Cray Wanderers 4-0 Waltham Abbey - I've come here and proved I can do a job, says Cray Wanderers boss Tommy Warrilow

Sunday 12th April 2015
Cray Wanderers 4 – 0 Waltham Abbey
Location Priestfield Stadium, Redfern Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 4DD
Kickoff 14/04/2015 19:45

Ryman League Division One North
Tuesday 14th April 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS boss Tommy Warrilow says he believes he will not be in charge of the club next season after virtually completing The Great Escape following their eighth win on the bounce.


The Wands looked dead and buried and heading down towards the Southern Counties East Football League when Warrilow became the club’s fifth manager of the season at the beginning of January.

Tommy Warrilow (left, picking up his Ryman Premier League play-off Final winners award for Tonbridge Angels) says he will not be managing Cray Wanderers next season - despite eight wins on the bounce has virtually maintained their Ryman League status.

Warrilow took time to adjust to this league, losing his first four games in charge, before the club won their fourth league game at the 30th attempt with a 3-0 win at Heybridge Swifts on 7 February.

The Wands picked up two more points from their next six games, before Warrilow worked his magic on the team to beat Redbridge (1-0); Burnham Ramblers (4-0); Romford (2-1); Great Wakering Rovers (3-1); Harlow Town (2-0); Chatham Town (3-0); Brightlingsea Regent (4-2) and Chris Piper’s hat-trick and one from Alex Teniola sealed a convincing 4-0 win over a Waltham Abbey side that lost six of their last seven games at Hayes Lane tonight in Warrilow’s 19th game in charge.

Cray Wanderers have climbed up to their highest league position of the season to eighteenth-place in the Ryman League Division One North table on 46 points from 44 games – four points clear of the relegation zone with two games left.

Cray Wanderers welcome thirteenth-placed Tilbury to Hayes Lane on Sunday, before completing their remarkable turnaround with a trip to sixth-placed Dereham Town on the final day of the season.

When asked whether he feels the club are safe tonight, Warrilow replied: “It just depends on Saturday, obviously we’d like to think we are.  It’s ridiculous that we’ve won eight on the spin and we’ll known Sunday.

“I’ll be disappointed if we’re not safe now knowing a couple of teams around us have got some really hard games on Saturday but football can do that to you so we have to carry on as normal and see what’s sorted out on Saturday.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and we know no team’s going to lie down and do anyone any favours.  I didn’t expect it but I thought we were disciplined enough and we plodded away.

“We should have got more than four. We got in great areas, especially in the second half and we’ve not tucked it away.”

But Paul Wickenden’s side should have opened the scoring after only 43 seconds.

Set-piece specialist Tom Bruno floated in a free-kick into the Cray Wanderers penalty area and central midfielder Charlie Freeman’s free-header from four-yards was caught by keeper Luke Colquhoun above his head.

“I thought we were our own worst enemies in the first half,” admitted Warrilow.

“We were trying to roll balls into people’s feet on a pitch like that in tight areas and they were very good at hitting us on counter attacks and that’s what their game was.

“Jason (Hallet) up front – he’s been around – so has Harry Elmes. I knew those two boys from their days at Canvey Island and Harry’s been a good player and has been out with a broken leg for a while.”

Cray Wanderers were to be a threat from Piper’s corners and he cut the ball back through Warren Whitely’s legs but Giannoulis Fakinos blasted his right-footed drive high and wide from 25-yards inside the opening five minutes.

Cray Wanderers should have taken a tenth minute lead when a long ball out of defence by Helge Orome released striker Alex Teniola, who took a poor first touch but regained his composure to smash his left-footed half-volley against the underside of the crossbar from sixteen-yards.

Warrilow said: “I think he’s gone for power! He’s only got to lob it over him.

“I’ve known him from my Tonbridge days and we know he can do that. That’s what Al does. Al will miss a goal from two-yards and get a 25-yard scissor kick – that’s why we love him.

