Cray Wanderers 2-2 Ramsgate - We feel we don't deserve to be in the position we're in, says Ramsgate joint-boss Jim Ward

Saturday 31st December 2016
Cray Wanderers 2 – 2 Ramsgate
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 31/12/2016 13:00

Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 31st December 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

RAMSGATE joint-manager Jim Ward says he will put his reputation on keeping the club in the Ryman League after giving underperforming Cray Wanderers a scare at Hayes Lane.

Ramsgate belied their position in the bottom five in the Ryman League Division One South table and deserved their 2-0 lead inside the opening 32 minutes with an impressive performance.

Striker Tom Chapman headed in his seventh-goal of the season to give Ramsgate the lead after only 107 seconds.  They doubled their lead through Aaron Millbank’s ninth-goal of the season from the penalty spot.

Referee Ryan Whitaker dished out five yellow cards to Ramsgate players with holding midfielder Oliver Gray being sent off for his second offence in the 50th minute and Cray Wanderers (who had three players booked) fought back by scoring two goals in the last eight minutes.

Danny Haynes scored his 24th goal of the season to pull a goal back, before Ramsgate’s emergency right-back Joe Kane scored an own-goal one minute and 14 seconds into time added on to ensure the points were shared on the last day of 2016.

Cray Wanderers remain in tenth-place with 40 points from their 24 league outings and are nine points adrift of the play-offs, while Ramsgate have collected 26 points from as many games and are seven points clear of the relegation zone.

“First word is obviously disappointed.  We’ve had five players booked and one sent-off in a game that hardly had a tackle in it. Poor, poor refereeing,” said Ward during the post-match press conference.

“The free-kick that led to their second goal was never a free-kick. He was just giving things for nothing. I think they had three players booked as well. 

“That’s the initial reaction when you come off the pitch that you’re disappointed because you’ve given away a 2-0 lead and had a man sent off after 50 minutes, for what? A little tug on a shirt! He was waiting to get one of us off so I’m disappointed with the referee.  I’m so glad there was an assessor (now called an observer) here today. What time is it now? 15:18. I think the assessor may have a few words to say!”

Ward added: “We’ve come up here, they’re back four wage bill is bigger than what my whole wage bill is. I’ve got 12 experienced players and one of them (Jake MacKenzie) cried off this morning because he’s got the flu so I’ve got 11 experienced players and a bunch of kids on the bench that will be good a bit later in the year.”

Cray Wanderers boss Tony Russell added: “I think it’s two points dropped, the amount of chances we’ve missed but when you’re 2-0 down at half-time you take a point so it’s a hard one.

“Strange game, but I suppose at the end the amount of chances we had we probably should’ve scored more than two but you take it at the end of the day.”

Ramsgate got off to a flying start by taking the lead with the first chance.

Striker Millbank swept the ball out wide to Kane, who had reached the final third, before putting in a great cross for Chapman to bury his downward header past Nick Blue from four-yards out.

“The funny thing about that is Joe Kane, that’s the first time he’s played right-back all year. He’s been centre half or had to do a job for me in midfield because we’re short.  My right-back Jake MacKenzie has pulled up with the flu this morning so Joe Kane had the hump because he had to go right-back.  I told him don’t bother to get past the half-way line, just get there and do a job at right-back.  Low and behold, he’s there on the edge of the box, crossed the ball to Chapman. It was a great goal, a proper footballing goal.”

Russell added: “It’s a hard one really. The right-back got injured and we’ve put Dane (Luchford) there and he’s just got caught out, not tucking round.

“When you come off two defeats confidence is low, you just don’t need that after two minutes.  Poor goal from our point of view, bad defending, but we’ll talk about the second one to add to the catalogue of goals that we’ve given away.”

Ramsgate created a couple of chances to put pressure on the home side.

Jay Leader gave the ball away, Alfie Paxman played the ball inside to Luke Girt, who took a touch before dragging his shot past the diving keeper and past the far post from 16-yards.

Paxman then crossed to an unmarked Chapman, who was going to pull the trigger but for a vital block from Cray Wanderers’ left-back Jeysiva Sivapathasundaram.

Cray Wanderers took nearly 16 minutes to fashion their first opening and Ramsgate were thankful to their goalkeeper Luke Watkins for making a fine save.

Karl Dent released Haynes in behind Ramsgate’s two centre halves Luke Wheatley and George Crimmen and Watkins came off his line to make the save with his legs, low to his left.

