Cray Valley 1-3 Raynes Park Vale - It's not looking good for me at the moment, admits Paul Gross

Sunday 17th August 2014
The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Sunday 17th August 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Middle Park Avenue

CRAY VALLEY manager Paul Gross says he demands more from his beleaguered players’ after crashing out of The FA Cup at the first hurdle.

The Millers’ made it three defeats on the spin after unbeaten Combined Counties League side Raynes Park comfortably booked a trip to Ryman League Division One South newcomers East Grinstead Town in The FA Cup Preliminary Round in thirteen days’ time.

Raynes Park Vale arrived in Eltham after beating Chertsey Town (2-1) and Epsom & Ewell (1-0), before they were held to a goal-less draw by Knaphill in their last league game.

But Gross’s under-performing side have suffered league defeats to Tunbridge Wells (0-3) and Corinthian (0-4) and the pressure mounts on Gross to turn things around in his first three games in charge since taking over from Steve Chapman.

Raynes Park Vale opened the scoring inside nine minutes when Lee Coburn headed into his own net following a free-kick.

But Cray Valley equalised within six minutes when striker Aaron Jeffery stroked home the club’s first goal in 195 minutes of football.

But Raynes Park Vale sealed a deserved victory when striker Simon Moore slotted home a penalty, before Marcus Dowdeswell came up from the back to plant a free header into the goal.

Gross said: “Disappointed first of all for the club, second of all for me and my backroom staff because we’re asking these boys to do things and they’re just not doing what we’re asking them to do!

“Again, are they a good team? Not really. They were more like a ruby team! Did they do the right things? Yes, they did. They put it in the right areas.

“In terms of quality I know we had more but are we doing the right things at this moment in time? No, probably not!”

Raynes Park Vale created the first chance of the game after only 97 seconds when impressive left-back Antony Moulds drilled his deflected shot under pressure over the bar from 30-yards.

Raynes Park Vale began the game on the front foot and Cray Valley struggled to cope.

Jim Doherty was released down the right and whipped in a cross towards the far post but Alwayne Jones jumped to plant his header across goal and Vale defender Jon Makin was on hand to hook the ball away.

But Raynes Park Vale deservedly opened the scoring inside nine minutes.

Set-piece specialist Moulds swung in a left-footed free-kick from the right channel and Coburn and Makin both jumped for the ball and Coburn planted his header past his keeper Jack Kelly from six-yards.

Gross said: “Story of our season, individual mistakes!”

“Tunbridge Wells are a good team so I’m not going to gage anything with that. Corinthian’s, gave them four goals.  Came here today, gave them another three.”

Raynes Park Vale were to be denied a second goal just 118 seconds later when a long ball through the middle put through Jon Key, but the midfielder’s left-footed dink was blocked by Kelly high to his right and the loose ball was cleared for a corner by Matthews.

Gross said: “Again, two straight balls done us today. We looked flat at the back. We’re not covering each other. We’re just not doing the basics so you’re going to get punished.”

Moulds swung in the resulting corner from the left and Matthews almost scored a comical own goal, which bounced into Kelly’s body at the near post.

Raynes Park Vale midfielder Jerome Smart played the ball inside to Moulds, who flashed his first time drive across goal and past the far post from 25-yards.

But Cray Valley clawed themselves back into the game with a fifteenth minute lifeline.

Midfielder Greg Moorse started the move by clipping the ball to Alwayne Jones down the left who rolled the ball into the box to striker Luke Tanner who laid the ball off for Jeffery to stroke his first time drive into the bottom right-hand corner from 16-yards.

“We know he can do that, but we need to keep him in the game,” said Gross.

“Tanner’s always isolated. We need to change something. We need to get bodies up there. We can be a threat when we do the right things.”

It proved to be The Millers’ first goal in three games and Gross admitted: “It’s the only thing I can take out of it! One goal this season. First goal so we’re up and running. It’s the only positive I can take out of today.”

Raynes Park Vale were to be denied in the 20th minute when Moulds swept a free-kick out to right-back Mark Waters, who whipped in a deep cross towards the far post where winger Ato Okai sent his header into Kelly’s gloves at the near post.

Moulds hit a right-footed free-kick sailing harmlessly over Kelly’s crossbar from 28-yards as the first half edged towards the halfway mark.

Moulds swung in his fifth corner of the game on the half-hour where Makin came up from the back to head down and past the near post.

Cray Valley called visiting goalkeeper Sam Filler into making a comfortable save.

Kevin Lott, who played in front of the back four, delivered an out-swinging corner from the left which was knocked down by Matthews and Moorse unleashed a first time right-footed drive straight at the keeper from 25-yards.