“He’s still raw but he gives you everything and I’m glad he’s cashed in with a goal tonight.”

Fast winger Tom Bolarinwa terrorised the Waltham Abbey full-backs with an impressive performance out on both flanks and he whipped in a cross from the right which was hooked over by former Leatherhead striker Carl Rook from 12-yards.

Piper drove in a free-kick from the right but Teniola steered his right-footed shot on the turn past the post from eight-yards.

Cray Wanderers produced a fine sweeping move in the 20th minute when Fakinos played a fine diagonal pass to Whitely on the left, who whipped in a cross towards the near post, which was flicked on by Teniola, only for Nick Humphrey to come up from the back to loop his header just over the bar from eight-yards at the far post.

Bolarinwa, who has returned to England after a spell as a professional footballer out in Thailand, burst forward before drilling over a powerful right-footed drive from 25-yards.

Piper floated in his third corner of the game just past the half-an-hour mark but Teniola looped his header over the bar at the far post.

Warrilow felt his side should have taken the lead following Piper’s fourth corner, but an unmarked Humphrey came up from the back to power his free header over the bar from 12-yards.

The boss said: “I said to the boys’, I don’t think we go up with enough belief. It’s alright getting your head on it and just aiming it towards the target, but I don’t think any of the boys really go in there believing they will score from set-pieces.

“I always set my centre halves at the start of the season a target of a dozen goals because I was a centre half myself and if we win all our headers back from goal kicks I don’t see why we can’t from set-pieces, but we’re in too early and sometimes it’s that little bit of desire.

“It’s the only downside I would say since we’ve been here – we should be scoring more from corners!”

But Cray Wanderers’ dominance took its toll as they deservedly opened the scoring after 43 minutes.

Teniola rolled the ball out to Bolarinwa down the left channel, whose skill took him to the by-line, before cutting the ball back for Piper to volley his right-footed shot past keeper James May from 12-yards.

“We were crying out for the lads to get it out wide to Warren and Tom – you could see what Tom does to people,” said Warrilow.

“When we do that, that’s what happens and when we’ve got Pipes playing in between the front two, how many times did he get in tonight? That’s what he’s about Chris. He’s kept up with a hat-trick but to be honest he could have had another hat-trick really, all the times he’s made that run. 

“As a centre half I know it’s a nightmare because you’ve got Rookie and Alex splitting and you see him out the corner of your eye. He’s got the man-of-the-match ball Pipes and he’s deserved it because he’s doing his job.”

The goal sparked Waltham Abbey into life and Darelle Russell received the ball within the right hand side of the penalty area to drill in a low cross, which was sliced towards the bottom far corner by Humphrey, but Colquhoun pulled off a great diving save to his right to turn the ball behind for a corner.

The former Brighton & Hove Albion and Crawley Town keeper raced off his line to make a brave save at Jason Hallett’s feet after the Waltham Abbey striker was put through on goal by Russell’s low pass.

Warrilow said: “Luke’s come in and done brilliant for us in key moments, he’s made key saves. He’s done his job, that’s what he’s there.

“I said to everyone if you do your jobs as individuals and then collectively as a team you’re halfway there but today Luke done what he had to do when he was called upon.”

When asked what his thoughts were at half-time, Warrilow replied: “I just said if we lose this game, we’ll lose it ourselves by giving the ball away!

“I don’t think people appreciate just how bobbly it is out there and it’s about playing in the right areas and I just felt every time they looked like scoring it was when we gave the ball away.

“They hit a long ball up to Jason (Hallett) who brought people into play and hit us on counter attacks.

“I just said to them stop giving it away and not being funny, just turn them for 5-10 minutes to get us in behind.”

Warrilow made a tactical switch at the break and withdrew central defender Max Fitzgerald for right-winger Rory Hill and opted to play with three central defenders in the shape of Nathan Simpson, Humphrey and the outstanding Orome.

“I wanted to do the three at the back at Tonbridge and we were playing alright at Tonbridge but we weren’t taking our chances and losing,” reflected Warrilow, then managing in Conference South.

