Cray Wanderers 3-2 Margate - We have no defence, admits Butler

Sunday 29th November 2009
Ryman Premier League
Sunday 29th November 2009
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS’ assistant manager Joe Francis says goalkeeper Jack Smelt earnt his money today as his heroic performance ensured the club climbed out of the Ryman Premier League relegation zone - sending Margate tumbling into the bottom four as a result.

Smelt made a string of excellent saves to limit Margate to just two goals, as Cray Wanderers fought back from being
2-1 down after 53 minutes to claim their first back-to-back wins, having beaten another Kent side in Maidstone United here at Hayes Lane in midweek.

Striker, George Porter, plucked from the club’s youth team, opened his goalscoring account for the first team with a brace, before substitute Delano Sam-Yorke lashed home a late winner.

Margate had initially levelled through Curtis Robinson’s close range header and a fine strike from Dan Stubbs ensured they led 2-1 lead, before the Wands fought back in testing conditions.

Orpington based referee, Mr Andy Mead had passed the pitch playable following an eleven o’clock  inspection, and there was concern prior to kick off with the goalmouth at the car park end of Hayes Lane.

But a mixture of weather before and during the game ensured this Kent derby went ahead, and the 189 fans that braved the horrible conditions (the rain came lashing down during the second half) enjoyed an entertaining game.

Smelt made three fine saves to thwart Margate, before Cray scored from their first shot on target after just ten minutes.

The first Margate chance arrived when Joe Healey’s corner from the right was headed out by Jamie Wood at the near post and following Stubbs’ cross from the left, Luke Wheatley’s shot was blocked by Smelt and the former Merstham stopper caught Jack Haverson’s follow up.

Then, following John Keister’s free-kick, a poor back header from Wands’ midfielder, Jerome Maledon, resulted in Wayne Wilson’s near post flick being saved well by Smelt.

The hard-working Leigh Bremner played his part during the home side’s three goals.

Bremner was released down the right and as Wheatley lost his footing down the inside right channel, he delivered a pin-point cross where Porter was lurking unmarked just six-yards out and his stooping header crashed into the roof of the net to snatch the home side a tenth minute lead from their first shot on goal.

Margate almost levelled when Smelt pulled off something special, diving full stretch to his right to tip Healey’s curling left-footed 20-yard drive onto the crossbar and towards safety.

Smelt also had some luck along the way to; Wilson’s free-kick from the left was met by Healey’s glancing header, which dropped just wide of the far post, in what was a dominant Margate spell.

An intelligent pass  from Healey slipped in Lloyd Blackman and the Margate striking skipper, lashed a right-footed angled drive towards goal, which was tipped over the crossbar by the talented Smelt.

But Smelt was finally beaten when Margate deservedly equalised in the 37th minute.

Forcing two successive corners, Wilson swung in a corner from the left and full-back Curtis Robinson headed down and in at the far post to score from close in.

Margate keeper Reed made a comfortable save from Colin Luckett’s 30-yard free-kick as both sides went in level at the break.

As the weather deteriorated during the second half, Cray Wanderers almost snatched the lead when  Aaron Day and Tommy Tyne combined down the right (following Day’s throw in) and Day’s out-swinging cross from the by-line was met by Jamie Wood’s downward header, which was comfortably gathered by Reed.

But an excellent goal from Stubbs ensured Margate took the lead after 53 minutes.

The midfielder picked the ball up and smashed a low angled drive from the edge of the penalty area, which he expertly bent around Smelt with his right-foot to find the bottom far corner.

However, Margate were left to rue a gilt-edged chance from Sam Cliff in the 56th minute, blasting over two defenders and over the bar as Smelt rushed hopelessly off his line.

Luckett stung Reed’s fingers with a curling left-footed free-kick from 30-yards, before Smelt excelled again on the hour-mark, turning Blackman’s drilled shot around the post, after Wilson cut the ball back to him.

More poor defending gifted battling Cray Wanderers an equaliser in the 74th minute, and once again the industrious Bremner played his part down the left, slipping the ball through two Margate defenders for Porter to smash a low angled drive past Reed at his near post.

At this stage, however, both sides had chances to win an entertaining Kent derby.

A cutting step-over run from Sam-Yorke (after a fine pass from team player Bremner) brought a smart low block from Margate keeper Reed.

