Cray Wanderers vs Horsham – The Pre-game thoughts of Danny Kedwell

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 31: Cray Wanderers’s Manager, Danny Kedwell walks to the dugouts before the The Buildbase FA Trophy match between Cray Wanderers and Kings Langley at Hayes Lane on October 31, 2021 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

Cray Wanderers created a bit of history in our last home game with victory against Ebbsfleet United in the FA Trophy to advance to the 3rd Round (last 64) for the first time making Danny Kedwell the first manager to do so. Here Danny looks back on the day and also the subsequent league games against Bowers & Pitsea and Worthing.

Pics: Jon Hilliger/, Ozay Booth

 Congratulations Danny on becoming the first Cray Wanderers manager to reach the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy. The club have had eight previous opportunities to reach this round but usually fall a little short.  Is it fair to say during the Ebbsfleet United game our young players came of age to get through the tie?

 I think everyone did that day and they all stuck to their game plan. Where we have won games this season every time it was because they stuck to the game plan. I need to get into their heads that they can’t just do what they want and think they are better than they are to be playing in this league. Gradually we are getting there and they are learning that. We have the quality and just need to start keeping clean sheets. We haven’t had one all season which is unknown by now not to have kept at least one whoever you have at the back.  We will always create chances and have the ability to score goals so to keep clean sheets is essential for us as we have the quality in the forward areas.

I think up to the last twenty minutes against Ebbsfleet and at full time it showed our legs began to tire and that gave Ebbsfleet more space and we couldn’t close the gaps quick enough but that was always going to happen and I said that before the game and at half time that full time training is vastly different to training once or twice a week and could be a factor late in the game.

It was a great result, the boys did what I asked of them and it was nice to create a bit of history so early on and let’s hope the run continues.

Jamie Yila showed his qualities with two goals in three minutes before half time. One a poacher’s goal following up from a free kick and the other a fine angled drive.

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 24: Cray Wanderers’s Jamie Yila races Folkestone Invicta’s Alfie Paxman to the ball during the The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Folkestone Invicta at Hayes Lane on November 24, 2021 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

Jamie has that in his locker but is still learning as he came from SCEFL Premier football and when he is on his game he is unstoppable but just lacks that consistency at the minute. Whether that is an age thing as he is still so young but just needs to produce the Ebbsfleet form on a regular basis.

Jack Turner had a great game too and Ebbsfleet had to bring some experience off the bench to get back into the match. It was probably for the best that it went straight to penalties and not 30 minutes extra-time especially with another league game at Bowers & Pitsea on Tuesday night.

Ebbsfleet had three or four key players out but so did we as Andy Drury didn’t play, Cooky and Adam Coombes didn’t start but the boys who came in did very well. That is why I didn’t want to change it too much for the Bowers and Pitsea game but Dean Beckwith was ill on the day of the game so we had to play Fjordy as centre-half which sums up our season really as we have been so unlucky with injuries or players becoming ill.

I thought at Bowers, Kasim Aidoo was different class when he came on, he’s stuck at it as he hasn’t started many recent games and has worked hard off the pitch after games and been running.

Another success story for me against Ebbsfleet United and Bowers & Pitsea was Fjord Rogers. He was class up front in the cup tie and took a great penalty in the shoot-out and then won a lot of the aerial battles as centre-half at Bowers & Pitsea.

BROMLEY, ENGLAND – August 14: Cray Wanderers’s Fjord Rogers during the Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Lewes at Hayes Lane on August 14, 2021 in Bromley, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

 Fjord is another player that is still learning and still a young kid. In the next year or two he is going to be one hell of a player. He analyses everything and I can tell over the last few games his game has got even better. Positionally and physically he holds the ball up better for a man his size. He is going to be one hell of a player and we have a very good squad with some fine young players. We also have three out on loan who are doing well at their respective clubs. These are players who need to understand the game more and we need to concentrate on staying in the Isthmian Premier this season and next season will be a different kettle of fish all together.  They know what I want, what the coaching staff want so we will have some very exciting times coming over the next couple of seasons.

It was a decent point at Bowers and Pitsea in the end and what a great strike from Anthony Cook deep into added on time to make it 1-1.

 Cooky has that in his locker and I’ve played with him in the past. He can sometimes be a frustrating player to play with but in a match he can be having a bad game like at Bowers & Pitsea but he can get you a goal out of nothing which is something I accepted when I played with him.  You might be thinking he is having a ‘mare of a game but then comes out with something out of the blue and that is Cooky. He has that instinct, that bit of extra quality and always seems to produce it when you need it most like against Folkestone and Bowers & Pitsea. We want him to keep doing that and hopefully do it a bit earlier in a game.

On Saturday we travelled to league leaders Worthing and I thought we held our own for the first half hour but Worthing showed their qualities and why they are top with a powerful ten minutes before half time to win 2-0.

That’s exactly what they had, they had a big ten minutes but I thought we dominated the game from then on but at the end of the day we never really troubled their keeper. You can’t really dominate a game like that with so much of the ball but not punish them. That sums up our season at times. The performances have been there over the last four games but now we’ve got to turn them into wins and start making and taking our chances.

The quality of the cross for the second goal was excellent but for us the basics weren’t right and we didn’t stay with our man and the first goal we should have dealt with and had two chances to deal with it before it got to the cross and cutback for the goal and as I said we make a mistake we get punished, when the other team makes mistakes we don’t punish them.

Worthing are a good side and I know Adam Hinshelwood well, he’s been there a long time and probably feel they shouldn’t be in this league after the way they’ve played the last three seasons so mentally must have been tough for them. I do think they are the best team we have played so far this season. They are organised, know their jobs very well and well structured. He has had a long time to build the team and get them to their position at the top of the league. I’ve noticed this year with managers like Adam, Neil Cugley, Rob Small etc they have been at their clubs a long time where I’m just starting out and looking to build. The clubs that tend to do well are those where the manager has been there a long time.

Finally let’s look at tonight’s game with Horsham. They are a side a bit like Bowers & Pitsea who had a very good FA Cup run reaching the 1st Round and it seemed to affect their league form for a while but since going out of the cup have been on a good run of results.

 I remember saying to you when we were due to play them but was called off due to the cup run that although it can be a blessing financially but sometimes it can kill you a bit league wise. Now they are out of the cup they can concentrate on the league and like Worthing and Folkestone many of their players have been with the club a long time, well managed and are now on a good run. However, I believe in our boys, they’ve put in some very good recent performances and we are not far off, and once we get going I think we will go on a run too.