The Thoughts of the Manager – Tony Russell
Cray Wanderers take a brief break from league action this weekend as February draws to a close and we usher in a very exciting month of March. Here Tony Russell looks back on a positive February and last weekends match at Ramsgate, explains the team plans for the Saturday off and an insight into the mood of the changing room and the big matches to come.
So our February has come to an end a week early with 10 points picked up out of 12, 10 unbeaten and 15 points clear at the top (although that could be 12 points by the end of the weekend). Let’s look back on what was a cracking game at Ramsgate last Saturday, a real contrast of styles and Ramsgate seemed very pleased at getting a point. Did the game pan out as you expected down on the coast or were we just a bit unfortunate?
Pretty much how I thought it would go, all the info the players got in the week was how they set up and played. We knew they would be 4-4-2 & they would look to get the ball forward as quick as possible & the wide boys are decent. It was 2 points dropped at the end of the day we know that but let’s give Ramsgate credit too. They worked really hard so if they want to celebrate a draw at home then good luck to them and I don’t mean that in a funny way, whatever works for them.
For how well we have done this season there is still things that I am not happy with, the amount of chances we miss in a game is not good enough, simple as that. People may think it’s a bit much given how the league is going but I don’t get carried away with all that if I’m honest. Every week we have to make 4-5 chances to score 1, I’m not talking half chances here. 2 more 1 v 1’s missed, hit the woodwork again when we had an open goal, we hit the keeper with no one round the player from 5 yards out, free header in the box when the keeper got caught under the ball. It is something I have spoken about all season & is something we may need to address going forward.
In terms of the game itself, we controlled it first half but were poor in the final 3rd. no end product & poor finishing had us somehow come in at 1-1. 2nd half we wasn’t brave enough on the ball so we ended up getting drawn into a battle & that brought them back into the game. We still had the better of the 2nd half but there was no real quality in that from us so we didn’t get out it what we wanted.
Our previous home game against Guernsey on 9th February completed what was an excellent 8 days for Cray on the pitch. I thought the 15 minute spell after the half hour when we scored three goals was high quality, super goals and those little spells are what makes a great team isn’t it and helps win matches?
We don’t play many mid-week games as we used to so when you have 3 games in a week it takes it out of the players. We played like we were tired, I don’t know if they underestimated Guernsey or not but we didn’t have that spark. Like you said we played full power for 20 mins and that was the game done. Fair play to Guernsey 2nd half they give it a real go and never gave up. They find themselves down the wrong end of the table so we wish them well for the rest of the season and hope they pull away from the bottom end of the table.
We take a break on Saturday from league action. At this stage of the season with a big month ahead of us, do you see this as a good thing to have a break to enable any knocks to heal and unwind or best to keep up the momentum built up?
It is what it is, every team has to deal with it so that’s what we will do. We are going to play an in house game. I am really look forward to mixing the 1st team boys plus the best of the 23’s up. Plus Shaggy and Aaron Rhule will be playing too, I wrote the two teams out and both teams would be more than competitive in the league we are in. I will give you a preview of how strong the two teams are. Here is the forwards for both teams. Team 1 –Jerome Federico, Shaggy, Dadson. Team 2 – Danny Uchechi, Joe Taylor, Aaron Rhule. The midfield will be good to watch with Phipp, Sean Roberts & Freddie taking on Pritchard, Charles Etumnu and Karl Dent so it will be an interesting watch.
We did look at playing a friendly vs a lower league team but this will be better for us. It also shows the squad we have at the club. When I first turned up all we had was a wage bill that’s it. Now with the things we have put in place we are very strong as a football club and you need that going forward. It has been a lot of hard work from within the club and we are just seeing the fruits of all the labor.
Finally, we look ahead to March, 5 out of the 10 league matches to go, and three of those against teams in the top 5. Each game has a difficult look including the March 2 trip to Phoenix Sports but Cray Wanderers have responded to the challenge superbly over the course of the season so far. These must be exciting times on the training pitch, in the dugout and changing rooms at the moment?
We have had that buzz from the first day of pre season, they are a great group to work with. Numbers are always big for training & the sessions are always lively! I said it will be interesting to see how many are at training Wednesday as they didn’t know they are playing a game this Saturday. We had 20 at training & they were still moaning at each other about if the ball went out or if it was a goal etc, they are a very competitive group of players. In terms of the games we have coming up we just do us and don’t really talk or worry about anyone else if I’m honest. We will talk about a team in the week before we play them but apart from that we don’t really bother about anyone. It don’t matter who we have to play, where they are in the league, how many games they have won etc. If we play well then I am confident we will win no matter who we play. We don’t go mad when we win a game and we don’t get too down when we drop points, Just find somewhere in the middle & results will look after itself as will the league table.