Please credit article to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk
Cray want to build on play-off heartbreak
CRAY WANDERERS' manager Ian Jenkins is looking to build on their debut Ryman League division one campaign, where they finished in sixth place, writes Stephen McCartney.
In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Jenkins, who is preparing for his 14th campaign with the club (as a player as well as a manager), has reflected on a good campaign, but maybe regrets losing in the play-off semi-final at Horsham.
And Jenkins has rubbished speculation linking him with young Erith & Belvedere striker Chris Dickson, who was the Deres' top scorer last season, but revealed two targets in the transfer market.
Former VCD Athletic striker Jon Maine has signed from Australian side Perth Panthers, and Jenkins said: "He's a young lad, got pace and he's a good finisher," and on Dickson he added: "I haven't had contact with him. I know off him - I am not too sure about that one."
But central defender Joe Vines, who started with the Wands in their youth team, before signing for landlords Bromley before moving to Nationwide Conference South outfit Lewes (via Crawley Town) is high on the list as is a central midfielder.
Midfielder Matt Woolf, who currently works in Ireland, is getting married in August but Jenkins wants to keep the former Fisher Athletic, Bromley and Crawley Town, midfielder. "As he's getting married in August he will miss a few games but I want to keep Matt and everyone whose finished the season with us because they know what it's all about."
Finishing in sixth position was a marvellous achievement by Cray Wanderers and although disappointed his side faded at the end of the campaign, Jenkins is taking this success into next season.
"If you said we would finish sixth at the beginning of the season, that would have been a success but we should have done better to be honest with you. I'm disappointed with the way the season ended," he admitted.
And with some big clubs in the Ryman first division next season, Jenkins will be in another battle to achieve promotion into the premier.
"The teams that didn't go up through the play-off's will be up there as favourites next season. There will be a few sides who want to go up but we will be going for it next season," promises the Sidcup based boss.
With thousands of pounds of grant money being spent to improve the playing surface at Hayes Lane, Jenkins will be hoping his players will make full use of it.
"It's brilliant news, I had a look at the pitch recently and it's all better for us next season. But other teams can play on it as well," Jenkins warned.
Cray Wanderers have definitely become a force to be reckoned with in a very successful three years spell but it was a lot different when he first wore the amber and black.
"The only problem were the crowds," he said. "We didn't have the support as we do now and it was hard for our players to perform in front of those low crowds in those early days."
"Yes it has changed, as I was only a player in those days but I've still got the same buzz as manager and the commitment and it shows."
looking ahead to next season, Jenkins added: "First aim is top two and then
you see where you are as the season pans out. You only enjoy the play-offs
when you win them. I don't want to mess about with play-off's next season
as you are forgotten about when you lose them."
Jenkins revealed he is meeting up with the players in the next two weeks and they return to pre-season training on Tuesday 5th July.