Cray Wanderers are on their travels for the final time in the 2017-18 season as they make their first ever visit to the Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub to take on Walton Casuals. Kick off is 3pm.
The match takes on importance not only for Cray who are looking to finish as high as possible for the end of season playoffs but also for Walton Casuals who are seventh in the table, two points behind Hythe Town looking for a place in the playoffs for the first time.
Cray come into the game unbeaten in seven and after a quite ruthless and devastating performance against South Park last Saturday. The 8-0 win against a side which has won twice since then produced some excellent goals and a fine man of the match performance from Charlie MacDonald who scored twice. Also on the scoresheet were Lea Dawson, Brandon Scott (2), Aaron Rhule, Jay Leader and Junior Dadson as Cray topped 100 league goals for the first time in the Isthmian League era. The sixth goal scored by Dadson is as good a team goal as you are likely to see anywhere last weekend.
Tony Russell’s side are third in the league table level on points with Greenwich Borough on 86 points and are six points clear of their hosts on Saturday but Cray have a goal difference of +25 over Walton. Cray have been particularly mean on their travels conceding only 12 league goals away from home but will face a tough test against a side which has only lost twice at home all season and that was to the two promoted sides Lewes and Carshalton Athletic.
Anthony Gale’s Walton Casuals side won their opening four games of the league season and that set them up for a very consistent campaign in which they have been in and around the top 6/7 all season. They had gone three games without a win in April until Tuesday night when they won 2-0 at relegated Shoreham to go to 80 points with a goal in each half from Youssuf Bamba who scored twice when the teams drew 2-2 on 7th January and Jack Sammoutis who returned after a spell at Greenwich Borough.
When the two sides met in January it was an exciting game played on a Sunday and Cray led twice through Jerome Federico and Lea Dawson but Bamba struck to level twice including deep into stoppage time to grab a point.
Walton have been very strong at home especially since moving to their new home in September. They have beaten Chipstead (4-0), Faversham Town (4-3), East Grinstead Town (3-0), Hastings United (2-1), Whyteleafe (4-2), Sittingbourne (3-0), Shoreham (3-1), Molesey (2-1), VCD Athletic (3-1), Ashford United (4-0), Ramsgate (1-0), Phoenix Sports (3-1), South Park (2-1) and Herne Bay (7-0). They drew with Horsham (1-1), Hythe Town (2-2), Thamesmead Town (0-0), Greenwich Borough (1-1), Guernsey (2-2) and Corinthian Casuals (0-0). They were beaten by Lewes (1-2) and Carshalton Athletic (0-1). A very quick side they have been good on the road too winning at Hythe Town (2-1), Molesey (2-1), East Grinstead Town (3-0), Phoenix Sports (3-0), Guernsey (3-1), Faversham Town (1-0), Sittingbourne (2-0), Horsham (4-2) and Shoreham (2-0). They took a point from trips to Greenwich Borough, Chipstead, Ramsgate, Cray Wanderers and Lewes and were beaten by VCD Athletic, Herne Bay, Carshalton Athletic, South Park, Corinthian Casuals, Whyteleafe and Thamesmead Town. Top scorer is Josh Kelly with 21 goals whilst Bamba has 17 for the season.
Walton are Bostik South regulars who were formed in 1948 and spent many of their formative years in the Surrey Intermediate and Senior Leagues until 1995-96 when they were promoted to the Combined Counties League. Things began to change for them when former Fulham, West Ham and Blackburn Rovers centre-half Tony Gale became Director of Football in 2002-03. Two seasons later they stormed to the Combined Counties League title and in 2005-06 met the Wands for the first time in the Isthmian South where they have remained ever since. They have made solid rather than spectacular progress with a ninth place finish in 2013-14 their highest league position until this season which will be a new high for them as they can’t finish any lower than seventh. Tony Gale is now Chairman of the club with his son, Anthony manager of the club since July 2015. The last time the two teams met at Walton was in January 2017 when they shared at Whyteleafe and Casuals won 5-1. The overall record is P. 11 W 4 D 3 L 4.