“I sort of got a little bit forced into changing the system and here I believe the three can work because a lot of teams leave the one up top and another one drops in so we changed it to the three at the back and I got the correct wing-backs in and got everyone organised to do their jobs, not so much with the ball but without it and that’s how you get our results.”

Hill’s first impact on the game arrived inside the opening four minutes when his corner from the right came out to Teniola, who planted his header into May’s hands from the edge of the Waltham Abbey penalty area.

Piper then drilled a low right-footed angled drive towards the far corner from sixteen-yards, which forced May to dive to his right to parry, only for the onrushing Hill to steer the rebound past the left-hand post.

Another chance went begging for Cray Wanderers and this time Rook planted his free-header wide following Piper’s sixth corner of the night.

Bolarinwa swept the ball out wide to Whitely, who took a touch, cut into the box and his right-footed drive across the keeper forced a smart save out of May, diving to his right to parry the ball towards safety.

Orome found Whitely with a low pass out of defence and the winger whipped in a teasing cross from the right but Piper’s first time shot flashed past the near post after the central midfielder made another late run into the box.

But Cray Wanderers deservedly doubled their lead on the hour mark through Teniola’s fifth goal in four games.

Bolarinwa burst down the left wing with pace that should be killing full-backs at a higher level of football, before he cut the ball back to Teniola, who flicked his first time shot looping over May, who went to his left and stuck out his right arm but failed to stop the former Tonbridge Angels striker scoring.

Warrilow said: “Again, like I said, get it out wide! If you get it out wide that’s what happens!

“I’m shouting to my wide boys’ just drive up the line!

“I’ve never had pace and it always fascinates me that people have got pace and you need to keep encouraging them to use it because you can’t mark pace.

“It’s just ridiculous and when you’re as fast as what Tom is – I’ve not seen no-one get anywhere near him – even when they’re 10 yards off him, it’s frightening his pace so when he uses it he causes havoc and also what you don’t realise it drives people out of positions which makes the holes for Piper to arrive into.”

Waltham Abbey then enjoyed their best spell of the game with Hallett drilling his right-footed free-kick into the wall; Louis Bristow flashing his shot past the near post after Bruno cut back a low corner from the right; before Bruno flashed his angled drive past the foot of the far post.

But Cray Wanderers killed the game off with their third goal after 69 minutes.

This time Bolarinwa sped past his man with ease down the right before looping over a cross towards the near post and Piper made his run towards the near post, stooping his header into the bottom right-hand corner from four-yards.

Warrilow said: “Same as before! What do you want me to say? It’s exactly what I’ve said – drive, deliver, arrive!

“We’ve worked on their runs in training, near, middle, far and we’ve cashed in.”

Waltham Abbey right-back Jack Daveney was given time and space to float over a deep cross into the Wands’ box but Hallett’s left-footed volley looped high into the air to allow Colquhoun to make a comfortable catch in the final eighteen minutes.

Colquhoun made a fine save low to his right to deny Harry Elmes scoring with a right-footed drive from 12-yards.

The Abbots then produced a sweeping move involving Russell and Hallett, but Elmes blasted his right-footed shot high and wide as Orome advanced.

Earlier in the season, Cray Wanderers would have folded like a pack of cards but substitute Steve Springett saved the day as the game entered injury time.

Matt Bedford clipped the ball out of defence to release substitute James Peagram, who chipped the ball over Colquhoun and was destined to score his ninth goal of the season, but the former Cray Valley defender got back to clear the ball off the line.

Warrilow said: “I think the boys’ have got up and thrown their bodies on the line and that’s the difference.

“They’ve got the wrong side of us and we’ve managed to get back in front and they’ve chipped the ball and we’ve put our bodies on the line again.

“All the time they do that it’s a clean sheet. Our goals against for the last eight games has been exceptional so that’s worth another point.”

