Rusthall 1-9 Cray Valley (Paper Mills) - We just can't compete with a team of that quality and that's the honest truth, admits departing Rusthall joint-boss Mike Cramp

Wednesday 07th November 2018
Rusthall 1 – 9 Cray Valley (Paper Mills)
Location Jockey Farm Stadium, Nellington Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8SH
Kickoff 07/11/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 7 November 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Jockey Farm Stadium

RUSTHALL joint-manager Mike Cramp resigned just minutes after seeing his struggling side humiliated by title-chasing Cray Valley at Jockey Farm Stadium.

The Rustics extended their losing run to nine games after suffering a 9-1 thrashing at the hands of Cray Valley and remain rooted in the bottom two of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with four points from 14 games.

The Millers, meanwhile, climbed up to third-place on 26 points from 11 games and are five points behind leaders Beckenham Town but with three games in hand and just three days after recording their best win in The FA Vase after thrashing Badshot Lea 7-0, Cray Valley also recorded their record victory at this level.

Cray Valley were clinical in front of goal as Anthony Edgar (now on 14 goals), Joe N’Guessan (eight) and Denzel Gayle (11) each scored a couple of goals as they went in at the break with a 6-1 lead.

Rusthall pulled a goal back on the half-hour mark through John Phillips’ goal but they were 3-0 down at the time.

Rusthall displayed professional pride during the early stages of the season half but Cray Valley rattled in three goals inside the final 16 minutes with Francis Babalola coming off the bench to score twice in 10 minutes to take his tally up to 12 goals for the season, while centre-half Ashley Sains heading in their eighth goal for his second goal of the campaign.

“They were a very good side, probably the best side in this league I would say, definitely the most creative,” said Cramp during the post-match press conference, just minutes before telling chairman Joe Croker that he was resigning, which leaves Andrew McKechnie in sole charge of the team.

“A gulf in class was massive. We can’t compete with a team of that quality unfortunately and that’s the honest truth. 

“They opened us up too many times but we didn’t help ourselves either so when you’re going against a quality side like that and you give the ball away to them and they punish you like they do then you’re absolutely on an uphill battle really so it’s not been a very good night at all.

“It’s ridiculous standing there knowing that you can’t do much more unfortunately. I put the team out there today and it just wasn’t there.  There wasn’t the quality we expect from the boys. The work-rate wasn’t there either and being brutally honest when you’re playing a team of that quality, if you’re not doing that work-rate and doing the simple things properly, you’re always going to struggle and we struggled massively.”

Cray Valley manager Kevin Watson added: “It was pleasing. I don’t want to sound ungrateful but it brings you three points regardless of the score line, unless goals make a difference at the end of the season, it’s just three points.

“I think for 25 minutes we were very good and then I felt we went a little bit complacent and sloppy, maybe 10 minutes.  Fortunately, we done quite a lot of damage in maybe, let’s say 30 minutes of the first half, which was difficult for them to recover.

“I’m a bit frustrated when we get bored doing the right things that frustrates me a little bit.  I understand it from a players perspective but it’s important when I talk about discipline that we are disciplined in the performance.”

Hungry Cray Valley set the tone with right-back Cem Tumkaya playing the ball inside to Paul Semakula and he teed up Edgar, who flashed his right-footed drive past the diving keeper and just past the left-hand post from 35-yards inside the opening seven minutes.

Rusthall were keeping 10 men behind the ball but they were ripped apart by Cray Valley’s attackers, whom performed like a Bostik Premier outfit.

The Millers opened the floodgates by taking the lead with 11 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock.

Wing-back Ryan Flack played the ball in from the wing and striker Kevin Lisbie reached the by-line and hung over a cross towards the near post for Edgar to plant his free-header across the keeper and into the far corner from eight-yards.

Watson said: “Great ball, great composure and Lisbie got to the line, a good ball in. Ant arrived, good timing. A cross from Lisbie, it’s pleasing like that someone like Ant to score a header. A good goal from our perspective.”

“It just sums it up. There was a bit of movement and we didn’t track the runners and a free-header and at any level you can’t afford to do that,” said Cramp.

“You can’t afford to switch off, you can’t afford to lose your runners and if you do it against good, quality sides then they’re going to punish you.

“That set the tone for the rest of the game to be honest.”

Rusthall capitulated and leaked a second goal just 68 seconds later.

Winger Gayle released left-wing-back Danny Smith on an overlapping run and he put it on a plate for N’Guessan to slide a first-time shot past keeper Joe Cullip from 12-yards.

