We have reiterated to our players at training that this is not an easy fixture and to give people an understanding of how serious we are about preparing correctly, we have had Rusthall watched twice, says Cray Wanderers assistant Joe Vines

Friday 24th August 2018

CRAY WANDERERS assistant manager Joe Vines says he’s feeling excited ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup Preliminary Round tie against Rusthall.


Rusthall knocked Wick out of the competition with an impressive display in a dominant 3-0 win at Culverden Stadium in the Extra Preliminary Round tie and travel to Hayes Lane facing Tony Russell’s big guns from the Bostik South East Division.

The Wands have set their stall out already and sit in fourth-place in the table after beating Greenwich Borough (3-0) and Whitstable Town (2-0), while Rusthall are in the bottom five in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with one win from their opening four league outings.

“We are really excited about the FA Cup game on Saturday. As a club and as a management team we haven't had great recent success in the competition and we are really keen on turning our fortunes around,” said Vines.

“Rusthall are a side that have stepped up into the SCEFL and they are coming with no pressure which always makes for an interesting dynamic.

“We have reiterated to our players at training that this is not an easy fixture and to give people an understanding of how serious we are about preparing correctly, we have had Rusthall watched twice and on Tuesday the entire Cray management team were in attendance when they played Corinthian.

“If the players choose to take this game lightly we will be beaten.”

Rusthall scooped £2,250 in prize money after beating Wick, while there is £2,890 up for grabs tomorrow, with £960 going to the losers.  First Qualifying Round winners will bank a further six grand, which is an increase on last season.

“The changes in the prize money means that there is now a lot more available at grass roots level which gives us an even bigger incentive to try and progress and accumulate a pot that may be made available to add to the playing budge,” explained Vines.

“The magic of The FA Cup is not really about prize money, it is about the opportunity to test yourselves against teams from higher divisions and pit your wits against your so-called superiors, which I am sure is what is exciting Rusthall.

“I have been fortunate to have two strong runs in the competition as a player but as long as the performances are good we haven't set ourselves a target.

“We learnt great lessons in defeat last season and we have started this campaign with renewed vigour, some great additions to the playing squad and investment in training and analysis that we feel can give us the marginal gains that we need to succeed.”

Cray Wanderers travel to unbeaten Sittingbourne on Bank Holiday Monday (15:00), a side that have beaten Horsham (2-1) and Greenwich Borough (4-2) and sit a place lower than the Wands.

Vines said: “With the bank holiday quickly moving onto Sittingbourne on Monday we have had to have one eye on both games as a management team. We have been mindful to only concentrate on one game at a time with regards to the playing squad to reduce any risk of mixed messages but we will look to Sittingbourne immediately after the final whistle on Saturday I would imagine.

“We know that they were very competitive last season over the two games and they have a work ethic which means it will be tough for the full 95 minutes.

“We respect them as opponents and we recognise that we are seen as natural favourites for the title due to our high finish last year which means we are "up there to be shot down".

“As long as our players don't start to believe the hype and continue to work as hard in training and matches as they have done so far then our qualities and ability should see us right.

“Our manager Tony Russell has a rather large birthday approaching so it would be good to give him an early present!

“Both games should be entertaining and we would welcome the support of new and old visitors to Hayes Lane as I know Bromley are away at Wrexham so anyone that doesn't fancy Wales they’re welcome at the Wands.”

Visit Cray Wanderers website:  www.cray-wanderers.com

Cray Wanderers  v  Rusthall
The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
Saturday 25 August 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF