Cray Wanderers vs Hastings United – Isthmian Premier, Wednesday 21 September, 7.45pm – Match preview
Photos: Jon Hilliger – www.hilligerpix.com
The Cray Wanderers play their second home game in three days on Wednesday September 21 as the Wands host Hastings United. Kick off: 7:45 p.m.
The match pits South East Isthmian’s only two official champions to date with Cray Wanderers in 2018-19 and Hastings United in 2021-22 with two incomplete seasons in between.
Cray came into the game 4th, six unbeaten in the league and had to come from 1-3 down at home to Bowers & Pitsea on Sunday to claim a 3-3 draw and move to 12 points after seven games.
Dan Bassett has scored his fourth goal of the season and has made it three in the last three league games. Anthony Cook had a big impact off the bench in the last two games and brought Cray back into the game with a penalty and his first goal of the season. Twenty minutes from time, Billy Crook’s header made it 3-3, but despite time remaining, neither team could find a winner.
The Wands have had to show a lot of resilience in recent games having been behind at Bishop’s Stortford, Folkestone Invicta twice and against Bowers & Pitsea and a relatively new side are gelling well. Neil Smith will hope to have Mitch Chapman available after suspension and Ben Krauhaus as his loan move from Bromley is extended, but there was an impressive start from David Ijaha, who played the full 90 minutes despite not Hadn’t had much playing time recently and watched the game and adds to the team’s competition for places.
Hastings United return to the Isthmian Premier this season after winning the South East title by 13 points in 2021-22 and are a well-supported and ambitious club.
Hastings United are managed by former Brighton & HA, St. Albans City, Eastbourne Borough, Tonbridge Angels, Worthing and Hastings player Gary Elphick and are 14th in the initial standings with 8 points.
They are yet to score on their away trips, but did score a point at Folkestone Invicta and Lewes with goalless draws in August. Their only other away game was a 0-3 defeat at Hornchurch. At home, they started with a 1-2 loss to Aveley but have since beaten Brightlingsea Regent (4-1) and Kingtonian (1-0) last Tuesday thanks to a Joe Ebode goal, his third of the season. Like Cray, Hastings left the FA Cup in the 1st qualifying round after a defeat at Cray Valley PM.
Cray and Hastings first met in the Isthmian League years from 2004-05 to 06-07 and again in the Isthmian Premier for four seasons. We found the United States in 2016-17 and 17-18 in the South Isthmian and then in the 2018-19 seasons. The last meeting at Hayes Lane was on November 11, 2018 when Cray won 2-1 with goals from Wilberforce Ocran and Tom Phipp. Hastings won the corresponding game 3-2 at Pilot Field on March 16, 2019 with Joe Taylor and Archie Johnson scoring.
Wilberforce Ocran scores on his loan debut for Charlton Athletic’s Wands against Hastings United on November 11, 2018 in a 2-1 win for Cray Wanderers – Photo: Jon Hilliger
Hastings United can trace their existence back to 1894, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s, when they were known as Hastings Town, that they emerged from the Sussex League to join the Southern League and were promoted to Southern League Premier in 1991-92 where they spent six seasons. After a few struggling seasons, they moved to the Ryman league after an out-of-league restructuring and first met the Wands in competition in the 2005-06 Ryman Division One season. The following season Hastings came fourth and reached the playoffs and promoted the hard way, winning both away games against Dover Athletic and Tooting & Mitcham United to gain promotion to the Ryman Premier. The Wands would catch up with them and reunite for three seasons starting in 2009-10. Hastings had a strange season in 2012-13 where they were relegated from the Ryman Premier but managed to reach 3rd FA Cup round where they lost to Championship Middlesbrough at the Riverside. Since then they reached the Isthmian South playoffs in 2013-14 where they lost to Folkestone Invicta, but in 2014-15 they came close to relegation and only survived the last day of the season. Hastings had some good battles with Cray as the Wands moved south from the north for three seasons and finished 5th in the 2016-17 season losing to Dorking Wanderers in the playoffs. In the inaugural Isthmian South-East 2018-19 season won by Cray Wanderers, Hastings finished 3rd but were beaten by Ashford United in the playoff semi-final at Pilot Field. They were then unfortunate to top the Isthmian South-East by three points when the 2019-20 season was halted and top after 7 games in 2020-21, so no one could really blame Hastings United’s promotion last season and are more than worthy of addition. at the Isthmian Premier this season.
It should be a great night under the lights of Lane in the Wands’ final home league game in September. Entrance £12 adults, £6 concessions, pay at the door (cash only) or online at www.cray-wanderers.com/tickets. Match program available £2 / Golden Goal tickets £1