Cray Wanderers 5-1 Ramsgate - For us to really achieve something we need to get out of this league, says Cray Wanderers assistant Joe Vines

Wednesday 29th November 2017
Cray Wanderers 5 – 1 Ramsgate
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 29/11/2017 19:45

Bostik South Division
Wednesday 29th November 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS assistant manager Joe Vines says he wants to win promotion at the end of the season after thrashing a youthful Ramsgate side at Hayes Lane.

Ramsgate were without four of their more experienced players for this Bostik South game against Tony Russell’s side that bounce back from their 3-0 defeat at Vanarama National League South highflyers Braintree Town in The Buildbase FA Trophy First Round at the weekend.

Cray Wanderers climbed up a couple of places into fourth-place on 37 points from 18 games, seven points behind leaders Lewes but with a game in hand.

Ramsgate started the game well but Michael Power grabbed a goal on the stroke of half-time to give Cray Wanderers a slender undeserved lead.

Power slotted in a penalty after turning Luke Wheatley inside the box, before Ramsgate deservedly pulled a goal back through striker Rory Smith’s tenth goal of the season.

Mitchell Nelson headed in his third goal of the season to restore the home side’s two-goal lead before winger Aaron Rhule placed home his fifth goal of the season.

Ramsgate played the final 21 minutes with ten-men after Wheatley was shown a second yellow card, before Power completed his second hat-trick of the season, taking his goalscoring tally to 21 for the season.

“After the result on Saturday losing to Braintree, the first time we lost in 16 games, I thought we had a little bit of a slow start considering we asked the boys specifically for a fast start and to get at them,” said Vines, who was sent out to do press conference duties.

“They’ve had a long journey here, I know a lot of their boys turned up quite late with the traffic etc but the first 10-15 minutes we were slow to the ball and we were making bad decisions.

“They gave us a good game and really it took us to score that goal for us to settle into it properly and then take a stranglehold in it.”

Reflecting on Ramsgate’s 11th league defeat of the season, manager Lloyd Blackman said: “We had a game plan, we know they’re a very good side in ball retention. If we didn’t win it back soon we made sure we defended in the way that we set up and I thought we executed that really well for 44 minutes or whatever it was.

“We get a man sent off and they’re a side that can manipulate the ball very well and pop it off and get you stretched, so it’s always going to be difficult when we went down to 10 men.  It was a case of working hard and doing what we could but over a period of 90 minutes we played up against a very good side for 44 minutes.  We were worth the result until a decision cost us.”

The scoreline seemed harsh on Ramsgate, who gave Cray Wanderers a scare during the first half.

With both teams playing diamond formations in midfield, Ramsgate squandered a couple of chances that they had to put away.

The highly-talented Alfie Paxman swung in a corner from the right , the ball was cleared out to holding midfielder Daniel Lawrence, who struck his right-footed volley over the crossbar from 22-yards, inside the opening eight minutes.

“Being ultra-critical, you’ve got to hit the target! It’s happened a far too many times now so the quality that DL’s got, you expect him to hit the target so it’s a little frustrating we didn’t,” replied Blackman.

Exactly 40 seconds later, Jay Leader, a central defender, lost the ball to Ramsgate striker Smith, who drove his right-footed shot towards goal from 12-yards, forcing goalkeeper Nick Blue to dive full-length to his right to turn around the post.

Blackman said: “Leader is a good centre half, he won every header in there.  The ball’s gone through and the guy is all over him and you want a brave referee to be able to make a decision there but he hasn’t!

“The guy’s all over him almost and he’s ripped the shirt of his back and Rory’s got a shot off because he’s being mauled down but then you’re in a situation where you want a brave referee to make a decision - it wasn’t going to happen.”

“I know Lloyd really well, he’s probably one of about four or five managers that I speak to regular,” revealed Vines.

“He’s a great lad, he’s a friend of mine, I can’t speak highly enough of him and we knew what to expect.  We know they would be honest, hard-working and never say die and that’s what they gave us.”

On Blue’s save, Vines added: “I think it’s a fairly standard save for Bluey, he’s a good keeper.  I don’t think that troubled him too much.”

Cray Wanderers created their first chance shortly afterwards.

Nelson’s clearance out of defence was headed on by left-back Barney Williams, who released Rhule charging down the left wing.  He charged down a clearance, cut into the box before dragging his left-footed angled drive across the keeper and past the far post from 14-yards.

