The Thoughts of the Manager – Tony Russell
Cray Wanderers returned to league action following a short break with a 1-0 win at Phoenix Sports last Saturday as Cray began March with a big three points. Here Tony Russell looks back on the win, an injury update and a look ahead to the game between league leaders Cray Wanderers and 2nd placed Horsham on Saturday.
An excellent way to start March with three points at Phoenix Sports last Saturday. It was a very professional performance against a strong side who had beaten Ashford United the previous week. Great also to see Karl Dent get on the scoresheet as his recent displays have deserved a goal. What are your thoughts following our 11th win out of 14 games on the road this season?
I thought we played well. It’s always a hard place to go. It’s a tight pitch and it was pretty dry too, so that isn’t a great combo for a passing team but, we coped with it really well. 1-0 sounds like it was a close game but anyone who was there would tell you 1-0 flattered them. Denty was brilliant on the day, he is a magician on the pitch. He should have scored 3-4, he knows that, but I would pay money to watch him when he is in that sort of mood. He needs to lock that form in as we have 3 big games coming up!
Back to the game – without sounding like a broken record it was more of the same in the final 3rd I’m afraid. 7 times we got in with just the keeper to beat and only scored once. I can’t take anything away from the players as they have been brilliant but that final 3rd has been the only real negative so far this season. It is something Vinesy and I will have a good look at for next season. This season we have created lots of chances so got away with it but going forward it isn’t going to work and we need to work out why that is the case and how can we improve.
I am out after work with football Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday so come Saturday after the game I tend not to hang around long as I want to get back & spend time with the kids. As the game was round the corner from my house my brother and a few mates came and watched the game so we ended up staying in the bar at Phoenix. It is a good club, you walk in the bar and it is buzzing with people. I had a drink with Paul the manager and their board and really enjoyed it. Phoenix are a well drilled team who are competitive and committed but once that final whistle blows they shake your hand and offer you a drink. Its how non-league clubs should be and it’s refreshing to see. It is a hard place to go to but one of my favourite away games
Our defence were excellent once again at Phoenix on Saturday although Mitchell did have to go off with a knock. We don’t seem to have mentioned them too much but since the turn of the year the back four and Nick Blue have been outstanding haven’t they?
They have been outstanding all year. There isn’t a back 4 and keeper anywhere near as good as those lads in this league, not even close for me. When we don’t kill teams of, it is those 5 who see the game out for us. When the team of the year comes out I will be shocked if most of them aren’t in it
A few people spoke to me on Saturday and asked after the wellbeing of Aaron Rhule and Barney Williams. Could you possibly give us an injury update as we enter this crucial part of the season?
Not great I’m afraid. Barney has been out for 6 weeks with no improvement so we sent him for a 2nd opinion and we got a very different read on the MRI. It turns out his injury was a bad one. He has now started a programme to build the knee back up but with only 8 weeks of the season left he is running out of time. He is working hard so let’s wait and see. Rhuley has been out a long time, he came back last week and played in an in-house game and did well but broke down again on Tuesday. It looks like his season is over too. With Shaggy being out for 3 months, it has got us looking at how we do things when players get injured. Ally doesn’t have anything apart from a bed and her hands and that clearly isn’t working so we need to come up with something going forward that can work for everyone. Once we get to the ground we will have a unbelievable physio department but that isn’t going to be any time soon and we need to come up with something for next season. We are looking to bring a full back in & have made an approach for one so once we can talk to him we are hoping to get that deal over the line. Mitch and Phippy both picked up knee injuries on Saturday so we will need to assess them both later in the week.
Finally, a huge game on Saturday, Cray Wanderers vs Horsham, 1st vs 2nd and perhaps over the course of the season the two most consistent teams in the league. Horsham of course are the only side to beat us in the league in that storm ravaged game back in December. As a supporter it’s these games we look forward to every season as exciting if a little nerve-wracking. With nine more matches to go what are your thoughts on this game and what we can expect from Horsham?
Horsham are a very good side and we will need to play well to get something from the game. They are a side who will look to pass the ball and within that have some very good players too. As for the nerve-wracking, “big game” etc. I’m not really the sort of person who labels games like that. It’s a game of football just like the one last Saturday. We went all out to win that one and we will go all out to win this one too. It has the makings of a good football match that’s for sure. I rate Dom as a manager, he has done a great job this season. Saying all that I have big belief in my players; I wouldn’t swap them for anyone at this level so if we play as well as I know we can, we will win this game.
Hope you all enjoy the game.