It's just a great game for the club, says Cray Valley boss James Collins

Thursday 16th March 2017

CRAY VALLEY (Paper Mills) manager James Collins says the pressure is off his side in tonight’s London Senior Cup (Sponsored by Coventry Scaffolding) Quarter-Final tie against AFC Wimbledon.

The Millers defeated their Vanarama National League South neighbours Welling United 3-1 at Park View Road to set-up tonight’s tie against the youngsters from League One outfit AFC Wimbledon, a side that have defeated Corinthian-Casuals (2-1) and Redbridge (4-1) en-route to the last eight.

“It’s fantastic for the club, isn’t it?” said Collins, where a win will set up a home tie against Dulwich Hamlet or Tooting & Mitcham United in the Semi-Finals.

“It’s just a bonus after beating Welling. Will they be stronger than Welling? I don’t know.  I would imagine on paper, it really depends how young they are.  Welling had a couple of first team players out but it’s all a little bit of a bonus game for us and hopefully we can get a few people through the gate.

“But really, the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Final against Ashford United (9 April) and the league games are not necessarily more important but it’s a sort of a free hit really against AFC Wimbledon. Hopefully we can win but there will certainly be no pressure on us.”

Collins is looking forward to comparing his players to those at a League One outfit.

He said: “It will be good to watch them to be fair to see what the difference is.

“You look at this league and the Ryman League and now a lot of these boys have been at these Academies at the beginning and they sort of fall out of the game and technically there’s not a massive difference but things seem to get done quicker and they are more physical and more streetwise and drilled and organised so it will be good for us.

“It’s just a great game for the club really and see if we can get a little bit of a gate. 

“I’ll try to win because I want to win every game and see where it gets us.”

Cray Valley have climbed up to fourth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table, having collected 57 points from their 30 league outings.

The Millers are eight points adrift of third-placed Sevenoaks and 13 behind Crowborough Athletic and Ashford United.

“I know these players read these things, I’m careful. I really believed and hoped we’d give the league more of a go this year,” said Collins, who guided Lordswood to a top-four finish in his one season at that club last season.

“If we can finish fourth, those three sides are better than us and financially they’re better than us as well, but I just don’t ever like saying that because it’s a bit of a cop out.

“We should have done a little bit better.  The highest the club’s finished is seventh, if we can get out of that midtable thing this year and get us fourth or fifth, I’d like to get fourth and be considered.  I read what you write and no one mentioned us as favourites all this season and that’s fine by me. 

“If we can get ourselves in that top four and people start mentioning us then that’s a step forward.

“I would have liked more but I can’t knock the players’ too much because it’s our first season together.  I expect to win things but we’ll see where we finish and there’s some good teams in the league this year.”

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Cray Valley (Paper Mills)  v  AFC Wimbledon
London Senior Cup (Sponsored by Coventry Scaffolding) Quarter-Final
Thursday 16 March 2017
Kick Off 7:45pm
at DGS Marine Stadium, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HT