Cray Wanderers 0-3 Brightlingsea Regent - We weren't good enough tonight, admits Tommy Warrilow

Sunday 22nd March 2015

Ryman League Division One North
Tuesday 24th February 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS boss Tommy Warrilow says he is not going to throw in the towel despite his side facing an uphill struggle to avoid the club’s second successive relegation.

BATTLE: Tommy Warrilow faces a fight on his hands to keep the club in the Ryman League after losing to Brightlingsea Regent at Hayes Lane

The Wands put in an extremely poor performance during their first ever meeting against Brightlingsea Regent, who converted three of their fifteen shots on target at Hayes Lane.

Brightlingsea Regent remain in eighth-place in the Ryman League Division One North table on 58 points from 35 games – six points adrift of fifth-placed Dereham Town – following their impressive performance in Bromley.

Ben Newson’s sixteenth goal of the season gave the Essex side the lead on the half-hour, but Cray Wanderers’ second half performance was embarrassing as Regent attacked at will.

Max Fitzgerald was sent-off with sixteen minutes remaining for the Kent side, who folded, and Phil Kelly and Jake Gordon took advantage by scoring two late goals, although Regent should have won by more than three goals.

Cray Wanderers remain in the bottom two, having collected four league wins in 32 league games on 21 points, thirteen points adrift of safety after Barkingside pulled off a shock 2-1 win at Dereham Town tonight.

“To be honest apart from the first 20 minutes, I thought they were the better team so I’ve got no complaints,” admitted Warrilow afterwards.

“I thought we should have gone in front. Moses (Ashikodi) had a couple of chances; a few set-pieces have gone in and we’ve not taken them and they’ve scored a goal, which has given them a lift.

“But we didn’t play well in the first half but I expected us to be better in the second half and we were worse!

“Obviously losing Max (Fitzgerald) as well with a red hasn’t helped our cause but we were chasing the game anyway.”

Brightlingsea Regent created the first chance of the game inside eight minutes when midfielder Kelly produced a thirty-yard run before sweeping his shot into Dean Gardikiotis’ hands from 22-yards.

But Cray Wanderers were to be denied a goal within four minutes.

Cesc Fakinos cut a corner back to Chris Piper and returned the ball back to the right-back. 

Warren Whitely then clipped the ball in from the by-line and Nick Humphrey’s looping header from eight-yards was tipped over by Andrew Plummer’s outstretched right-hand.

Brightlingsea Regent also went close following Ricky Griggs’ corner from the right, which came out to the unmarked Newson, who hit his left-footed half-volley over the bar from eighteen-yards.

But Warrilow looked on in despair when striker Moses Ashikodi, 27, squandered an excellent chance to change the outcome of the game in the 18th minute.

Orlando Smith’s hooked pass released the much-travelled striker through on goal and after cutting into the penalty area he lost his composure and allowed Plummer to advance off his line to gobble up the ball.

Warrilow said: “I thought we created chances but we didn’t take them. That’s what happens.  They’ve taken their chances.  It’s not the first time that we’ve done that.  Against Thamesmead in our last game (two weeks’ ago), god knows how many chances we’ve missed and gone away with a draw but today they’re a good, organised outfit, popped it about well and exploited the areas, especially when we went down to ten-men, but we never really got going at all tonight.”

Smith unleashed a rising drive sailing over the bar from 30-yards, before Piper swung in a corner from the right, which was headed down by Humphrey for his central defensive partner Steve Springett to poke the ball wide.

Cray Wanderers will regret two incidents in the 30th minute when they should have taken the lead, only for Brightlingsea Regent to break and score only 29 seconds later.

Adrian Stone got in the way of Smith’s driven shot and the ball was played in behind the Regent defence to Piper, who cut inside and his left-footed chip from a tight angle was caught by Plummer at his near post.

The Essex side broke and Kelly’s low pass inside from the right found the unmarked Newson, who turned and hooked his right-footed shot into the top right-hand corner from sixteen-yards.

Warrilow added: “We said before the game they like to come in, turn and get shots off and it was a good finish by the boy!”

Brightlingsea Regent almost doubled their lead in the 37th minute when right-back Griggs was given the chance to dance his way towards the edge of the box, before playing in George Clarke, who drilled his right-footed shot against the crossbar.

Cray Wanderers were to be denied by a brilliant save from Plummer.

Winger Whitely cut in from the right and cracked a left-footed stinging drive from 30-yards, which forced a world-class one-handed save from the visiting keeper.

Brightlingsea Regent camped themselves in Cray Wanderers’ half for the entire second half.

“We just never came out of the blocks,” admitted the club’s fourth manager of the season.

“Unfortunately it’s not the best of surfaces out there so we were just saying just try to turn them and get us up the pitch and get in behind like they did quite a bit.

“Every chance they had we were back peddling and they were over the full-backs and they were on to it and we never really got that.  We were trying to run through areas and we had too many touches on the ball and we were getting caught and we were getting hit on breaks.”

Their first chance arrived after only 98 seconds when Jake Turner’s left-footed volley from 30-yards brought a low save from keeper Gardikiotis, who is the only Wands player to come out of this game with any credit.

Kelly threaded pass released Gordon through down the right channel and his low angled drive was comfortably saved by the Greek stopper.

Cray Wanderers created a decent chance in the ninth minute when Piper’s diagonal pass cut open the Regent defence but Ashikodi’s a poor touch inside the box forced him wide and he steered his low shot past the foot of the near post.

Kelly then played in Newson with a reverse pass and Gardikiotis pulled off a smart low block to his left.

Clarke released Gordon down the right to reach the by-line and his cut back found Newson, whose shot was blocked for a corner in the 56th minute.

Newson’s right-footed angled drive on the hour mark brought a comfortable save from the Cray keeper.

Gardikiotis tipped over Gordon’s left-footed drive from 30-yards after the winger cut in from the right and attempted to drill his shot into the top corner.

Newson’s flicked pass inside the box played in Clarke, but Gardikiotis came off his line to make a brave save and the winger was unable to continue through injury.

Cray Wanderers faced an uphill struggle when midfielder Fitzgerald received a deserved red-card for a lunge on Amir Berkane.

Warrilow said: “That’s the only thing that disappointed me tonight. Once Max has lunged in like that they’re all around the ref so he’s made his mind up and you can’t do that these days. You’ve got to stay on your feet and unfortunately we’ve paid the ultimate price for it!

“It was bad enough with eleven men because we didn’t really get in behind or get around the front two with eleven men. With ten men and we’re chasing to get a goal – you’ve got to remember that as well – it’s not like we’re settling for a point. We needed to get something back out of it so we didn’t really want to go completely defensive – we’ve got picked off.”

Griggs played in the pacy Kelly, who strode into the box and rolled his shot across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post with fifteen minutes remaining.

Brave Gardikiotis came off his line to smother the ball at Newson’s feet and the loose ball was clipped over the bar by substitute Oliver Canfer.

The impressive Newson then produced a mazy run down the right before drilling his right-footed angled drive, which was pushed behind by the busy Wands keeper at his near post.

But Gardikiotis was beaten in the 83rd minute when Griggs’ whipped in a cross from the right and Kelly got in between Springett and Humphrey to plant his free header into the top right-hand corner of the net.

Warrilow said: “Again, that’s disappointing, no excuses for it. We said at half-time we’ve got so many aerial players, why are we worried getting corners against us? Not only that, the first header from the corner has come in, we’ve cleared that back out to where the lad’s come from so he’s got another go to deliver it and he’s got a free header.”

Brightlingsea Regent deservedly made it 3-0 just 89 seconds later.

Newson’s initial deflected shot was parried by the diving Gardikiotis and Gordon poked the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from six-yards.

Warrilow added: “A little deflection, the momentum was on them by then. I’ve got no qualms about the result at all. They were the better team on the night!”

Cray Wanderers were to be denied a consolation when Nathan Simpson’s left-footed free-kick from 20-yards, which was destined to sail into the top near corner was tipped over the bar by Plummer.

Warrilow admitted: “It’s too late by then!  It’s a shame because (in previous games) we were playing well and we had the momentum with us and we’ve not had a game for two weeks, two weeks today was our last game and I don’t want to use that as an excuse but I didn’t realise it would show too much and it looked like it today.”

