We rounded off 2017 with a cracking win against Faversham Town on Saturday making it 18 unbeaten in the league and second place at the end of the year. Here Tony Russell looks back on the drama of yesterday, a look ahead to Greenwich Borough and a look back on 2017.
Another tremendous game and performance against Faversham Town making it 18 games unbeaten. I think you have to give Faversham credit, they are a gutsy side and kept on going. On speaking to Ray Turner after the game he said they came with an attacking game plan rather than to sit back and we had to work hard to get the better of them. What were your thoughts following the game?
A little frustrated with the greatest of respect to Ray and Faversham it should have been double figures. Through some casual finishing and brilliant goalkeeping from the Faversham keeper. Rhuleys miss from 3 yards when it looks harder to miss, then he’s gone clean through and missed that’s all at 4 nil. Jerome Federico has missed an open goal and that’s without the 6 great saves the keepers made and the other chances we’ve squandered. We got sloppy at the end and it’s ended with score line looking closer than it was.
Fair play to Faversham for not giving up and I honesty wish them well. Ray has had a big turnaround of players but we all know he is a top manager who will soon have them up the right end of the table. I had a little moan at the end but I also congratulated the players on going 18 games unbeaten in such a competitive league that’s a fantastic achievement, but we need to learn from yesterday and make sure we are better in the next game which will be a tough one against a very good Greenwich borough side. Gaz (Gary Alexander) watches a lot of games at Bromley so will know all about us, Vinesy has come up with some new set plays for that reason.
There were some very good performances following on from Shoreham on Boxing Day. I gave Michael Freiter the man of the match as I thought he ran the game but Aaron Rhule, Brandon Scott. Lea Dawson and Zak Henry were close behind.
I agree I thought Freits had a great game, he just gets better and better. If you remember we spoke about him after the first Moneyfields game and I said that I felt that there was a lot more to come from him. He has had a really good run in the side and his confidence is growing with every game. I still think that there is a little more to come from him and I think he could do what he did yesterday on a consistent basis for us now, he has all the tools he just needs to keep backing himself the way he is doing at the moment. Daws and Zak continue to give the rest of the boys the platform in which to attack from, they are brilliant at breaking the game up and setting us back on attacks. Aaron Rhule continues to impress all and Brandon just needs to add goals to his performances. As every time Jerome Federico comes on the pitch he’s putting in performances that are knocking on the door for a starting place.
A couple of players I haven’t mentioned too much in our interviews are Jay Leader and Mitchell Nelson. These two players are the ultimate modern day footballers who can do everything, head, tackle, ping the ball from their own half out to the wing, shoot from distance, track back and a threat from set pieces. What are your thoughts on these two players who have had a tremendous first half of the season.
To play centre back for Cray Wanderers you simply have to be able to do all of that and these 2 are as good as I’ve seen, a complete package. Trust me I’ve searched high and low of the North, South and Premier for centre halves that can do what we ask them to do, there aren’t many out there than can! We are very lucky to have these 2 and going forward I’d like to keep them for years to come as they are both relatively young. They have one little weakness they both have to work on is keeping their concentration sometimes when we are on top so much they can have small periods when they get sloppy, but that’s the beauty of the whole team, I don’t think we have hit our peak yet I honestly think there is more to come from this team. We are still working on new things as we speak so it’s exciting to see where we can go with this group.
Freddie Parker was electric when he came on for the last ten minutes and looked sharp and hungry.
Fred’s been really unlucky he scored 2 on Boxing Day and found himself on the bench which I can imagine may have disappointed him but not that I see or heard anything to suggest that. He is a brilliant young player who is learning all the time. Whether he realises it or not watching Shaggy play is benefiting him as I’ve starting to see a couple of things he is doing that I have only seen Shaggy do. Shags has hit a bit of a flat spot but I back my players and Shags has more than earned the right for me to continue to do that. Freddie will play a major part this season if a pro club doesn’t take him. I’ve noticed he comes training early with his own football to practice his shooting before everyone else turns up, it has not gone unnoticed. It had been suggested a month or so ago that if you stop Shaggy you stop us, I’d like to think we’ve put that one to bed now.
Looking back on 2017 as a calendar year it has been one of contrasts. Inconsistent for the first half of the year and the model of consistency for the second half. What are your impressions of 2017.
In the 2 seasons previously at Cray we had over a 70% win ratio at home before Christmas, and only 20% win after Christmas. Why is that? The pitch was inconsistent, brilliant first up like a carpet then it would be a mud bath over Christmas till February then it would be a bobbly dust bowl from that point on, what we’ve got now is a consistent surface and when you have a consistent surface it allows you to be consistent? Whether that’s grass, 3G it doesn’t matter.
Away games you take what you get and work with it but at home you need to be strong and having the pitch this year allows us to be just that! At VCD I had a consistent surface which was grass we achieved great things there back to back promotions, Ryman North title and 34 games unbeaten. So any suggestion that I need a 3G pitch to win games of football is a silly one. Harlow town was the only club to have a 3G pitch when we won the Ryman North.
Finally from behalf of the club and fans can we wish you and the management team and players a very Happy New Year and thanks for some great football.
Thanks on behalf of the management team and players we wish everyone connected to Cray a happy new year and thank you for the continued support from the board room down to the fans! What 2018 will bring I don’t know as football is football and anything can happen, what we can do is to make sure we continue to enjoy it and all give our best and what will be will be!!