We recognise that our most recent dip in form has cost us the title but we are fighting to finish as high as possible with the carrot of a home advantage in the play-offs, says Cray Wanderers assistant Joe Vines
CRAY WANDERERS assistant manager Joe Vines has challenged his side to finish as high as they can in the Bostik South so they can enjoy home advantage in the play-offs.
The Wands have slipped down to fifth-place in the table with 78 points in the bag from 40 games and have six league games left to play to secure a play-off place.
Lewes sit at the summit with 89 points from 40 games, followed by Corinthian-Casuals with 81 points from 40 games.
The four play-off sides consist of Carshalton Athletic (81 points from 38 games), Greenwich Borough (79 points from 39 games), Cray Wanderers and Walton Casuals (73 points from 39 games).
Cray Wanderers gave themselves a lift by coming away from Corinthian-Casuals with a 1-0 win last Saturday, courtesy of Junior Dadson’s strike.
“The last game was the most satisfying win of the season so far for us as a management team,” said Vines.
“We've had some pretty memorable moments this year beating Ashford 9-1 and an 8-0 win against Horsham but this was a fantastic, committed team display with many great individual performances including an unbelievable example of forward play by Charlie MacDonald and towering games from the back four, particularly Jay Leader and Mitchell Nelson.
“Corinthian-Casuals are a good side and James Bracken is a fantastic, young manager. We needed to be at our very best to beat them and we literally reduced them to playing longer balls forward and direct.
“Nick Blue didn't have to make a save throughout which is testament to our resolve and commitment to defend.”
Vines knows winning the league title is beyond his side now but they go into the vital Easter campaign on a high note.
The Wands travel to sixteenth-placed Chipstead on Saturday, before the big local derby against Greenwich Borough at Hayes Lane on Easter Monday (both games kicking off at 15:00).
Vines said: “We have had two spells in the season where we have under-performed in my opinion. We had a period early on where we couldn't finish teams off and drew far too many games and our patch of five losses in seven games.
“The Lewes game was a real blow for us as we lost two of our regular defenders for three games due to red cards and we lost the momentum we had gained for so long.
“The last three displays have been much-improved and we are playing with that swagger and confidence that we had seen so much of during the unbeaten run.
“The next two games really shape how far we have come and how much further we might go.
“Chipstead are a side whose recent results do not reflect the quality they have in their squad. I know their manager and his staff well and they are working hard to turn around their results. We will not go into the game thinking it will be easy.
“If we successfully traverse that obstacle, the next big game on Monday is Greenwich Borough.
“Greenwich are another form side but we have shown that we are a team that like to play against those sides flying high as we have seen recently against Whyteleafe and Corinthian-Casuals so we have no fear.
“The fact we will be playing at home is a great advantage for us. Two games in three games is a bit of a killer so we will need to lean on the squad and consider tired bodies.
“Borough have confidence and a string of solid wins recently but we know that our strengths lie in being fluid and attacking and with that comes lots of chances and lots of goals so we will fancy ourselves to score at home and keep the momentum.
“We recognise that our most recent dip in form has cost us the title but we are fighting to finish as high as possible with the carrot of a home advantage in the play-offs.
“We are pleased with the progress we have made, both on and off the pitch and there is a lot of youth throughout the side which bodes well for the future.
“There is no accident that our renewed vigour coincided with the decision around the new stadium and we are all focused on the next stage (which is approval by the Mayor of London) to enable us to have a home after many years of Wandering!”
Cray Wanderers have brought in Kyron Farrell following his release from Vanarama National League South side Concord Rangers.
Vines said: “We've brought in Kyron Farrell recently to replace Dean Carpenter. Ky has good pedigree and great ability. We were recommended him by Concord as he was released purely on the basis he doesn't suit their style of play. He brings versatility, a much-needed left-foot and a good attitude.
“I must say that I am sorry to see Dean Carpenter go but he is at a stage in his life where he has focus on other areas and we’re looking for a level of commitment that meant we had to part ways. He has been a great servant to Cray and I know that I consider him to be a friend and a great fella.”
Landlords Bromley reached The Buildbase FA Trophy Final after beating their Vanarama National League rivals Gateshead 4-3 on aggregate and they will play Vanarama National League North side Brackley Town at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 20 May (16:15).
Bromley – who host Wrexham at Hayes Lane on Good Friday (15:00) - have announced that 7,000 tickets have been sold.
Vines, a former Bromley defender, said: “We are really pleased for our landlords Bromley FC reaching Wembley. In a year that has seen us lose Glyn Beverly this is a lovely way to send him off. I just hope that they can bring home the trophy. I will be cheering them on.”
Visit Cray Wanderers’ website: www.cray-wanderers.com
Chipstead v Cray Wanderers
Bostik South Division
Easter Saturday 31 March 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at High Road, Chipstead, Surrey CR5 3SF