Cray Wanderers vs Margate – The Pre-Match Thoughts of Tony Russell
Cray Wanderers busy start to the Isthmian Premier season continued on Saturday with a goalless draw against Corinthian Casuals. Here Tony Russell looks back at the game, a recap of the injuries situation and a look ahead to the Kent derby with Margate on Wednesday night.
Another home game for Cray Wanderers Tony on Wednesday night and a tough game against Margate. We come into the game on the back of a 0-0 draw with Corinthian Casuals and maybe we are just not having the rub of the green in front of goal and in terms of the knocks we’ve been getting. What were your thoughts after the match on Saturday?
It was a combination of what we spoke about after the Folkestone game on Wednesday night for however good we were going forward and amount of ball we had we were too loose without it and we were too easy to counter-attack. We spoke about a couple of things positional wise and being a bit more respectful of what we spoke about and of the game itself and we can’t always charge forward and leave ourselves so open. The boys took on board the late Folkestone winner and on Saturday Corinthian Casuals put 11 men behind the ball. We looked at the stats, we’ve had 70% of the ball and had to be very patient with what we did and Casuals were very disciplined. All credit to them as they had come off the back of a couple of defeats and came for the draw. We gave Lee Lewis a bit more of a role to do more defensive work and maybe going a bit defensive we lost a bit going the other way and also the disruption we’ve had with injury in the game with Tom Phipp and he pulls his hamstring.
Mitchell was excellent for us and after Wednesday night we thought by his standards he didn’t have the best of games but on Saturday he was brilliant and that was the sort of performance we expect from him and is too good a player to have too many off days. Sometimes he just needs reminding of his responsibilities and how important he is to the team and everyone in the dressing room looks up to him.
We’ve just come back from training and we spoke that you go through a period like this sometimes as a club and every time someone goes down it looks like a serious knock and we’ve just got to get through it. I was happy with the way we played and we restricted them to very little if anything and we’ve missed two great chances and one maybe in the first half when we’ve slipped Joe Taylor in and dragged his left foot shot wide.
I thought that your substitutions late in the second half were very positive and Tom Murphy and Charlie Allen had a positive effect when they came on.
Yes and Charlie put over the cross for Bradley Pritchard whose header from four yards was saved by the keeper. Charlie makes things happen and he’s all action. At the moment we need to accept what Charlie brings to the squad and also he needs to respect what we do as a team. He has a role to do and a couple of times he’s gone against the role we’ve asked him to do but definitely a good player and in time he will get there. We’re very different to what we do to most clubs and may look from afar that we just pass it around and everyone just gets on the ball but it is very structured how we play with or without the ball. He’s a very fit man and makes box to box runs. Against Folkestone he’s hit the top of the bar and Saturday he’s ghosted into the box and his volley goes just wide.
We’ve looked at the stats of all three games, we’ve controlled the ball and been on the front foot. I thought the Kingstonian result was about right, maybe didn’t do enough to win the game but certainly didn’t deserve to lose it. Folkestone and Corinthian Casuals we did enough to win both matches. At the moment we’re just going through spells with people getting injured, missing chances and Folkestone had four shots on target and scored three. We’ve hit the bar three times against Folkestone and chances to go 3-1 up and against Casuals missed a couple of glorious chances. What we can’t do is feel sorry for ourselves, keep doing the right things as I think we are playing ok. We’ve got a spell where Phippsy is going to be out for 3-4 weeks, Jay Leader about 4 weeks and Andre is close but not sure when and just need to ride it out and when everyone is fit
One problem for you and Joe so far has been injuries early in the season particularly for Jay Leader, Andre Coker and on Saturday Tom Phipp while Karl Dent picked up a knock at Kingstonian. Could you please advise the supporters in regards to the injury situation?
Denty is struggling a bit, we only brought him on against Folkestone for tactical reasons even though he wasn’t really fit and wasn’t fit enough Saturday to come on. Charles Etumnu at Kingstonian just wasn’t well enough to come on and we are just going through a stage where we are lacking bodies.
Jay Leader is set to have an operation on Saturday (24th August) and broke his nose against Tonbridge Angels in pre-season and couldn’t breathe out of it and had it reset which didn’t go well and now needs a more serious operation and more in-depth surgery. The good news about the surgery is once done it is about 4 weeks that he can play with a mask. Tom Phipp looks a bit more serious, possibly about 3-5 weeks. Freddie Parker even jarred his knee in the game on Saturday and a bit sore but has reacted well and in training looked happy with it. Andre got a whack late in the game against Folkestone and his knee blew up and has a lot of fluid there but we’ve just purchased a new machine that sends ice through a pipe and compresses it so he’s taken that home to use at the weekend and looks a little bit better but whether he will be ready for Wednesday is about 50-50 but if not hopefully ready for Sunday.
We only have a 16 man squad this year but I’ve spoken to the owners and they’ve been brilliant in terms of their support and they’ve allowed us to see if we can bring definitely one, possibly two centre-halves as Mitch gets married on the 31st August with hopefully one sorted out in the next day or so and we are speaking to a pro club about getting a young player for a month as cover for Jay.
The difference so far to last season is that last year we found way to win games, this year we’re finding ways not to win and maybe not getting the rub of the green. If we keep creating the chances eventually we will start winning games. We’ve got a nice period where after Wednesday night, we play Sunday but then no midweek game so a chance to recharge a little bit as it has been a bit hectic.
Finally Tony, I know in your pre-season notes you mentioned you were looking forward to going up against Jay Saunders and his Margate team. They are unbeaten at the start of the season but have drawn all three so only a point ahead of Cray. What type of game can we expect against Margate, similar to Folkestone do you think or maybe a more physical challenge?
They’ve had quite a difficult start and I spoke to Jay and he said that he thought they were unlucky not to win all three. They’ve got a good side, I’ve been to watch them and a scout did on Saturday but for us we’ve got to get our best side out on the pitch and at this stage trying to work out my starting XI and who I can get in and not.
In regards to Margate, they have Kadell Daniel who will play on the right, he’s a real handful, the centre-forward Kudus Oyenuga got a hat-trick at Kingstonian, the skipper Ben Swift is an excellent left-footed centre-half and Chris Sessegnon is a fine player so they are a good side with top players.
One positive thing about the season is that we went into the season thinking the likes of Lee Lewis would be realistically just around the squad and maybe get his chance after Christmas but because of injuries he’s started every game and seems to get better with each game. At the moment too early to make too much of a judgement but just need to get through this little spell.