Sunday 20th February 2005

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Bremner signs contract for promotion chasing Cray

LEIGH BREMNER has rejected offers from Dover Athletic and Chatham Town to sign an eighteen-month contract with Ryman League Division One promotion chasers Cray Wanderers, writes Stephen McCartney.

The 21-year-old, Gillingham based striker, has turned down a move to the Hoverspeed Stadium outfit - who are fighting to stay in the Ryman Premier League - because he feels his current side will be a Ryman Premier League outfit themselves next season.

Bremner, whose father Kevin played for Millwall and Gillingham, has taken to higher league football with a pinch of salt, scoring 17 goals in the Ryman League Division One after signing from Kent Leaguers Herne Bay in the close season.

And it's his goalscoring form that has attracted the attention of Dover boss Clive Walker, and his former club, Southern League Division One East midtable side Chatham Town.

Delighted Cray Wanderers manager Ian Jenkins said: "He feels he will go further as a player with the coaching of Joe Francis and myself.  Obviously Dover are down the bottom of the Ryman Premier League but there's a chance of them going down and a chance we can go up."

Currently one spot below the play-off's, Cray are looking for promotion, either via an automatic promotion place, behind champions-elect AFC Wimbledon or by the lottery of the play-offs.

Jenkins added: "We are looking for second place.  It's a little bit way off but we've still got to play the top sides and the bottom four.  There's points up for grabs but if we win nine of our remaining eleven games there's a good chance."

Cray travel to relegation threatened Kent rivals Ashford Town next Saturday and the Sidcup based manager admitted: "It's a must-win game.  All our games are must-win cup-finals until the end of the season."

Jenkins, however, draws no comfort with the fact his side have drawn 15 of their 31 league games, and although other managers frequently praise his side for their football, it's promotion that the builder is looking for.

"We should be higher.  Our finishing has just let us down.  The management haven't made the mistakes  - we've created enough chances for fun, we just haven't put our chances away."

He did, however, praise former Thamesmead Town goalkeeper Steve Northwood, who is another player to make the grade up from the Kent League.

Jenkins said: "All round we've been solid.  Steve Northwood has been an inspiration in goal.  To replace Micky Simmons was a hard job, but he's done really well."

Cray dominated yesterday's game against Fleet Town at Hayes Lane, although the Hampshire side scored twice in the final ten minutes but Cray were comfortable 3-2 winners at the end.

Jenkins reflected: "Totally dominated the whole game.  We were 3-0 up with ten to go but we just let in two sloppy goals but other than that it was quite comfortable."

Former Margate and Welling United striker Phil Collins - in his second stint with the club - marked his 100th appearance with two goals, one from the spot, and former Whyteleafe defender Danny Bower also got on the score sheet, whilst impressing at the back alongside Tony Russell, another former Thamesmead man.

Although the club's priory is promotion, the club will be looking to add another piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet.

Kent League champions for the past two season's they have also clinched the Kent League Cup and Kent Senior Trophy in recent years but after going out of the London Senior Cup last week, losing 1-0 at Dulwich Hamlet, thanks to a late Danny Twin goal, the club has one last chance to lift a trophy at the end of this season.

Cray were beating John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup holders Margate 3-0 in the quarter-finals but the game was abandoned after 48 minutes due to fog.

However, the game has been switched from Ashford Town's Homelands ground to Kent Leaguers Ramsgate's Southwood Stadium and will be played to a finish on Tuesday 1st March.

If successful they will travel to Ryman Premier League side Folkestone Invicta with a place in the final against Dover Athletic or Gravesend & Northfleet awaiting them if they win at the Westbourne Stadium.

Jenkins said: "Disappointed going out to Dulwich as it's always nice to win a cup final.  Over the last three years we've been in six but we're still in the Kent Senior Cup with a good chance to win that.

"I was gutted that our game at Margate was abandoned.  There was no way it was going to continue.  It was terrible, you couldn't see anything.

"We all know about Ramsgate and the conditions down there but it's part of football and you've got to put up with things like that.
"I think we can win the Kent Senior Cup but our main priority is promotion, either via the play-off's or finishing second."

Current top eight of the Ryman League First Division

Pos Team PLD W D L F A PTS
1 AFC Wimbledon 31 21 8 2 66 24 71
2 Horsham 31 19 4 8 71 45 61
3 Walton & Hersham 29 18 2 9 42 26 56
4 Tooting & Mitcham 30 14 11 5 70 44 53
5 Met. Police 31 16 5 10 55 40 53
6 Leatherhead 31 14 10 7 54 44 52
7 Cray Wanderers 31 12 15 4 69 41 51
8 Burgess Hill Town 31 16 3 12 58 42 51

Please feel free to use this article - but please credit it to:
Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk