Cray Wanderers 2-1 Ramsgate - We're a young side and we'll take the positives from the game but we haven't disgraced ourselves, says Ramsgate head coach Lloyd Blackman

Wednesday 15th August 2018
Cray Wanderers 2 – 1 Ramsgate
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 15/08/2018 19:45

Kent Senior Cup First Round
Wednesday 15 August 2018
Stephen McCartney reports form Hayes Lane

RAMSGATE head coach Lloyd Blackman says it’s business as usual following the news that chairman Phil Fennell has resigned after four and a half years in charge at Southwood Stadium.

Cray Wanderers booked their place in the last sixteen of the Kent Senior Cup after comfortably beating Ramsgate at Hayes Lane.

Ramsgate took the lead through Aaron Millbank’s penalty but their lead lasted only 100 seconds as Freddie Parker tapped the ball over the line following a free-kick.

Cray Wanderers striker, Parker, 18, scored a penalty six minutes into the second half and they would have rattled in more goals had it not been for outstanding Ramsgate goalkeeper Luke Watkins.

“We gave a few an opportunity tonight. We rested six of the boys, gave some of the boys that haven’t been getting the minutes or who didn’t play and some of the talented under 18s and I was really pleased with the way we played,” said Cray Wanderers manager Tony Russell.

“We inducted three more tonight and they fitted in nicely and it bodes well for the future.

“We want to use this competition as an opportunity to give the boys minutes.  I enjoyed it. The only criticism I’ve got, we’ve got to put them away.  We’ve had enough chances, we could’ve scored seven or eight!”

Blackman said: “I thought we contained them well first half. There’s no doubt in their quality, they’re a really, really good side. They move the ball very, very well and it’s a case of how we contain them and hit them on the counter when we could.

“We went 1-0 up and let a sloppy goal in from the free-kick at the wrong time and once they got themselves ahead it was always going to be a difficult challenge, plenty of positives though.

“There were plenty of positives.  We’re playing three decent sides in a row with Hastings and then Chatham (in The FA Cup Preliminary Round). It gave us a good opportunity to work on that situation and work against that same technical style that we’re going to play in the next two games so it was a good learning curve for us.

“For 45-50 minutes maybe, I thought we contained them fairly well and once they went ahead it was always going to be a difficult challenge.”

Cray Wanderers, who went into this game in second-place in the Bostik South East Division table, were without the services of Tom Phipp, Karl Dent, Michael Power and Aaron Rhule, who started their opening day 3-0 win at Greenwich Borough – and Jay Leader - while right-winger Jerome Frederico suffered a hamstring strain just before the interval.

“That’s the only negative of the night,” admitted Russell.

“The only reason you maybe think about putting all the youngsters in is because of that. It’s an extra game and it’s always the way, you seem to get an injury in these games.

“He seems to think it’s nothing too serious, it’s more precaution. He said as soon as he crossed it, he felt a twinge and he’s come off but we won’t know until the next couple of days. It’s hard with flyers as well with hamstrings, you have to be careful.”

Ramsgate, in fifteenth-place in the same division, made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 at VCD Athletic at the weekend with Jake MacKenzie out, while Ethan Madden, Jacob Mensah and Billy Munday were rested on the subs bench.

Ramsgate – lining up with a 4-3-3 formation - had centre-half Luke Wheatley launching a long free-kick from inside his half which was met by a speculative free-header from Tom Chapman a long way out which was caught by Nick Blue after 117 seconds.

Cray Wanderers – with a 4-2-3-1 formation - clicked into gear and created their first opening just four minutes later.

Bradley Pritchard’s crossfield pass found left-winger Malik Solebo, who cut the ball onto his right foot to pick-out Parker, who hooked his shot past the right-hand post from a couple of yards inside the penalty area.

Chapman and Millbank linked up in the final third and Ramsgate striker Rory Smith placed a low left-footed drive into Blue’s gloves from 25-yards.

Blackman said: “Rory’s got great ability in there and he can find pockets like he does and he can move the ball quickly with his feet. He’s always going to give himself a chance. He forced the keeper into a half-decent save and it was a good little move, we were slightly unlucky.”