“Danny Haynes has missed three one-on-one’s today, he’s been in with the goalkeeper three times today and not scored and that’s not like Dan,” admitted Russell.

“Dan’s just apologised. He doesn’t miss that many chances but when you have that many clear-cut chances at home you’re talking about Danny Haynes having three one-on-ones.”

Ward added: “He was our man-of-the-match today, Luke Watkins. Excellent, absolutely excellent.

“I don’t know how many one-on-one’s he’s had but he saved a lot of things and he also made a great save with his foot and a great one he touched around the corner as well.”

Cray Wanderers took a gamble to play Dane Luchford in an unfamiliar right-back position and it worked in Ramsgate’s favour as Paxman played the ball inside to Girt for a second time, his shot flashing just past the foot of the left-hand post from 22-yards.

Ward was pleased with his side’s start, kicking down the slope at Hayes Lane.

“Girty missed both for me when he should’ve done a lot better.  I thought the first half-an-hour, how many goals should we have scored? We had umpteen chances, three or four easy,” said Ward.

Russell revealed: “Dane went off just tactically really. It wasn’t working down that side, on the right-hand side. It’s something we tried. It’s just the way it’s going at the moment. I had two right-backs Adetayo Osifuwa and Ben Mundele. I released Ade and then the same weekend Ben gets injured, so I take a centre half (Lorraine) off tactically and the other one (Jay Leader) goes off injured with a broken nose.

“At the moment we’re going through a spell where everything’s going against us and we’ve just got to come through.”

Paxman threw the ball to Jack Penny, the left-back striking a right-footed half-volley into Nick Blue’s hands from 30-yards from the left.

Ramsgate should have doubled their lead in the 25th minute when Blue dived to his left to push away Chapman’s right-footed drive and Paul Lorraine was there to find touch with his clearance.

“The best chance of the first half was when Chapman got the ball stuck underneath his feet in the six-yard box,” recalled Ward.

“He didn’t know whether to kick it with his right-foot or his left-foot or his knee or whatever. He just couldn’t get it out of his feet and he pulled it.”

“We were all over the place,” admitted Russell, who admitted his side haven’t recovered from losing 4-2 at home to East Grinstead Town on 17 December.

“The East Grinstead game at home here really derailed us a little bit. It was a sucker punch.  We were 2-0 up, it should’ve been three or four and then Bluey’s chucked one in and we’ve ended up conceding four. It’s hard to come back from a defeat like that. It really knocked us for six.”

Cray Wanderers are always a threat with Haynes up front and he made space with a turn some 25-yards from goal, forcing Watkins to make a comfortable low save to his right.

Ramsgate deserved their two-goal lead when it arrived with 31 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

Cray Wanderers central defender Jay Leader slipped and this gave Chapman the incentive to cut into the penalty area from the right, only to be chopped down by Lorraine.

Last season the last man would have been sent-off but the new laws ensure Lorraine’s punishment was to be a yellow card.

Millbank stepped up and sent Blue the wrong way with his right-footed penalty, which nestled low into the back of the net.

Ward said: “I thought the guy was lucky. I’ve got a lot of time for Paul Lorraine, he’s had a great career.  I thought he was lucky to get away with a booking. His heart must’ve been in his mouth because there was no way my player was going to get past him.  There was no room for him to get past him because everything went in there.  Because of the new laws because you get a penalty and all that referees are a bit reluctant to send you off. Anywhere else on the pitch he would’ve got sent-off. It was very aggressive.  These things happen. We got the penalty and Aaron’s tucked it away well.”

When asked his thoughts at being 2-0 up, Ward replied: “Keep at them! Keep at them! That’s the only thing we think off, keep at them, be sensible but keep at them and get another one and the game’s finished at 3-0!”

Russell added: “No complains about that. It was definitely a penalty. Luckily he didn’t get done for assault. It’s just the way it’s going at the moment.

“Jay Leader is in no trouble and all off a sudden I look round and he’s on the floor. He slips and he’s on the floor. That’s just the way it’s going at the moment. Paul’s tried to get over, not quite got there and it’s a pen, no question.”

Pin-ball inside the home side’s penalty area gave Ramsgate another chance to increase their lead, but Kane clipped his shot at Blue, who grabbed hold of the ball wondering just why his team-mates were defending like a pub side during the first half.

