Thursday 24th November 2005

Francis: We are just looking to develop consistency


Cray Wanderers' assistant manager Joe Francis is relishing another good game of football when they host Kingstonian at Hayes Lane on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Kingstonian are twice winners of the FA Trophy, when in May 1999 they beat Forest Green Rovers 1-0 and then defeated Kettering Town 3-2 in the last FA Trophy final played underneath the Twin Towers at Wembley Stadium twelve months later.

But both sides find themselves struggling in the wrong half of the Ryman League Division table, with 14th placed Cray Wanderers five points and two places clear of the K's.

The two sides have already met this season in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.  A hat-trick from Michael Power and a close range strike from Dean Morris saw the Kent side secure a 4-1 win, in a game where both sides were reduced to eight men.

And Cray booked their place in Saturday's third qualifying round, beating Ryman Premier League side Staines Town in a seven goal thriller thanks to Jon Main's hat-trick and a strike from Power.

Cray have already scored 53 goals in competitive matches this season, with Main (13), Power (13), Gary Abbott (6) and Leigh Bremner (5) leading the way, but it's defensive personnel that's affecting them.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Francis said: "We are hoping it's just a good game.  They are a good side and I know their manager (Ian McDonald) and assistant (Stuart McIntyre) very well and it will be a tight game."

It's a big week for the Wands and they tackle another former Conference giant when Dover Athletic visit Hayes Lane on Tuesday night for a league fixture.

They warmed up with a convincing 3-0 win at Ashford Town, where former Bromley and Folkestone Invicta goalkeeper Dave Wietecha heroics kept the score down.

"Ask Ashford if we are a good side.  That could have been 10-0! We were brilliant," praised Francis.  "We played very well Tuesday night so we go very positive Saturday.  

"We've had so many disruptions to the side, injuries and suspensions.  So now it's time to start a run and we take every game as it comes.  On our day we'll beat anybody.  Let's hope it's Saturday."

Cray have been without influential defenders David Gray, Ian Rawlings, Danny Bower, Terry Khan and Dean Morris during the course of the season, but they don't have any problems with putting the ball in the back of the net at the other end.

"Going forward, we are brilliant," admitted Francis.  "Gary Abbott, Jon Main, Michael Power and Ross Lover have been outstanding and the re-introduction of Jamie Kempster has given us a lot of impetus going forward.  Drew Watkins has also been very influential."

And missing key members of their squad has seen the side drop down the table.  But Francis feels his side will climb back up as their players return to full fitness.

"We haven't put out the same side twice," he said.  "Everybody's coming back fit and we're looking to be at our strongest for Saturday as we need to be.  We've got great respect for Kingstonian.  The 4-1 win flattered us."

Reflecting on their "outstanding" victory over Staines Town in the last round, Francis said: "It was probably the best game at Hayes Lane for the past five years.

"An outstanding exhibition of football from both sides.  It was an unbelievable game.  The most amazing game I've been involved in for five years.

"Staines were very good but we just played out of our skins - breathtaking game.

"I spoke to a load of neutrals, people involved in the pro game and they said exactly the same.  It was an outstanding spectacle and we're hoping for the same Saturday."

And if Trophy results go their way, Francis cannot wait for the visit of Clive Walker's side next Tuesday.

"Obviously you can't not think about them," he said.  "It's a big game for us.  I'd love to be a player right now, because I'd be preparing myself for two huge games and they're both winnable.

"When you see Burgess Hill Town go 3-0 up at Dover (before drawing the game 3-3) anything's possible isn't it?

"The league is a better standard than last year.   And I think it reinforces the fact that you must apply yourself game in game out.

"We are just looking to develop the consistency and that comes from an unchanged squad of players."

Cray Wanderers v Kingstonian
FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round
Saturday 26th November 2005
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Courage Stadium, Hayes Lane, Bromley