Free scoring Cray look to beat bare-boned Folkestone
CRAY WANDERERS are destined to progress into the second round of the FA Trophy when they face out off sorts Folkestone Invicta at Hayes Lane on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.
The Wands are currently lying in fourth place in their debut campaign in the Ryman League Division One and are top scorers in the division, finding the back of the net 36 times this season in only fifteen matches.
They are only eight points adrift of AFC Wimbledon – a side they have yet to face.
Ian Jenkins' side have only tasted defeat three times in nineteen league and cup matches – their latest was a 2-1 defeat to Croydon Athletic – their first loss at Hayes Lane – on Tuesday evening.
Jenkins, however, denied the defeat was a case of his players thinking ahead to the cup clash with Folkestone.
“Disappointing, we conceded two soft goals and we created many but couldn’t finish,” the long serving manager conceded.
Jenkins, admitted he is enjoying life as a manager in the Ryman League.
“I am really looking forward to Saturday’s game.
“I am enjoying life it’s a shame we aren’t closer to AFC Wimbledon with the games we’ve played.”
Jenkins admitted their best result was
their 2-1 win at Metropolitan Police, which followed their 3-1 victory over
Aveley in the preliminary round of the FA Trophy.
Jenkins also admitted he had set his sights high in the top six at this stage of the campaign and beating landlords Bromley 5-2 recently was sweet.
“It’s always nice to beat the landlords, and with the squad we had I did think we would be top six in the league.
“We are looking to progress in the FA Trophy and play the big boys in the next round.”
Jenkins will be without suspended striker
Phil Collins, who is halfway through a three-match suspension, right-back Dean
Morris (twisted ankle) and Drew Watkins.
Folkestone Invicta, on the other hand, are struggling to field a strong side, and are on a poor run - having not won in nine league or cup games.
With only Tonbridge Angels, Dover Athletic, Kingstonian and Wealdstone below them in the Ryman League Premier Division table, Invicta are without three key players and will have a very youthful and inexperienced bench.
John Walker, who can play in defence or midfield, midfielder Martin Chandler (knee) and Simon Glover (compassionate grounds) cannot take to the Hayes Lane turf.
Cugley said: “We are expecting a tough game to be fair.
“Obviously Cray are investing well with the players they’ve got, they are in a good catchment area and it will be a hard one.”
Attracting and paying players is a big problem for Folkestone.
“We are down to our bare bones. We have a very young bench with what we’ve been doing recently. We will have 16-year-old’s on the bench.
“Even though results have been disappointing, we have been playing quite well.”
Sadly, for Kent football this season, only Gravesend & Northfleet, Cray Wanderers, Bromley and Chatham Town are doing well in their respective leagues, and the Ryman Premier has all three Kent clubs in the bottom five in the table.
Cugley, however, is trying hard to make sure the Cheriton Road club get out of the mire.
“We are looking to change things a little bit, but the finances and our location is a problem.
“Players aren’t going to travel all the way to us.
“I think if we can get a couple of players in, have a change around and improve our form.”
Although they face a tough team in Cray, any money raised from FA competitions could go and help Cugley bring in a couple of players to freshen up the squad.
“It’s all catch 22 – it’s like the FA Cup.
“Do you invest in the side with cup money (you haven't received) or do you be a bit careful and use the money from the cups as a bonus rather than the other way round?”
There will be familiar faces in both squads – who will, no doubt, be looking to put one over their former team-mates.
Jamie Wood, who scored both Cray goals in their 2-0 win at Hastings last week, started the season with Invicta before returning to his former club.
Drew Watkins has also recently returned to Cray but a gentlemen’s agreement means he will not be allowed to play in the tie, but Jenkins will surely pick his brains about the visiting players.
Another former Invicta player, James Millar is also in the Cray squad.
On the reverse side, Invicta goalkeeper Tony Kessell used to play for Jenkins’ side.
Cray have drawn six out of eight home
league games and if they repeat this on Saturday then the replay, at Cheriton
Road, takes place next Tuesday.
Cray Wanderers v Folkestone Invicta
FA Trophy First Round
Saturday 6th November 2004
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hayes Lane, Bromley