Cray Wanderers 4-1 Tilbury - I was brought in to keep Cray in the Ryman League and we've done our job, says Tommy Warrilow
Cray Wanderers 4 – 1 Tilbury
|Location||Priestfield Stadium, Redfern Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 4DD|
CRAY WANDERERS 4-1 TILBURY
Ryman League Division One North
Sunday 19th April 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane
CRAY WANDERERS boss Tommy Warrilow says he wants to enter the club’s history books in his last game in charge.
The Wands pulled off The Great Escape in Warrilow’s 21st game by winning their ninth game on the spin to mathematically maintain their Ryman League status.
STAYING UP: Cray Wanderers have pulled off The Great Escape as nine wins out of nine maintained their Ryman League status.
Photo: Cray Wanderers Twitter
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and had Warrilow been in charge of the club – instead of scouting for Vanarama Conference South club Ebbsfleet United when Steve Brown was in charge at Stonebridge Road – then Cray Wanderers would have been challenging towards the top end of the Ryman League Division One North table.
Chris Piper, who scored a hat-trick in the midweek 4-0 home win over Waltham Abbey, opened the scoring inside the opening 12 minutes in a game where a draw would have been enough.
Alex Teniola doubled the lead five minutes before the break, but fourteenth-placed Tilbury pulled a goal back through Neil Richmond’s close-range strike.
Teniola lashed home his seventh goal in five games before Adrian Stone came off the bench to score his 22nd goal of the campaign for his fourth manager of the season.
The Dockers had striker Richmond sent-off at the death for picking up his second yellow card.
It proved to be a weekend of celebration at Hayes Lane this weekend following landlords Bromley’s 3-0 win over Weston-super-Mare to win the Vanarama Conference South title yesterday, the club’s first league title since the Isthmian League title was won back in 1961.
Cray Wanderers’ outstanding run of form keeps them in eighteenth-place in the table with 49 points with one game to go.
Warrilow took a while to emerge from the joyous home dressing room because he was soaked by beer by the players’ that he brought in to pull off The Great Escape.
Warrilow said: “I’ll be honest, I think they’re spot on with it (The Great Escape). Everyone was flat when we came in. Prior to the last nine games we were improving slowly but games were running out. The season was just over half-way.
“I wanted to come here today and win it. I didn’t want anyone to do us any favours and be here today and have a bit of a testimonial atmosphere and party spirit. I wanted to go out and win to keep the run going so now we are safe, it’s job done.”
Tilbury crossed the Dartford Bridge on a three-match winless run and they created the first chance after ten minutes.
Keeper Jack Giddens’ long kick was won in the air by number 10 Thomas Wood, who stung Luke Colquhoun’s fingers with a right-footed drive from 18-yards after the Cray Wanderers defence failed to get the ball away.
“The boy is getting better, the boy is getting better and better,” Warrilow said of his goalkeeper.
“I just said to him it’s a shame the season’s finishing for you. Go away in the summer, get in the gym and build yourself up evern more and you’ve put yourself back on the map after falling out of the game a little while.
“He’s a nice kid, he’s willing to learn and he’s been fantastic for us.”
But clinical Cray Wanderers swiftly opened the scoring with their first attack and they must thank referee Neil West.
Giannoulis Fakinos delivered a deep free-kick into the Tilbury box and Carl Rook was wrestled to the ground by Emiel Aiken but good refereeing by the Essex official allowed play to continue and Piper drilled a low right-footed shot across the keeper to find the far corner from ten-yards.
“The linesman was going to give it but fair play to (the referee), he played on,” said Warrilow.
“It was a good advantage but he would have pulled it back and given a penalty.
“Rookie was wrestled to the floor – everyone could see it – so I think it would have been given.”
Reflecting on Piper’s goalscoring form and a major force in the club’s transformation, Warrilow added: “He’s getting in the right areas, the system suits him.
“He’s struggling with his ankle a little bit, that’s why he had to come off today. Pipe’s has got nothing to prove to me.”
Tilbury pressed for an equaliser and former Brighton & Hove Albion and Crawley keeper Colquhoun was kept on his toes.
Ryan Flack swung in a corner from the left towards the far post where Elliott Johnson headed the ball back for Richmond to sweep a first time shot which was blocked by Colquhoun’s legs after 16 minutes.
And Tilbury caused another problem just 49 seconds later.
Right-back Jake Pooley played a low cross towards the edge of the penalty area where Wood swivled and his low right-footed angled drive forced the keeper to dive to his right to parry but winger Allen slammed his shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
“Listen, they’re like Waltham Abbey. They want to come here and spoil our party,” said Warrilow.
