Bishop’s Stortford vs Cray Wanderers – Friday 26th August – The pre-match thoughts of Neil Smith

Pics: Ozay Booth

Cray Wanderers begin the first of two Bank Holiday weekend fixtures this evening as the Wands visit Bishop’s Stortford looking to build on last Saturday’s victory against Canvey Island.  Here Neil Smith looks back on the first win of the season and thoughts on this evening’s game and opponents.

Hello Neil.  Let’s look back to last Saturday and the first win of the season vs Canvey Island which also saw a clean sheet.  It was a tight game which we edged at the end. What are your thoughts of the game and the win?

I agree it was quite a tight game. I thought the first 45 minutes we knocked the ball around well, created chances but couldn’t take them. Fair play to Canvey Island, they were always going to try to hit you on the break. They had a couple of opportunities before half time they could have scored from but I thought we were outstanding in the first half.  Second half there was a bit more of a panic but the three subs who came on for us changed the game.  

It was great for young Ben Krauhaus to come on for the last 20 minutes or so and I thought he did well and didn’t look out of place.

Ben is a player I know from Bromley and having been in my Academy. He was someone I liked training with the first team so I know what he can do.  It was a bit 100 miles an hour for him for the first few minutes but once he settled into the pace of the game he did well. 

Billy Crook, we know what he can do and also Gary Lockyer coming on for Tom Derry gives us that physicality up front.  I was really pleased with the result, I thought we played better on Wednesday against Bognor Regis and came away with a draw, I didn’t think we should have lost at Billericay on the opening day so the results are evening themselves out a bit.

To get the win just takes that bit of pressure off everybody and they could enjoy their weekend. 

It was a great goal to win the game too, a terrific cross from Dan Bassett and Billy Crook stole in to head the ball into the net for his first goal for us.

During the warm ups we have been doing heading practice and Billy has scored every time. So when it went in there my surprise was in the 90th minute that my holding midfield player was in the box.  Billy wanted to come on, he is desperate to do well for the club like all the players and he got the winner for us. 

I gave the man of the match in the Non League Paper to Jalen Jones. There were some outstanding performers but over the three games as a whole I think he has been superb. Also Mitch Chapman looked strong, Shaun Rowley made a couple of vital saves at key times.

I totally agree with you, Jalen has come in and is a very good defender and is developing a good partnership with Harold Joseph.  Also with Shaun he was very good when called upon but as you say Jalen was outstanding and has been since he walked through the door. His attitude has been brilliant, I know there are clubs looking at him and hopefully long may it continue that he stays with us.

Also a clean sheet and last season we had only one in January.  So that must be pleasing to get one early in the season.

Well, I’m hoping to double that at least.  It is one of those where you are looking to build on a clean sheet. It has been difficult because this season most of the goals we’ve conceded have been via refereeing decisions and I think the players have reacted to that so I thought we were deserving of the clean sheet, players throwing themselves in the way of things and I think we were deserved winners but fair play to Canvey Island. They won 5-1 earlier in the week and were coming to us on a high and perhaps thought they could do it again so to keep a clean sheet against a team in form was outstanding.

We now begin the traditional August Bank Holiday double header tonight against Bishop’s Stortford.  Looking at the early weeks of the season there seems to be a jockeying for position and the table still taking shape. 

Yes, I’ve looked at the table and they were beaten at the weekend which I was surprised at as they are one of the favourites and through speaking to a few people with the players they have but it will be a difficult game for us away from home. We had that little test at the end of last season for myself so I know they are a good, physical side and we will need to be at our very best this evening.