Ramsgate boss Ward: Catch us if you can!

Saturday 25th February 2006

Ramsgate stretched their unbeaten run to seventeen competitive games and their lead at the top of the Ryman League Division One table to four points following their convincing 2-0 win over draw specialists Fleet Town at Southwood Stadium today, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Thanet side dominated proceedings throughout, against a side that have drawn 14 league games, and are managed by former England winger Andy Sinton - but it took 64 minutes to break the deadlock.

Former Dover Athletic striker Shaun Welford scored his 22nd goal of the season when he slammed the ball into the net from six yards after goalkeeper Julian Gray spilled Steffan Ball’s free kick from 22-yards.

Welford turned provider with just three minutes remaining, when his quickly taken free kick from the edge of the box, caught Fleet napping and substitute David Cory was on hand to turn in his seventh goal of the season from close range.

As Horsham were without a game today, Jim Ward’s side took full advantage and there is now daylight between the top two sides.

Next up for the Rams is a trip to 13th placed side Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday night, which is a very big night for our Ryman League Division One sides.

Horsham travel to tenth placed side Cray Wanderers, but arguably the biggest clash in Kent is at the Betterview Longmead Stadium where Tonbridge Angels tackle out of sorts Dover Athletic.

Having signed Danny Ward from Dulwich Hamlet in the week, making his debut in their 1-0 win at strugglers Newport IOW today, Ward is expected to make his home debut in Tuesday’s showdown with Dover Athletic.

But big, strong, passionate target man, Wade Falana returns to Longmead Stadium and is expected to give the Whites defence something else to worry about.

Falana has been described as a “legend” by fans of his previous club, with his passionate attitude towards the game, scoring 19 goals in 93 appearances for Bromley.

But back to Ramsgate. Ward’s mainly Thanet based players, lost just four times in their 30 match Kent League championship winning campaign last term and this season they’ve tasted defeat in just three of their 32 Ryman League outings.

And with 12 league games left, the Rams boss admitted he is now thinking about clinching the title.

He said: “We’re three quarters the way through the season, we’ve got a dozen games left now - we have to take them all now.

“Teams have got to catch us. We are four points clear and at the moment its all down to Ramsgate.

“I think we’ll be favourites to win the league now but I think Tooting, I think Tonbridge and Horsham might have something else to say about that.”

But this crop of players isn’t used to losing as Ward explained: “But we can only do our job. The nineteen man squad that we’ve got, for the past two years they’ve been together, we’re not used to losing games.

“We know how to defend leads, we know how to play the game properly and of course we know how to win.

“We’re quite a successful group of lads even though their very young. We’ve got loads of experience behind them so I’m not concerned about the run-in.

“I think it will take care of itself but at the end of the day it will be up to Ramsgate to play heir stuff.”

One absentee for Tuesday’s trip to South London on Tuesday night will be Welford who sits out with a one-match ban, having accumulated five yellow cards this season.

“I told the lads these are crucial times in the season where wins are so important,” said Ward. “I said to them if we win nine points out of these three games, including today, I think we’ll go close to winning the league.”

Looking ahead to their game at Champion Hill, the Dundee born boss added: “We’re a bit short, the big fella’s missing, Shaun Welford, so I’ve got to have a bit of a rethink.

“So we’ll look forward to it and someone else will come in and no doubt give me a headache for the following Saturday (at home to Croydon Athletic) because they’ll probably come in and score a couple of goals or something.”

Ward, however, felt today’s victory was what his side deserved following their midweek goal-less draw at Newport IOW.

“I was more delighted with the way we played today,” he said. “We get a 0-0 during the week and coming in at half-time at nil-nil you think to yourself “oh no, I could do without this - although we did play well in the first half.

“Second half I felt we were absolutely superb. I thought the forward play by (Michael) Yianni and Welford was great and the support play by our new signing Ian Pulman and Steffan Ball on the right wing. I thought they all helped one another very much - I thought we thoroughly deserved that victory today.”

The Rams made, but missed, plenty of chances during the game, but coaches Danny Ward and Mark Harrop emphasised the importance of keeping patient.

The boss said: “That was the big team talk at half-time. They emphasised that patience might be the call of the day.

“Like I say, the last game was a 0-0. It’s allright keeping clean sheets but if you’re not scoring goals it don’t count for nothing.

“Yes, the lads were getting a bit frustrated (in the first half) but at the end of the day it was two quality goals that we scored.”

He added: “It’s always nice to score with a quick free kick when people are caught napping.”

Ward heaped praise on his 18-year-old goalkeeper, James Plumley and his back-line of Edd Vahid, Liam Morris, Ollie Schulz and James Gregory.

Morris was skipper in the absence of 34-year-old midfielder Mark Munday, who played for the reserves’ 3-0 win at Bromley.

Ramsgate have conceded just three goals in their last ten games - two of them coming from the penalty spot.

“It’s a whole defensive thing. It’s a whole team thing, the formation we play but fair play to the,” said Ward. “I know the five of them love it when we keep a clean sheet.”

Whoever said Ramsgate were “just a pub team from Thanet” are now eating humble pie.