“I thought Rhule had a good game, he brings real power and pace. Technically he’s not exactly pleasing on the eye but he’s a lovely player, a great player for us, really affective,” said Vines, who said that the winger will be fine despite being caught on the ankle by Hawkes later on in the game which forced him to hobble out of the action.

Blackman was delighted that his players were keeping Cray Wanderers at bay.

“We had a game plan, I’m not going to go through exactly what it was.  We were aware of their strengths and weaknesses and to be perfectly honest I can’t remember them having any shots first half until their goal.

“I think every player for 45 minutes, we had them on our game plan.  We were catching them on the counter-attack which we knew could be a possibility.

“We probably had the better chances in the first half and then we kept their players quiet. We kept them all quiet.”

The home side were not their best during the first half and Michael Frieter swung in a free-kick towards the edge of the Ramsgate penalty area for Lea Dawson to send his free-header past the near post.

“I think personally Dawson should score,” added Vines.

“He’s got great quality in the air. I always liken him to Tim Cahill. He’s not a particularly big lad but he gets up. His timing is very, very good.  I think he’ll be disappointed not to score really.”

Ramsgate done their homework on Cray Wanderers, doubling up, sometimes tripling up on right-winger Brandon Scott.

Wheatley, meanwhile, had a great first half and he kept Power in his pocket, forcing the striker to drop deep in search of the ball, that was until he tapped the ball over the line with 45 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock.

Frieter floated in a corner from the right, which sailed over towards an unmarked Leader on the edge of the box and his header was going in, that was until poacher Power poked the ball over the line from close range.

Vines said: “We work a lot on set-pieces.  When I came here at the beginning of the season a lot of people said they play too much football, they do this and they do that.  There’s plan A and apart from that there’s nothing much more to them and we’re proving a few people wrong now.

“We’re organised, we defend really well on the whole, I won’t go into today’s goal but that’s what we’re trying to instil into the boys and set-pieces have been crucial for us.”

Blackman admitted: “It’s deflating coming in at half-time and you’re a goal down.  I think they’ve worked on something there.  The buys blocked off our runner to get a free header back stick, it’s a well-rehearsed set-piece.

“The ball fell perfectly to their lad on the edge of the box and he put it back into an area and the guy stuck it in.”

It was the perfect time to score for Cray Wanderers and Ramsgate just couldn’t recover from that blow.

Vines said: “Personally I was unhappy with the first half, just the attitude, just the way we went about our business. I felt the goal papered over the cracks a little bit and I told them so.  I’m not much of a shouter, maybe when I played but not so much now I’m on the management side.

“But we needed a reaction at half-time.  We gave ourselves half a chance and I thought we came out second half quite well.”

Blackman added: “We had a belief in what we were doing. I think it changed things slightly.  There was an element of frustration within the camp because they done alright for the first half.

“It was important we tried to keep the second half tight for the first 10-15 minutes and we didn’t do that.  Again, that was something that was disappointing.” 

Cray Wanderers were clinical in front of goal tonight, in fact Blue was the busier of the two goalkeepers as the returning Daren Hawkes hardly had anything to do, other than pick the ball out of his net on five occasions.

Frieter played in a low cross from the left and Power turned Wheatley, who brought down the striker as he turned him and referee Christopher Bodell pointed to the spot.

There was only going to be one outcome as Power sent Hawkes the wrong way from the spot, his right-footed shot nestling into the bottom left-hand corner.

Vines said: “I mean Shaggy from 12-yards is deadly, he’s been brilliant.  He’s missed the first three weeks of the season but I think he’s scored 21 now, he’s been on phenomenal form but he’s reliant on the boys giving him chances but when he give them to him, he tucks them away.”

Blackman added: “He was about to shoot and he got brought down.  The guy can square the ball across the edge of the box and we’re not tight enough to be able to keep him facing backwards then there’s trouble. As soon as he opened his body up there was one last-ditch lunge and it cost us a penalty.”

Ramsgate deserved to pull a goal back with 5 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Cray Wanderers were awarded a free-kick 30-yards away from Ramsgate’s goal but they messed it up in embarrassing fashion.

