Lewes vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 12th August, 3 pm – Match Preview & Directions

After weeks of anticipation the 2023-24 Isthmian Premier League season begins on Saturday as Cray Wanderers head to Sussex to face Lewes in a match between the sides which finished 5th and 6th last season and the second time in three seasons .

This season’s Premier League looks set to be the most competitive ever and the Wands will be looking to get off to a great start with a win on the road but know it will be a tough game against a Rooks side which were unbeaten at home in the league last season.

The Wands lineup has had an injection of new blood to help the club compete amongst some big hitters in the league as well as being able to hold on to many key components of last season’s successful side.

Joining Neil Smith’s side are central defenders, Cameron Black, Tom Penfold and experienced Jack Holland alongside full backs, Archy Taylor and Jamie Mascoll.  By the end of last season the Wands had three defenders on loan at the club and have now strengthened with goalkeeper and Player of the Year Shaun Rowley retained for the season.

In midfield, Frankie Raymond and Mason Saunders-Henry have been signed with Anthony Cook, David Ijaha, Nyren Clunis, Sam Wood, Rio Campbell and Mitch Chapman retained with Academy graduate Reggie Rye expected to be given some first team opportunities this season. Up front, Tom Derry and Yahya have been retained with ex Fulham and Barnsley striker Cameron Thompson joined by the return of George Porter means the side has a good balance of experience and youth.

Cray certainly have a tough start to the season with home games against highly fancied Horsham and Billericay Town to follow and back to back away games at Enfield Town and Hastings United over the Bank Holiday weekend but there will be no such thing as an easy game this season but Cray seem well equipped to continue where they left off last season.

It was nip and tuck between Cray Wanderers and Lewes last season for the final playoff place with both sides finishing level on 74 points with Cray edging 5th place on just +2 goal difference.  Both clubs proved hard to beat with twenty wins, fourteen draws and just eight defeats which was the same as champions Bishop’s Stortford.  Both last season’s games finished in draws, 0-0 at the Dripping Pan in November, 2022 and 2-2 at Hayes Lane in January with Tom Derry and Dajon Golding scoring for Cray and Deon Moore and Joe Taylor for Lewes.

Lewes have looked in the past week to overcome the loss of ex-Wands striker Joe Taylor to Ramsgate and have signed former Leatherhead and Tonbridge Angels forward Tommy Wood as well as experienced former Gillingham midfielder Chris Whelpdale as well as Keiran Murtagh, centre-halfs Arthur Penney and Will Salmon, winger Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala and defender Harvey Hughes.  Tony Russell’s side will take part in the Fenix Trophy, a European competition for community based clubs later in the season.

With the unusual situation of both management teams having been on the benches of Cray Wanderers and Lewes this makes this perhaps the standout game of the day in the league to kick things off for the season.



The Dripping Pan
7 Mountfield Road
East Sussex
SAT NAV CODE: BN7 2XA Admission prices: Adults £12

Concessions £8
Under 16s GO FREE – Must be accompanied by an adult

Online tickets:  https://www.tickettailor.com/events/lewesfootballclub2/975181?

Programme: Online

By Car.

Please note traffic may be busy on Saturday with Brighton & Hove Albion at home to Luton Town.

The Dripping Pan is at the very start of Mountfield Road, directly behind the station. If you are coming from the north or west, turn off the A27 for Lewes and turn right (signposted Rodmell and Piddinghoe) after about a mile at the first set of traffic lights, adjacent to the prison. Follow that road until you get to a mini roundabout by The Swan pub and turn left. Continue along this road and over the mini-roundabout straight into Mountfield Road where the ground is on your right hand side.


Metered street parking is available and there is a pay and display car park directly outside the ground (operating 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday) but please be aware that Lewes has quite a number of ‘keen’ traffic wardens patrolling the town so please purchase a ticket where required. To use it, you will also need to have the RingGo app on your phone: iPhone version   Android version

There are two bays in the car park for people with Disability Permits. But it should also be noted that this car park does not belong to the club so unfortunately, we cannot reserve any spaces.


A note for supporters that there are no direct services to Lewes from either London Victoria or London Bridge on 12th August due to some Industrial Action by the ASLEF Union meaning fewer services.  

Trains from London Victoria require a change of train at Brighton or Haywards Heath at 00 (Brighton, platform 8) or 30 past the hour (Haywards Heath, Platform 1).  

Lewes railway station is about a two minute walk from the Dripping Pan. When you exit the main entrance, turn left and follow the path over the bridge then bear left at the roundabout. The ground will be in front of you.

The Dripping Pan is one of the great away days anywhere in football and if you have time on your hands there is much to see. The ground itself is quite unique with its steep banking and legend states the ground gets its name from when the area had a Salt making industry run by monks from Lewes Priory used to dry water from the river to make salt and accounts for the fact the stadium is sunk into the ground. 

For those that like a pre match drink then Lewes is the place for you. Similar in many ways to Faversham as it has links to the Brewing industry with the Harveys Brewery, a prominent part of the town just by the river Ouse. The nearest to the ground is probably the Lansdown Arms across from the station, a very Gothic pub with a rich live music heritage while the High Street and Southover Road are fairly close to the ground and includes the Brewers Arms, The Royal Oak, The Pelham Arms, The Rights of Man, Elephant & Castle and the Lamb of Lewes will at least offer you surely something to satisfy. These all come highly recommended and serve real ales and good food with fresh local produce. Please be aware from previous visits and going to the High Street this is a fairly steep and parts cobbly climb so make sure you are feeling fit for the walk.  

For those that like a chippy then the Lewes Fish Bar in the High Street could be what you are looking for. 

Lewes is a historic market town and the county town of East Sussex.  The town is home to a medieval castle within the South Downs and was used during the Battle of Lewes in 1264. There are remains of Lewes Priory which was part destroyed during the battle and also Wealdon Hall House, a timber framed house which is also known as Anne of Cleves House after Henry VIII’s fourth wife although it is a matter of some conjecture whether she actually visited or stayed at the house. Lewes is also close to the home of the Glyndebourne classical music festival and every November 5th is home to the largest bonfire night celebrations in the UK. 

The Dripping Pan is one of the more iconic grounds in non-league football and has been their home since 1885 and has also hosted cricket matches and Athletics down the years. It is believed to have its name deriving from being used as a salt mine for the now destroyed Lewes Priory, the remains of which can be seen adjacent to the ground. Always better to play at Lewes on a Saturday rather than midweek as you can make a good day of it.