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Weston-super-Mare v Cray Wanderers preview
Weston-super-Mare v Cray Wanderers preview

Cray Wanderers continue their FA Trophy adventure on Saturday as the Wands head to Weston-super-Mare for the first time aiming for a place in the 3rd Round for the second time in three seasons. 

Kick off at the Optima Stadium, 3pm. Any news regarding pitch inspections for this game will be posted here.

Cray come into the game in good heart after back to back league wins and made it three successive victories including a hard fought 1-0 win vs Carshalton Athletic at Hayes Lane last Saturday.  

Cray are 17th in the Isthmian Premier with 16 points but the team have certainly tightened defensively and have been excellent in the last two games.   Shaun Rowley was in inspired form making four key saves to preserve a well deserved clean sheet and David Ijaha and Jack Holland in central defence were superb.

Up front, Gary Lockyer has four goals in his last six games whilst in midfield, Alfie Evans, Frankie Raymond, Ellis Brown and Nyren Clunis worked extremely hard last Saturday and picked up three points against a side in the playoff places at the start of the game.

On Saturday the Wands look to take on Step 2 opponents Weston-super-Mare and have reached the 2nd Round after two fine wins against sides in good form in their leagues, away at Needham Market and at home to Chesham United which perhaps Neil Smith’s side deserved more credit for than they received.

Weston-super-Mare are back in the National South after a four season absence after winning the Southern League Premier South last season.  The Seagulls won the league with 93 points and began the 2023-24 season flying, winning the first three games of the season and this stage are 19th on eighteen points.  In their last league outing on 4th November, Weston-super-Mare were beaten 0-2 at Aveley.  Three days later Weston-super-Mare beat Hengrove Athletic 9-0 at home in the Somerset County Cup with Rex Manning scoring four. 

In the league at home Weston have beaten Havent & Waterlooville (1-0) and Torquay United (3-2), drawn with Hemel Hempstead Town (1-1), Hampton & Richmond Borough (1-1) and Maidstone United (1-1) and were beaten by Slough Town (0-3) and Yeovil Town (2-3). Away from home they picked up wins at Tonbridge Angels (1-0), Bath City (6-2) and Truro City (1-0) and were beaten at Farnborough Town, Eastbourne Borough, Braintree Town, Dartford and Aveley. 

In the FA Cup, Scott Bartlett’s side advanced to the 4th Qualifying Round after beating Truro City and Farnborough but were beaten at National League Maidenhead United.  All National South clubs enter the FA Trophy from the 2nd Round and Weston-super-Mare have twice reached the 4th Round of the competition in 1998-99 and 2004-04.

This game gives a chance for the Wands to test themselves against a National South side as well as a rare trip into Somerset and should weather permitting be a great cup tie.

Adults – £14
Conc (Seniors +60, Students, Armed Forces, NHS (ID required)) – £10
U16s – £4.50, U8s – Free – Family Tickets £28.

Pictures supplied by Ozay Booth.