Isthmian League

Preview: Cray Wanderers

Following on from Tuesday evening’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of table-toppers Hastings United, the Hawks will be hoping to get back to winning ways as they welcome Isthmian Premier Division side Cray Wanderers to the TerraPura Ground in the FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round.

The Hawks reached this stage of the competition after victory against Barton Rovers a fortnight ago; a hard-fought 2-1 win as goals from Henry Muggeridge and Lucas Rodrigues propelled Whitehawk into the next stage of tournament. The Hawks arrive into this match on the back of a narrow defeat, and currently occupy 16th position in the Isthmian League – South East Division.

Manager Jude Macdonald made two changes ahead of the visit to Hastings in midweek and, barring any injuries, could stick with that same side as they almost salvaged a point against tough opposition. David Martin returned from his minor injury, whilst Lloyd Cotton came off the bench to pull one back for the visitors with six minutes remaining, and so he will be hoping to slot back into the starting XI.

As for the visitors, they make the trip to Brighton on the back of a 6-0 home win over relegation threatened Merstham on Wednesday night, and currently sit 4th in the Isthmian Premier Division. Having made a promising start to their league campaign, they were knocked out of the FA Cup in the Fourth Qualifying Round last Saturday as Isthmian North side Canvey Island shocked Cray by running out 3-2 winners to set up an away tie with Banbury United.

Cray Wanderers, who are currently calling Bromley’s Hayes Lane home until their new stadium is ready, have not had difficulty finding the net this season. Joseph Taylor is the visitor’s top-scorer, having already bagged 11 goals this season in all competitions, whilst Freddie Parker has found the net on six occasions, so a difficult test awaits the Hawks’ backline this afternoon.

A win for either team today would send them into the First Round Proper and, given the steady start the Hawks have made to this season, a cup run might just be the catalyst for the start of a positive season.

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