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Cray Wanderers v Kingstonian preview
Cray Wanderers v Kingstonian preview

Cray Wanderers begin life under new manager Neil Smith on Saturday afternoon when they entertain Kingstonian in the Isthmian League Premier Division at Hayes Lane.  

The Wands go into the game sitting in twentieth place with 32 points form 36 league matches played, one point behind both Brightlingsea Regent & Merstham who sit above them, having had three points deducted.

With two confirmed relegation spots and the third decided by PPG across the Step 3 Division, only nineteenth place or above will guarantee safety.

In what would prove to be Grant Basey’s last game in charge as Interim Manager, Cray lost 3-4 at home to Bowers & Pitsea last Sunday, having lead 3-2 with nine minutes to go. Anthony Cook, Jacob Munting & Narcin-Florin Filip with The Wands goals.

Goalkeeper Josh Wright has extended his loan from Millwall for the rest of the season, while fellow custodian Bailey Vose has left the club along with Jacob Munting who has joined Walton Casuals.

Kingstonian make the trip over from Surrey sitting in tenth place with 53 points from their 36 games. The Ks, managed by another former Bromley boss in Hayden Bird, were in action on Wednesday night drawing 3-3 with Bowers & Pitsea having lead the game three times through goals from Fabio Saraiva, Nyren Clunis & Ollie Cook. Last Saturday they won 1-0 at Bognor Regis Town via an own goal.

Smith’s appointment was officially announced by the club on Tuesday night and is Cray’s third manager this season having started the campaign with Danny Kedwell in charge before Grant Basey stepped in to the hot seat at the start of January.

Smudge’s mission will be to secure Cray’s Premier Division status over the final six games and then build from there, he will be well acquainted with Anthony Cook, Sam Wood & Saul Kader who he worked with at Bromley, but he has also watched several Cray games at Hayes Lane so far this season.

The Wands have only picked up one win from their last five matches, but there are still eighteen points to play for and the perfect start would be a win this weekend.         

The game looks set to be an interesting encounter between an in form Kingstonian and a Cray Wands team looking to start the Neil Smith Era with a positive result and ultimately avoid relegation.         

Entrance for the game is £10 for adults, £5 for concessions with an excellent printed programme at £2, kick off at 3pm.         

Picture supplied by Jon Hilliger.