Both sides have had very good seasons and have been consistent and hard to beat. This will be a hard game to call but Cray have performed very well and with great composure away from home and will need to do so again if they are to deny Walton the three points they need.
DIRECTIONS TO WALTON CASUALS FC
Walton Casuals FC,
Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub, Waterside Drive, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey KT12 2JP.
Admission Prices: £10.00 adults, £5.00 concessions, £5.00 12/17 y. o’s, 5-12 y. o. ‘s £2.00, U5s’ free
From Walton Bridge: On leaving bridge, follow sign to Hampton Court (A3050), keeping in left lane at traffic lights. Bear right and go through traffic lights in town centre, keeping in left lane. Go through pedestrian lights, straight over mini-roundabout and through another set of pedestrian lights by shopping parade. Turn left at next roundabout (school on right). Turn right just before leisure centre. Car park and ground is at end of road.
M25 from south: Leave motorway at Jct.10 and join A3 to London. After a short distance leave on slip-road signposted to Walton. Turn left at roundabout following sign Woking A245, Walton (B365) and move to outside lane of dual-carriageway in order to filter right at traffic lights after approx. 50 yards on to B365 (Seven Hills Road). After 11/2 miles cross over small roundabout, then after a further 1/2 mile bear right at large roundabout following sign to Hersham A317. Proceed to next roundabout, then turn left over railway bridge into Ashley Road, signposted Walton B365. Carry on down slight hill, go straight on at next roundabout, and enter one-way system. Keep in middle lane at traffic lights and enter town centre. Turn right at next set of traffic lights (Hampton Court, A3050). Go through pedestrian lights, straight over mini-roundabout and through another set of pedestrian lights by shopping parade. Turn left at next roundabout (school on right). Turn right just before leisure centre. Car park and ground is at end of road.
M25 from north: Leave motorway at Jct.12 to join M3 to London. Proceed to end of motorway, leaving at Jct.1 at Sunbury. Join A308 towards Staines and turn left at traffic lights on to A244, signposted Shepperton & Walton, crossing bridge over M3. Proceed on A244 following signs to Walton until you cross Walton Bridge over the Thames, then follow instructions as From Walton Bridge above.
M25 from north, avoiding Walton Bridge: Leave M25 at Jct.11, turning left at roundabout on to dual-carriageway following sign A317 to Weybridge. Proceed on A317 to pass through Weybridge town centre, leaving by hill after monument. At small roundabout at top of hill turn left onto A3050 to Walton. Proceed through Oatlands Village until you reach traffic lights at Walton Bridge. Keep in middle lane and go straight across, following A3050. Bear right and go through traffic lights in town centre, keeping in left lane. Go through pedestrian lights, straight over mini-roundabout and through another set of pedestrian lights by shopping parade. Turn left at next roundabout (school on right). Turn right just before leisure centre. Car park and ground is at end of road.
From Esher: Leave Esher on A244 following signs to Walton, passing down long hill (Lammas Lane), entering dual-carriageway at roundabout and passing over next roundabout to traffic lights (approx. 13/4 miles). Turn right at lights keeping on A244 and carrying on for another mile, passing over small roundabout and under railway bridge, through shopping parade and over traffic lights. Go over two mini roundabouts in Hersham Road before turning left into one-way system. Bear right and keep in middle lane at traffic lights and enter town centre. Turn right at next set of traffic lights (Hampton Court, A3050). Go through pedestrian lights, straight over mini-roundabout and through another set of pedestrian lights by shopping parade. Turn left at next roundabout (school on right). Turn right just before leisure centre. Car park and ground is at end of road.
From Esher, avoiding Walton Town Centre: Leave Esher on Portsmouth Road (A307) to Scilly Isles roundabout. Turn left onto Hampton Court Way (A309), carrying on over roundabout to pedestrian lights with Hampton Court Station right. Turn left immediately after lights, then left onto Riverbank, becoming Hurst Road (A3050). Proceed past Tescos, on right, and Waterworks until you reach roundabout with school on left. Turn right at roundabout. Turn right just before leisure centre. Car park and ground is at end of road.
The nearest station is Walton-on-Thames which came be reached direct from London Waterloo or from Clapham Junction via London Victoria. From Waterloo there are four trains an hour, at 12, 20, 42 and 50 past the hour. Returns are at 10, 16, 40 and 46 past the hour. The station is around a 45-minute walk to the ground and so a taxi may be the best option. It looks like no bus goes direct to the ground but the 458 goes from Walton-On-Thames station to the High Street where it is about a 25 minute walk. If you go from Victoria again there are four trains an hour which require a change at Clapham Junction at 01, 09, 10 and 39 past the hour.
If you wish to walk it is 2.1 miles from the station. Head for Station Avenue and then turn right onto Ashley Park Road. After 0.5 miles at the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Ashley Road/B365 for 0.3 miles and then turn left onto Ashley Road/A244. Continue on to the High Street for 0.2 miles and then on to Bridge Street and then Thames Street for 0.1 mile and then a slight right onto Manor Road where you will find the Anglers and Swan pubs. If you want to avoid those traps and carry on take a left then a right and for 0.5 miles then take a slight left onto Sunbury Lane. After 0.2 miles take a right into Waterside Drive and when you come to the roundabout, take the 1st exit staying on Waterside Drive where the very large leisure complex will be on the left hand side. Might be a good one for a cyclist as there seems to be plenty of cycle lanes leading to the ground.
THE CRAY MASSIVE ON TOUR – The final away league game of the season by the River Thames
A brand spanking new ground for us to visit for the last away game of the Bostik South season as we visit the Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub for the very first time. The ground was only opened in September 2017 and looks a very neat and tidy venue which is shared with Walton & Hersham FC.
We have visited Walton before at other venues but if travelling by train it is quite a walk to the ground from the station and you may find unless you have a lot of time on your hands you may not be able to sample the wares in Walton-on Thames. If you do then the Anglers and the Swan both on Manor Road on the way up to the ground could be worth a pop in and both have riverside beer gardens. A bit nearer the ground although perhaps going away from it is the Weir Hotel on Waterside Drive (KT12 2JB), 3 star rated hotel which may be of help to you if you want to stay the night. For those that like a Wetherspoon pub and maybe something unusual there is the Regent on Church Street which used to be a cinema and is now a very large venue.
Also on Church Street is the Golden Fry Fish and Chip Shop which might appeal to those wanting to taste Fish and Chips one last time on our travels and on Terrace Road is the Walton Fish Bar. Staying on Terrace Road are the Mogul Indian Restaurant and Khyber Pass. For Chinese food you have the Imperial Bridge on Church Street and the Mr Chong restaurant on Hersham Road.
It’s a shame that the ground is so far away as Walton-on-Thames is somewhere I have never been and one I’ve been looking forward to. Anyone who has been to Barnes, Putney even Greenwich by the Thames anywhere with spectacular river views and preferably a decent pub next to it will know on what will be hopefully a warm spring day would be a great way to bring the curtain down on the season.
Walton-on-Thames is a very affluent area of Surrey in the district of Elmbridge. The Walton Bridge is a very impressive structure which crosses the A224 and connects Walton to Shepperton. The current bridge is the sixth such crossing since 1747. With the river playing such a huge part in the town, there is a rowing club at Walton and other river based sports take place there. It’s town centre is Celtic in origin and St. Mary’s Church is a Grade I listed building. The town perhaps twinned with Hersham created a racing car, the HWM (Hersham and Walton Motors) and competed in Formula 1 racing in the 1950’s with Sterling Moss one of their drivers. This could be the last time we play Walton if the changes to the Bostik League Step 4 set up are as expected, clubs in Surrey will not be in our itinerary next season unless of course we get promoted and we can return to Surrey which is always a pleasure.