Russell added: “I think it was from distance.  I suppose it’s classed as a save, I suppose but I wouldn’t say it was a chance as such.  I can’t even remember it if I’m honest but you write them down, I don’t.”

Holding midfielder Zak Henry released Frederico, who reached the by-line to put over a cross for Solebo to hook his shot towards the bottom corner, which forced Watkins to make a great save at his near post.

“We had four or five chances in the first half that we should’ve taken,” said Russell.

“You’re more relaxed in these games, it was more about the performances.  I wasn’t overly bothered about it, it was more about the performance.  I wanted to put a performance in.”

Watkins rushed to the edge of his box to prevent Parker slotting home a long ball over the top and Sean Roberts placed the rebound off a defenders legs and behind for a corner, which was swung in by Archie Johnson for Mitchell Nelson to loop his free-header over from 12-yards.

Cray Wanderers wasted a glorious chance in the 18th minute when poor defending from Ramsgate right-back Harvey Laws fell at Roberts’ feet on the edge of the box but all the midfielder could do was curl his shot around the post.

“I know they had a couple of chances from set-pieces but generally I thought we contained them fairly well,” said Blackman.

“I keep saying that but I think we did. We forced them into situations when we forced them longer and more direct than they needed to.”

Ramsgate left-back Jack Penny was struggling with Frederico’s pace and the winger cut the ball back but Parker took a couple of touches to control the ball before curling his shot over the top of the far post from eight-yards with his third touch.

“Jerome was in the mood tonight. He was going past his man every time,” said Russell.

“It’s such a fine line between, we try to keep them nice and relaxed because we want to play a certain way and you can’t be tense because your touch will be heavy but the top forwards and the top wide players manage to stay relaxed and still have that ice coolness to get in the final third and be ruthless and we wasn’t that tonight.”

Ramsgate created an opening on the half-hour mark when Sam Lawford swept a pass over to his fellow winger Chapman, who cut inside and swept his angled shot into Blue’s hands from the corner of the penalty area.

Ramsgate were gifted the lead, however, when it came from the penalty spot with 32 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock.

Penny swung in their first corner, from the left, towards the near post and Henry clearly pushed Charlie Dickens as he tried to make space at the near post.

Referee Jak Hill pointed to the spot and Millbank stepped up and sent Blue the wrong way, rolling his right-footed penalty nicely into the bottom right-hand corner.

Blackman said: “There was a melee of players, obviously 60-70 yards away you can’t see it from over the dug-outs.  There’s things that we work on and we try to create those type of situations and Dickens has gone in there with a lot of desire and I couldn’t really see the incident but he said he was brought down.

“The turning point for me was it was a shame we didn’t go in at half-time 1-0 up!

“Although their ball retention was far superior, I thought in actual fact we tested Blue once or twice in the first half and to get as penalty as well and to go in at half-time 1-0 you’d like to think it would’ve been a different story.”

Russell said: “They haven’t had a shot on goal and Zak’s having a wrestling match, he think’s he's watching WWF!  It’s a pen, but the corner before that I called it, they should’ve had a pen then.  He had his arms around him. Apart from that Bluey didn’t have much to do.

“Up until then, they didn’t even look like they were going to score. You give a team a leg up. It was silly really, he’s been out suspended, it’s his first game back so maybe he’s still on his summer holidays!”

Ramsgate switched off and let Cray Wanderers back into the game.

Johnson delivered a left-footed free-kick into the Ramsgate penalty area and Mitchell Nelson came up from the back to send his free-header towards goal and Parker hooked the ball over the line.

“It was a good response,” said Russell.

“Archie’s come into the side on loan from Welling United. He’s done really well. He's got a lovely left-foot, gives us a different option. He put in some great balls all night, every set-play he looked threatening. He’s still learning them all but he’s definitely getting there.

“It was a lovely ball. I thought Mitch should’ve scored the first header, he had a free header and it was sort of bundled in at the end.

“A good goal. That’s the only disappointing thing, I suppose.  You had all those chances and possession and you score from a set-play but sometimes you need that just to settle you down.