The game turned into a midfield battle but Cray Valley went in at half-time on level terms.

“I thought we were lucky to go in at one-all,” admitted Gross.

“I would have bit your hand off to go in at one-all.  I just keep saying them the same questions over and over. We’ve worked on a lot. I thought we were good pre-season. Why have we froze as we’ve gone to the league games and now the Cup game?”

Despite Gross demanding more from his side, the men in green failed to deliver during the second half and Raynes Park Vale went on to book their place in the next round.

Okai, with two goals to his name already this season, penetrated the right flank on a 50-yard run and he played the ball out to Calum Forbes on the overlap and his cross came out to Key, who curled his right-footed shot on to the top of the far post from sixteen-yards.

Gross said: “I told them at half-time stop giving silly fouls away, stay tight, be commanding, don’t let them back in cheaply.

“They’ve hit the bar early doors and I think they scored after about six minutes if I’m correct of the second half starting so you give away silly chances, you don’t do your jobs, you’re going to concede goals.”

The game went away from the Millers after 50 minutes when referee Stuart Mallows pointed to the spot after Coburn brought down Okai after the winger cut in from the right flank.

Moore stepped up and slotted his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner with Kelly diving the wrong way.

Gross said: “Poor starting positions, again. This is why we gave silly free-kicks and penalties away. We’re in the wrong positions to start with.

“We’re not covering each other. I don’t know why.

“I’ve lost Reis Boyle who I thought I had. He moved out of the country the day before the season started.

“I’ve brought in some bodies today. I thought the keeper done well after bringing him in. I had to look at that. I’m bringing in another body today. 

“Listen, if they can’t do what they’re told, I have to go and change it.”

Kelly came rushing out of his penalty area to head away a long ball forward, which went straight to Moulds, who hooked a first time right-footed shot sailing harmlessly wide from 40-yards.

Cray Valley striker Luke Tanner came out of his shell and called Filler into making a comfortable save in the 63rd minute.

Jim Doherty played the ball up to Tanner, who stroked a weak right-footed shot straight at the keeper from 25-yards.

But The Millers were dead and buried when Raynes Park Vale scored their third goal in the 68th minute.

Moulds swung in a corner from the left with his right-foot and no one picked up Dowdeswell who planted his free header into the net from six-yards.

Gross, who has now completed his three-match ban, revealed he will return to the team for their home game against Fisher on Wednesday night.

“Free header!  I’ve just said to them in there, none of them has got any a*****le.  Take command of the situation!

“Maybe I’ve not brought the right characters in.  I’ve brought boys in higher thinking they could do it. Maybe I need to get back to basics and get average Kent League players like myself but at least I’d get everything out of them!  They’ll command they will dictate what goes on.

“We just lack a leader, a complete lack of a leader out there.

“My suspensions up today.  I’ve just gone into the boys, just went into my three backroom staff and every single one of them told me I should start Wednesday, not something I want to do.

“Listen, if it’s something that’s going to get us through I might have to do it.  Like I said, I’m not the best player but I know how to lead a team and I know how to give everything I’ve got and leave it on the pitch so if that’s what we have to do, it’s not ideal, but we might have to go back to things like that.”

But when footballers cannot get up for a FA Cup tie then Cray Valley have serious problems.

Left-back Adam Gross played the ball up to Tanner, who spun and hooked a right-footed shot on the turn from 30-yards, which was spilt by Filler, who gathered the ball as it spun towards the corner of his net.

Gross said: “The last fifteen minutes you could see we had spells, got a few shots off but why has it taken us this long? Why is it in patches and why can’t we go and do it consistently?”

Reflecting on Tanner’s attempts, Gross said: “Huffed and puffed, 30-35-yards out, not going to do anything!

“I felt sorry for Luke. He works really hard but there were times today when he had a five-yard pass on and he kicked it out of the ground two or three times.

“I can’t keep hiding behind the fact, he works hard, but he needs more. He needs support.

“Do we change our system? Do we change our philosophy? That’s something we’ve got to talk about and maybe work on.”

Moorse and Tanner linked up well down the left and Moore cut the ball back to Doherty who played the ball to Tanner, who scuffed his shot wide of the left-hand post from eighteen-yards.

Lott swung in a free-kick from the right towards the far post where Matthews glanced his towering header wide from the edge of the Raynes Park Vale penalty area.

Moorse cracked a right-footed volley towards goal from 25-yards, which stung the keeper’s fingers, but a glimpse of a Cray Valley recovery proved too little too late.