Frieter and Nelson weren’t on the same wavelength and Ramsgate cleared their lines and Billy Munday played a sublime through ball on the deck, which wasn’t dealt with by last-man Barney Williams and Smith raced through to slot his right-footed shot across Blue to find the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

“It was a good finish! It was very similar to the first half where the game plan was in transition, was to be quick in areas where we could hit them and we exploited that,” said Blackman.

“It was something that we worked on and it was just disappointing that we were unable to stop it from going 2-0 because all off a sudden even at 2-1 we were on the front foot for the next 10 minutes and it was something we identified and Rory tucked his goal away well.”

Vines added: “What’s disappointing, it’s something that we’ve worked on in training this week! That wasn’t expected.  It was Mitchell who played the ball and it wasn’t what we asked! We can laugh about it because we tried something new. It’s unfortunate, it’s wasteful.  Even we’re tying something at one end of the pitch, we don’t expect to concede directly at the other almost immediately.

“I think for Barney’s standards he’s not had a particularly…I can’t dig him out, he’s been fantastic for us but he’s had one of his less spectacular games shall I say.”

Ramsgate were to be denied an equaliser in the 55th minute and Paxman was the architect.

He drove down the right channel and whipped in a cross, which came out to Smith, who unleashed a stunning right-footed shot on the turn from 20-yards on the left-hand corner of the box, the ball dipping, forcing Blue to push the ball over his crossbar.

Blackman said: “We had a 10 minute spell after we got back into it and we were the team on the front foot. It was a good strike from Rory.”

Vines added: “I don’t think it troubled Blue.  I could say he’s had any shots that I felt that would get to the back of the net.  Everything was in front of him and was all very straight forward.”

Rhule’s shot from the left-hand channel was blocked by George Crimmen, only just going past the near post.

Cray Wanderers scored their third goal with the clock showing 12 minutes and 26 seconds.

Both sides won three corners apiece and Frieter swung in their second of the night which was met by a near-post glancing header from eight-yards from Nelson, which sailed through a crowd of players into the net.

“A good ball in, excellent ball in. Frieter gives us that quality and a great header from Mitchell, good movement and a good finish,” added Vines.

Blackman added: “Disappointing, that one.  Two centre halves have had free headers. Leader had it for the first goal and Nelson had one for the third goal with a free header in the box there. That’s just not good enough!”

Hawkes was at fault for Cray Wanderers’ fourth goal when it arrived with 17 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock.

Frieter stroked his right-footed free-kick around the wall and Hawkes stooped down to push the ball away, the ball wasn’t cleared and Rhule’s drag-back inside the box gave him space to place his right-footed shot into the bottom far corner from 16-yards.

“What’s quite amusing is he’s actually dragged it back really onto his right-foot, which apparently is only for standing on so for him to finish it off…

“I was fortunate enough to play with him at Thamesmead and managed somehow to get him to come down to play with us.

“He’s been brilliant, he’s been absolutely brilliant! He’s a very good player, he’s very well liked in the dressing room and he’s only a young man, he’s still only 23.  I think he’s got bundles of football left in him.  We’re just pleased to have him.”

Blackman said: “I can’t quite remember how that one panned out to be honest.  I remember the punch and the clearance but I can’t quite remember the phase before or after that one, shall I say.

“We had the wind out of the sails then. The boys were down at that stage. It would be tough getting back into it.”

This was the period of the game when Ramsgate needed experienced players out on the pitch to shout words of encouragement.  You need to play Cray Wanderers with your best team out on the pitch and not having the likes of Luke Watkins, Jake MacKenzie, Joe Kane and Ollie Gray out there proved costly.

“It was a very difficult fixture for us. We came down here with five players unavailable due to people with jobs and other things.  People couldn’t get time of work, so that’s frustrating, disappointing,” explained Blackman.

“It is what it is. It’s the same for everybody but you come down away at Cray and you’re having difficulties down here for a re-arranged game.”

Ramsgate’s night then got worse when referee Christopher Bodell showed Wheatley his second yellow card and then a red after taking out Scott, as the tricky winger cut past him on the very edge of the penalty area on the right.

Blackman said: “It was 4-1 by then so we had a situation where we tried to avoid them playing out and we had to chase the game a little bit trying to get something out of it.  It left Wheats was caught square and left a leg dangling. As soon as the guy went over it, it was a second yellow so I’ve got no arguments with that.”

Vines said: “For Shags up against big strong guys, it’s an even match. With the pace that Brendon has, he shows him with a bit of a trickery.  He was unfortunate to get sent-off.  I don’t think it was that kind of game but there’s only so many fouls you can give away.”