“Fred’s had a quiet pre-season, he started the first two brilliantly and he gets frustrated with himself too much. He needed that, I thought he started a little bit nervy and that little tap-in on the line from that point on, I thought he played really well.”

Blackman added: “I feel it was the phase before the free-kick, that’s the bit.  I didn’t see the incident what occurred but we should’ve been standing up in that situation and that’s something that we discussed.  One hundred seconds in straight between the two goals. We’re hoping to contain that situation like we done for the first 35 minutes then it could’ve been a different story.”

Nelson found himself down the left-channel following another set-piece but Marcus Evans planted his free header across goal and past the far post.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Russell said: “First of all, I had a chat with Zak, I’m disappointed with Zak.  We’ve all put an effort in, we’ve all come out from work and got here and the boys have run around for him to grab someone to give a penalty away.

“I said basically keep doing what we’re doing, keep controlling the ball, keep getting the ball in wide areas and keep doing the third man runs.

“We felt they were going to wear out.  We felt their two wide players worked so hard for them.  I thought they will run out of gas in the second half and I think we wore them out.”

Blackman added: “Basically the defensive side, keep doing what you’re doing! I thought our retention of the ball, you could see as well, we’re trying to force things that perhaps wasn’t there and although we still created a couple of chance, our retention wasn’t good enough today unfortunately.  That’s something young boys have got to cope with and pressurised situations against a good side.  We have to continue to be brave and move the ball and that was what I was trying to tell them at half-time.”

Cray Wanderers won the game with five minutes and 4 seconds on the clock, courtesy of the second penalty of the game.

Bradley Pritchard sprinted into the box and was fouled by Dickens and Parker sent Watkins the wrong way, his right-footed penalty nestling into the same corner as the first one in the game.

“That’s the crazy thing, with all the possession and chances, we’ve scored two set-plays, the free-kick and a pen,” said Russell, who heaped plenty of praise on model-pro Pritchard.

“Pritchard has been brilliant.  We train on Monday and I said anyone who doesn’t want to play and wants a rest to let me know. Pritch was dying to play, he just loves football and he’s been superb.  I knew how good he was with the youngsters as well.  I thought it would be brilliant for them to play with him especially Kyrique (Garvey-Williams) who came on in the second half in central midfield. He’s 17 and Pritchard was talking through the game and they’re coaching sessions we can’t do.  He’ll learn more from tonight than he would do 10 coaching sessions with him just watching and listening to Pritchard.”

Blackman added: “I think Dickens got the wrong side and left a leg out there and it was probably a penalty.  It was just frustrating, the timing of it.  We talk about 100 seconds straight after we scored and six minutes after half-time and then all of a sudden the quality they have in retaining the ball, it changes the whole picture, it was difficult to break them down.”

Johnson floated in a corner from the right and Evans rose above his marker to glance his header wide from eight-yards out.

Parker was to be denied his hat-trick in the 59th minute, driving into the Ramsgate penalty area and his low drive was turned behind for a corner by Watkins, who got down low to his left.


Cray Wanderers left-winger Malik Solebo impressed and he showed silky skills to turn past a couple of Ramsgate defenders on the edge of the box before stinging Watkins’ fingers with a rasping right-footed angled drive.

“Young Malik started his first game for us. He’s still a teenager. He excites us all. The stuff he does in training is scary,” revealed Russell.

“He’s learning his trade, what you call a street baller, got beautiful feet, got all the tools, he just needs a little bit of guidance, but we’re working with him. He probably should’ve scored three tonight.

“On a Wednesday here we have the under 23s and under 18s in and then we train for a bit and the game plan we set and they all play against us. That’s how it came about. Some of the things he was doing to my boys was not right. He was doing things and the boys were going ‘who is this kid?’

“He’s so raw but he’s got ability. He’s six foot two, he’s quick, he’s got unreal feet, tricks coming out of his earholes. He just needs to understand 11-a-side-football and the basics of it. How long it takes him, that’s up to the individual and we’ll see how he responds to the coaching and the information.”

