Cray Wanderers return to league action after sitting out last weekend with a local derby against Phoenix Sports. Kick off at the Mayplace Ground is 3pm.
March promises to be a tremendously exciting month for Cray Wanderers who despite not playing last Saturday saw their lead at the top of the Bostik South-East only whittled away a little to 13 points from 2nd placed Horsham who visit Hayes Lane on 9th March. The emphasis at Cray Wanderers though is take one game at a time and each match in March sees Cray take on teams with very much all to play for including Phoenix Sports who despite being in 10th place on 35 points will be looking to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Last time out for Cray Wanderers, on 16th February a humdinger of a match at Ramsgate ended in a 2-2 draw which although possibly seen at the time as a couple of points dropped with the Wands twice ahead, with other results last weekend and some big matches between playoff contenders this weekend (Horsham vs Hythe Town, Hastings United v Haywards Heath Town, Whyteleafe v Ashford United) it could turn out to be a very useful point gained.
February saw Tony Russell’s side pickup ten points from the four games played which is a decent return and saw some vital goalscoring contributions from Junior Dadson, six goals in four games and Joe Taylor, four in the last three matches as chances continue to be created from midfield and both netted at Ramsgate. The squad players took part in an in-house friendly between each other and members of the U23s last Saturday and gave the chance to show the strength in depth at the club and keep fitness levels up.
Defensively Cray have been very sound conceding just 22 goals in the league this season, which has helped keep Cray’s goal-difference ticking over nicely and almost like an extra-point. They were well tested at Ramsgate and apart from a wonder goal for their first and a tap in for the second generally did well against a lively attack.
Paul Bryon’s Phoenix Sports side are a tough and durable side and certainly did Cray a good turn last Saturday with a 2-0 win at Ashford United. Top scorer with 15 league goals, Jeff Duah-Kessie opened the scoring at the Homelands with Zak Bryon grabbing the second before half-time. Their away form in many ways has been better than their home but will be a tough place to go as Cray seek their first league win at the Mayplace Ground.
At home Phoenix have beaten Greenwich Borough (3-2), Horsham (1-0) and Three Bridges (5-2). They drew with Faversham Town (2-2), Hastings United (3-3), Hythe Town (3-3), Ramsgate (1-1) and Whyteleafe (2-2). They lost at home to Ashford United (1-2), Haywards Heath (2-4, in their last home match), Sittingbourne (3-4), VCD Athletic (0-2) and Whitstable Town (0-2).
When the two sides met at Hayes Lane on 8th December, it was a hard-fought affair with Phoenix taking the lead through ex-Cray striker, Alex Teniola and have been the only side so far in the league to be leading Cray at half-time at Hayes Lane. Joe Taylor netted on his debut just after the re-start to tie things up and the game finished in a 1-1 draw with Phoenix reduced to ten men before the end. Away from home, Phoenix have won at Ashford United (2-0), East Grinstead Town (3-1), Greenwich Borough (1-0), Guernsey (5-3), Herne Bay (4-2) and Sevenoaks Town (2-1). They drew at Cray Wanderers, Haywards Heath Town and Sittingbourne and lost at Hastings, Horsham, Hythe Town and Whyteleafe.
There haven’t been too many league games between the sides with just five previous league matches. Cray have won 2, drawn 2 and lost 1 of the five games. Last season’s game at Phoenix Sports took place very early in the season on 15th August, 2017 and ended in a quite cagey goalless draw.
Phoenix Sports gained promotion to the Isthmian League as champions of the Southern Counties East League in 2014-15 and in their first two seasons in the Isthmian North finished 14th and 8th before gaining a switch across divisions to the South division last season adapting very well to their new surroundings finishing in a respectable 11th place and now members of the South-East division and more than holding their own once again.
A good atmosphere can be generated at the Mayplace Ground from the Phoenix fans and there could be quite a healthy contingent of Cray Wanderers supporters making their way to Barnehurst for this game so should be quite an occasion and an exciting match to savour.
DIRECTIONS TO PHOENIX SPORTS FC
The Mayplace Ground
Mayfield Road East, Barnehurst, Kent
SAT NAV: DA7 6JT
OAP’s (65+): £5.00
Under 16’s: FREE
Mayfield Road East is located just off the A2000 and is only a stone’s throw away from VCD Athletic’s ground at Oakwood. From the Cray’s the journey should take 20 minutes. Follow the A224 for 1.7 miles, and at the roundabout take the 3rd exit onto Edgington Way/A223. At the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto N Cray Road/A223 for 2.1 miles and at the next roundabout take the 1st exit staying on N Cray Road/A223 following the A223 for 0.3 miles. At the next roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Bourne Road/and then at the next roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Bourne Road/A220/A223 for another 0.30 miles and then at the next roundabout take the 3rd exit onto Bourne Road A223 for 0.8 miles. At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit onto London Road/A207 for 0.3 miles and then turn left onto Crayford High Street A2000 following for 0.2 miles and then at the roundabout continue straight on to Old Road, then turn right on Manor Road and then after 0.3 miles at the roundabout take the 1st exit onto Mayplace Road East for the ground.
The 492 bus takes you outside the ground from Sidcup railway station and takes about 30 minutes. You can also get there from Dartford and Crayford stations. .
The nearest railway station is Barnehurst and is 0.8 miles away and should take fifteen minutes to walk. From leaving the station, turn left onto Northall Road and then a right onto Beverley Road then a right onto Westfield Road. After 0.3 miles turn right onto Manor Way and then after 0.1 miles turn left onto Mayfield Road East.
The clubhouse at the ground is very good but can be very busy which adds to which is usually a lively atmosphere. If you happen to arrive at Barnehurst station there is the Red Barn (98-100 Barnehurst Road) very close to the station which may satisfy you if arrive early and is popular with jazz enthusiasts. Perhaps a bit nearer the ground is the Travellers Home which is on Long Lane in Bexleyheath which does good food. Not far from the ground itself on Mayplace Road East is the Oceans Takeaway (166 Mayplace Road East) which does quite a selection of food from Fish and Chips to Tandoori meals. On Barnehurst Road is Big Daddy’s Traditional Fish and Chips. For those that like a small round of golf, there is a 9 hole Golf Course on Mayplace Road East just less than a 5 minute walk to the ground.