Thursday 01st September 2005

Cray confident of Vase success

Sharman joins his old Bromley team-mates at Hayes Lane's other club

Latest Cray Wanderers signing Keith Sharman lines up with five former Bromley team-mates as manager Ian Jenkins aims for a place in the semi-finals of the FA Vase on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Sharman teams up with Andy Silk, Ian Rawlings, David Gray, Phil Turner and coach Joe Francis as the defending Go Travel Kent League double winners embark on their biggest game of the season.

Last season's FA Vase runners-up AFC Sudbury visit Hayes Lane and Jenkins is expecting a crowd of over 1,000 for the showpiece clash.

Jenkins admitted on Wednesday lunchtime his side have a good chance as anybody to lift the silverwear at Birmingham City's St Andrews home in May.

Jenkins said: "We can win the game on Saturday and I also think we can also win the FA Vase.  Any team in the last eight are capable of winning it."

However, Jenkins opted out of last Saturday's 1-0 victory at Erith Town in the Go Travel Kent League Premier Division Cup to cast an eye on AFC Sudbury in their own back yard.

Jenkins revealed: "I went to watch them when they played at home to Clacton in the league.  I was impressed with them, but not over impressed as I thought they would be a better side."

AFC Sudbury thrashed Clacton 4-0 and are currently in second place, six points behind leaders Diss Town, with two games in hand.

Cray, however, needed extra time to dispose of Keynsham Town 2-0 in the previous round but since that trip to Bristol, they have dropped two vital league points before booking a place in a two-legged semi-final against Herne Bay in the Premier Division Cup.

Jenkins said: "We dominated the whole league game at Slade Green but they scored in the 92nd minute from a free header from a corner to make the score 2-2.  We had enough chances to win the game, however, before they scored their second goal."

Coach Joe Francis, a midfielder during his career that saw him play for Welling United, Bromley, Enfield and Hayes was in charge for their 1-0 win at Erith Town when Jenkins was in Suffolk.

Francis told Jenkins that Erith "started the first half by getting us out of our rhythm with heavy challenges".

Youngsters Ross Lover and Sam Wood have recently attended trials at Premiership neighbours Charlton Athletic with their  under nineteen squad.

Both talented midfielders aren't on contact but Jenkins admitted he won't stand in their way if they were to make the grade at The Valley.

He said: "I won't stand in their way and Charlton will look after us and we would sort some deal out if they were to leave the club."

Cray Wanderers will distinguish their lead in the Kent League Premier Division if VCD Athletic, level on points, gain at least a point at lowly Deal Town, the only Kent side to win the FA Vase, on Saturday.

Jenkins isn't worried as they still have to play Martin Ford's side twice.

He said: "We have got to play them twice, and hoping to beat them on both occasions, which will make it a lot easier for ourselves."

Cray Wanderers are based in Sidcup but as their ground doesn't have floodlights they groundshare Ryman League Division One South Bromley at their Hayes Lane home.

The Wands are gunning for success in the FA Vase, London Senior Cup (where they host Ryman League Division One South Tooting & Mitcham United at Hayes Lane next Wednesday), Kent Senior Trophy (away to VCD Athletic) and a two-legged Premier Division Cup semi-final with Herne Bay, but Jenkins has rotated his 22 man squad in all cup competitions this season.

Phil Turner, Jamie Kempster and Ricky Bennett tasted FA Vase success in 2000 when Deal Town, managed by current Dartford boss Tommy Sampson, beat Chippenham Town 1-0 at Wembley Stadium.

Kempster, an attacking midfielder, leads the Cray's scoring charts with 25 goals, followed by Bennett (19), Jamie Wood (12), Adam Heaslewood (11) and Richard Dimmock (6).

However, Turner (knee) is out of action for up to nine weeks and James Taylor (twisted ankle) will be doubtful for the quarter-final clash as Cray bid to reach the semi-finals for the first time in their long 144 year history.

Cray Wanderers vs AFC Sudbury
Saturday 21 February 2004
Kick Off 3.00pm
FA Vase Quarter-Final
@ Bromley FC, The Clive Christian Stadium, Hayes Lane, Bromley
Admission £6 (adults) £3 (concessions)

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