Hopefully I can get the boys patched up and ready, says Cray Wanderers boss Tony Russell
CRAY WANDERERS manager Tony Russell admits to having an appalling record in cup ties ahead of their FA Trophy Preliminary Round clash against East Grinstead Town on Saturday.
The Wands edged four points clear at the top of the Ryman League Division One North table on 29 points from 12 games after their last-gasp victory over Thamesmead Town at Hayes Lane on Tuesday night.
James Duckworth drilled a shot into the left-hand corner with 50:42 on the clock as they hit their local rivals on the counter attack to make it their 13th home win on the bounce (including last season).
East Grinstead Town arrive at Hayes Lane with John Difford as interim manager after Tony Beckingham left to team up with Dave Cook as joint-managers at league rivals Hythe Town.
The Wasps are in sitting in the bottom three in the Ryman League Division One South table with one win and two draws from their nine league outings.
All of the bottom four clubs in the division, Hythe Town, East Grinstead Town, Whitstable Town and Chipstead have changed their managers already this season.
The winners of FA Trophy Preliminary Round ties scoop £2,500 in prize money, but Russell is not feeling confident going into the game, especially with injuries to Andre McCollin, Malik Ouani, Leigh Bremner, Adetayo Osifuwa in recent games.
He said: “I know their manager’s left so they’re up in the air as well. Listen I know the club want me to throw some (prize) money in. There’s always a worry I’ll mix it up, we’d get beat and I’ll have egg on my face and they’ll (the board) pull me in and probably have a moan.
“I’ve never been good at cups. In three years I think I’ve won one game.
“If you deliver something at the end of the season then they’ll soon forget it! It’s either win loads of money or win a trophy, one of the two.”
Russell, who guided VCD Athletic to the Ryman League Division One title two seasons ago, admitted his players are “dropping like flies” at the moment.
Marquee signing, ten-goal striker McCollin, may be risked for tomorrow’s game as a late substitute.
“All I worry about now is trying to get people fit. If I can get them fit and try to get people in who are fit,” said Russell.
“The owners are probably going to kill me but if we’ve got to reshuffle it up on Saturday, my record in cups is appalling but I trust the youngsters I’ve got and they’re going to get a little go.
“There’s better news on Andre. He wanted to do the warm-up on Tuesday night. I said no. I’m just wrapping him up in cotton wool. We may give him the last 20 minutes on Saturday, but our sole aim is to get him ready for Hornchurch.”
Subject to Saturday’s result, third-placed AFC Hornchurch arrive at Hayes Lane next Tuesday night and Russell is looking for pay-back after losing 2-1 to the Essex side on the opening day of the season.
“It’s a massive game. We played them on the first game of the season and they’re the only team to beat us,” he said.
“We were in control of that game for 80 minutes, we hit the post, we missed a few chances and George Purcell’s hit a free-kick which took a massive deflection and sent Bluey (Nick Blue) the wrong way and then the game was carnage and they scored in the 94th minute.
“That still annoys me and the boys and it was carnage after that game. I thought we were going to kill each other on the pitch! We were fuming. There were a few things said as well.
“That’s a game I’m looking forward to. It’s a healthy, respectful rivalry. I don’t like getting beat, I know the boys don’t like getting beat and we can’t wait to get them down here.
“Hopefully I can get the boys patched up and ready but I think it will be a good game because I think they’ve got some excellent players.”
Meanwhile, The Ryman League have arranged their fixtures in a different way this season where you can play the same team twice within a two week period.
“By mid-November, we’re not even halfway through and we’ve played Hornchurch twice, Sudbury twice, Harlow twice, Aveley twice and Thamesmead twice (and Haringey Borough twice).
“But I suppose people will say they’re the top sides and we’ve got them out of the way.
“Sometimes the Ryman League do puzzle me but they’re beautiful people. I don’t want them to start stitching me up after reading this.
“I don’t think I’m the only one. I think everyone’s been saying it. There must be a new computer programme that they’ve got - but it’s been playing up!”
Visit Cray Wanderers’ website: www.cray-wanderers.com
Cray Wanderers v East Grinstead Town
The FA Trophy Preliminary Round
Saturday 3rd October 2015
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF