Being in the top spot means that teams have added motivation to topple you from your perch so there is always something to play for every week, says Cray Wanderers assistant Joe Vines
CRAY WANDERERS assistant manager Joe Vines says Matt Longhurst and his East Grinstead Town side will provide them with another challenge tomorrow.
The Wands extended their lead to eight points on Hastings United thanks to Archie Johnson’s last-gasp winner against Three Bridges at Hayes Lane last Sunday.
Since losing their only league game 4-2 at Horsham on 15 December 2018, Tony Russell’s side have beaten Sittingbourne (2-1), Sevenoaks Town (1-0) and were thankful for substitute Johnson to score his third goal of the season to beat Three Bridges.
“The last three games we've really played well and got three good wins,” said Vines.
“We recognised as a group that we had underperformed in the previous three games against Ramsgate, Phoenix and Horsham but with all due respect the only game that we truly deserved to drop points was Horsham where they were worthy winners.
“We've taken stock of some of the things that we have been doing, reflected on the reasons why and we've worked hard on the training pitch to put those right.
“The result of that has been three very professional performances, two clean sheets and a renewed energy.
“One thing that we have never questioned with the squad is their attitude. We've been fortunate to create a culture of accountability and ownership.
“Tony has recruited well in the summer and the newer players have all bought into the philosophy.”
Reflecting on the game, Vines added: “The Three Bridges game was a bit of a battle so we were happy to come away with three points and a few bruised boys.
“For those teams that are chasing they must feel hard done by every time we score a late winner but those results are testament to us having to find a way to break down some really tough, defensively minded teams that haven't necessarily parked the bus but have recognised that fighting fire with fire wasn't the best route for them and tried to contain us and hope to hit us on the counter attack.
“The true story is one of us missing several gilt-edged chances in each match and making it much more hard work that necessary, the posts and the cross-bar have seen some action in recent weeks.”
Russell and Vines take the title-favourites to play East Grinstead Town tomorrow, a side that are in the bottom six with 22 points on the board from 19 games.
The Wasps held Whitstable Town to a 1-1 draw on the Kent coast last weekend and have gone three games without a win.
Vines said: “East Grinstead will be another challenge for us. Matt Longhurst is experienced at this level and a very good tactician so he will make it hard for us. We expect them to be difficult to beat and brave so it should be an entertaining fixture.
“Being in the top spot means that teams have added motivation to topple you from your perch so there is always something to play for every week.
“We are really suffering with injuries at present with four or five of the boys unavailable so we are having to lean on the squad.
“It seems like other sides are digging into longer pockets than ours at the moment when we are talking to prospective players so it's difficult to add the necessary quality to the squad.
“Having said that, we are trying to add a couple of bodies to help cover the shortfall and we've recently brought in Daniel Uchechi from Hampton & Richmond Borough, who has been a breath of fresh air.
“January is a tough month on the whole and our aim is to try and get ourselves to a place where we can stretch our lead if possible. Eight points seems like a lot but it only takes a couple of results to reduce that gap to make for squeaky bum time.
“We have to play the top sides again so there will be more than a few six-point games before the title is decided.
“Overall, we are pleased without being delighted but more importantly we continue to be respectful and dignified to our opponents and those we are competing against by trying to win each game. Let's hope we can still say the same in April/May.”
Visit Cray Wanderers website: www.cray-wanderers.com
East Grinstead Town v Cray Wanderers
Bostik South East Division
Saturday 12 January 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at East Court, College Lane, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3LS