Cray Wanderers vs. Lewes – Isthmian Premier, Saturday 28th January

The pre-game thoughts/Programme notes of Neil Smith

Pics: Ozay Booth/Jon Hilliger

This afternoon sees another big game in Cray Wanderers promotion push as Lewes, another side with promotion aspirations are the visitors to Hayes Lane.  Here Neil Smith looks back to the Wands bouncing back from the first defeat in ten at home to Bishop’s Stortford with a determined display at Aveley last Saturday and his thoughts on today’s match. 

Hello Neil.  Well done to the team on the win at Aveley last Saturday.  That was a fine result and performance and a great way to respond to the Bishop’s Stortford defeat.

Yes it was a very good all round performance and the Bishop’s Stortford game was the perfect preparation for the Aveley game as very similar with set plays, long throws and corners to the fore. Where we didn’t contain them enough against Bishop’s Stortford we obviously worked on it during the week and it paid dividends. I thought Jalen Jones and Matty Weaire really dominated in a tough game. I could go through all the players as they all played well and it was especially good to have Jephte Tanga back and thought he was outstanding as everyone of them were but just wanted to highlight a couple.

I thought Anthony Cook coming on in central midfield helped bolster things when Mitch Chapman had to go off. I don’t know why it keeps happening to us where we are losing players in a game in the first half which disrupts us a bit but Cookie coming on with his experience was invaluable.

We took the lead with a well worked set piece when Sam Wood’s free kick was followed up by Tom Derry after Jalen Jones header was saved.  Tom has had an excellent season and deserved his goal didn’t he!

Tom has been outstanding for us, I know people might want more goals but I just love his work ethic, he puts himself about and then defensively. He followed up after the keeper made a great save to deny Jalen and nodded the ball in and was thoroughly deserved.  

Second half we had to batten down the hatches a little bit especially in the last ten minutes and additional time didn’t we!

I thought before then though Dajon had gone through, he could have passed to Tom Derry who was in a better position but tried to overcook it by trying a backheel to someone else and the ball was cut out. Those last few minutes you do look at it with a bit of trepidation because of what happened against Bishop’s Stortford but the boys stood up to be counted and deserved to win in the end.

The fans were really pleased and blown away by the determination of the team at Aveley and although not the prettiest of wins at this stage of the season it is all about winning rather than the style isn’t it!

What they say is after Christmas it is all about collecting points and not the way you get them. The Aveley game was a bit like that, you roll the sleeves up, get the gumshields out and fight for every point.  The boys showed their commitment to one another and the club and in the end we got a thoroughly deserved result for the hard work and endeavour. Aveley might say something but I couldn’t question any of my boys on the day they were amazing.

Today’s game sees Lewes the visitors and promises to be a different type of game after three physical encounters and perhaps very pleasing on the eye.

It will be a totally different game, Lewes will try to play out from the back and I thought we did very well down there in November especially with ten men and had some great chances to win it. We are under no illusions they are a good side and with all the history with their management side of things but we are really looking forward to the game and should be a good one to watch.

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 05: Cray Wanderers’s Assistant Manager, Tim O’Shea, & Cray Wanderers’s Manager, Neil Smith, watch the players warm up before the Pre-Season Friendly match between Cray Wanderers and Welling United at Hayes Lane on July 05, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)