Cray Wanderers vs. Carshalton Athletic/Folkestone Invicta

Saturday 11th/Wednesday 15th February

The pre-game thoughts/Programme notes of Neil Smith


Pics:  Ozay Booth/Jon Hilliger

The Wands look to return to winning ways this afternoon with the first of back to back home games vs. Carshalton Athletic and Folkestone Invicta.  Here Neil looks back to the defeat at Wingate & Finchley and sets the scene for a fascinating match this afternoon between two promotion candidates this season. 

Hello Neil.  It has been unusual of late to speak to you following a defeat rather than a win or a draw.  What are your reflections of the game at Wingate & Finchley last Saturday.

Apart from them scoring the goal I thought the new boys coming in with Freddie Carter back and Bailey Akehurst coming on board did well.  They didn’t really cause us any problems we seemed to give ourselves the problems.  You are obviously disappointed because we didn’t win but you get opportunities and the expectation levels have risen rightly so.  So when you play a team that are fighting relegation it is always going to be a disappointment when you don’t get anything from it.  Wingate & Finchley are fighting for their lives and once they got the early goal you could see that had something to cling on to and was always going to be difficult to break numbers down and we have to do a bit better than that.  It was disappointing because it was a game where we should have gone there after the results we have been having with a positive frame of mind and come back with a win but it wasn’t to be. We obviously have a tough game coming up against Carshalton Athletic and we are really going to have be on our mettle.

I felt if the chance for Danny Bassett in the 4th minute when the keeper has made an exceptional save goes in the course of the game would have changed as the home side’s mindset would have changed.

Yes, it woud have been a totally different story as they would have had to come out more and attack you and can’t sit behind the ball and you may find little gaps to go and exploit but we didn’t score, they got their goal and it was a case of breaking down numbers.  We created enough chances, Cookie had a couple, Tom Derry, Danny Bassett but it was one of those days where the ball seemed to go into the keepers hands or he pulled off a save.  Very disappointed but from where we have come from in almost a year since we have been here, myself and Tosh we are in a better place to where we were.

We did feel a bit flat after the game as it was one we expected to get something out of but it is proof isn’t it in this league there are no gimme’s and every game poses it’s own challenges.

That’s right, I still say now when we played Herne Bay at the start of January sitting bottom of the league, I thought they were a good side. There is not a lot of difference from the bottom clubs to the middle of the league and from midtable to the top so you do have to be on it all the time and there is no match where you can take your foot off the gas. Those teams at the bottom are fighting and the teams from 13th upwards feel they could reach the playoffs so everyone has something to play for.

Let’s look forward to the match with Carshalton Athletic. They are a side very much in the promotion frame and I felt we played very well down at Colston Avenue on 26th November and perhaps unlucky not to come away with all three points. They also lost at home to Canvey Island last Saturday and without a win in three so they too will be looking for a rebound.

Carshalton are a very strong side, I know Steve McKimm and Barry Moore down there very well and they will be like us disappointed with their last game but feel they can bounce back and continue the momentum they had as they had some good results including beating Lewes a couple of weeks ago.  Again I agree down there we were in a good position with fifteen minutes to go but we tried to shield the ball out, got dispossessed and gifted them a goal which made it 1-1 and we even had a couple of chances to have wrapped it up. It looked like a great result because we went there and got a point but we were disappointed how we gifted them the goal. I don’t think the game will be any different, they have got some fantastic players and have a management team who don’t go into any game looking to nick a point.

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 05: Cray Wanderers’s Assistant Manager, Tim O’Shea, & Cray Wanderers’s Manager, Neil Smith, watch the players warm up before the Pre-Season Friendly match between Cray Wanderers and Welling United at Hayes Lane on July 05, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)


We are in that point of the season where everybody wants to win.  If nothing else the games are going to be very exciting and if a team wants to put a run together you are going to have put these sort of wins together.  It will be a tough game but at this stage I don’t have any major injuries so I should have a full complement of players to try and get a result with.