Enfield Town vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 1st April, 3 pm – The pre-match thoughts of Neil Smith

Cray Wanderers start the last five Isthmian Premier fixtures this afternoon with perhaps the biggest game of the season as 6th placed Cray visit 5th placed Enfield Town with four points separating the teams.  Here Neil Smith looks ahead to the game and his thoughts on the 5-3 win at home to Horsham last Saturday.

Hello Neil.  Before I get your thoughts on the Enfield Town game today which is a bit like a cup final for us just a recap of last Saturday and the 5-3 win vs Horsham which made it four wins in a row.

Well all the games are like cup finals for us now but last Saturday again it was a massive game that we wanted to win being at home against an in form Horsham side. It was a great result but when they went down to ten men I think we thought the job had been done but they were never going to give up as they were fighting to get into the playoffs too.  It was a great win but we just managed to make it a bit difficult for ourselves even though we scored five goals.

Looking back at the game we were very clinical in front of goal and as well as the five goals we got plenty of shots on target which for a manager is all you can ask isn’t it.

That’s right we have been, and from the Horsham match we have been looking at the forwards and the shots on target and the goals that we get if we do hit the target but going back to the Hornchurch game we weren’t hitting the target enough and that was something we had to work on.  To win games you have to score goals obviously but it needs the forwards or whoever takes a shot to concentrate solely on hitting the target first and see what happens. They were very clinical and again it is not a case of the first eleven players, the substitutes like Dajon Golding when he came on he helped us influence the game a little bit and putting David Ijaha in midfield and that is something I am getting out of this that it is a squad game and not just the eleven players I pick from the start.  So as clinical as we were we had to make sure we saw the game out.

With Horsham going down to ten men does that sometimes make things more difficult as we found with the Brightlingsea match that when a side goes a player down they seem to find that little bit extra energy and make things as difficult as with eleven.

It is in respect that we went 3-1 up and the boys thought that was it and then they got a goal back, we scored a fourth and they scored again. It is one of them where they have nothing to lose and with being down to ten men, I know it sounds ridiculous but they seem to work even harder despite the man deficit.  When we do get the ball and pass it around like Nyren Clunis’ second goal you do find the space and then it is up to you to finish it. I think a couple of the goals were a bit fortunate with the keeper caught passing out and us closing him down but what it was, our players knew how important it was that we got the win and the results with the other teams around us winning as well.  We had a target of going unbeaten in March and to win all four and that is a massive achievement that sets up nicely for Enfield which will be an extremely difficult game.

I just wanted to touch on a couple of players from the Horsham game who deserve a mention.  Firstly, Nyren Clunis who sometimes goes under the radar a bit now has three goals against the Hornets this season and had a terrific game showing his quality and experience.  Also Harrison Sodje scored his first goal for the club and since returning from his spell back at Leyton Orient has fitted seamlessly back into the side as if he has never been away.

I thought Nyren was outstanding and was the man of the match for me last Saturday and not just when he was in possession but when he was out of possession, his organisation, his talking. He is a very knowledgeable football player as well, it is not always about going on the pitch, he reacts to what he has to do and how the team plays but from the first to last minute I thought he was our best player.

For Harrison the month or so he was at Leyton Orient it showed how much we missed him. Although we had Bailey Akehurst with us but again you had a player coming in looking to find his way into the team, Harrison has come back in and almost like he has never been away. As you can see from the results since he returned we have been unbeaten which is important to us and also as with his young age as well. Full credit to him, he went back to Leyton Orient and they had him around the first team. He hasn’t thought he was too big or too good to come back to us and has done so with a big smile on his face. As a club we are happy to have him back and I think he is glad to be back.

Let’s look now towards Enfield Town this afternoon, they played on Tuesday night against Hornchurch, did you get to see the game and what sort of challenge will the Towners pose for us?

Yes, myself and Tosh went to watch the match. There were very heavy conditions with the weather which made it a heavy pitch. Against a top of the table side, Enfield Town are a good team, they have different ways of playing and players who can get on the ball, and have physicality up front with Jake Cass and Adam Cunnington and have strong centre-backs as well. It is going to be a very difficult game but we know what is expected of us. Obviously they need to win as well so it will be like a cup final for both teams so there will be pressure. We are in a situation we never dreamed of being at the beginning of the season.  Last season when we played them we had a seventeen year old goalkeeper in Nathan Boamah and a makeshift side and we go into it this time with a much more settled squad. We will be giving it our all and know what is expected of us but it will be a difficult game going to their place and expected to be heavy rain once again. The pitch will be heavy and will go full of confidence.

We will have Jalen Jones back following international duty. I’ve spoken to him and was a little bit tired after the flying back so hopefully resting up will help him. Also Shaun Rowley following his one game suspension is back but might be a bit too soon for Sam Skeffington but I know whatever eleven I put out and whatever subs come on I know they will be together and a good team spirit and really giving it our all.