Thursday 01st September 2005

Francis: We're getting a lesson each week 

Tuesday 20th
December 2005
Ryman League
Division One
Stephen McCartney reports from
Courage Stadium
Cray Wanderers 1 Jamie Kempster 36
Kingstonian 3 Julian Sills 66
Richard Taylor 74
James Rose 90

Cray Wanderers slumped to their eighth league defeat of the season at the Courage Stadium tonight, despite taking a first half lead courtesy of midfielder Jamie Kempster's third goal of the season, writes Stephen McCartney.

Nationwide Conference club Hereford United sent scouts to Hayes Lane to watch 17-goal striker Jon Main in action.

And the 19-year-old striker should have given Cray the lead after 15 minutes but his poor shot was comfortably saved by Richard Martin after the hit-man received Ross Lover's pass.

Twenty-year-old midfielder Mazin Ahmad impressed throughout for the visitors and after running some 60-yards his cross found James Rose at the far post but his shot was comfortably saved by Steve Northwood.

And the former Thamesmead Town stopper got down quickly to prevent Tommy Moorhouse's 20-yard right-footed drive heading towards the bottom corner.

Ahmad was the centre of most Kingstonian's play and after going close with an 25-yard effort himself, he sent over a deep cross to the far post but Northwood plucked Rose's header out of the air.

But Cray scored their 70th competitive goal of the season after 36 minutes when Lover played the ball over to Main on the left hand side and his pin-point cross was met by Kempster, whose diving header from ten yards flew into the top right hand corner.

Kingstonian, however, fully deserved their sixth win of the season and made their intensions known early in the second half when much traveled 27-year-old striker Tony Reid rose to meet Steve Symes' cross from the left, planting his header just wide.

The Surrey side deservedly equalised after 66 minutes when Ahamd's free kick was met by Julian Sills' glancing header to score his fourth goal of the season.

The only worthwhile chance the Kent side created was moments after this goal when 9-goal striker Leigh Bremner saw his drive beaten out by Martin.

Kingstonian deservedly took the lead with 16 minutes left when substitute Richard Taylor rolled a shot to Northwood's left to the delight of the vocal K's fans, which helped attract Cray's highest league crowd of the season.

They should have increased their lead with seven minutes remaining when Rose charged down the right hand side and instead of squaring to Reid - who had raced down the middle of the pitch - the blonde striker chose to shoot and dragged his shot wide.

But Kingstonian wrapped up a comfortable victory in the final minute when Ahmad played the ball down the left channel for Reid, who cut inside towards the penalty area and crossed to the far post for Rose who made no mistake.

Joe Francis, Cray Wanderers' assistant manager, and former Kingstonian midfielder, was a dejected man following this defeat.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with, he admitted they were: "Second best all round second half.  

"We've just had a chat in there (dressing room) and we're getting a lesson each week about working hard and we didn't work hard enough second half.  Our contact on the ball from deep positions was poor and we looked vulnerable.

"But you take positives from every game and we were the better side in the first half and we've got to learn how to, not kill a game, but try to make it difficult for the opposition in the second half and protect a lead.

"We've got two forwards up front (Main and Bremner) who can run the channels really well and we're just not letting them do their thing really through poor deliveries into those channels."

The Wands will be training on Thursday night as they prepare for their trip to Kent rivals Tonbridge Angels on Boxing Day (3pm).

"We'll look forward to that but we'll get ourselves together for Tonbridge," added Francis.

But Francis hasn't ruled them out of contention for reaching the play-off's for the second season running.

"That sort of form (4 wins from their last 7 games) will keep us in touch," he said.  "Just have to get a little bit of belief back. 

"We've got one or two players that have been out for a while, creative players, and their struggling with a little bit of form so hopefully we can look after ourselves over the festive season, stay fit and no doubt we'll be ready."

And speaking about the play-off's, he added: "It won't be through the want of trying and the want of doing things on the training park.

"We'll work on a few things, namely smashing the ball forwards with quality and playing in their half."

Francis, however, was impressed with K's number seven, midfielder Mazin Ahmad - whose scored five goals for the Surrey side this season, and should be playing at a higher level.

"Yes, good player," he said.  "We identified him at the start and at half time and to be fair it wasn't him that undone us.  They got balls in the box and put us under pressure.

"Our centre halves needed to be a bit more dominant and they know that."

Cray Wanderers:  Steve Northwood, Terry Khan, Dean Morris, David Gray, Danny Bower (David Hall 76), James Taylor, Ross Lover (Jamie Wood 76), Jamie Kempster, Gary Abbott, Jon Main, Leigh Bremner.  Subs: Ian Rawlings, Drew Watkins, Adam Young

Kingstonian:  Richard Martin, Wayne Noad, Steve Symes, Tommy Moorhouse, Julian Sills, Scott Corbett (Richard Taylor 19), Mazin Ahmad, Bashiru Alimi, Tony Reid, James Rose, Paul Weatherall.  Subs: Ryan Adams, Michael Brady, Jon Coke, Paul Brady

Attendance:  163
Referee:  Mr Gavin Hoare
Assistants:  Mr M Sage & Mr S Finnigan