Watson said: “A good team goal. It had several elements there, patient play, joining in, decent timing, decent run. Our players have started to understand where they’re going to be. We saw the same with Denzel and Francis towards the end in terms of timing of the crosses and the strike.”

Cramp added: “Again, it’s not reacting, they wanted it.  They were winning the second balls all over the pitch, let alone in the area.  You can’t switch off to the overlap and that’s what we’ve done. That gives them time and space to put the quality ball in. 

“You’re facing an uphill battle then and we seem to let our heads go as soon as we let in a goal at the moment and we can’t afford to do it and that puts us under pressure for the rest of the game.”

Smith stole the ball off Regan Corke and set-up Gayle, whose low shot was saved by Cullip, who then caught Sains’ header after Edgar’s first corner was cleared out to the Millers centre-half.

Brilliant Cray Valley raced into a 3-0 lead with 22 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Liam Hickey played the ball out of defence and N’Guessan collected the ball inside his own half and charged forward on a pacey 70-yard run down the left before cutting inside and comfortably brushing past last-defender Callum Gallie, before curling a sublime shot into the top far corner from 20-yards.

“Great goal, great goal. Really pleased for him. It’s something we were relatively critical of him earlier this season because last season his finishing was good. He scored a goal in terms of a similar strike against Fisher but that’s a great goal! That was one of individual moments of magic about it,” hailed Watson.

“Take nothing away from the finish, the finish was again different class,” admitted Cramp.

“But it was too easy, they got in too easily.  That shouldn’t happen. It’s something that we need to work out. We need to rectify quickly to stop these mistakes happening.”

Cray Valley then had a spell of complacency and Rusthall started to find a way back into the game.

Stephen Camacho’s deflected low drive went behind for a corner and they scored a consolation goal with 29 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Camacho swung the corner in from the left and Phillips’ near post header was blocked by keeper Andy Walker.  A spell of pin-ball inside the Cray Valley box followed before the ball came out to Joe Fuller, whose low drive from outside the box was flicked into the bottom left-hand corner by Phillips, who was left unmarked.

Cramp added: “Sometimes you need a little bit of luck to get you in games and we got that but we worked hard to pressure the ball, which led to the corner and that’s what happens when you do the right work in the right areas at the right times and we got the reward from that.

“But we’re already three down and it’s going to take something special to get back even at 3-0 down to get close to where we need to be to be competing with them, so it’s nice that we got one today, we haven’t been doing that of late either so we can look at that as a possible but when you’ve already conceded those three that one is a little stone really.”

Watson added: “That’s the spell I’m talking about! Probably eight minutes before that it started to creep in and they had a couple of opportunities and when the corners come in we’ve stopped almost as if it was a goal and it’s gone over the line and it’s carried on and no-ones reacted.”

However, any slim chances of mounting a fightback swiftly vanished as clinical Cray Valley scored their fourth goal of the night with 32 minutes and 42 seconds on the clock.

It was a beautiful goal as N’Guessan produced a sublime dinked through ball which split open centre-halves Paul Butler and Luke Stratford to put Edgar through on goal and as keeper Cullip rushed off his line, Edgar dinked the ball over him and the ball dropped into the bottom far corner.

“Look, he probably would’ve done that even if it was 0-0 knowing him. It’s a clever finish, technically it takes some doing,” added Watson.

Cramp added: “It’s a quality finish, you can’t take anything away from that but again we got caught too square at the back. It shouldn’t happen. He shouldn’t have that much time and space to get through and we can’t afford to keep doing the mistakes that we are making.”

Cray Valley notched their fifth goal with 34 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock, as Rusthall capitulated in embarrassing fashion.

Flack played the ball into the box from the right and N’Guessan’s angled drive flashed across the keeper and was cleared off the line and Gayle pounced on the loose ball and swept the ball in off the foot of the left-hand post from six-yards out.

“Denzel, like I said about playing in that position, starting to learn to be in the right places at the right time,” came Watson’s brief reply.

“It’s been the story of the season to be honest.  Once one goals in we seem to struggle,” admitted Cramp as to why his side capitlated straight after conceding, several times tonight.

“We’ve got a very young and inexperienced side but it’s still no excuse switching off like we do and the boys need to learn really quick that regardless of what happens in games you still have to do the right things properly and we’re not doing that when we concede.

“We seem to panic, we seem to go out of shape and we seem to lose concentration and it’s costing us week-in-week-out.”

