Cray Wanderers resume their rivalry with Thamesmead Town on Saturday as the reverse fixtures from the opening day of the season takes the Wands to Princes Park Dartford for a 3 pm ko.
This will be the third meeting of the season with Tommy Warrilow’s Thamesmead having met in the league on 12th August and in the Kent Senior Cup a few days later with Cray winning impressively 3-0 with a young side.
Both sides come into the game in good form, Cray unbeaten in seven with Thamesmead winning their last three and unbeaten in four games.
Cray will be looking to build on last Saturday’s fine win and performance against Corinthian Casuals at Hayes Lane, a result which looks better by the day as Casuals went on to win at league leaders Lewes on Wednesday night. There was a slickness and potency about the performance with Cray taking their chances with some well worked team goals and a Karl Dent free kick blockbuster. The link up play from the two wingers and Michael Power gave Cray a real cutting edge whilst the midfield nullified the potential breakaway threat from the visitors by winning the midfield battle.
Defensively, Cray were given more of an examination in the last twenty five minutes as Corinthian Casuals threatened a comeback but they managed to withstand that and grabbed the win with vital blocks and tackles. A special word for Nick Blue too who seems to be back to his absolute best this season and made two very good saves at key moments of the game to help secure the three points.
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect from a supporters point of view last Saturday was that you could have made a case for man of the match from so many candidates such was the quality of the display.
As Tony Russell mentioned after the game, away games in the Bostik South are always tough and four of the next five league games are away from home. With a free week to iron out any niggles and knocks they can go into the game against Mead which are always hard fought affairs fully prepared.
Thamesmead were perhaps more happy with the 2-2 draw on the opening day of the season than Cray as they grabbed a point in injury time through Tashie-Jay Kwaiyie, his second of the game and has five goals for the season making him joint top league scorer with ex-Wand Alex Teniola. Cray had twice led through goals by Dent and Michael Frieter.
Thamesmead were relocated from the Isthmian North for this season and also started a ground share arrangement with Dartford and have fared respectably well so far and lie 12th with 17 points but have played perhaps a couple of games less than some of the other teams. Their home form has seen them beat Hythe, Horsham and Herne Bay with an injury time winner on Wednesday night. They have drawn with Sittingbourne and were beaten at Princes Park by Ramsgate and Greenwich Borough. Away form has seen wins at Phoenix and Chipstead, the point at Cray and two defeats at VCD and Hythe.
In the FA Cup they had a decent run winning 8-0 at East Preston and then comfortably beat Lewes 3-0 at home and then took Billericay Town to a replay in the 2nd Qualifying Round before being beaten. In the FA Trophy Thamesmead pulled off an impressive win at AFC Hornchurch after a replay and now face Brightlingsea Regent at home on Sunday week. In the Velocity League Cup, Thamesmead defeated Phoenix Sports 4-3 at home and will take on AFC Sudbury at home in the next round in November.
Although meetings between the sides haven’t been overly frequent the two sides have met now in all three divisions of the Isthmian League and were Kent League rivals for a while including a fight to the wire in 2002-03 with Cray winning the title on goal per game average. Overall though Thamesmead have had the better of the league series after 23 games, Cray have won 6, Thamesmead 17 wins and 10 draws.
Thamesmead have been members of the Isthmian League since 2008-09 after they won the Kent League title and were members of the North division until 2012-13 when they were promoted through the playoffs to the Premier Division where they played Cray for one season but both were relegated. Thamesmead finished 17th in the North last season before being relocated to the South for the 2017-18 season.
This should be a great match and something of a clash of styles with a few ex- Cray players and an ex-manager and Assistant manager on their bench and some ex Thamesmead connections in the Cray team adding to the spice.
