Friday 04th November 2005

Give us respect or you'll get beat, warns Rams boss Ward

Excited Ramsgate manager Jim Ward issued a warning to opponents Nuneaton Borough for tomorrow's big match: "If you don't treat us with the right amount of respect, you'll get beat," writes Stephen McCartney.

The last time a team from Ramsgate reached the first round proper of the FA Cup was in November 1955 but their dreams were dashed at Watford, who defeated the Thanet side 5-3.

But Ward is desperate to make up for lost time and with his side unbeaten in six games, takes his side to Nationwide Conference North outfit Nuneaton Borough with an air of confidence.

The Rams go into the game sitting comfortably in sixth place in their debut season playing Ryman League football, with 23 points from eleven games, losing only twice.

But they do have games in hand on all five sides above them in the table - including Kent rivals Dover Athletic and Tonbridge Angels.

But their 2-2 draw at Banstead Athletic on Tuesday night came at a cost for Ward, losing right-back Edd Vahid after 39 minutes with an ankle injury.

Although the 23-year-old would love to shoulder on - well, who would want to miss this game - Ward, however, who rates Vahid's chances as "doubtful" to start at Manor Park, does have Simon Pettit, Michael Cassar, James Gregory and Dean Hill to slot into the side if Vahid doesn't come through.

Remember, this time last year, Ramsgate had just beaten Greenwich Borough 2-0 to collect three points, which helped secure top spot in the Kent League.

Little did those brave souls that made the trip to Harrow Meadow in Eltham, South-East London know a year later they would only be two wins away from a potential FA Cup clash with giants Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea!

Ramsgate's FA Cup campaign, however, started in the preliminary round on 27th August, and goals from Shaun Welford, Shane Suter (2) and David Cory helped them to a comfortable 4-1 win at Merstham.

Croydon Athletic were then beaten 3-1 away from home in the first qualifying round (Ball, Cory and Welford),  Steffan Ball's goal helped the Kent side come through unscathed against Southall at their Southwood Stadium home.

Ball scored the only goal of the game again when Ramsgate pulled off a superb 1-0 win at Ryman Premier League side Walton & Hersham, and Warren Schulz, Suter and Michael Yianni scored the goals that helped them secure a 3-0 win over Cirencester Town at Southwood Stadium in front of 700 fans two weeks ago.

With BBC Television cameras at Southwood Stadium last night watching their "light training session", interviewing the heroes that have made it happen for the Thanet side, Ward calls upon the fans - with at least 400 expected to make the trip to Warwickshire - to cheer the team on into the second round for the very first time.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk on the eve of the big game, Ward said: "The last big game we played in with a lot of fans there we gave them something to shout and sing about."

Ward was recalling their 3-0 win over Cirencester Town in the fourth and final qualifying round, which sets up their clash at Nuneaton Borough, who incidentally have never beaten a Kent side in this competition.

"You have to go into the game confidently," the proud Scot added.  "There's no good being too cautious as you could still go and get spanked.  But we'll try and win the game up there."

Ramsgate in the second round proper for the very first time? Ward replied: "First time for everything!"  And he added: "Every game is winnable.  If they don't treat us with the right amount of respect, they'll get beat."

By the time you read this article on Friday night, Ramsgate's heroes will be eating dinner at their Coventry hotel, before playing the game of their lives at 3pm on Saturday.  Then they'll be making the long journey south on Saturday evening, hopefully, anticipating which side will be in their way of a dream tie at Old Trafford, Highbury or Stamford Bridge.

Remember, remember the fifth of November!

Ramsgate's goalscorers season 2005-06
Steffan Ball (aged 25)  10 goals
Shaun Welford (26)  7
Shane Suter (22) 6
Ollie Schulz (20) 3
David Cory (24) 3
Warren Schulz (27) 3
Stuart Vahid (24) 2
Michael Yianni (22) 2
James Gregory (23) 1

Nuneaton Borough v Ramsgate
FA Cup First Round
Saturday 5th November 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Manor Park, Beaumont Road, Nuneaton, Warwickshire