“Wato’s pulled off some decent saves,” added the Ramsgate head coach.

“Once they go 2-1 up, their retention in their defensive third on a lovely 3G surface and the quality players that they have in that area, they are just able to keep the ball and once you’re in that situation when you have to be a bit braver and try to force something to happen, then you’re going to leave yourself a chance or two exposed and I thought Wato was outstanding.”

Blue launched a big kick upfield in the 70th minute, which Watkins tiptoed to the edge of his penalty box to head away, but Solebo lacked conviction by steering his shot past the foot of the near post from the edge of the penalty area.

Pritchard fed Solebo, who clipped his right-footed shot from 22-yards into Watkins’ hands for a comfortable catch, as Cray Wanderers dominated the second half.

George Crimmen’s intended pass to his defensive partner Wheatley was intercepted by Cray sub-striker Iffy Onwuachu, who drove forward before drilling his shot powerfully past the near post from 20-yards.

Smith was fouled on the edge of the Cray Wanderers penalty area and substitute Kyron Lightfoot drove the resulting free-kick into the base of the wall and Blue picked up the loose ball before rolling behind for a corner.

Smith’s hooked pass released Lightfoot down the right channel and his low centre was cut out by Blue on the deck.

Roberts released Solebo, who stung Watkins’ fingers with a left-footed drive from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

“Luke Watkins has had a good game. I thought he made some good saves,” said Russell.

“He was making us laugh, some of the stuff he was shouting out.  You know all goalies are nuts, by the sound of him he’s no different but he’s a very good goalkeeper, he done very well.”

Ramsgate had one last chance to force a penalty shoot-out when Smith released Lightfoot, but he curled his left-footed shot around the far post from 25-yards.

“Yes, you want to create more chances – but it just got a little bit frustrating,” added Blackman.

Ramsgate welcome Hastings United to Southwood Stadium on Saturday, while Cray Wanderers host newly-promoted side Whitstable Town to Hayes Lane on Sunday, both games kicking off at 15:00.

Blackman said: “I think there were plenty of positives and I said that to the players afterwards especially in the first 45 minutes. We’re a young side and we’ll take the positives from the game where we can.  We’re coming to a side here who are probably the favourites for the league, as well as the (Hastings United) team that we’re playing on Saturday.  It was 2-1 and we were 1-0 up so we haven’t disgraced ourselves, far from it!”

When asked about his situation since the departure of the man who gave him the job, Blackman replied: “We’ll have to wait and see. We’ve had discussions.  My relationship with Phil, he was the man who brought me to the club so it’s business as usual.  There’s no point me focusing on things that are out of my hands or out of my control. I have to do a job and until I’m told otherwise then I’ll carry on doing my job.”

Russell wants a rematch with Charlton Athletic in the next round of the Kent Senior Cup.

“Last year we beat Thamesmead away and then we lost to Charlton at home. We seem to get Charlton every year in this cup so Charlton at home will be great. I just don’t want an away game that’s miles away!”

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Barney Williams, Archie Johnson, Zak Henry (Kyrique Garvey-Williams 61), Mitchell Nelson, Marcus Evans, Malik Solebo, Bradley Pritchard, Freddie Parker (Iffy Onwuachu 75), Sean Roberts, Jerome Frederico (Cain Cruz 44).
Subs: Deshon Carty, Tiwao Fujimade

Goals: Freddie Parker 35, 51 (penalty)

Ramsgate: Luke Watkins, Harvey Laws, Jack Penny, Charlie Dickens, Luke Wheatley, George Crimmen, Tom Chapman (Harry Stannard 46), Tijan Jadama, Rory Smith, Aaron Millbank, Sam Lawford (Kyron Lightfoot 67).
Subs: Ethan Madden, Jacob Mensah, Billy Munday

Goal:  Aaron Millbank 33 (penalty)

Booked: Harvey Laws 89

Attendance: 90
Referee: Mr Jak Hill (Sandwich)
Assistants: Mr Nicholas Fruin (Beckenham) & Mr Billy Woods (Bexleyheath) 
Fourth Official: Mr Darren Blunden (Dartford)