N’Guessan played the ball out to Flack, who cut the ball onto his left-foot and from the corner of the penalty area let fly and Cullip raised both his hands above his head to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Edgar swung in the resulting corner and an unmarked Lisbie planted his header just past the right-hand post.

Cray Valley scored their sixth goal of the game with 42 minutes and 52 seconds on the clock.

Smith played a fine ball down the line to release Lisbie and as the keeper came off his line to narrow the angle, he played the ball inside to Gayle, who took a touch and picked his spot into the bottom left-hand corner, past a couple of Rusthall defenders on the line.

Watson said: “I’m pleased for him.  I’m pleased for the goalscorers, pleased for the defenders. Ashley Sains has scored, which was good.

“It’s more of the nature of some of the goals than the goals scored themselves. I don’t think any of them get carried away. Like I said about Kevin Lisbie. He could’ve had far more goals than he wanted if he was selfish. He doesn’t get a goal bonus.”

Cramp added: “We can go on all night with all nine of the goals. It’s the same story. A little bit of moment, we switch off. We don’t track the runners free in the middle of the box and they’re not going to miss those chances, it’s as simple as that. 

“They’re a good, quality side and they will punish every chance they can and they’ve done that on a number of occasions tonight.”

Despite the seven goals, referee Aaron Conn played only 55 seconds of injury time and inevitably blew his full-time whistle at the end of the game without playing any stoppage time.

Cramp had some home truths to give his struggling players during his final half-time team talk in charge of the club.  He pulled left-back Gallie and holding midfielder Fuller.

“It’s very difficult.  We could’ve sat in there for the next hour and so and run through what we had to improve on but just tried to get the message to the boys that the second half we really need to try to get together and we need to be tighter. We need to get behind the ball.  We couldn’t have another half like it and the boys attitudes are always good. They want it, they’re in the changing room wanting to do the right things and unfortunately it’s not happening out on the pitch at the moment.”

Rusthall need to make wholesale changes and bring in more experienced players, otherwise their two years of struggle in this division will come to a sinking end.

Watson revealed: “I was slightly frustrated! It feels like, it sounds like a pantomime when I say that doesn’t it? I’m frustrated at 6-1 up but people won’t realise unless they were there and seen the performance that the sloppiness for 15 minutes of the first half so if that creeps in during the second half you have to maintain performance.

“You can’t just look at the results all the time and we have to get that across to them.”

Rusthall put in a vastly improved performance during the early stages of the second half, showing more desire that was clearly lacking during the first 45 minutes.

“They did but in all fairness we weren’t very good at the start of the second half. I thought they came out and they did show that (pride) a little bit.  It’s tough for them, they did show that a little bit so fair play to them,” added Watson.

Gayle played a one-two with Flack and his driven shot was blocked by a pressing Ryan Hinkson, who used his back to ensure the ball sailed over the crossbar.

Flack’s corner from the right was not cleared and Sains’ downward header from eight-yards was parried by Cullip, who used his right-hand to make a vital block.

Outclassed Rusthall created an opening in the 51st minute.

Camacho’s free-kick from the left was poor and was headed clear by the first man on the near post and half-time substitute Ryan Waterman swept the ball out to Camacho, whose first time shot was comfortably held by Walker at his near post.

“I think we were trying to create chances from bits and pieces and when we were getting opportunities to put balls in the box the quality hasn’t been there,” admitted Cramp.

“We’re not missing the first man out, we’re not competing every ball they put in the box. They looked hungry for it whether it was defending or attacking.  They looked hungry and unfortunately we just didn’t have that bite and we haven’t got that bite at the moment.”

A big kick straight down the middle of the pitch from Walker was chased by Lisbie and Rusthall’s right-back Hinkson, who showed desire to get in front of the former Charlton Athletic striker to head the ball back to his goalkeeper.

Cray Valley were dangerous on the overlap and in the 63rd minute Lisbie almost got on the scoresheet.

Gayle released Smith on the overlap and he clipped in a cross towards the near post but Lisbie’s looping header from the edge of the six-yard box was caught by Cullip above his head.

“Yes, he would’ve done well to score that! It’s just taken a deflection and he’s just tried to flick it on a bit but it’s two difficult to get any purchase on it with no pace on the ball,” added Watson.

Watson used holding players Josh James and Jack White in midfield as Edgar, N’Guessan and later on Lisbie were withdrawn and Babalola came on and impressed during his 21 minute cameo role.

The Millers had to be patient before scoring their seventh goal of the night, timed at 28 minutes and 3 seconds.