DIRECTIONS TO DARTFORD FC
KENT DA1 1RT
Concessions & OAP’s – £5:00
Juniors (11-16) – £3.00;
Accompanied under 11s – FREE
Concession also available to Season Ticket holders from other clubs – just show ticket at turnstiles
From the South
Leave the M25 at Junction 2 (signposted A2/Dartford A225). At the roundabout below the roundabout take the Dartford A225 exit. At the next roundabout take the 1st exit by the Esso garage onto the A225 towards Dartford. Go straight across the next roundabout, passing a BP garage on the right. At the next set of traffic lights turn left into Darenth Road and then take the second left into Grassbanks for the stadium.
From the North:
After going over the Dartford Crossing (which costs £2 per car), leave the motorway at Junction 1b and take the left hand slip road for A225 Dartford. At the roundabout at the end of the slip road above the motorway turn right the Esso garage onto the A225 towards Dartford. Go straight across the next roundabout, passing a BP garage on the right. At the next set of traffic lights turn left into Darenth Road and then take the second left into Grassbanks for the stadium.
There is a car park at the stadium which has 300 spaces and is free. If this is full then drivers are directed towards the Orchards Shopping Centre Car Park, which charges £2 for 3-4 hours.
Dartford railway station is located just over a mile away from Princes Park. If on leaving the station you follow the pedestrian signs for the Orchard Shopping Centre then before the bridge going across the main road, descend the steps down to the road side. Just to left you will find a row of bus stops including the Fastrack B bus stop. This service runs every 20 minutes in the evenings to the Bluewater Shopping Centre and stops at Princes Park. Single fares are quoted at £1.30 or £2.30 for a short hop. Otherwise a taxi from the station to the stadium will cost around £5.
Otherwise the ground is a 15-20 minute walk away. Descend down the steps as above (or at the bottom of the station approach road), keep to the left along the main road and at the roundabout take the exit signposted Central London (A2). At the next traffic lights cross over and then walk straight on using the wide footpath beside the dedicated bus route. When this footpath ends, go up and into Darenth Road and follow this road to the right. (If you want to visit the Malt Shovel pub, then after crossing at the traffic lights go up the hill and the first road on the right is Darenth Road. Turn right and the Malt Shovel pub is on the right). Proceed along Darenth Road to the main road, which is Princes Road. Crossover at the lights. If you wish to catch a bus back into the town centre after the match has ended, then as you crossover the road, note the location of bus shelter over on the left, in front of you. Continue straight on up along Darenth Road and then take the second left into Grassbanks and up the hill into the car park and the ground.
THE CRAY MASSIVE ON TOUR
A note to supporters that it is expected to be very windy on Saturday so perhaps best to wear warmer clothing. Not quite T-Shirt weather anymore. Whatever you do, please don’t go to Thamesmead’s old ground at Bayliss Avenue as we will not be there. Thamesmead now play in the very impressive surroundings of Dartford’s Princes Park ground and is one of the best modern grounds built in recent years.
The nearest pub to the ground is the Ivy Leaf on Darenth Road, which is about a five minute walk away (from the stadium entrance turn right along Darenth Road, cross over the main road at the traffic lights and the pub is further up Darenth Road on the right). Whilst further along the same road is the Malt Shovel, which also does food. If time on your hands there are a number of pubs in Dartford Town Centre including The Stage Door (Hythe Street), Wat Tyler on the High Street, the Paper Moon Wetherspoons opposite and another Wetherspoons pub called the Flying Boat on Spital Street. Also on Spital Street is the Royal Oak. You won’t be short of a beer or two in Dartford.
Also in Spital Street is the Time and Plaice Fish and Chip shop but there are a few dotted around the town as well as restaurants of all nationalities and flavours to tease your taste buds.
The club house at the ground is very good and spacious and can be very busy but maybe not so tomorrow. There is also a smaller bar near the reception to the ground. Princes Park is a first class place to watch football and is a former National League ground but was also an Isthmian League ground when Cray last played there in the Isthmian Premier and the Wands have also played a home game there against Billericay Town in August 2009.