These are the games that we all want to play a part in, says promotion chasing Cray Wanderers assistant manager Joe Vines

Tuesday 01st May 2018

CRAY WANDERERS assistant manager Joe Vines says his side are physically and mentally prepared for tonight’s Bostik South Play-Off Semi-Final clash against Walton Casuals.

The Wands completed their 46-game Bostik South campaign in third-place in the table on 89 points after thrashing Guernsey 4-0 at Hayes Lane on Saturday.

Striker Michael Power scored twice and Junior Dadson and Kyron Farrell also scored the goals that hands Tony Russell’s men home advantage tonight in the play-off semi-finals against Walton Casuals – and if successful in Saturday’s home final against Greenwich Borough or Corinthian-Casuals.

Anthony Gale’s side finished in sixth-place with 86 points on the board and are also an attack minded side.

“The Guernsey game could have been a bit of a damp squib but we showed real professionalism,” said Vines.

“As we thought might happen, Guernsey were quite happy to sit behind the ball in the early exchanges. I thought that there were several players, Shaggy (Power) in particular, but also Ben Mundele, Barney Williams and Nick Blue that were outstanding on the day. Marcus Evans also did himself proud.

“Tony and I have had a real tough time with team selection because so many of the boys have showed that they are physically and mentally prepared for this final push.

“We know that the travelling that Guernsey have to do means they have to chop and change personnel so it's hard for them to be as fluid as a settled team might so they sit behind the ball.

“To be fair to them, they played some nice stuff when they got the ball but we were clinical and punished them when we had the chance.

“I don't know their management team personally but they were very subdued on the day so I'm not sure if the journeys had gotten the better of them over the course of the season.

“With the geographical boundaries being redrawn it might not be a trip we need to make next season so it's been great to have the chance to get out there this year for me although I haven't seen any of the tax benefits!”

Carshalton Athletic (102 points) and Lewes (99) were promoted automatically and Cray Wanderers, Greenwich Borough (87), Corinthian-Casuals (87) and Walton Casuals have to win the play-offs to join them in the Bostik Premier next season.

“With that result and Greenwich not getting the win (at Herne Bay) we finished the season third. We have to be honest and say that it is an improvement on last year where we were 11th but we set very high standards as a management team and as a collective and we can look to that period of five losses in seven games as a key factor in not winning automatic promotion,” reflected Vines.

“When you look at the results across the season, the number in our draw column tells a story. We have only lost seven games all season so the difference is made up with those two point losses from the 14 draws.

“We don't have the luxury of feeling sorry for ourselves as we have a match to win tonight with the carrot of another home game on Saturday. Our mentality is to win the next game only. We cannot look any further than that.

“Home advantage will be massive for us. Over the two games against Walton this season the home game was a 2-2 draw and they scored a last minute equaliser with a bit of brilliance and the away game was a bit of a slugfest with Walton winning 5-2.

“We have watched and re-watched the clips and they definitely have qualities going forward but we feel confident that we have more than enough to win the game.

“They will be under no illusion that the last game was a one-off, I don't expect to see us conceding the same sort of goals after addressing the reasons and reflecting on the errors.

“We are excited about the match, you can't not be, these are the games that we all want to play a part in.

“Genuinely, I like Anthony Gale, I think he is a great young coach and he is a good communicator, I'm not sure we have the same taste in suits but you can't have everything!

“Anthony Gale is a believer in the beautiful game so we expect them to come and play football. Neither team will be looking to crash the ball forward at every opportunity. Walton have quality in the offensive areas and they have their tails up. I think it will be a tight game, there are a lot of young players that will be feeling the pressure on both sides.

“I think that in these games certain players will show the side of the game that is often undervalued when up against pure ability, talent and skill and that is character. We have experience through the side supplemented by youth and exuberance and we feel we have the right mix to succeed.

“Whatever happens I have been very proud to be a part of the journey for Cray Wanderers this season and know that there is more to come from this group of players. We finish this season with the same mantra we started it with that everything we do is about the team rather than any individual.”

Vines added:  “Special thanks to physio Ally Maloney who has been unbelievable for us this year keeping the boys fit and being responsive to our many whims as management as well as a listening ear when required.”

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Cray Wanderers  v  Walton Casuals
Bostik South Division Play-Off Semi-Final
Tuesday 1 May 2018
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF

Article published: 12:40 - Tuesday 1 May 2018