Cray Wanderers end a busy October on Saturday as the FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round takes Cray to Whitehawk for only the second time and seek a first ever place in the 1st Round Proper in November.  Kick off at the TerraPura Ground is 3pm.

Cray bounced back well from the FA Cup defeat at Canvey Island on Wednesday night with a 6-0 home win against Merstham with goals from Ben Mundele, three in three for the rampaging full back who missed the Canvey game through suspension, a second goal in successive league games for both Bradley Pritchard and Rhys Murrell-Williamson, a Jay Leader header and a brace for top scorer Joe Taylor who has 11 goals in 10 games played this season.

Also a clean sheet was something which pleased manager Tony Russell and the first since the Brightlingsea Regent game on 7th March. The win on Saturday moved Cray back into the playoff places in fourth six points off leaders Worthing but with a game in hand. With a very busy November upcoming there could be a bit of freshening of the team for the game but could be still very strong with the likes of Charlie Allen, Lee Lewis, Martin Onoabaghbe, Kyron Richards who made his Wands debut on Wednesday as a second half substitute and Jerome Federico could all feature for the Trophy tie.

Cray will be looking to break a little goal duck in the Trophy having gone three games without a goal but will face a tough challenge against Jude MacDonald’s Whitehawk side.  Whitehawk play in the Isthmian South-East and currently lie 16th in the table with 5 points and on Tuesday night were beaten 2-1 at Hastings United with recent acquisition from Haywards Heath Town, Lloyd Cotton scoring. Much like Cray, Whithawk had much to lament last season’s early finish to the season as they were 4th when the season ended and had a decent points buffer for a playoff place.

Whitehawk have already played one match in the FA Trophy in the 2nd Qualifying Round, a 2-1 home win vs Barton Rovers on 17th November with goals from Henry Muggeridge and Lucas Rodrigues. In the league, Whitehawk have won 2-0 at Phoenix Sports but were beaten at VCD Athletic (1-2), Herne Bay (1-3) and Hastings United (1-2). At home, Whitehawk have drawn both league games vs Sevenoaks Town (1-1) and Faversham Town (1-1) last Saturday.  Their FA Cup ambitions came to an end in the Preliminary Round at Ashford United.

There have been just two previous matches between Cray Wanderers v Whitehawk, both in the 2012-13 season in the Isthmian Premier.  Whitehawk won both matches, 2-1 at Hayes Lane on 21/8/2012, Leigh Bremner scoring while the Hawks won 2-0 at home on 26/2/13 en route to winning the league that season.

Whitehawk from just east of the city of Brighton were formed in 1945 and spent many years in the Brighton, Hove & District Leagues and then the Sussex County League where they remained until a meteoric rise into the Isthmian League as Sussex County League Champions in 2009-10 and also reached the Semi-Finals of the FA Vase losing to Wroxham.  Playing at a revamped Enclosed Stadium including stands from the old Brighton & Hove Albion ground at the Withdean their first season in the Isthmian South saw them finish 3rd and a playoff semi-final defeat to Leatherhead on penalties. However, the following season in 2011-12 they won the Isthmian South to take their place in the Premier for the first time. 

They took the Premier by storm and Darren Freeman’s side won the title at the first attempt to reach the Conference South.  After a narrow escape from relegation in 2013-14 now managed by Steve King in 2014-15 Whitehawk finished 4th and reached the playoffs beating Basingstoke Town before losing in the final at Boreham Wood.  The following season they reached the 2nd Round of the FA Cup losing to Dagenham & Redbridge and after a shaky start to the season came from nowhere to finished 3rd before losing to Ebbsfleet United in the playoffs. After survival was attained in 2016-17, the following season Whitehawk were relegated to the Isthmian Premier and in 2018-19 were relegated again to the new Isthmian South-East where they were 4th when the season ended in 2019-20. So it has been quite a ten year story for Whitehawk.

