Three Bridges vs Cray Wanderers – Saturday 20th April, 2019, 3pm – Match Preview
This has been a great week for Cray Wanderers who last Saturday were crowned the first ever champions of the Bostik South-East as victory over Ashford United at Hayes Lane confirmed promotion with three games to spare. With the title won things can get be bit more relaxed as Cray begin their Easter double header of games with a trip to Three Bridges. Kick off Jubilee Field is 3pm.
Cray will be looking to build on the momentum of Saturday after what for Cray had been a blip of four games without a win and with the pressure on and injury doubts beforehand for the likes of Karl Dent, Sean Roberts and Bradley Pritchard meant with the stakes high the Wands could have been a bit patched up. As it was after a difficult first twenty minutes Cray found their way and the impressive Tom Carlse was upended in the area for a penalty which was despatched by Joe Taylor just after the half hour. Mitchell Nelson steered home a header from Karl Dent’s free kick four minutes before the break to leave comfort and although Ashford pulled a goal back, Carlse got on the scoresheet with three minutes to go to seal the win.
With promotion secured, Tony Russell has mentioned the possibility in the final three games of fielding some younger players to give them game time and it was heartening to see on Saturday, the impressive Lee Lewis and Charles Etumnu pick up the trophy, all part of the U23s side who seem assured of a top 3 finish in the Development League South. Barney Williams had a run out for an hour for the U23s on Monday night while Lewis and Freddie Parker who seems a veteran of the team these days got on the scoresheet and both are set for glittering careers. Tony Russell has also mentioned that Nick Blue may well be on his way at the end of the season so a chance for the Cray fans to see a great keeper and servant of the club for the final three matches.
Three Bridges have had an interesting season and after having a difficult start to the campaign picked up a great run of form during November-December and won six out of seven games including a 2-1 win against Horsham which pushed them up to ninth in the table. Cray Wanderers ended that good run on 6th January when Archie Johnson’s stunning strike seven minutes into injury time gave Cray one of their biggest wins of the season and from here Three Bridges went nine games without a win. The joint managerial team of Keith George and Liam Collins took charge of the team after Martin Dynan had left in February and two home wins against Greenwich Borough and Phoenix Sports in March steadied things and confirmed Bostik South-East football for next season. Last Saturday they went down to a 0-3 defeat at Faversham Town which leaves them in 15th place with 35 points.
Home form has seen them beat Greenwich Borough (2-0), Horsham (2-1), Phoenix Sports (2-0), Ramsgate (3-1), Sevenoaks Town (2-0) and Whyteleafe (3-2). Their other games ended in defeat against Ashford United (0-1), East Grinstead Town (0-2), Faversham Town (2-4), Guernsey (0-5), Hastings United (1-3), Haywards Heath Town (3-4), Herne Bay (1-5), Hythe Town (2-3), Sittingbourne (0-5) and VCD Athletic (1-2). Away from home they won at Ashford United (4-2), Guernsey (3-0), Herne Bay (3-0) and Sittingbourne (1-0). They drew at East Grinstead, Greenwich Borough, Ramsgate, Sevenoaks Town and Whitstable Town and were beaten at Cray Wanderers, Faversham Town, Hastings United, Haywards Heath Town, Horsham, Hythe Town, Phoenix Sports and VCD Athletic. Top scorer is Connor French with 14 league goals.
Games between the two sides have been few and far between in the league with only three previous meetings with Cray winning all three. The only other league meeting took place at East Grinstead in April 2017 as Three Bridges wasn’t available and Cray won 4-0 with goals from Anthony Adesite, Danny Haynes (2) and Luke Medley. The only other meetings were in cup ties. Cray winning 1-0 in an FA Cup Preliminary Round tie in August 2015 early in Tony Russell’s time in charge with James Duckworth’s first half goal and a goalkeeping masterclass from Nick Blue after the break. In October 2013, Cray won 2-0 in a midweek Isthmian Cup tie with Jordan Clarke on the scoresheet for the Wands. You can go even further back to October 1979 when Cray won 5-1 at Oxford Road in the FA Vase with Eddie Jones, Terry Elphick (2) and Don Butterfil (2) on target as the Wands made it to the Quarter Finals that season.
Three Bridges were promoted to the Isthmian League for the first time in 2011-12 as then Sussex League Champions and remained in the South Division until 2016-17. They bounced back with an immediate promotion behind Southern Combination champions Haywards Heath Town last season to take their place in the new South-East Division.
With the pressure now off this should be one of the more relaxed games of the season but will still be a great occasion and a chance to follow the champions on the road.
DIRECTIONS TO THREE BRIDGES FC
From A23 (heading North) / M23 (heading South) come off at Junction 10 and head towards Crawley on the A2011 (Crawley Avenue). At the roundabout, take the first left heading towards Three Bridges Train Station (Hazelwick Avenue).
Pass Tesco on your left and head straight over the roundabout (second exit).
As you approach the traffic lights, remain in the right hand lane.
After turning right into Haslett Avenue at these lights, move immediately into the right turn late at the next set of lights.
Turn right at these lights onto Three Bridges Road.
Follow the road round to the left, then turn left after 100 yards into Jubilee Walk (directly opposite the Plough Pub).
Follow the road to the end and turn right (still Jubilee Walk) and head straight.
Jubilee Stadium is at the far end.
Car parking is available inside the ground. However, please note there is NO COACH PARKING available inside the ground (mini bus is fine).
If travelling by coach, there is a car park available at a small office building on the right almost immediately as you enter Jubilee Walk. It is then just a few hundred yards walk to the ground.
The nearest station is Three Bridges which is one stop south of Gatwick Airport. Head out of the station and up until the main road. Turn left onto Haslett Avenue and then use instructions as above. It is no more than a five minute walk.
As we are travelling at Easter please check train travel but at this stage trains are running direct to Three Bridges from either London Bridge 00, 05, 06, 30, 35 & 36 past the hour so quite regular or from London Blackfriars (Not Victoria) at 29 & 59 past the hour.
Returns to London Bridge are at 04, 11, 29, 34, 41 & 59 past the hour and to London Blackfriars at 29 & 59 past the hour.
The nearest pub to the ground is the Plough Inn which is opposite to the entrance to Jubilee Walk and no more than a 2 minute walk from the ground. Apparently their speciality is a great Full English Breakfast. There is also the The Moonraker about a minute from the Plough Inn and opposite the entrance to Station Road is the Snooty Fox which is well worth a pop in whilst you are waiting for your next train. It has to be said there are few club houses as good as Three Bridges in the Bostik South-East.
For a chippie, there aren’t too many in the vicinity but enough pubs that do good food. Perhaps the nearest is the Master Fryer on Pound Hill Parade about five minutes from the railway station. With Crawley being so close if you have time on your hands you could make the short trip there. For Indian food, Bengal Spices Bangladeshi Cuisine on Haslett Avenue is the closest to the ground. Close to here is the Yasmine Chinese Takeaway on Three Bridges Road. On Pound Hill Parade is The Oriental restaurant which is near the station.
Three Bridges is a neighbourhood of Crawley and is just past Gatwick Airport. The three bridges cross the River Mole and could be well worth a visit to see at least one of them. It is now predominantly known for its railway links and being so close to the ground from the station is well worth a visit.