Cray Wanderers kept up their unbeaten start to 2019 with a hard earned point at Faversham Town on Saturday. Here, Tony Russell looks back on the game, his thoughts on the match with VCD Athletic, the benefits of the matchday video analysis, a view on the current refereeing debate as well as the upcoming games against Herne Bay and Whyteleafe.
We come to the end of January and an unbeaten start to 2019. We picked up a point at Faversham Town on Saturday after going a goal down early on and perhaps were unlucky not to win with Bradley and Freddie hitting the woodwork. What are your thoughts of how the game panned out against a determined Faversham side?
I was more than happy with the way we played. We hit the bar and the post, had 3 cleared off the line & made their keeper pull off some great saves. For the second week running the ref has given a penalty when it wasn’t & that’s a little frustrating but that’s how It goes sometimes. Apart from a soft pen, they only had one more shot on goal and that was from 30 yards – it bounced twice before getting to Bluey. We had 70% of the ball so, yes, it was a game we should have won but you also have to give Faversham credit, they worked hard & never gave up. The players were a little down about it as they wanted to win so much & we have bred it into them to expect to win every game. The message after the game was “well done chaps” Faversham are a good club so it tells you how far we have come when the fans & players are celebrating a draw at home. I love seeing things like that as it means we are on the right track.
Let’s cast our minds back to our last home game against VCD Athletic and in my opinion one of our best home performances against a tough side especially being down to ten men for the last half hour. Two contenders for goal of the season from Freddie and Ben as well and you must have been very pleased with the performance?
Yes, we did play well. We were 1-0 up at half time but, should have been 2 or3 really. Into the 2nd half we were 2-0 up & the ref turned the game on its head! This is why I say we can’t get carried away, not with the amount of games still to be played this season. If you need any evidence that this season is far from over let that game be a lesson in how fast things can change! We were 2-0 up & they still hadn’t had a shot on goal; we were controlling the game with the ball & all was going well. Then out of nowhere the Ref has a nightmare, not only does he give a pen that wasn’t, he also sends Archie off. This is why the F.A Changed the rules about giving pens & Red cards but for some reason this ref didn’t know the rules of the game! So he made 2 shocking calls & the game changed from that point. It gave them a lift & they started to come at us more. The players were brilliant in how they manage the game with 10 men, I am not sure last season we would have dealt with that as good as we did. VCD make it 2-1 and for the next 30mins we play with a player less. Do you know how many shots on goal they had for the rest of the game? Zero…not one! In fact the only shot on target they had was from the pen. VCD are a handful so it is credit to the players for the way they shut that game out and to also go on & get a 3rd too.
We were able to get Archie Johnson’s red card rescinded by the FA on appeal following submitting video evidence. How important an acquisition for the club has the Capturemast and Hudl hardware and software been for you, Joe and Nathan?
We are a management team who are always looking to improve in whatever area we can & we felt filming games can help in so many ways. It allows us to watch the games back in full to see if we could do anything better for the next game. If so, then I will know what session I need to do for the coming week. It allows us to give players feedback with the Hudl software – every player has an App and we send them clips so they can have a better understanding of what we are asking from them. It also allows us to send very clear footage to the FA when we have to appeal things.
As I said in my last question it was a really poor call on both the Pen & the sending off, The FA can’t take the Pen away but they can overturn the Red Card & thankfully they did just that. Two poor calls from refs has cost us two clean sheets this past 2 weeks & one has cost us 2 points so a decent ref this week would be great! I see Keith (VCD Manager) has started a petition to get refs more training & funding. I really don’t know how I feel about this. I 100% see why he is doing it. You work hard all week only for a ref to make a bad call & it kills you just like when we played his team a few weeks earlier. I really try to not get on them as I know it is a hard job but we have had a few this season – so bad it is scary! Not just for us but both teams. I remember Ramsgate at home & looking down the touchline at Lloyd Blackman, the then manager of Ramsgate, and we both just started laughing. The poor kid was so far out of his league he was like a rabbit in headlights & the players had picked up on that so it turned into a circus. I also know we as managers don’t help matters by putting them under pressure by appealing every 5mins.
I would honestly say over 60% of managers we have come across this season spend the whole game just shouting “ REF!!” not one bit of info to the players just on the ref all game. So we as managers are not helping matters. Also I have sat here typing about the mistakes the refs are making in the game but I am not so great myself and when I look back on those games I made mistakes too. I picked the wrong player and I wondered if my session was good enough in the build up to the game. Did they all understand what I was trying to get across to them? Did all the players make any mistakes in the games too? 100% they did; poor touch, poor finish, poor pass, etc. My point is this, I can’t sign a petition about refs needing more help and not being good enough because I’m still making mistakes myself and so are my players, so as much as they drive me mad at times, I need to put my energy into making sure I’m good enough before turning round & saying other people are not good enough and need help.
Finally we enter February with a double header of games starting with Herne Bay on Saturday who are on a bit of a bounce after beating Hastings on Saturday and doing us a favour. Then a bit of a rarity this season, a midweek league match down at Whyteleafe, a side many of our supporters view as the best team we’ve played so far. What can we expect from these two games?
Herne Bay are a young side so you are going to get that up & down form. They are a lot better than the league position they find themselves in and it will be a hard game. I read their manager say “we wouldn’t be looking forward to playing them”. I can assure him we are. We don’t fear any team & look forward to seeing what they bring to the game. It’s why I love football as every team brings something different. Teams have kicked us, played long back, come to try and play, put 11 behind the ball, come and had a go at us and so far we have worked it out & handled it. I am looking forward to the game as they have some good players & it has the makings of a good game.
Whyteleafe is a funny one as I agree with you that they are the best team we have played however,I have seen them a few times after that & they were not as good. We played them on the Wednesday & they didn’t have a game on the Saturday so they come into the game fresh & had loads of time to prepare & work on things – I think that had a bearing on why they played well. Now I’m not sure how this has worked out but, they don’t have a game Saturday again, just before playing us. So, again, won’t have any time to work on things as they have been playing a different formation so it has made it a harder game that’s for sure. There isn’t anything we can do about it so we just have to go there on Tuesday & get the job done, it’s a simple as that. Once the game finishes on Saturday I have something planned so we can sit with the players & do some sort of work on them. They will come with a game plan that’s for sure and they have lots of time to work on it but all the boys are smart enough, so I have no doubt that we will be ready for them.