Avenue on the right.

Car parking is available at the ground on a first come first served basis. When full, street parking is available along Bridge Avenue and opposite the ground in Brookdale Avenue.


Nearest BR station is Upminster which is on the Fenchurch Street to Southend/Shoeburyness line. Turn left out of the station and follow the directions above.

Nearest Pubs: If coming into Upminster Bridge Tube station The Windmill on Upminster Road (Green King Brewery) will be ideal for those getting there early or for a quick one after the game. If you prefer Upminster station which probably has a bit more amenities then the Junction on Station Road (Green King Brewery) looks your best bet or nearer Upminster Park is the Crumpled Horn on Corbets Tey Road or for those with specialist tastes the Upminster Tap Room Micropub is in Sunnyside Gardens.  Your nearest Fish & Chip shop is George’s Atlantic Fish Bar on Upminster Road not far from the Windmill pub.

Upminster lies in the London Borough of Havering and just about seems to straddle the East London/Essex border. A very agricultural area back in the day, the Upminster Windmill is one of the few remaining windmills in Greater London, has a preservation order on it and acts as a museum. Also for those with an interest in agriculture then the Tithe Barn Museum in Hall Lane close to Upminster Station is worth a visit.  If you end up in Hornchurch which is a little bit more of a way away from the ground so give yourself plenty of time if you choose this route.