Every team still left in the competition is there on merit and each stage you progress will require an improved performance, says Cray Valley boss Kevin Watson
CRAY VALLEY (Paper Mills) manager Kevin Watson says his side must improve their performance if they are to reach The Buildbase FA Vase Quarter-Finals on Saturday.
The Millers welcome Abbey Rangers in the Last 16 of the competition and Watson expects a tough encounter in the National stages as Wembley Stadium draws closer.
Cray Valley go into the game sitting in fourth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 49 points from 23 games, seven points adrift of leaders Corinthian with a game in hand.
Abbey Rangers, meanwhile, hail from Addlestone in Surrey and they are also in fourth-place in their division, having banked 43 points from their 23 games and are 11 points adrift of leaders Sutton Common Rovers.
“The long awaited day is coming, The FA Vase Fifth Round proper,” said Watson.
“There were 638 teams that started in the competition back in early September and now just 16 remain.
“Considering the competition is now nationally drawn, our opponents are not geographically that far away from us, playing their games in Addlestone, Surrey.
“Being in the Combined Counties Premier Division, Abbey Rangers are doing extremely well and are currently on a winning streak.
“In The FA Vase so far, they have knocked out two good teams from our league in Lordswood and Bearsted.
“We know how strong our league is and so this is certainly a statement of intent from our visitors.
“We have been to watch them ourselves and our experience certainly cemented the perception that they are indeed very organised, honest and play at an extremely high tempo.
“Every team still left in the competition is there on merit and each stage you progress, will require an improved performance.”
The Millers go into the game on a seven-match winning streak, having come away from the Kent coast with a 2-0 win over Deal Town last Saturday.
Watson said: “We have enjoyed a midweek break from matches where we could regroup and train.
“I was extremely pleased with last Saturday’s result as I felt we were below par but were resilient enough to grind out a result.
“The clean sheets have been the most noticeable improvement statistically, and one which we will need to work hard to maintain.
“Other than (centre-half) Liam Hickey and (number 10) Joe N’Guessan, who are both recovering from longer-term injuries, we hope to be at full-strength.
“Both players will need MRI scans to diagnose exactly the extent of their injuries.
“They are extremely important players to us as are the rest of the squad and have played a pivotal role so far this season, so we will support in any way possible to get them back fit.”
Visit Cray Valley’s website: www.cray-valley.co.uk
Cray Valley (Paper Mills) v Abbey Rangers
The Buildbase FA Vase Fifth Round
Saturday 2 February 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Badgers Sports Ground, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HP