The teams in the automatic places at the end of February will really fancy their chances of promotion come May and we are fighting to be there, says Cray Wanderers assistant Joe Vines

Thursday 25th January 2018

CRAY WANDERERS assistant manager Joe Vines says his side must improve their form against fellow promotion candidates.

The Wands lost only their second league game of the season when Lewes completed the double over them with a 2-1 win at Hayes Lane last weekend.

Lewes rose to the summit with 66 points in the bag from 30 games, leapfrogging over Cray Wanderers into second with 65 points, who now have 15 games left to play.

The Bostik South play-off places are now occupied by Carshalton Athletic (61 points from 30), Walton Casuals (59 points from 31), Greenwich Borough (58 points from 30) and Corinthian-Casuals (57 points from 31).

Tony Russell and Vines take their side to Herne Bay on Saturday, a side that are in fifteenth-place in the table with 39 points from 29 league outings.

“We are looking forward to trying to kick start another unbeaten run in the league,” said Vines.

“I think it is really important that we bounce back from the last game and the strange feeling of losing.

“Herne Bay are a young, progressive side with some talented players and they like to play football so it should be a game played in the right way.

“Obviously, the pitch will be a factor with the wet weather we have had recently so we will have to tailor the approach to suit the surface and conditions on the day.

“It can't always be the same slick football that we enjoy at home at times. Football is interesting because no two games are the same. We will prepare for every possible scenario.

“It will be good to see Jermaine Darlington again, I enjoyed sharing a pitch with him in my playing days and he is a good man.”

Lewes took the lead after only 43 seconds, courtesy of Omarr Lawson’s first goal for the club since his move from league rivals VCD Athletic, before Jamie Brotherton won and converted a tenth-minute penalty.

Cray Wanderers pulled a goal back through Frankie Chappell’s 68th minute own goal but despite dominating play, Lewes claimed the points in front of 516 fans at Hayes Lane.

“After the loss at the weekend, Lewes now have bragging rights over us,” admitted former Lewes defender Vines.

“I thought that they started brightly and they took their chances. I must say that I felt Chris Winterton, the Lewes keeper, was the outstanding player on the day, especially around set pieces.”

Cray will be without suspended pair left-back Barney Williams and central defender Mitchell Nelson after they were sent off during injury time by referee Dean Skipper last weekend.

Vines said: “Lewes are a team that are organised, work hard and are experienced and I think that experience, especially from the two centre backs (Chappell and Lloyd Cotton) shone through in the end. They used every trick in the book to influence the referee's decisions and I think a stronger official with more experience officiating in front of a crowd would maybe handle certain situations differently.

“Make no mistake, the referee was not the reason we lost the game but certainly his weakness early on in the game paved the way for us to be without key players in the next few games.

“I understand that the man in the middle has a tough task but inconsistencies in dealing with similar situations for both sides makes managing players emotions quite a task.

“It makes the final 15 games very interesting. Bill Lappage (goalkeeper coach) shared some statistics with me last night around the number of points that we have picked up against our current direct competition and we have only beaten Corinthian-Casuals in the top six teams. That is a fact that will haunt us if we don't rectify it quickly.

“As I stated previously, February is a crucial month for the top teams, the teams in the automatic places at the end of February will really fancy their chances of promotion come May and we are fighting to be there.”

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Herne Bay  v  Cray Wanderers
Bostik South Division
Saturday 27 January 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Winch’s Field, Stanley Gardens, Herne Bay, Kent  CT6 5SG