It was a superb slick move as Flack released Gayle charging down the right channel and he swept the ball across the face of goal for an unmarked Babalola to sweep his shot into the back of the net from 10-yards.

“You’ve got Francis Babalola on the bench. He’s been injured and come on. Josh James has been injured, Jack White’s on the bench and they’re all good players. People have to keep their places in the team,” said Watson.

“Good timing, he looked sharp when he came on Francis. Denzel’s got 90 minutes under his belt. Unselfish, good timing run, good pace on the ball.”

Cramp added: “It’s the same pattern on the third and the fourth, I think. It’s a nice little move, a bit of one-two movement and a cross into the middle of the box and someone’s free and spare and they can slot it in. It probably came from one of our mistakes by giving the ball away, which we can’t afford to do.”

Cray Valley scored their eighth goal with 35 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a defender.

Both sides won eight corners tonight but The Millers were vastly dominant in both boxes.

Flack swung the ball in from the left and Sains nipped in at the near post to flick his header across goal and into the far corner from six-yards.

Watson said: “Set-pieces is something that we need to do better with, we need to score goals from set-pieces. It’s something that we spoke about ironically. Ash was frustrated he didn’t get goals from set-pieces and he’s got a couple of goals this season, so that’s pleasing.”

“The guys that we were playing against today were clinical and they proved that but take nothing away from their movement and the way that they play, we just couldn’t cope with it,” admitted Cramp.

“Again, it’s that want in the box. He had three Rusthall players round him and he was the one winning the ball and putting it in the back of the net. Unfortunately, that’s what sums up our performance at the moment.”

Cray Valley recorded their highest win as their ninth goal was scored with 38 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

Flack released Babalola through on goal straight down the heart of the pitch and he kept his composure to slot the ball into the bottom far corner.

Watson said: “Good finish, not that easy those finishes, sometimes but a good finish. Job done, simple as that, no more, no less, job done.”

Cramp added: “Another good finish but again we got caught too square, too much space out wide and it was a nice simple finish for him in the end.”
Flack’s near-post dink was pushed around the post by Cullip, who then saw Tumkaya rise to plant his header over the crossbar after Flack swung in a corner towards the near post.

Rusthall’s players have been given Saturday off as they are without a game and they must do some soul-searching before second-placed Fisher visit Jockey Farm Stadium on 17 November.

“It’s been a frustrating nine games now, I think it is.  At times the performances have been good, at times they have been really bad and we cannot afford to do it, said Cramp.

“The chances that we do create we don’t take and we need to be more clinical in front of goal and defensively. There’s a lot of things we’ve got to look at and improve but I can’t take any credit away from my players. They put in everything that they can and I can’t thank them enough for that and they’ve just got to keep going.”

Cray Valley host fourth-placed Corinthian at Middle Park Avenue on Sunday (15:00) but Watson insists this win doesn’t send out a statement of intent to his title challenging rivals, Beckenham Town, Fisher, Corinthian, Chatham Town and Sheppey United.

“It’s up to them if they take it as that. It’s not from us. It is three points. It’s moved us up the table. The goals are not that irrelevant. It doesn’t send a statement. It doesn’t change anything we do.  We try to win games.  I’ve said that all along. We try to win every game we’re in. Some we will, some we won’t but that’s the objective.”

When asked which game was more satisfying, Badshot Lea in the FA Vase or tonight in the League, Watson, who has been told by club officials that he has to win the league this season, replied: “For me, this. For the players probably that because The Vase is for the players and the league is my job.”

Rusthall: Joe Cullip, Ryan Hinkson, Callum Gallie (Robbie Bissett 46), Joe Fuller (Ryan Waterman 46), Paul Butler, Luke Stratford, Stephen Camacho, John Phillips, Sam Murray, Kerran Boylan (Spencer Flowers 82, Regan Corke.
Sub: Sam Cockerill

Goal: John Phillips 30

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Andy Walker, Cem Tumkaya, Danny Smith, Paul Semakula, Ashley Sains, Liam Hickey, Ryan Flack, Anthony Edgar (Josh James 46), Kevin Lisbie (Francis Babalola 69), Joe N’Guessan (Jack White 60), Denzel Gayle.
Subs: Calum Willock, Tommy Osborne

Goals: Anthony Edgar 12, 33, Joe N’Guessan 13, 23, Denzel Gayle 35, 43, Francis Babalola 74, 84, Ashley Sains 81

Attendance: 72
Referee: Mr Aaron Conn (Gillingham)
Assistants: Mr Danny Geary (Maidstone) & Mr James Reed (Maidstone)