Cray Wanderers made it four wins in a row last Saturday with victory at East Grinstead Town. Here Tony Russell looks back at the game as well as the last gasp win against Three Bridges, an injuries update and a look ahead to the match with VCD Athletic.
Another excellent three points at East Grinstead Town on Saturday and professional performance. What were your thoughts on the match and what could have been a very tricky game?
A very tricky game. They always do well vs the teams up the top. The pitch was tight & surprising dry so that made it bobbly & that’s a passing teams worst nightmare – trust me! We looked very solid all game. The fact they didn’t have one shot on target the whole game tells you how well we did without the ball. We should have been 2-3 up by half time, how the Ref didn’t give a penalty in the first half I will never know? Freddie & Joe Taylor only had to beat the keeper to score, plus the other chances from set plays that went away meant we came in at half time disappointed it was 0-0. Funny, as we didn’t have as many chances in the 2nd half but scored 2. The first one was a class finish by JT; we were all buzzing for him when that went in as he has been frustrated with himself. He had missed a few chances over the last few weeks & I know he had been beating himself up about it but I couldn’t be happier with him. He has been brilliant from the moment we brought him in. His hold up & link play has been brilliant & he works so hard for the team. We all know he will score lots of goals – trust me, I have put on shooting drills with him & he can finish! Freddie got a start on Saturday & got his goal too. We played a friendly in the week & I said before the game that I had a couple of spots in the team that I thought were still up for grabs and if you are not in the side at the moment then use tonight to make your point. He looked class in that game and it was great to see him back playing well. You need to be careful with young players, so pulling him out of the side a couple of months back needed to happen. I thought it was all getting on top of him so it’s great seeing him back looking fresh & playing well. Overall, it was a good win against a side who I rate and that win made it a double over them for the season.
The previous Sunday we were involved in quite a tussle with Three Bridges which went right to the wire and a dramatic finish with Archie Johnson’s super strike. We stood up to quite a physical challenge and pick up three points. Was this the game you were expecting or more of a free flowing attacking game?
It was only hard work because we missed so many chances. If we had won 4-0 I don’t think anyone would have complained, it was the same as the Sittingbourne & Sevenoaks game. Yes, we won all those games by one goal but anyone who was at all 3 games would tell you the only thing that was close was the score line. We had all the ball in all 3 games, we hit the woodwork in all 3 games, missed loads of chances in all 3 games. Don’t be fooled by score lines as they don’t tell the story. We were going through a period where putting the ball in the net was proving to be hard work so we were making winning games harder than it needed to be. We have been playing well & just not getting the goals to match & that will come, trust me. Someone will be on the end of a big score, you watch! Three Bridges come into the game on the back of an 8 games unbeaten run & winning 7 of them, so it was never going to be easy & it proved it. Their bench like to make lots of noise & put the ref under a lot of pressure so it was clear what they were trying to do, they did well to only have one sent off, that’s for sure. That’s football & I don’t have a problem with it.
Some teams will bring pace, some teams will bring a team full of big lumps and put it on you and they came to make the game a physical one and scream and get round the ref. The team who wins the league is the team who can overcome whatever is put in front of them. We knew it was coming and we spoke to the players at training and before the game about discipline. Half time came at a good time for us as we needed to remind them of this as we was getting drawn into it as the half went on. Second half was the best we played in a long time, some of the football we played was top draw but we couldn’t put the ball in the net. It was great that we scored at the end but, more importantly, the way the players reacted to the info we gave them at half time was brilliant. We turned it back into a football match and there was only ever going to be one winner from that point on.
One of the down sides of the game with Three Bridges was the early injury to Aaron Rhule. Can you update the supporters on the injury front in regards to Rhuley, Junior Dadson, Sean Roberts and Michael Power?
Aaron Rhule isn’t great, if I’m honest. It looks like he will be out for some time with this one. It is a big blow as players like him are hard to replace! Joe and I have been working hard to try and bring one in but that is proving hard work. The players I want are a little out of reach for us at the moment but we will continue working hard to find a replacement. Dadson is a hard one to call as it’s a bone problem so it could be 2 weeks or it could be 10 weeks. Sean Roberts has a hamstring strain so we are looking 2-3 weeks, so I’m told. Better news on Shaggy, he is back in full training & feeling good. The plan would be for him to train all this week and if he gets no reaction then maybe get him out in the Kent league for 2-3 weeks to sharpen him up then have him back in with us.
Finally, another tough challenge on Saturday against VCD Athletic at Hayes Lane, a club you and some of the players had some great success with. They gave us a tough game back in September, do you expect a similar game on Saturday?
Yes my old club VCD are in town. It’s always nice to see everyone from VCD, I had the best time there & loved it. I still talk to the Chairman Gary Rump who is someone I class as a good friend. I have also known the Manager Keith a very long time so it’s a game I’m looking forward to. Keith has recruited very well in the summer & he has put together a very good side. It was a hard game back in September & I expect the same Saturday. We will need to play well that’s for sure & we will be working on a couple of things Wednesday to take into the game.