Thursday 06th October 2005

Out of sorts Cray aiming to make cup history

Cray Wanderers can make FA Cup history for themselves if they knock Ryman Premier League draw specialists Margate out of the competition on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Wands have never reached the fourth and final qualifying round of the world's best cup competition before in their 145 year history, and travel to Hartsdown Park to play a side that have drawn eight of their first ten league games.

But Cray's form has slumped since they defeated Kingstonian (4-1) in their FA Cup first qualifying round tie in September.

Ian Jenkins' side have lost to Hastings United (0-4) and Dover Athletic (1-2) both on their travels, but returned to winning ways with a 4-1 win at The Courage Stadium against Ryman League second division side Camberley Town in the last round.

But three league defeats against Fleet Town (0-2), Croydon Athletic (1-2) and Dulwich Hamlet (0-1) on Tuesday night has seen the club drop to thirteenth place in the table, and this poor form is concerning the club's assistant manager, Joe Francis.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk he said: "We've had big disruptions to the side, people seem to be forgetting that.

"Two bad performances against Hastings and Fleet but since then two good performances against Croydon Athletic and at Dulwich on Tuesday night, but no luck.

"So we go into the Margate game positive and ever hopeful.

"It's just a big test.  Maybe we look forward to Saturday like any team would do in our position?."

It has been a very long time since Cray have gone five league games without winning - certainly before Francis arrived at the club.

"It's our worse slump for five years," admitted Francis.  "Jenko (Ian Jenkins) and I have never lost four games in a row so it's new territory for us but we know what it will take to turn it around - hard work and concentration."

Francis knows what is at stake at Hartsdown Park.  "We know if we win on Saturday we can make history for the club," he said.

"It's the biggest game in the club's history, you cannot underestimate it.  It's even bigger than our FA Vase quarter-final tie against Sudbury.

"We are going to have a big training session as we always do tonight (Thursday), no different to any other week and we go positive.

"I look forward to seeing Chris Kinnear, who is an old friend from years ago and we look forward to a good game of football at the new Hartsdown Park - we are really looking forward to playing there."

Francis, however, takes heart from last season when they were beating Margate 3-0 in the Kent Senior Cup at Homelands before the game was abandoned early in the second half.  

Although Kinnear's side has changed from the one that lifted the Kent Senior Cup for the third successive season in May.

"We've got players that can win games and it's familiar territory as we played them twice last year.

"We were 3-0 up at half-time and it got fogged off, which was our best 45 minutes of the season last year, but a lot has changed since then."

With the exception of Margate’s opening day win over Maldon Town, the FA Cup has seen Margate’s only other victories. 

A comfortable 4-0 win over Cowes Sports was followed by a hard fought 1-0 home victory over Conference South basement side Carshalton Athletic. 

Gate’s FA Cup run came to an end at this stage last season, when defeat away at Braintree (then a division below the Blues) followed a narrow in over Waltham Forest.

Greg Oates should return to the side and Kola Okikioulu could return from injury. Pat Gradley’s knee ligament trouble looks likely to keep him out of the side for some time yet, and new signing Adolf Amoako is cup-tied having played for Bromley against Bedfont in the last round. 

With Oates’ return, Brown should slot back into midfield, and Warren Ryan looks set to continue ion the left side of the defence. Daniel Sacha or Gavin McGowan look the most likely candidates to drop to the bench.

www.margate-fc.com spoke to Charlie Mitten about the prospect of progress in the FA Cup. 

“We want to go as far as we can, to make as much money for the club as we can," the goalkeeper said.

Charlie also revealed that the bobble of the ball right in front of him when Margate played Cardiff in the second round of the FA Cup in 2002 still haunts him. He revealed that: “My mum has still got that on video, actually. She shows everyone that comes round!”

Margate v Cray Wanderers
FA Cup Third Qualifying Round
Saturday 8th October 2005
Kick Off 2:00pm
at Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate