Sunday 18th September 2005

All eyes are on Crabble

Cray Wanderers' manager Ian Jenkins is still smarting after his players surrendered top spot in the Ryman League first division table following their 4-0 defeat at Hastings United yesterday - their first defeat of the season, writes Stephen McCartney.

But Jenkins is hoping his players show character and bounce back on Tuesday night - in the Kent derby at Crabble against Dover Athletic, with both sides sitting on 12 points, but the Whites do have a game in hand.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk , a disappointed Jenkins admitted: "We got beat by a better side on the day.

"We didn't perform on the day.  People watching it would say they (Hastings) deserved it so far play to them."

Following their injury time loss at Tonbridge Angels in the FA Cup first qualifying round replay in the week, Neville Southall's side bounced back  and, despite missing a fifth minute penalty, Ade Olorunda's dipping volley deceived goalkeeper Dean Mann - who has replaced the suspended Steve Northwood - to put Hastings in front.

Hastings doubled their lead with a close range finish from Steve Ringwood in the 67th minute.

Cray defender Danny Harris cleared off the line from Ororunda before Sam Adams' ran onto Jon Wallis' long pass to roll in number three in the 81st minute.

And Sean Ray made amends for his earlier penalty miss, when he blasted home a second spot kick with five minutes left to make it a miserable day for Jenkins' men.

"To be honest they have a manager in Neville Southall and it makes a massive difference to them," added Jenkins.

"It was one of those games, we were top and they wanted to beat us more than we wanted to beat them."

At this moment in time, Jenkins isn't looking forward to their trip to third placed and unbeaten Dover Athletic - but wants his side, now fifth in the table - to bounce back.

"My players were absolutely useless on the day, if we get something out of the Dover game, I'll be surprised," he blasted.

"But if we can plug a few holes at the back and stop soft goals going in, we will be allright.  But we are still capable of scoring goals."

Jenkins, however, praised goalkeeper Dean Mann, who will be facing Dover and Camberley Town in Sunday's FA Cup second qualifying round clash at The Courage Stadium, as Northwood has completed just one of his three match ban.

"Dean done well and stopped the scoreline being higher than it was," added Jenkins.

"Dover is a massive game, but it may or may not have come so close but I'll be hoping for a reaction and to bounce back on Tuesday."

Having watched Cray's downfall at the Pilot Field, Dover Athletic manager Clive Walker knows what to expect on Tuesday night.

"It will be a very hard game that's for certain, but we are looking to get three points from it," he said.

The Whites were without a game yesterday - there are 23 teams in the league - so the players trained in the morning, but Walker reported that fringe players Michael "Buster" Smissen (mumps) and Chris Wright (ankle) are the only players suffering at the moment.

Including pre-season friendlies, the Whites have won their last ten games and Walker added: "The problem is to keep it going for as long as we can."

Walker takes his side to Chelmsford City (don't forget they play at Billericay Town's ground in Blunt Wall Lane) on Saturday in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup, and the former Chatham Town manager knows the importance of a food run in the cup.

"Obviously the money situation, you want to go as far as you can in the cup," he said.

"I've seen them play, obviously they are a division above than we are but we did play against them last season.  I think it will be a big game."

Dover Athletic v Cray Wanderers
Ryman League Division One
Tuesday 20th September 2005
Kick Off 7:45pm
at The Crabble, Lewisham Road, River, Dover