Wednesday 09th November 2005

Ward wants his biggest scalp 

Ramsgate manager Jim Ward is aiming to collect his fourth Premier League scalp of the season - but the biggest one of all, writes Stephen McCartney.

Ryman Premier League side AFC Wimbledon are the visitors to Southwood Stadium in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy - but the Scot holds no fears.

Ramsgate reached the first round proper of the FA Cup before losing 2-0 at Nuneaton Borough in front of over 2,000 fans last Saturday, and along the way knocked out two higher league sides in Walton & Hersham and Cirencester Town.

And in the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy, goals from Shaun Welford, Ollie Schulz and Steffan Ball (2) knocked out Southern Premier League side Northwood (4-2) away from home.

And what an exciting week it's been for the Ryman League Division One side.

Ward admitted he was a proud man after his brave hearts were knocked out of the FA Cup at Manor Park last Saturday, but his side secured a place in the last eight of the Kent Senior Cup after beating Kent League side Thamesmead Town (2-1) on Tuesday night.

"To be honest we've had three big cup games all in the space of seven days, the FA Cup, Kent Senior Cup and of course the FA Trophy," Ward said in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk

"They're all massive games.  Two of the three are massive earners for the club and I go back on the same old road again, I want to be involved in as many things as I can after Christmas.

"We are now involved in the Kent Senior Cup after Christmas and the Trophy is another cup competition we can be in after Christmas - if we progress."

Reflecting on their performance at Nuneaton, where two first half goals undid his side, Ward added: "The main thing about Saturday's game was not one of my lads let themselves down.

"We got beat by a better team so we put our hands up.

"We got beat 2-0 but missed three sitters.  On other days we could have nicked it but the right team won on the day."

Ward made several chances for their county cup tie against last season's Kent Senior Trophy winners Thamesmead Town.

"I changed seven (players) from last Saturday's starting line up," revealed Ward.

"I introduced some of the under eighteen's and reserve team players to have a look at them.

"It was an ideal opportunity and I learnt a lot about some of the individuals.

"There are some of them that would be part of my squad.  I wouldn't be frightened to call upon if need be."

The Thanet outfit are enjoying the ride at the moment, and, like Cray Wanderers last season, have come out of Kent League football and haven't been overwhelmed at the higher level.

"Our players have been playing in front of thousands of people in the last six weeks," said Ward.

"There was at least three thousand on Saturday and there will hopefully be 1,500 people at Southwood Stadium on Saturday.

"The atmosphere (against AFC Wimbledon) will no way be any more tense than it was at Nuneaton but yes, it is another massive game for Ramsgate Football Club."

This week has been a far cry from the days where they played in front of two figure "crowds" on their travels in the Kent League.

"It's great, it's what you're in the game for," said an excited Ward.  "There is all this excitement around the place.  It's great for the committee for all the hours they put in for free and they are getting great joy out of this.

"What you must do is enjoy it when it's there because you don't get it every year," warned the Broadstairs based boss.  "That's the main thing, who knows, it could go all wrong next year."

The Rams boss, who has a full squad to choose from, added: "If we win it will be a great scalp.  We've beaten three Premier sides this year but (AFC) Wimbledon, I would say are a touch better than those three sides we've beaten."

Ramsgate v AFC Wimbledon
FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round
Saturday 12th November 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Southwood Stadium, Prices Avenue, Ramsgate