Thursday 01st September 2005

Ward: I've got nothing but pride for my boys

Saturday 5th
November 2005
FA Cup
First Round
Stephen McCartney reports from
Manor Park
Nuneaton Borough 2 Robert Oddy 15
David Staff 34
Ramsgate 0  

Ramsgate manager Jim Ward was beaming with pride as his brave hearts' FA Cup adventure came to an end in front of over two thousand people at Manor Park today, writes Stephen McCartney.

After beating Merstham (4-1), Croydon Athletic (3-1), Southall (1-0), Walton & Hersham (1-0) and Cirencester Town (3-0), they found third placed Nationwide Conference North outfit Nuneaton Borough just too good.

Robert Oddy's first goal of the season and David Staff's third gave the Midlanders a deserved victory and a place in the second round.

Nuneaton created five good chances before they took a deserved lead after just 15 minutes.

Defender Terry Angus played a long ball down the right, which wasn't cut out by Rams striker Steffan Ball, and Oddy burst into the penalty area and his 16 yard shot bounced once before finding the far corner.

Ramsgate defender Liam Morris needed lengthy treatment to a nose injury sustained on the edge of his penalty area after 23 minutes and solidered on before being replaced by Simon Pettit at the interval.

The Thanet side, however, did have the ball in the back of Darren Acton's net in each half - but both efforts were ruled out.

Midfielder Mark Munday's eight-yard shot after 30 minutes brought a fine save from Acton but celebrations after Stuart Vahid tapped home from close range were cut short.

And when Roger Ashby's side doubled their lead eleven minutes before half time, Ramsgate had a mountain to climb.

Matty Collins played the ball behind the Rams defence - they were getting too much room down the Rams' left - for Oddy to get to the by-line, and his cross was met by an unmarked Staff, whose header sailed into the far corner.

Ramsgate's best chance of the half came on the stroke of half time, and one that has been practiced so many times before in the Vahid brothers' back garden.

Edd broke forward from the right and played a low diagonal defence splitting pass for older brother Stuart, but his shot from a difficult angle from eight-yards was blocked well by the goalkeeper's knees.

Ramsgate boss Ward inspired his players during the half-time interval and came out with all guns blazing.

And the Thanet heroes should have pulled goal back within three minutes but Steffan Ball, who had to stretch to meet Shaun Welford's cross from the left, saw his eight-yard shot scream wide.

Ward was sent to the stands in the 58th minute - and he'll like to point out its the first time in about five years he has suffered in his fashion.

Another couple of chances came Ramsgate's way after 66 minutes when Welford latched onto a through ball and slotted home but the "goal" was ruled out by a late offside flag, and seconds later Edd Vahid's cushioned header - from Ball's corner - flashed wide of the far post.

And Ball was wasteful when he lashed a 40-yard free kick high over the bar to the delight of the celebrating home faithful.

Nuneaton striker Michael Frew was harshly sent off for his second yellow card with ten minutes remaining but Ward was delighted with his men as their FA Cup adventure came to an end.

"In the first half Nuneaton Borough were something special,  they really were," the proud Scot told in the post-match press conference."

"We were 2-0 down at half-time and the lads were shell shocked, even though we had a couple of chances ourselves in the first half."

Ward revealed what he said to inspire his players to play better in the second half.

"I sat them all down nice and quiet and just said: "look, let's just get a bit of pride in ourselves, let's go out and do what we do and ruffle a few feathers,".

"We changed a couple of things tactically and to be fair (in the) second half their 'keeper was made to work as much as my keeper was."

Speaking about their six match FA Cup campaign, Ward added: "Superb.  The eleven that played today are the eleven that's got us to where we are.

"Edd Vahid (ankle) passed his fitness test.  I was chuffed for the lad because it looked as he wasn't going to play.  So we got our strongest team out there.

"The boys have played five games in the FA Cup and won them all and got us here.  I was pleased but then we didn't let ourselves down."

Ramsgate have made quick progress during their debut Ryman League Division One campaign, sitting in sixth place in the table.  But the Southwood Stadium outfit do have games in hand over their promotion rivals.

"We're only a little club, Ramsgate," admitted Ward.  "But we're full of local lads and they'll all give everything for the shirt.

"We're quite strong in certain departments but we haven't really got that depth.

"What else can I say about the boys - here we are little old Ramsgate, with over two thousand people here. We've got a county cup game on Tuesday night (at home to) Thamesmead Town but next Saturday we've got another cup final (at home to) AFC Wimbledon.

"No doubt the chairman will hope it's a sell-out.  It won't be far away from a sell-out and the results have gone for us in the Ryman League as well."

And he added: "I told the lads we'll either win, lose or draw and we'll do all this all together because that's what we are.

"We are a team, and a unit and I think that's proved again in the second half today.

"I've got nothing but pride for my boys today."

Ward praised the club's travelling fans that sang their hearts out for their heroes.  Let's hope they're at Southwood on Tuesday night against Thamesmead Town in the first round of the Kent Senior Cup and back again for AFC Wimbledon's visit in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy on Saturday.

"You never thought you'd see the day when Ramsgate would have support like that away from home," he said.  "Absolutely fantastic.  They never stopped singing from the first minute to the end.  They knew the size of the task but, you know....Superb."

Speaking about his and Frew's sending off's, Ward said: "They were some strange decisions today.  It's the first time personally I've been sent off in about five years.

"That speaks for itself.  I'm loud but I'm sensible in what I do.  And he (the referee) was completely wrong.  I think he picked on me just to get himself on TV tonight.

"Referee's are put under pressure, there's assessors, TV cameras and all that sat here.

"But the boy (Frew) shouldn't have been sent off - you can't send people off for silly things like that." would like to say well done to everyone connected with Ramsgate Football Club.  You have done your club, the Ryman League and Kent football proud.

Nuneaton Borough: Darren Acton, Robert Oddy, Michael Love, Gary Fitzpatrick, Kevin Wilkin (Simon Rea 72), Terry Angus, Matty Collins, Mark Noon, Michael Frew, Brain Quailey (Capt), David Staff.  Subs: David Blenkinsopp, Ryan Poole, Stuart Whittaker, James Holmes.

Sent off: Michael Frew 80

Ramsgate: Danny Twyman, Edd Vahid, Michael Cassar, Liam Morris (Simon Pettit 45), Ollie Schulz, Ben Laslett, Mark Munday (Capt, Michael Yianni 71), Warren Schulz, Shaun Welford, Steffan Ball, Stuart Vahid (Shane Suter 63).  Subs: David Cory, James Gregory

Attendance: 2153
Referee: Mr S McDermid (Aldershot)
Assistants: Mr S Phipps (Abingdon) & Mr C Banks (Oxford)
Fourth Official: Mr S Snartt (Bristol)