Cray look to return to winning ways after a disappointing run of results as they travel to perennial Ryman North strugglers,Redbridge on Saturday.
Tony Russell’s side have been in a poor run of form since Boxing Day, picking up just one point from the last five games. This has seen Cray move from 1st to 5th in the table on 61 points and are now just three points ahead of sixth place, Brightlingsea Regent for the final playoff place. Cray are only four points behind second placed, AFC Hornchurch but the title itself looks very distant as they trail leaders, AFC Sudbury by twelve points.
There are still fourteen games left to go and a revival in Cray’s fortunes over the rest of the season could helped to cement a playoff place. As the last couple of games have proved, there are no easy games in the Ryman North and Cray have lost to two struggling teams, Waltham Abbey, away and Heybridge Swifts at home and travel to Essex knowing not to take any for granted.
Despite the defeat last weekend, there were still some encouraging displays from the likes of James Duckworth, Karl Dent and Aryan Tajbakhsh and despite being down to ten men for the last twenty minutes they almost managed to turn the game around until conceding in injury time.
Redbridge are managed by the dual coaching team of Ricky Eaton and Dave Ross. After picking up seven points from their opening three games they went through a terrible spell and when they last met Cray at Hayes Lane in late September, the Wands were comfortable 5-0 winners. There was a great substitute appearance from player-Assistant Manager, Ray Powell who scored twice that afternoon and was only the goal post away from claiming a hat-trick. Karl Dent also netted twice with Ben Payne opening the scoring.
The Motormen are currently 22nd in the table on 21 points, two points behind Wroxham. They did win away at Wroxham last Saturday, 4-3 to move off the bottom but went down to a 4-1 defeat in midweek at in form Bury Town. They are having some good runs in County Cups, reaching the semi final of the London Senior Cup where they will face Hendon or Croydon and to the Quarter Finals of the Essex Senior Cup where they meet Tilbury. They have conceded 101 goals in their 32 games so a 0-0 draw is unlikely.
If Cray fans though are looking for good omens, it was a Tuesday night trip to Redbridge on 17th March, 2015 when the Wands ground out an unremarkable 1-0 win. That was the start of the great ten match unbeaten run which helped stave off relegation last season. A similar result on Saturday afternoon could yet be the springboard for another great run of results.
Cray supporters may remember Redbridge as Ford United and played Cray a few times back in the early 60’s and 70’s in the Aetolian League and Metropolitan London League. The club changed their name to Redbridge in 2004. The overall league record against Ford United/Redbridge is P19 W8 D3 L8 F33 A29.
Ford United were champions of the Isthmian League in 2001-02 and spent three seasons in the Conference South before relegation two seasons in a row took them to the Ryman North by now named Redbridge. They did well to reach the playoffs in the 2007-08 season under Dean Holdsworth’s management but were beaten by Canvey Island in the Semi Final. The Motormen have struggled the last few seasons and last season were only reprieved from relegation to the Essex Senior League due to Southern League Clevedon Town losing their ground grading appeal.
DIRECTIONS TO REDBRIDGE:
SAT NAV CODE: IG6 1NB
From London take the A12 and turn left into Horns Road at lights at Newbury Park station and McDonalds (right turn if travelling towards London). Turn right into Craven Gardens, right again into Carlton Drive, and left into Station Road. Go over the bridge and the ground is on the right next to Barkingside station
For rail travellers the best way to get to The Oakside Stadium is by tube: The nearest tube station is Barkingside on the Central Line, the ground is directly behind the station and a 5 minute walk. You need to be on the loop on the Central Line for Newbury Park and is one stop after.
Should there be a need for a pitch inspection then details will be posted here.