Lee Prescott pinged a diagonal out to right-winger Brandon Scott, who whipped in a cross towards the far post where Haynes’ right-footed shot on the turn from eight-yards was expertly blocked by Watkins’ knee.

Sivapathasundaram swung in the resulting corner from the right but Haynes sent his free header past the right-hand post.

Sivapathasundaram’s through ball put Haynes through on goal in the 42nd minute, but Watkins rushed off his line to use his outstretched right-hand to palm away Haynes’ right-footed chip from outside the penalty area.

It got a bit feisty towards the end of the first half and Solomon Taiwo, who featured in three positions, centre midfield, centre back and right-back, sent his right-footed free-kick from 30-yards just past the left-hand post.

Paxman’s speculative left-footed free-kick from 40-yards was well held low down by Blue inside the Cray Wanderers penalty area as the first half came to an end.

Russell said: “We were getting drawn into their discipline. Their bench is quite vocal. The boys were getting caught into it, getting drawn into squaring up and fouls and things like that.

“Our conversation at half-time was one of the most important ones I’ve done this season if I’m honest because we were starting to lose control of the game both on and off the field.”

“I thought the referee lost control and he didn’t know what to do with himself,” claimed Ward.

“When you don’t have an assessor here they let the game flow and just deal with what’s got to be done and all that stuff.  The assessor’s here and he’s booked two of our players after 12 minutes.  Ok they were tackles. Were they worse than the tackle that gave the penalty away? No!”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Russell said: “As I said to them at half-time, we’ll find out about people. It’s alright when we’re winning and everyone wants the ball. You find out who’s your people because when you’re 2-0 down and you’re staring at a third defeat in a row, you find out about each other.  The ones who are not up for it and just here for the wrong reasons or here for whatever. They’ll come to the front and the ones that ain’t will dig in.”

“Again, keep going, be positive and take the game to them,” added Ward.

“But the whole thing changes after 5 minutes, we’ve lost a man.  They’ve got good full-backs who bomb on. To be fair they haven’t got a bad player have they? They’re entitled not to have a bad player, the money that they pay!”

Ramsgate’s ill-discipline cost them. Holding midfielder Gray was spotted by referee Ryan Whitaker pulling back Dent’s shirt off the ball, so out came the red card in the 50th minute.

“Ollie’s apologised, he tugged the boy back,” said Ward.

“I feel the referee, when you see some of the things, he’s been booked for pulling the boy back and the incident with the penalty. Whether it’s the new laws, the laws of the land you’d probably have got three months for that tackle for GBH!”

Russell added: “I said at half-time someone will get sent-off, there was no doubt.  I didn’t want us to get involved with it.  I thought we were getting drawn into a game we don’t need to get involved in.  I told them to hold their discipline because sometimes you can lose a game and it’s a knock on effect for other games. 

“It’s easy to get drawn in. They’re very vocal on their bench and they’ve got a lot to say.  Their players are putting it about and silly things were going on and our boys were reacting.

“The ball’s gone out wide and we’re breaking and Denty’s got away from his man and he’s just grabbed him around the neck and jumped on his back and pulled him down off the ball in front of everyone. It’s probably one of the easiest decisions he’ll have to make.”

Ramsgate inevitably parked the bus in front of Watkins in goal, playing mostly with everyone behind the ball, which pleased Ward.

“We had to re-organise. We’ve got three forwards that are proper forwards, none of them could defend a rice pudding! The three of them up front were asked to do jobs today. It’s a bit alien to them.  I thought they done it great.  I thought Chapman, Millbank and Paxman ran their socks off for this club.”

Taiwo hit a right-footed free-kick over the bar from 28-yards from a central position, before good build-up play from Haynes set up a chance for Dent, who flashed his right-footed drive just past the foot of the left-hand post from 30-yards.

Cray Wanderers went close to scoring halfway through the second half when Haynes played a clever pass in behind Kane and Crimmen to put Sivapathasundaram through and he cut the ball back for Haynes to hit his first time shot just past the far post with his right-foot from 12-yards.

Russell said: “I thought we came out for the second half really well even before the sending off. I thought it was all us.  I thought we came out nice and positive. The sending off makes it harder for them.

“He’s missed a lot today, we could go through Dan’s chances a lot, he’s missed a lot and it’s unlike Dan.  Normally he’s quite ruthless.  As soon as we got into a huddle (after the final whistle) he’s just apologised to everyone. He’s missed some great chances today.”

