Cray Wanderers continued their fine run of form on Wednesday night with a 4-2 win against VCD Athletic making it 21 games unbeaten. Tony Russell gives his thoughts on another dramatic evening, about one of the signings of the season and the impact being made by young players at the club.
Another game of high drama and some fine attacking play by Cray. As well as scoring four goals we’ve hit the post three times and their keeper has made great saves. 94 goals in all competitions is some record. What was your opinion of the match?
Like we spoke a few weeks back, when you are playing the teams down the bottom an early goal is what you are looking for. Brandon has put one wide after 2 minutes then Jerome has put one over when well placed, Daws has had a free header which he has put wide and then Brandon has chosen to volley a ball rather than header it from 5 yards out. Credit to the goal keeper he made a fine save but from that range you shouldn’t be giving goalkeepers a chance. So the longer the game is 0-0 it breeds confidence and hope. Second half very much the same. Ben’s hit the post from a yard out, when he’s got to score. Daws hits the post, again Jerome Federico has hit the post from a yard out when it looks easy to score. But when you don’t put teams away you always dangle the carrot. VCD are a very off the cuff side, they pop up in unusual areas, they started to have moments in the game where they started to break on us and with their first real shot on target their guy scores a cracking goal. Then all of a sudden you’re in a game. Now their tails are up, they are coming from everywhere. One rash tackle in the box and we find ourselves 2-1 down, it is something that concerns me, as we keep letting teams off and keep digging ourselves out of holes. It does concern me, this is why I say Aaron Rhule is such a big player for us. He is a genuine goal threat from out wide. He won’t be fit enough for Guernsey but we hope to have him fit enough for the Ashford game next Wednesday. So scoring 94 goals already is a fantastic achievement but scoring the first 2 in any games are the important ones. And these goal scorers are the ones I rate the most.
There was a sharp intake of breath when I announced Charlie MacDonald’s name before kick off. Tell us a little about Charlie and the wealth of experience he can bring the club? He is already heading for the immortals by scoring twice on his debut.
Shaggy spoke to me a week or so ago and said he is feeling fatigued, he has pretty much lead the line up there on his own in every game and we’ve burnt him out a little bit. He has just looked a little sluggish, so when I heard that Charlie had been let go by Greenwich Borough I gave him a call. First conversation, was a nice introduction, but as you can imagine there were 6 or 7 other teams in for him. When he spoke about some of the figures he had been offered I came off the phone thinking that we had no chance. I explained to Charlie that we are a club that live within our means and that’s what makes us a solid club. We don’t cut or mess about with player’s money, I explained to him what the club were trying to do on and off the field and just left him with the offer that we could do but said if it was about money we would not be able to compete with the other offers. To my surprise I see he was at our game on Sunday, so I phoned him again on Monday and he said he liked the way we played and he felt frustrated watching the game as he felt he would have scored a few. For someone who has been around the game a long time his passion about the way he talks about wanting to score goals is remarkable. He has genuine fire in his belly, that man just loves scoring goals, you can just tell that by just talking to him. So when he said them magic words, Tone, I wanna play for Cray, it was music to my ears. He swallowed money to come to us, as he believes we are onto something and he wants to be part of it. I think it was evident for everyone to see what he is going to bring to us, what you wouldn’t have seen is him in the dressing room straight off the bat giving out information, talking to the young wide players about where he wants the ball put. Me and Vinsey just looked at each other and smiled. Let’s not forget about Shaggy, this will benefit him, lightning the load off his shoulders & between the two of them we have excellent fire power going into the running.
We were unlucky first half especially Brandon Scott early header which was well saved early on which if that went in could have meant a different match. Was it a case of us just being patient with our game and we knew goals were going to come.
I’ve spoken about Brandon for the last few weeks, he’s an excellent young player & is still learning the game, but he needs to bring more goals to his game, simple as that. Once I get Wednesday out the way, me and Vinsey are putting a training package together specifically for him. Working on his finishing in the areas he finds himself in most of the time. We are going to go over and over that drill until he shuts his eyes at night and is putting them in, in his sleep. He didn’t actually header that chance, he tried to volley it even though it was shoulder height. Having not scored that early goal we did have to be patient. They were playing with no wide players, they had 4 midfield players in there so we had to be patient and keep switching the ball out letting their midfielders keep running across the pitch. I could see they were tiring and they just gained extra energy after scoring the 2 goals. So we just had to be patient, keep moving them about and when you get tired you loose concentration, soon as Charlie equalised it was only ever going to be one result.
Denty had another great game didn’t he, in that sort of Quarterback style role spraying passes around, good delivery from set pieces and an excellent goal. If he hits top form between now and April we are going to go places aren’t we?
He actually wasn’t playing a deeper role in that game, but as they had the 4 midfielders in there he had to hold the centre of the pitch for us, he is excellent at receiving the ball in tight areas. So he coped very well with it, he was hurting them with his range of passing both short and long and his finish for the goal was excellent with his weaker foot. He just needs to get a bit fitter, once we get Wednesday out the way we are back to 2 sessions a week. Then we can really get on top of his fitness alongside some of the other boys.
Ben Mundele had a storming second half, set up the second goal, had a shot saved and hit the post and then hit a screamer. Does he do that often in training?
Like I said previously, with their formation the full backs were our outball,so it really bought Ben into the game. The more tired they got the longer it was taking them to get over the pitch to him. If you remember he fired a warning shot 10 minutes before, ball got switched over to him & he come inside the full back and curled a left foot shot wide of the post. Ten minutes later we switched the ball out to him and he has come inside the full back and hit a left foot shot inside the post this time to score. When we got Ben he was a wide player/ forward, so he has always been a very good finisher at training. As you seen in previous games I have played him in the front 3, as I know what he can bring going forward.
Another youngster came on against a tiring defence in Ralique Lawrence and he did very well for the fourth goal.
Yes, another good young player we have at the club. The plan is once Rhuley is back fit he will go out on loan to gain some first team football for his education then we will have him back for the start of next season. But we all know what Ralique can do he has come on skipped past 2 and then squared the ball to Charlie to side foot in the 4th.
Finally, we look ahead to Guernsey on Saturday. What can we expect from the Green Lions?
They are a different animal when they play at home, they will be backed by a good crowd and you also have to take into consideration the task it is to get there. We are meeting at 6:15am in the morning and have to fly over there, so not ideal preparation for a game, but you have got to look at it as an experience. We really enjoyed going over there last year, they are really nice people. So will embrace it, and look forward to it and best foot forward.