Rhule’s weak resulting left-footed free-kick from 19-yards trickled into Hawkes’ hands at the near post as Blackman was forced to putting right-back Jacob Mensah beside Crimmen at the heart of defence, while central midfielder Tijan Jadama slotted in at right-back for the final 21 minutes.

Paxman chased Ben Mundele down the left-channel and the Cray right-back seemed to pull up allowing Paxman to have a pop at goal from a long way out, the ball sailing high and wide.

Power completed his hat-trick with 40 minute and 6 seconds on the clock, finishing off a three-man break.

Scott cut in from the wing into the middle before slipping substitute Jerome Frederico through on goal and it was inevitable that once inside the box he would set-up Power to place his left-footed shot rolling into the bottom right-hand corner despite Hawkes getting a hand to the ball.

“It was a great bit of movement.  I mean, there were two or three beautiful bits of movement involved there,” said Vines.

“With Brendon coming inside, Jerome coming from left across to right and then again a little reverse pass into Shags and Shags does what Shags does – scoring goals!

“It was a great finish. He’s not been well, he’s been in bed with flu’ for two days’ so to get him out on the pitch in the first place is a result for us and for him to put three in the back of the net is just a massive bonus.”

Blackman added: “By then, they’re buzzing with confidence. We’ve been down to 10 men for quite a while. We’ve been working hard all game because their ball retention is good and they had us stretched out in other areas all over the place.

“The fact that you’re down to 10 men you have to work even harder and we got pulled around a bit for the last 15-20 minutes, which was tough on the players.

“They were moving and manipulating the ball quite well and once they got into that area he’s a clinical finisher.”

Ramsgate had the final chance of the game but Smith’s dipping free-kick flashed past the foot of the near post from out on the left-hand side.

Vines, 36, says he is delighted with Cray Wanderers promotion charge towards the Bostik Premier.

He said: “It is a big result.  Ramsgate will beat teams, there’s no doubt in my mind so it was a real potential banana skin for us. We’ve got through it.  On the whole we’ve got to be pleased, it’s a good days’ work,” said Vines, who takes his side to third-placed Carshalton Athletic (40 points from 20 games) on Saturday.

“I think I would be lying if we weren’t (targeting promotion), that’s the intent. That’s what we’re looking at trying to achieve. I’ll take promotion full stop, whether its via the play-offs.  For us to really achieve something, we need to get out of this league.”

Ramsgate remain in the bottom five tonight with 22 points from 21 games but there’s no reason to panic as they are 20 points clear of Shoreham, who are rooted within the only relegation berth.

Ramsgate host tenth-placed Herne Bay (30 points from 20 games) at Southwood Stadium on Saturday.

Blackman added: “Some of those players have got to learn from some of the things they did today whether it’s individual performance, which I touched upon with a few players in the changing room and they’ve got to learn and improve quickly because that’s what this level does to you.

“We’ll go away and have a sulk for 12 hours, that’s what football does to you, but by midday tomorrow we’ll be all speaking again and making sure our focus is on Saturday in the game against Herne Bay.”

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Zak Henry, Mitchell Nelson (Marcus Evans 73), Jay Leader, Aaron Rhule (Jerome Frederico 76), Lea Dawson, Michael Power, Michael Frieter (Dean Carpenter 65), Brandon Scott.
Subs: Freddie Parker, Ralique Lawrence

Goals: Michael Power 45, 49 (penalty), 86, Mitchell Nelson 58, Aaron Rhule 63

Booked: Barney Williams 77, Marcus Evans 90

Ramsgate: Daren Hawkes, Jacob Mensah, Jack Penny, Daniel Lawrence, Luke Wheatley, George Crimmen, Tom Chapman (Billy Lewins 78), Billy Munday, Rory Smith, Tijan Jadama, Alfie Paxman.
Subs: Aaron Millbank, Jake Munday, Jake MacKenzie, Lewis Mitchell

Goal: Rory Smith 51

Booked: Luke Wheatley 48, George Crimmen 81

Sent Off: Luke Wheatley 69

Attendance: 132
Referee: Mr Christopher Bodell (Enfield, Middlesex)
Assistants: Mr Kennedy Kikulwe (East Ham, London E6) & Mr Alphie Ibrahim (South Woodford, London E18)

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