Thursday 01st September 2005

Ward: It's frightening to think how far I can take these boys

Tuesday 15th
November 2005
FA Trophy
Second Qualifying Round Replay
Stephen McCartney reports from Kingsmeadow
AFC Wimbledon 2 Richard Butler 43
Shane Smeltz 77 (pen)
Ramsgate 1 Warren Schulz 44

Proud Ramsgate manager Jim Ward saw his brave hearts lose this FA Trophy at Kingsmeadow in front of 1,140 tonight, as ten-man AFC Wimbledon booked a trip to Dartford in the third and final qualifying round on 26th November, writes Stephen McCartney.

And with Darts' manager Tony Burman and his chairman Dave Skinner watching from the stands, they will be fully aware what a good side the South West Londoners are - especially on a good playing surface.

It was a sea of blue that attacked the Rams' goal during the first half with four chances being created before they were awarded a 16th minute penalty.

Instead of launching a long throw into the penalty box, like he did throughout Saturday's 1-1 scrap at Southwood Stadium, Wayne Finnie surprised the Kent side when he threw the ball short to Dwayne Plummer, who passed the ball back to the former Banstead Athletic defender.

Finnie cut into the penalty area from the right and his run was ended by a challenge from Warren Schulz and referee Mr Ian Crouch had no option but to point to the spot.

But Plummer's right-footed spot kick ballooned over the bar.

Ramsgate goalkeeper Jurgen Wild made a fine save four minutes earlier, tipping over Chris Gell's 20-yard screamer.

Former Queen's Park Rangers youngster Sonny Farr played a superb ball down the left channel for Richard Butler to cut inside Ollie Schulz and Liam Morris but he lacked the finish.

Ramsgate almost stole an undeserved lead on 26 minutes when Steffan Ball's free kick from the left was sliced over his own crossbar by Dons skipper Steve Butler.

Another chance came the home side's way on the half-hour mark when Wes Daly's volley screamed over following Richard Butler's cross from the left.

But the Ryman Premier League side took a deserved lead after 43 minutes before the Rams grabbed an equaliser within a minute.

Plummer picked up the ball close to the half-way line and was allowed to run into the Rams' penalty area without being challenged.  He was given license to reach the by-line and his centre was comfortably tapped home at the near post by Richard Butler inside the six-yard box.

But within a minute Warren Schulz latched onto Edd Vahid's through ball and fired past a bemused Andy Little right in front of a stunned home faithful behind the goal.

And on the stroke of half-time, the hardworking Steffan Ball saw his shot sail agonisingly wide of the left post.

New Zealand star Shane Smeltz was a constant threat during the second half, missing three good chances early on but he really should have wrapped up a deserved victory in the 73rd minute but he blazed over from close range following a cross from the left from substitute Michael Harvey.

AFC Wimbledon were reduced to ten men with 15 minutes left when Simon Sobihy - who was booked after only three minutes - was shown his second yellow and was banished to the dressing rooms.

But that didn't matter as two minutes later they sealed their passage into the next round when Mark Munday - at the far post - was penalised for jumping up and handling Barry Moore's free kick from the left. 

The Thanet side's hearts were broken when Smeltz fired the resulting penalty into the bottom right hand corner.

With his side now out of both FA competitions, Ramsgate manager Jim Ward admitted his side are good enough to win promotion from the Ryman League Division One and will have no problems lifting morale for Saturday's Kent derby against Cray Wanderers at Southwood Stadium.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with, Ward said:  "We are a bunch of lads aren't we?  They just go out and play every game that's in front of them.

"It's frightening to think how far I can take these boys because they're some good lads here and they've all come through the youth section."

"There's only three or four "foreigners" (players outside Thanet) in the side," he said.  "No, that's a bit harsh, there might be only two or three." 

It has been a roller coaster ride for the Kent League champions in these past seven games, which has included playing against Cirencester Town, Nuneaton Borough and these two duals against Dave Anderson's men.  

But now it's back to Ryman League action, with home games against Cray Wanderers (Saturday) and Kingstonian (Tuesday, 22nd November) to win to get their promotion charge back on track.

"I'm really proud of them tonight," admitted Ward.  "We've got our money out of these FA competitions and it's back to the bread and butter on Saturday.

"We've got all these games behind everybody.  We've got Cray Wanderers and Kingstonian at home but we'll be up and ready."

"I've told the lads they've done the club really proud, there's no more these lads can do."

After the shameful disturbances that marred Saturday's game at Southwood Stadium, Ward was pleased with the friendly banter that was dished out by the home faithful tonight.

"And the good thing about it was I went up to their supporters afterwards and shook their hands and they clapped us back.  It was a nice, friendly night of football," he said.

"Again we brought 40-50 supporters up here tonight and it was like the proper supporters tonight."

And with his side in the last eight of the Kent Senior Cup, Ward made his feelings known where his priorities lie.

The former Maidstone United manager admitted: "We've got a ladder to climb now.  We're seventh in the league (with games in hand) and we can see what's in front of us.

"We'll be disappointed if we don't get promoted because we've given it a right good go.  We've proved this to ourselves more than anybody else."

AFC Wimbledon:  Andy Little, Wayne Finnie, Simon Sobihy, Anthony Howard, Steve Butler (Capt), Wes Daly, Dwayne Plummer (Barry Moore 72), Chris Gell, Richard Butler, Shane Smeltz, Sonny Farr (Michael Harvey 45).  Subs: Dave Sargent, Rob Ursell, Josh Lennie (GK)

Sent off: Simon Sobihy 75

Ramsgate:  Jurgen Wild, Edd Vahid, Dean Hill (Shane Suter 84), Liam Morris, Ollie Schulz, Ben Lasslett, Mark Munday (Capt, Michael Yianni 84), Warren Schulz, Shaun Welford, Steffan Ball, David Cory (Stuart Vahid 73).  Subs: Simon Pettit, Michael Cassar

Attendance:   1140
Referee:  Mr Ian Crouch (New Eltham)
Assistants:  Mr Aji Ajibola (Woolwich) & Mr Matt Foden (Islington)