Cray have played enough cup ties against Step 4 opposition this season to know they are all tough, competitive games and this will be no different down on the South Coast. Please note the game will be played to a finish on the day with no replay.


Please note the capacity is 400. Please check Whitehawk FC for ticket details as could sell out – £10.00 adults, £5.00 concs, U10s free.

TerraPura Ground, East Brighton Park, Wilson Avenue, Brighton BN2 5TS

Please note Whitehawk produce printed match programmes: £2.00

By car:

As the traffic into the centre of Brighton on the A23 can be quite slow at times, the route outlined below avoids this.

From London:

At the end of the M23, continue onto the A23, heading towards Brighton. After passing the welcome to Brighton & Hove signs, just before you reach a roundabout which is the junction with the A27, bear left (signposted Lewes/Newhaven). Go straight over the first roundabout and take the right turning off the second roundabout onto the A27 towards Lewes/Newhaven. After around four miles as you pass Sussex University on your left, leave the A27 just before the AMEX stadium by taking the slip road (the left hand lane) sign posted Falmer/Rottingdean (B2123). At the top of the slip road turn right at the roundabout, crossing back over the A27 and continuing towards Rottingdean, passing the AMEX stadium on your right.

Carry on this road across the South Downs until you reach a set of traffic lights which is the Woodingdean junction at the Downs Hotel. Turn right here, towards the city centre/racecourse. Drive out of Woodingdean and at the next traffic lights turn left into Wilson Avenue (signposted Whitehawk FC and East Brighton Park). Drive down hill towards the sea, passing the entrance to the Stanley Leisure Centre on your left. At the bottom of the hill, just before the traffic lights, turn left into the entrance to East Brighton Park (signposted Whitehawk FC and East Brighton Park). Follow the narrow road round to the end. Just past the entrance to a caravan park, you will see the entrance to Whitehawk FC.

There is a car park at the ground that holds 100 cars. The entrance road up to the ground is quite narrow, so it may be an idea to find street parking on the residential streets off Wilson Avenue and walk over to the ground.

By Train:

Brighton railway station is situated around two and half miles away from the ground. Either get a taxi or bus to the ground.

By Bus:

From stand B at the front of the railway station, take the Brighton and Hove Bus No 7 (to Brighton Marina) or No 27 (to Saltdean) and get off at Roedean Road. Roedean Road is just round the corner from the entrance to East Brighton Park. After being dropped off, walk up Roedean Road to the traffic lights (keeping the gasometer on your right) and turn left into Wilson Avenue (signposted Whitehawk FC). Cross the road into the entrance to East Brighton Park (signposted Whitehawk FC/East Brighton Park). Follow the narrow road to the end, passing an entrance to a caravan park. Please take care along this road as it has no footpath and at night it is unlit.

Subsequent note for those going by bus and on the No 7. If you get off at the Marina Terminus please be prepared for a very steep climb up East Brighton Park.

Nearest pubs: The Club house or Brighton Bier bar is highly recommended as one of the best in non-league football so perhaps best unless you want to hang around Brighton all day to sample the wares including local beers at the ground. Please adhere though to any social distancing rules imposed by the club. They don’t really want to do it that way but regulations say they have to.

If you don’t mind a climb and you get to the Marina then the Master Mariner which overlooks all the boats might be tempting but bear in mind it might be a bit chilly there. Also The New Bush (1 Arundel Road) could tempt you but I would suggest the club house might be best.

Whitehawk lies to the East of Brighton and consists of a fairly large housing estate built in the 1930’s and added to over the decades and lies north of the Brighton Marina which was redeveloped in 1979. For those that arrive early you may be able to spot a chalk carving of a White Hawk on the hill at Sheepcote Valley. Like much of Brighton, the area is high on conservation and greenery and in 2012 the Racehill Community Orchard was set up and in 2018 won an award. Although at one time regarded in the 5% of deprived areas in the country much funding has been received to boost the area. Certainly a day out unlike many we would have had this season