Ramsgate were holding on and assistant referee Wally James raised his offside flag to chalk off a close range finish from Sherwin Stanley after a cross from inside the left-channel from fellow sub Timmi Osibodu.

Russell said: “By that stage I was more calm. The message at half-time was we’ve got to get something out of this game. We’ve got to put a performance in and have a right go and give everything you’ve got and they were doing that.  I was more encouraged by what we were doing.  When you ask your players a question, whether they’re in with you or not, are you going to fold or are you going to feel sorry for yourself or lose your discipline, and they react the way you want, obviously you’re pleased.”

Ward added: “He’s offside! I’ve seen it. I’ve called it straight away, he’s offside. The linesman, fair play, put his flag up.  They had 60-70% of the game by then. They’re bound to put you under pressure.  We got a bit deep because of their actions, more than my players sitting too deep.”

Haynes was put through on goal again and his shot was saved by Watkins, who was thankful to Kane for getting back on the goal-line to head clear Dent’s follow-up shot with 20 minutes remaining.

“It was pinball wasn’t it, bang, bang, bang, bang. No more than what we deserved,” added Ward.

Kane was having a great game and the Ramsgate captain was leading by example, blocking Sean Roberts’ first time shot after another Sivapathasundaram cut back from the left.

Dent threaded the ball through to Haynes, who stung Watkins’ fingers with a right-footed drive from 35-yards, before Cray Wanderers gave themselves a lifeline with a goal, which was timed at 36 minutes and 37 seconds.

Dent threaded the ball through to striker Stanley, who held the ball up and flicked his pass on the outside to Haynes.  The striker kept his composure to drill a low right-footed drive across Watkins from 14-yards, the ball kissing the foot of the far post before nestling into the back of the net.

Russell said: “Nice of him to turn up after 82 minutes Dan weren’t it? I said to him in the huddle, ‘credit to you mate because you kept getting in there’.

“We’ve all seen games at every level when the striker has that game when he don’t even look like scoring but it’s easy to shy away. He kept trying to get in there, he kept on shooting. He hit a couple over the bar. He was nice and brave so he kept getting in there. Lovely link up, good goal as well, very good goal. A ball around the corner into Dent, flicked on by Sherwin and he goes and it’s in off the post. It’s a very good goal.”

Ward added: “It took something like that to beat him, in off the far post.  Luke was excellent today, honestly, head and shoulders. I’m glad we’ve got the boy on contract here, he’s a good lad.”

Ramsgate could have snatched the victory with their only two chances of the second half.

Millbank produced a solo 30-yard run down the left, cut into the penalty area and his right-footed curler forced Blue to claw the ball towards safety high to his left.

“The keeper deserved to save that one. It was the second one, the next one, that really got me,” said Ward.

“Millbank done well. He got himself into position where he’s run the guy and got there, a good shot just too close to the goalkeeper.”

But when you’re down at the bottom luck goes against you and Ramsgate’s chance in the final three minutes was gut-wrenching.

Full credit goes to left-back Penny, who picked the ball up in Cray’s half, ran forward before slipping the ball inside to Paxman, who put Penny through on goal and his right-footed shot sailed across Blue, clipped the far post and dropped into the grateful keeper’s hands.

“We should’ve scored!” admitted Ward.

“I can’t knock the guy’s, by this time they’re out on their legs.  We’ve broken away and we got into them and we’ve worked the ball.  Penny’s all left-foot and it's come on his right-foot and he’s screwed it a little bit wide. He knew what he was trying to do, he was trying to put it into that side of the goal. It hit the post.  Fine, no criticism at all. He’s my left-back, we’re winning 2-1, I’m down to ten-men, He’s my left-back and he’s inside the six-yard box. That’s what we are.”

Russell added: “By then you’re scrambling. You think maybe your lucks turned. That’s what I said before the game. The last three games everything has gone against us, everything! Every time someone goes forward, they’ve scored. Every time they had a little spell, they scored. It’s about time the footballing gods start to turn.”

Cray Wanderers went up the other end to snatch a point, the goal timed at 46:14.

They were awarded a free-kick in a central position some 32-yards from goal.  Haynes decided against shooting, played the ball inside to Sivapathasundaram in behind the defence and the left-back drove his shot into the danger area for Kane to divert the ball past his own goalkeeper for a heartbreaking own-goal.