A mistake from Matthews gifted Moore a chance at the end of the game, but Kelly came out to smother the danger.

Gross revealed that the club will not miss the £1,500 in prize money that they gifted their opponents.

“We’ve set our budget out before. Anything we gain along the way is given to me and it’s a bonus,” he said.

“It is in terms of can I get a big name in? Could I get a forward in whose going to score me some goals? Could I put someone on a bit of decent dough?

“So all that does is set that back but the budget remains the same unless the board tell me anything different but I was told I was given the same figure for the season so that doesn’t change in my opinion.”

But with a decent budget at his disposal a return of three defeats, one goal and ten conceded, puts Gross under pressure ahead of Fisher’s visit.

With the likes of Tommy Osborne, Adam Gross and Coburn at the back, a lack of leadership seems rather worrying.

Gross said: “It’s a lack of leadership. I shouldn’t have with players I’ve got in that back four. We shouldn’t be leaking goals like this but I’m not just going to blame the defence. 

“It’s a unit. When the right or left wingers lose it, when we lose it up top, we’re not working as a team. We’re not working as a unit to get back and get our mates out of trouble.

“We’re playing like a team of individuals, not as a unit.

“As I said to them there’s a lack of belief in there, a lack of bo****ks and they need to stand up and be counted because if we were instructing them to do something and they were doing it and we was losing, I would go into the bar and I’ll hold my hands up.

“I still back the boys. I’ll take all the flack that’s coming my way. Whether that’s me going, whether the committee get rid of me or whether they stand by me, what I get the hump with is if we’re asking them to do things and they’re not doing it, and I’m still getting the blame, so I either need to bring boys in who will do it or we need to have a look at it.

“I don’t know. I will have to talk to the committee after and see what their thoughts are because going in three losses it’s not looking good for me at the moment.”

Gross wants his side to show the same commitment and desire as their manager when they take on Billy Walton’s side on Wednesday night.

“There’s pressure from myself. You’ve seen me play. I’m all out. I’m 110% It’s an old cliché, I know it’s an old cliché, but it’s the truth.

“Love me or hate me people don’t have great opinions of me. Some people do. One thing you can’t say is I don’t give my all and it’s the same in management. I’ll give my all until the day someone tells me to stop.

“I’m very disappointed, very disappointed but I’ll be just as disappointed if I was a player as I am a manager.  We have to stick together and turn it around.”

Fisher ended a run of back-to-back league defeats to Ashford United (1-6) and Phoenix Sports (3-0) to knock Selsey out of The FA Cup with a 3-0 win yesterday.

“We can only set them up and ask them to do stuff. If they don’t do it, things aren’t going to change,” said Gross.

“We’ll all be trying our hardest to turn things around.

“They’ll come down and they’ll try and play and what Bill Walton will get out of his team is effort and commitment.

“Maybe I have to re-address it and get some dogs back in the team. Get eleven dogs who are just going to work hard for me but I don’t want to really watch that week-in-week-out.  I want to play some attacking football and enjoy our football.

“If we have to go back to basics, let’s see how we get on against Fisher on Wednesday and we’ll just have to try and go again.”

On today’s Sunday shocker, Gross added: “It’s a big headache, a big headache but I’m not one to go hiding, but I’ll go in the bar, puff my chest out and take what’s coming my way.”

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Jack Kelly, Tommy Osborne, Adam Gross, Greg Moorse, Joe Matthews, Lee Coburn, Jim Doherty, Kevin Lott, Luke Tanner (Max Williams 86), Aaron Jeffery (Grant Lye 67), Alwayne Jones (Ola Rabiu 59).
Subs: Ben Healy, Michael McKenna, Ryan Sawyer, Brad Morgan

Goal: Aaron Jeffery 15

Booked: Jim Doherty 75

Raynes Park Vale: Sam Filler, Mark Waters, Anthony Moulds, Jerome Smart, Marcus Dowdeswell, Jon Makin, Calum Forbes, Jon Key (Stuart Watkins 87), Simon Moore, Ali Wiltshire (Marc Skinner 87), Ato Okai (Conor Turner 81).
Subs: Dave Weatherhead, Ardit Shenu, Kevin Wheeler

Goals: Lee Coburn 9 (own goal), Simon Moore 50 (penalty), Marcus Dowdeswell 68

Booked: Marcus Dowdeswell 34

Attendance: 106
Referee: Mr Stuart Mallows (Burgess Hill, West Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Collin Mallows (Burgess Hill, West Sussex) & Mr Paul John (Burgess Hill, West Sussex)