Cray Wanderers vs. Cheshunt – The pre-game thoughts of Grant Basey

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 22: Cray Wanderers coaching team look on during The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Carshalton Athletic at Hayes Lane on January 22, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

Cray Wanderers begin their March fixtures today with the first of four home games in the month against Cheshunt.  Here Grant Basey looks back to last Saturday’s well-earned point at Horsham, the impact of recent new arrivals, the importance of a good home record and a thriving youth system and a look back at his first two months in charge.

 After a brief respite in league fixtures Cray picked up a decent point at Horsham last Saturday. What were your thoughts on the game and the result?

 If I’m being honest I thought our performance wasn’t actually that great in terms of on the ball and not the quality and level I would expect but in saying that we still created some good chances. Dicko has missed one from a couple of yards out, Filip has lobbed the keeper and went inches past the post, Jacob has had one at the end of the game when it has gone into the keepers hands without any real pace.  Horsham are a good side and they try to do the right things with their football and they caused us some problems. They had chances as well but on reflection was a good point for us.

 Terrific first goal from us I thought and a sublime ball through from Cameron Brodie and a tidy finish from the in-form Chris Dickson.

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 05: Cray Wanderers’s Chris Dickson celebrates scoring his team’s first goal to make the score 1-0 during The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Merstham at Hayes Lane on February 05, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

 Yes, it was an excellent team goal and well worked with the build-up play, Cameron slipped the ball in behind and Dicko finished calmly.  We’ve been getting into those positions and areas a lot lately but haven’t been ruthless like we were on Saturday. Also Brodie’s shot with his left foot was a great strike to make it 2-2.

The frustrating thing for me was once again conceding just before half time and that has happened too many times for my liking but the boys gave another reaction which was all I asked but we need to stop giving away goals at the end of the first half.

 Also in that game there were debuts for Joe Wright in goal who made two-three great saves and also a lively Narcis-Florin Filip up front who gave Horsham a lot of problems in the first half. Also Denzel Williams came on in the last twenty minutes.

 Yes, Joe and Narcis-Florin came in and both did well. Joe made some really good saves at key moments of the game and looked very assured so a very good debut for him. As did Narcis-Florin who was a constant threat running in behind and showed some very good touches and was unlucky not to score when he lobbed the keeper, the ball spun and missed the goal by inches. Also Denzel when he came on was very assured at the back.

 We had a couple of injuries in the game to Ethan Kaiser and Kyel Reid. Is there any update to the extent of their injuries?

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 05: Cray Wanderers’s Ethan Kaiser scores his team’s third goal with his head to make the score 3-0 during The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Merstham at Hayes Lane on February 05, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

 Ethan’s was an impact injury on his ankle which swelled up pretty much straight away. We are hoping he may be fit for today but may be touch and go. It looked like Reidy tweaked his quad so we have had to assess it through the week to see how bad it is and whether he will be available for us.

 Looking ahead to the visit of Cheshunt, our first home game in a month. We were due to play Haringey Borough a couple of Saturday’s ago but was called off. We had played a lot of games since you came to the club, was the breather a good thing for you and the team.

It did help as I think last week for the first time since I’ve been here we were able to train twice a week as we had a midweek fixture every week since I took over just after Christmas.  So it was a relentless schedule and the players have been working hard and giving me everything which I’m sure everyone can see. We haven’t the best of luck at times and also if we are a bit more ruthless we would be higher up the league than we are. I think they have been playing well of late and in a bit better form and hopefully we can kick on again on Saturday in what will be another tough match against Cheshunt.

It will be our youth team day on Saturday so we hopefully will have a big, noisy crowd and the boys can feed off of that.

 You alluded to the Youth team day today. We have a number of teams across age groups from U7s-U18s, we have the U17s in the London Cup Final tomorrow and the U15s Lions in the Kent FA Cup Final at the end of March. Also we have two girls teams in the Kent Girls and Ladies Football League.  It is important isn’t it to have a thriving youth system for the club to prosper for the long term future.

 100%, I definitely agree with that. Once the ground is up and running at Flamingo Park, the Academy will flourish. We would be on our own site, get games played there regularly and will be a facility everyone can be proud of. I have no doubt that a lot of young players will play for Cray Wanderers and create that pathway going forward. It is important and that is the reason why clubs have an Academy for that pathway to the first team and opportunities to play.  That is something I will do all the time that I am here to look to involve boys if I feel they are ready. It is great for the club and I am looking forward to Saturday and seeing many faces at the game.

 Finally you and Gary have been in for a couple of months. How do you assess your first few weeks at the club as when you arrived after Christmas we were drifting towards relegation.

 We’re still fighting amongst the teams at the bottom but I am trying my hardest and as best I can day in day out to improve the team and get us in the right direction up the table. I think there have been some good moments, some moments when we can improve but as a whole i think we are doing well. I will always strive for more and to increase standards and the boys know that and I will never apologise for that. I think things should be done in a certain way and that is what I am trying to implement. Over a period of time it could all come good and as a club we can move in the right direction.

With ten games to go seven years ago we won our last ten matches to stay up in the Isthmian North and now we have another big ten games to get through to stay in the Isthmian Premier.

 I remember when Cray did that and it was a great achievement. I am realistic to our situation and I will be giving my utmost as this club means a lot to me and to take us where we should be, higher up the league or even in another league as an ambitious club and once we get the ground. We’ve ten games to go, we continue to fight, there will be ups and downs during the period but with four out of five games in March at home we really need to be trying to get as many points at home as possible and whatever we can get away from home.