Cray Wanderers wrapped up the game with a fourth goal with 47:58 on the clock.

Substitute Adrian Stone swept the ball out to Hill on the right, who whipped in a low cross and Piper made yet another run into the box to stroke his right-footed shot across May to find the far corner to score a hat-trick, taking his tally to ten goals for the club.

Warrilow said: “But it was wing play again, wasn’t it? Rory driving and Pipes arriving.

“Stoney’s been brilliant for me. We rested him for the last couple of games because I think he’s deserved it, not because he’s been dropped.

“Rookie’s come in and been a real handful and he creates a lot. He gets centre halves sucked into areas that the two attacking midfielders of Pipes and Cesc (Fakinos) can exploit in between.

“But Pipes’ hat-trick is because of his timing of his runs and he’s arrival in the box, when we’ve got it out wide. Perhaps they might realise if you actually get it out wide and you deliver, you score from it.”

Cray Wanderers walked off the pitch to The Great Escape blaring out from the public address system at Hayes Lane and their long-suffering fans clapping them as they headed back down the players tunnel to celebrate their 12th league win of the season.

Warrilow said: “They’ve been through a tough time the last couple of years and if we’ve come down and played a small part in putting a smile back on their faces and keeping them in the Ryman League, (it’s nice) when you walk off and see that.

“It’s a good club, they’re good people and they deserve a little bit of luck and hopefully they can build on this next season.”

When asked whether he’ll be in charge of the club next season, Warrilow gave a honest reply.

“As far as I’m aware, no. The remit as I said the other day was to come in and keep them in this league so unless they talk to me I believe there’s someone else already lined up.

“Everyone’s saying it’s a bit harsh or whatever but I knew from the off.

“I have done my bit for Cray. I’ll be more than happy because they’ve got good people here and from my own point of view I’ve done the job that I was asked to do.

“Unfortunately when I left Tonbridge I left on a bit of a bad note because we got a relegation but even then I thought we should have got a reprieve because Salisbury and Hereford (were thrown out of the Conference) and ended up a team short.

“After seven years there of good times I wanted to come and prove myself at a level I didn’t know. I didn’t know the players or the opposition or anything. I wanted to test my brain and get going again and hopefully it hasn’t done me any harm either.”

Warrilow’s CV will look perfect if he can keep Cray Wanderers in the Ryman League.

“It’s probably up there – if not it’s a better achievement than getting promotion with Tonbridge.  I always felt at Tonbridge we had the squad and we should be there or there abouts. I think people must forget when I went to Tonbridge we were equal bottom in the Ryman Premier League.

“I don’t think I’m a bad manager. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet but hopefully I’ve come here and proved I can do a job given the tools.”

When asked about his own personal plans for next season, Warrilow replied: “Pass! I haven’t got a clue! You hear gossip. First things first. We have to make sure that Cray are up. We should be up and then we’ll see what next season brings.”

Cray Wanderers: Luke Colquhoun, Helge Orome, Nathan Simpson, Giannoulis Fakinos, Nick Humphrey, Max Fitzgerald (Rory Hill 46), Tom Bolarinwa (Steve Springett 78), Chris Piper, Carl Rook (Adrian Stone 86), Alex Teniola, Warren Whitely.
Subs: Orlando Smith, James Pass

Goals: Chris Piper 43, 69, 90, Alex Teniola 60

Booked: Max Fitzgerald 32

Waltham Abbey: James May, Jack Daveney (Matt Attard 78, Danny Haigh 90)), Stef Szawjewski, Joe Kizzi, Matt Bedford, Charlie Freeman, Louis Bristow, Tom Bruno (James Peagram 86), Jason Hallett, Harry Elmes, Darelle Russell.
Subs: Jon Docker, Reiben Asamuah

Booked: Harry Elmes 12, Jack Daveney 17, Joe Kizzi 30

Attendance: 129
Referee: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Paul Greenfield (Eltham, London SE9) Mr Sikiru Idris (Camberwell, London SE5)