“They’re a raw side, individually they’ve got some skilful players and they can cause you problems.”
That warning kicked-started Cray Wanderers and they went close themselves after Piper’s corner from the left which Nick Humphrey came up from the back to poke his deflected shot past the left-hand post.
Rory Hill played a brilliant diagonal pass to release winger Warren Whitely, who cut towards the corner of the box but his left-footed chip looped into Giddens hands for a comfortable catch.
Playing with three men at the back, Nathan Simpson swept a free-kick into the Tilbury box but Humphrey’s shot bounced wide from 18-yards.
But Cray Wanderers’ second largest crowd of the season of 236 agonisied when the post saved Tilbury.
The Kent side produced an impressive one-touch three man move in midfield involving Piper, Teniola and Hill to release Whitely down the left, who cut into the box and his left-footed shot trickled across Giddens and kissed the foot of the far post.
“We didn’t get Wazza or Tom (Bolarinwa) in the game enough in the first half,” admitted Warrilow.
“Second half was a little bit better, getting them driving up and getting the full-backs pulled out into wide areas.
“Wazza’s played in the last few games – he’s played at a good level – but when I’ve left him out he’s got the hump with it and given me the right reactions. You’re never too old to learn. I’m still learning and making mistakes at my age.
“All the boys’ know what I think of them but it doesn’t stop me from doing my job and telling them the truth.”
But Cray Wanderers deserved their 2-0 lead with 39:56 on the clock.
Piper played a lovely pass forward and Teniola latched onto the ball before Whitely to burst through to reach the left by-line before his shot from a tight angle took a big deflection of Tilbury right-back Jake Pooley to roll past the flat-footed keeper.
“Alex has made the run, he’s put the ball in the right areas and he’s cashed in with a little bit of luck,” said Warrilow.
“It’s Alex’s goal. If he hadn’t have done it then it would have been a tap in at the far stick anyway.”
But before the home faithful could start to celebrate their survival, Tilbury pulled a goal back just 178 seconds later.
Aiken steered the ball across the face of goal and the bobbling ball was brought under control by Wood, whose shot was blocked on the line and Richmond smashed the loose ball into the back of the net from two-yards.
Warrilow admitted the goal changed his team-talk.
He said: “He’s got them back into the game and it’s given them a lift bang on half-time so their team talk is a lot easier and mine was to give the lads a bit of a volley.
“I don’t care that we’ve gone eight games – we haven’t done anything!
“I said to the boys’ don’t forget we haven’t done anything. Everyone’s on about The Great Escape. You can’t put your feet up. We still needed to get something out of the game.”
There was not much action during the early stages of the second half.
Tilbury should have tested Colquhoun inside the opening six minutes when Wood and Richmond linked up well but captain Matthew Game’s shot sailed harmlessly wide from 20-yards.
But Cray Wanderers should have scored their third goal on the hour.
Striker Carl Rook was released down the left and he cut the ball back to Teniola, but the former Tonbridge Angels striker scuffed his shot from 16-yards, which trickled into Giddens’ hands.
“He could have had a touch,” added Warrilow.
“Rookie’s done brilliant, crossed it, that’s what Alex needs to learn on. He finished his goal well but that one was probably an easier chance.
“If he had a touch and a bit of composure but to be fair to Alex he hasn’t been a regular starter at any club. I had him at Tonbridge as an impact player and I told here that’s why he’s an impact player, but he started for the last three games and he’s caused a lot of problems to defenders.
“If he keeps doing that he’ll improve and we’ll work on things like that in training.”
Cray Wanderers did score their third goal in the 74th minute, helped by a bobble off the Hayes Lane pitch.
Hill’s through ball released Teniola down the left, beating the offside trap, to cut into the box and the ball bobbled off the pitch and sat up nicely for Teniola to lash his right-footed shot past Giddens from 15-yards.
Warrilow added: “At least he’s taken his time with that one. It’s come up and he’s opened his body up and tucked it away well.
“Tilbury’s high line was what we were hoping to expose more than what we did today.”
Tilbury keeper Giddens dived to his left to tip behind Whitely’s curling free-kick from the left flank, which was heading towards the top far corner.
Warrilow brought on Stone for the final thirteen minutes and he met Hill’s cross with a far post header, which bounced into Gidden’s hands.
Stone then directed his diving header straight at the keeper from six-yards after Whitely crossed the ball in from the left.
Tilbury’s first chance of the second half arrived in the 86th minute when Game directed his free header over the bar from just inside the box after Carlile clipped a free-kick forward.
Stone ensured The Wands maintained their Ryman League status in style with the fourth goal with 44:13 on the clock.
