Cray Wanderers vs Corinthian Casuals – Saturday 8th April, 2023 – The pre-game thoughts/Programme notes of Neil Smith

Pics/Artwork: Ozay Booth

Cray Wanderers go into the final four games of the season looking to create a bit of history in reaching the Isthmian Premier playoffs for the first time.  To do so, Cray will most likely have to win their final four games of the season starting today against Corinthian Casuals. Here Neil Smith looks ahead to the game and his thoughts on the two big recent games vs Enfield Town and Horsham which bagged four points.

Hello Neil.  Let’s start by taking a look back to last Saturday and a 1-1 draw at Enfield Town and a point gained which I thought we deserved especially as it wasn’t certain that the game would be on and that we conceded a goal early on.

Yes, I thought it was a deserved point at the very least and I thought the effort the boys put in going there with the understanding that the game was definitely on on the morning of the match and you have to give credit to the Enfield Town groundsmen. The pitch was soft but could have been a lot worse so to get the game on was amazing.  

I thought for the first fifteen minutes we started a bit slow.  Shaun Rowley pulled off two outstanding one on one saves and then we let in a clumsy goal that could have been prevented.  I felt we grew into the game after that from twenty five minutes onwards and thoroughly deserved a point and with five minutes to go we were looking to win it which not many teams will try to do at Enfield. We never took our foot off the gas and I brought on three attacking players as I wanted to win the game. Destiny Oladipo came close late on to scoring a winner but for a save by their keeper and right at the end Shaun has had to do it for us. I think overall it puts a marker down on what we need to do if we want to get anywhere near the playoffs in the last month of the season.

Our record against teams in the top five away from home has been very good this season. We have drawn at Bishop’s Stortford, Canvey Island and Enfield Town and won at Aveley with only a narrow defeat at Hornchurch.  Those are matches you really need to grind out a result against and we have done well against the top sides.

That’s right and the game we lost at Hornchurch we were unlucky not to get something out of that match but the goals could have been prevented. That is the one thing looking back on the season as something to work on but overall the players have worked hard in all those games especially as trailing in all three of the draws and we find ourselves in a good position going into the final games of the season.

In my last conversation with you prior to the Enfield game we talked about Harrison Sodje and how quickly he has fitted in since coming back from Leyton Orient and now has two goals in two games, both scored from outside the box and perhaps has a potential career as an attacking midfield player.

That’s right when I spoke to you I said that he returned to the club with a huge smile on his face and seemed to be glad to be back coming from a club like Leyton Orient and coming into our fold but the boys were just as happy to see him back. He scored a great goal against Horsham and then did it again on Saturday and even had another chance as well.  We are trying to get the full backs going forward a little bit helping the wingers and Harrison coming back has fitted in straight away brilliantly and knows how we play and what is expected of him. Both Harrison and Jephte Tanga have been a credit to themselves and Leyton Orient. 

Let’s look ahead to today and a huge match at both ends of the table.  Corinthian Casuals need to win as a draw will not be enough to keep them up while we need points to pressurise Enfield. Casuals also are planning ahead with Andy Gray the ex-Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and England player taking over next season as manager.

It will be a difficult game as they have won their last two which shows they are fighting but we need to win as well and it will be a game where you will have moments at both ends. Hopefully we can take our chance and if you don’t prevent one.  We are expecting a tough game as there are no easy games even at Herne Bay on Easter Monday have hit a bit of form and when we played them after New Year the final result doesn’t show how well they did and I don’t expect anything other than a very tough match once again against a team that are fighting to stay up rather than one who have nothing to play for.

Corinthian Casuals have Andy Gray going there from next season who is a massive name for the lower leagues to get to come to this level of football and help out. To have someone like Andy Gray next season is going to lift the players, it certainly would lift me knowing someone of his calibre was going there and would want to be part of that club. If it is not in this league and having to come back up again or they end up staying up he will give everything to the club and make them difficult to beat.

On another subject please see here a message from Smudger for our supporters.

 Your support at Enfield Town was brilliant, honestly the players said afterwards the support behind the goal was amazing.  You are all a band of brothers, you go to every game and give the lads all the support whether we are good or bad or earned a result or not you clap the players off.  For me I talk for the players and the management side of it and we can’t thank the supporters enough.  Going into the last four games  we are going to need everyone of you so hopefully all your throats are cleared for today because we are going to need it again guys and a Happy Easter to you all