Reed thumped the ball straight down the heart of Cray’s defence and the stretching Day was relieved to see his clearance loop over the stranded Smelt and drop just over his own crossbar.

Cray Wanderers were therefore indebted to Smelt for his heroics, as they snatched an 88th minute winner.

Bremner cut the ball back for Sam-York (who along with Jerome Maledon is on a month’s loan from Blue Square South side Woking) and he lashed the ball across Reed and Cray celebrated their second home win in a week as the ball flew into the top right-hand corner.

It was obvious that Francis enjoyed their second successive Kent derby delight.

“Just got to take every game as it comes,” Francis, who emerged from the players tunnel before manager Ian Jenkins, told as the rain lashed down at Hayes Lane.

“I thought they (Margate) were very impressive as well.  We were never out of the game but they were very dangerous.  I thought they played very well.”

Francis was full of praise for his match-winners, Smelt, Porter and Sam-Yorke.

“The boys have given Jack a special round of applause in there, but that’s what he gets paid for,” he said.

“George is a great lad, he’s a great kid. His level of commitment out there and he’s a threat, he’s a threat going forward and now he’s scored his first goals at this level and we’re all very proud of the development that’s taken place with George.

“I thought George and Leigh were a threat all game.”

Francis added: “I’m really pleased with Delano as well.  He’s on loan and he scored the winner.

“We’ve got people who can change the game, who can come on when you need a goal.  The bench have got goals in them.”

Francis was delighted that the club have now climbed out of the relegation zone.

“We’ve been in a lot of games this year,” explained Francis.  “We’ve played a lot better and got nothing.  You’ve only got to look back two weeks at Wealdstone, who are a really good side, we deserved to win that game and we came away with nothing.

“It (winning our last two games) might bring a little bit more confidence, it’s a confidence game, isn’t it?”

Margate boss, Mark Butler, meanwhile, speaking to Gate Radio, blamed his side’s poor defending for their eighth league loss that leaves them in the drop zone with 17 points from 15 games.

“Sum it up quite easily,” he said.  “We can’t defend.  Simple as that!

“I was trying to give players the benefit of the doubt but we cannot defend!  We didn’t defend at Waltham Abbey, we scored more than them, we had chances today to get more goals.

“The bottom line is we couldn’t defend and not good enough at the back!”

When asked if he could take any positives from the game, the former Ashford Town (Middlesex) manager replied, “Nothing!  Got no points and found we couldn’t defend so I suppose the only positive we’ve got is it’s actually confirmed what I already know.  We’re not good enough defensively!”

The 33-year-old felt his side were in the driving seat and should have came away from rain-drenched Bromley with all three points.

He said: “We were 2-1 up today and in control of the game and as much as we were in control of the game I felt Cray were always looking to score.  We have to realise we can’t defend like that.

“When we were 2-1 up there was probably going to be one winner and then we let in a couple of defensive slips go in and then the whole worlds against you.

“Had we won 2-1 here I’m probably out of here happy but the bottom line is defensively we don’t look solid and we haven’t looked solid and that’s the job I’ve got to try to rectify.

“I felt the back five players weren’t good enough.

Cray Wanderers: Jack Smelt, Aaron Day, Colin Luckett, Rob Quinn, Mark Willy, John Guest, Jerome Maldedon, Tommy Tyne, Leigh Bremner, George Porter, Jamie Wood (Delano Sam-Yorke 69).
Subs: Lewis Wood, Tyrone Sterling, Shane Graham, Zak Goldsmith.

Goals: George Porter 10, 74, Delano Sam-Yorke 88

Booked: Tommy Tyne 28, Delano Sam-Yorke 75

Margate: Matt Reed, Aaron Lacy, Curtis Robinson, John Keister, Luke Wheatley, Jack Haverson, Wayne Wilson, Joe Healey, Lloyd Blackman (Ben Clarke 79), Sam Cliff (Anthony Joseph 68), Dan Stubbs.
Subs: James Duncan, Kieran Morris, Jake Whincup.

Goals: Curtis Robinson 37, Dan Stubbs 53

Booked: Joe Healey 34, Dan Stubbs 45, Lloyd Blackman 75

Attendance:  189
Referee: Mr Phillip Knight (Canterbury)
Assistants: Mr Richard Joss (Ramsgate) & Mr Keith Stone (Ramsgate)

You can listen to commentary from this match and post match reaction by visiting Gate Radio on