Tom Bolarinwa, who was kept quiet by Tilbury, played the ball to Stone, who cut outside his marker and steered his shot into the back of the net from a tight angle from eight-yards.
It was a sweet moment for a player that has stayed loyal to the club for the entire season.
“Stoney’s been left out today as a reward. I know it sounds hard,” admitted Warrilow.
“I started with Rookie and Alex up front but Stoney has been brilliant for me. Today he could have had a hat-trick but he does his job. Everytime I see Stoney play he does everything you ask him to do and the last three games it’s been a reward for him working his socks off. For all the game’s he’s started, which was all of them bar the last three games.”
Richmond was sent for an early shower after sending Whitely flying down the left flank, which saw referee Neil West show him a second yellow card, followed by a red.
Warrilow said: “I think the ref was a bit too card happy, a bit too quick. The lad tackled him and he was on a yellow but he was on one so he’s obviously gone off, but I think the game was over then at 4-1.”
Players’ and management team lined up in a row to clap their fans off the pitch and the faithful gave their team a heroes’ reception as they headed down the tunnel into a beer soaked dressing room.
The pressure is off for the trip to Dereham Town on the final day of the season on Saturday.
Dereham are in sixth-place in the table on 81 points and cannot grab a play-off place because Thurrock (84 points) have a far superior goal-difference.
However, if Cray Wanderers win then they will claim a club record ten wins on the spin.
It will be a remarkable way for Warrilow to sign off his successful reign at Hayes Lane.
“We’ve got something to play for, the fact that we can get in our history books and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do next week, finish the season on a high,” said Warrilow.
“The most important thing was I was brought in to keep Cray in the Ryman League and we’ve done our job.
“But I do want to be the manager that’s given them a long unbeaten run and get in the history books with all these lads and that will be nice and these lads deserve it, they’ve been absolutely brilliant!
“Some of them have had three (other) managers. It’s going to be hard for them with different systems and another voice but we’ve had falling offs and whatever but they’re brilliant and we can enjoy it now.”
Stone, 32, who started the campaign at the club, is delighted that Warrilow has come in and kept the club in the Ryman League.
He said: “Everyone’s played a big part. The new players’ have come in, there’s only four of us left since the new gaffer’s come in. It’s just been ideal really.
“The team spirit, the new gaffer’s come in and has changed a lot of things. We’ve just gelled really.
“I did think we was down and out at the time (before our nine wins on the bounce) but the new gaffer has come in. I’ve known him from my Tonbridge days when I got promoted (via the Ryman Premier League play-offs) and he’s brought in an excellent group of players and kept us up.
“Me personally, I hope he gets a job for next season. The rumous that he’s not but it will be a shame if he didn’t.”
Stone admitted he was disappointed to have lost his place in the starting line-up to former Leatherhead and Tonbridge Angels striker Rook.
“Considering I haven’t played as much as I thought I would, because I was scoring a few goals at the beginning, but if I’m not scoring, they’re winning and we’ve stayed up and that’s the main thing.”
Chairman Gary Hillman added: “I’m over the moon really. Tommy has done a superb, great job. Ten games ago you never expected it but it’s got to be the ultimate great escape in football I reckon.”
Mr Hillman declined to answer what his plans were for next season in terms of management team.
It would, however, be great if Warrilow and his assistant Alex O’Brien are in charge of Cray Wanderers next season.
Cray Wanderers: Luke Colquhoun, Helge Ormoe, Nathan Simpson, Rory Hill (James Pass 90), Nick Humphrey, Giannoulis Fakinos, Warren Whitely, Chris Piper (Steve Springett 74), Alex Teniola, Carl Rook (Adrian Stone 77), Tom Bolarinwa.
Subs: Orlando Smith, Frank Griffin
Goals: Chris Piper 12, Alex Teniola 40, 74, Adrian Stone 90
Booked: Alex Teniola 69, Helge Orome 85
Tilbury: Jack Giddens, Jake Pooley, James Cook, Elliott Johnson, Daniel Smith, Matthew Game, Ryan Flack (Ruben Duarte 70), Jack Carlile, Neil Richmond, Thomas Wood (Rimmel Daniel 79), Emiel Aiken.
Subs: Bradley Webb, Ben Austin, George Ryan
Goal: Nick Richmond 43
Booked: James Cook 35, Thomas Wood 54, Ryan Flack 57, Neil Richmond 74
Sent Off: Neil Richmond 90
Referee: Mr Neil West (Leigh-on-Sea, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Robert Clausson (Stratford, London E15) & Mr James Masson (Benfleet, Essex)