At least a couple of times a season over recent seasons , Cray Wanderers have had to move games to a Sunday afternoon, due to their continued long term groundshare at Bromley FC’s Hayes Lane ground and generally if i am able to, i will pop along, as Hayes Lane is always a great old ground to visit, plenty of old school terracing and bench seating (though some of it behind the far goal has disappeared since i was last year in the spring! – a new stand in the pipeline for Bromley it would seem).
All these new divisional names at Step 3 and 4 are taking some getting used to this season but this fixture was in the Bostik League Division One South East, as Cray entertained Whitstable Town who had made the journey up from the coast, backed by a decent number of supporters, who as is always the case when i have seen Whitstable over the years, provided some good vocal backing!
Cray just missed out in last season’s play offs, a bitter pill to swallow given the number of goals they scored and their style of play but have had to re-group and on this showing are still going to be a very competitive side in this new division.
Cray created several chances in the first half and with more composure in front of goal definitely should have got their noses in front, with some slick passing and two wingers in Junior Dadson (who i seem to remember seeing play for Halifax Town on loan from Blackburn Rovers many moons ago) and Aaron Rhule who got into good positions throughout the first period. Rhule especially, has great technique and pace to burn, one of those increasingly and sadly rare old fashioned wingers who just seemed at will to be able to go past the full-back like he wasn’t there but he was frustratingly let down by his final touch or finish on a few occasions, which was a shame given the quality of his approach play.
Whitstable themselves though, were threatening on the counter-attack and Ricky Freeman drew a great save from Cray goalkeeper Nick Blue, as he hit a dipping half volley on the turn.
After the break, the early stages were fairly quiet but eventually Cray got the goal they deserved in the 68th minute when a low shot was parried by the goalkeeper and Junior Dadson made no mistake with the follow up, as he side footed the ball home into the bottom corner.
Whilst at 1-0, the game was still open but Whitstable although threatening from set plays, didn’t really look like they would draw level and with a couple of minutes remaining, Aaron Rhule moved onto a pass from centre-forward Power and slotted the ball home to make it 2-0. A goal his endeavours more than deserved and one that produced a final scoreline that probably reflected the overall balance of play.
An enjoyable enough afternoon, in a game played yet again in bright sunshine in front of a decent crowd of 316, including numerous groundhoppers taking in a Sunday game like me and lots of Cray’s youth teams and parents.
Hopefully, Cray will get to the promised land of their own stadium back in their own heartlands soon, the battle goes on to get their Flamingo Park development underway and i know they have the support of all of those in London with the non-league game at heart. For now though as the wait continues , i will certainly have no complaints about enjoying one or two more pleasant Sunday afternoon visits to Hayes Lane.