Russell said: “I think it was an own-goal. I thought Dan was going to hit it as well. I don’t know if you can hear me shouting to Jey, I wanted Jey to give him that option because two things then. If they don’t come out they’ll bring someone out of the wall – and they didn’t.

“It’s a good ball and once you’re in down the side it’s a lovely area. To be fair to Jey Siva, he’s put some lovely balls in today.

“Yes, I’m relieved. You know what I’m happy about? I’m happy that we’ve got something to build off. I’m never happy getting a point at home. We look to win.  I said it to them after I’m delighted with them because we can build off this. If you haven’t got team spirt you don’t do that. We’ve come back from 2-0 down three times now and that tells me we’ve got something now, maybe we haven’t got enough quality.”

Ward added: “It was the one time in the game when we were a bit amateur. We all see it from the box and we called it and the guy was rolled in and it got a deflection, an own-goal.

“Joe had a great game considering he didn’t want to play right-back. He’s not a right-back, he’s a centre half!”

Cray Wanderers host third-from-bottom Chatham Town at Hayes Lane on Bank Holiday Monday, 2 January 2017 (15:00).

Russell said: “I went to watch them against Hythe, they’re a good, young side. They’re fighting for their lives. They’re going to play against us who are going through a bad spell at the moment. What this point does for us remains to be seen.”

Russell admits his side are underperforming in the league pecking order.

“We’re probably 10-12 points shorter than I thought.  You always go out aiming for 100 points. At the halfway point you want to be around 50 points but it’s been enjoyable so far. It’s a good league, I’ve enjoyed it. We’ve got a little bit of work to do but I know what I’ve got in my dressing room and I know once I get everyone firing and everyone confident and playing, we’ve got a very good side.”

When asked whether he’s still targeting the play-offs in their 22 games, Russell replied: “Nothing’s out of the question. I never rule anything out!”

Ramsgate, meanwhile, travel to fifth-placed Hythe Town on Monday afternoon.

“Tough coming to Cray. I don’t know who picks these fixtures, I really don’t. It’s New Year, it’s supposed to be rejoicing and we have to come all the way to London to play this mob and on Monday we’ve got to go down to play Hythe.  It will be a tougher game than today, much tougher.  Hythe are better than these without a doubt.  Hythe will be big and strong, everything about it on Monday will be very, very difficult. They’re a well-organised side, another team that’s got a few bob down there.”

Ward is confident that his side will retain their Ryman League Division One South status in their last 20 league outings of the season.

“I feel for my players because tables don’t lie. Let’s put it that way first, tables don’t like.

“We feel we don’t deserve to be in the position we’re in.  We’ve got a lot of young boys out there and all the players have taken responsibility to egg themselves on and getting through. We’re fine.

“There’s a lot of money in this division this year. Clubs are throwing a lot of money to try to get out of it so here we are, we’re fifth-from-bottom. We’re not daft me and Danny, league’s don’t lie but a few things went against us today that shouldn’t have gone against us.

“Without a doubt we’ll be in the Ryman League. I stamp my reputation on it. We’re fine.  We’re better against these big lads than what we are against the small lads, the so-called small lads.  We need to turn that corner and get those same performances against the teams that are around us.”

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Dane Luchford (Timmi Osibodu 26), Jeysiva Sivapathasundaram, Solomon Taiwo, Paul Lorraine (Lea Dawson 53), Jay Leader (Sherwin Stanley 66), Sean Roberts, Lee Prescott, Danny Haynes, Karl Dent, Brandon Scott.
Subs: Anthony Adesite, Jai McKinlay

Goals: Danny Haynes 82, Joe Kane 90 (own goal)

Booked: Paul Lorraine 31, Danny Haynes 43, Lee Prescott 65

Ramsgate: Luke Watkins, Joe Kane, Jack Penny, Oliver Gray, Luke Wheatley, George Crimmen, Macauley Murray (Jake Munday 76), Tom Chapman, Aaron Millbank, Luke Girt, Alfie Paxman (Joshua Donnelly 90).
Subs: Mitchell Laing, Lloyd Blackman, Jacob Mensah

Goals: Tom Chapman 2, Aaron Millbank 32 (penalty)

Booked: Jack Penny 12, Joe Kane 12, Oliver Gray 45, George Crimmen 56, Luke Girt 64

Sent off: Oliver Gray 50

Attendance: 158
Referee: Mr Ryan Whitaker (Bexleyheath)
Assistants: Mr Wally James (Sidcup) & Mr Joe Kasper (Gravesend)

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