Regent created injury-time chances to add further insult to injury.  Gordon cut into the box and curled his shot around the far post; Berkane’s shot was saved; before Gardikiotis made a brilliant double save to deny Newson and Canfer.

Praising his goalkeeper, Warrilow said: “He’s come in and he’s done alright. He’s been erratic a couple of times but overall he’s kept us in the game. He’s not played for a little while but honestly he’ll get better as time goes on.”

Substitute Alex Teniola, who has played for Tonbridge Angels and Redhill this season, saw his downward header saved by Plummer after the debutant met Whitely’s deep cross at the death.

Warrilow said: “I’m not going to gloss over it. If we got anything out of it tonight we’ll be kidding ourselves.

“I’d rather come off the pitch and know if we keep playing like we can play, we’re going to get results but if we keep playing like that we’re going to make it very, very difficult for ourselves because that was a step back tonight!

“I’m not going to stand here and defend it. We weren’t good enough tonight and we got what we deserved out of the game – which was nothing!

“It’s still in our hands, there’s still a lot of points to play for, but I’ve been in a situation where the games whittle away pretty quickly and you’re looking back thinking if we done this and if we done that.

“Tonight we’ve lost a game of football but it was the way we lost it tonight that sort of hurts me more than anything. We were poor tonight. I’ve just asked the boys in there who thinks they had a good game tonight and none of them put their hand up so that sort of tells the story.”

The Wands travel to eleventh-placed Soham Town Rangers on Saturday and they must win a vast majority of their fourteen games to avoid a return to the Southern Counties East Football League after an eleven year absence.

Warrilow said: “We just have to win our games, don’t panic and win your games.  There’s enough quality in there to do it now. Whether they’ll be some more coming in, depending on what happens over the next few weeks, but until it’s mathematically impossible you’ve got to come in and give it your best shot and that’s all I said to the lads. 

“There’s enough experience in there but you looked at it tonight but it didn’t look like that and that’s the disappointing thing for me tonight. We’re a lot better than what we showed.

“But there’s no point at me going absolutely mental at them because we’ve got fourteen games left and we’ve got to try to get those boys back up and try to bounce back on Saturday.

“We’ll go through some bits on Thursday at training again. I don’t think we’ll play as badly as we did tonight!”

Warrilow, who suffered relegation from Conference South with Tonbridge Angels last season, admitted he wants to guide his new club towards safety.

“I got a phone call from (chairman) Gary Hillman to have a chat with him at the start of the New Year and he just wanted a complete freshen up. The remit was try to keep them in the league this year, nothing about anything else and I said I haven’t got an issue with that.

“I’ve had a few offers that I didn’t want to take, a couple of assistant jobs and I went out (scouting) with Ebbsfleet until that finished (when Steve Brown lost his job). When Gary phoned up I just thought why not. I didn’t know what was waiting to turn up but was hoping something would turn up.

“I’ve known Gary a long time as well with Jenko (Ian Jenkins), Joe Francis and Paul Blade so I know the Cray set-up.

“If I can help them stay in the league then I’ll be delighted.”

Cray Wanderers: Dean Gardikiotis, Cesc Fakinos, Nathan Simpson, Max Fitzgerald, Steve Springett, Nick Humphrey, Orlando Smith, Chris Piper, Adrian Stone, Moses Ashikodi (Alex Teniola 64), Warren Whitely (Rory Hill 64).
Subs: James Pass, Frank Griffin, Alex Gadikiotis

Booked: Nick Humphrey 59, Chris Piper 69

Sent Off: Max Fitzgerald 74

Brightlingsea Regent: Andrew Plummer, Ricky Griggs (Terry Amass 86), Josh Gould, Amir Berkane, Jake Holman, Matt Cripps, George Clarke (Oliver Canfer 72), Jake Turner, Jake Gordon, Phil Kelly (Jordan Heath 83), Ben Newson.
Subs: Warren Joseph, Jake Gould

Booked: Ben Newson 90

Attendance: 90
Referee: Mr David Spain (Westfield, East Sussex)
Assistants: Ms Lisa Benn (Pevensey Bay, East Sussex) & Mr Lee Cramp (Lewes, East Sussex)