Cray Wanderers 3 Burgess Hill Town 0 Francis: One swallow doesn't make a summer (EXCLUSIVE)
CRAY WANDERERS 3
Leigh Bremner 45
Jon Main 77
Drew Watkins 89
BURGESS HILL TOWN 0
Ryman League Division One
Stephen McCartney reports from The Courage Stadium, Hayes Lane
Making four changes to the side that lost 5-2 at home to Lymington & New Milton on Saturday, Cray Wanderers ended a run of four games without a win with a comfortable victory against plucky Burgess Hill Town at Hayes Lane tonight.
Their tenth league win of the season puts the Kent club in 12th place in the Ryman League Division One table, and Joe Francis, the club’s assistant manager, described their campaign to date as “a strange season so far,” but insisted their “best is still to come.”
The Sussex coast visitors – without a goal in their last three games – went close when Ashley Davis slipped the ball through to Ryan Bradley, but the striker making his debut for the club whilst on loan from Nationwide Conference South outfit Lewes, drove his shot just wide of the far post.
Cray midfielder, Jamie Wood, was the next player to test Gannon, when his fierce drive from 30-yards was tipped over by the former Crystal Palace youngster.
The Hillians went close with two 20-yard shots from Davis and Bradley, but Leigh Bremner scored his tenth goal of the season on the stroke of half-time, firing into the bottom left hand corner.
The visitors, however, created three good chances in the second half, when, after 63 minutes, Lloyd Cotton threaded a pass for substitute Herve King to latch onto, but he was denied by goalkeeper Steve Northwood, who rushed out of his penalty area to block the shot.
A minute later the unmarked Bradley headed wide and Cotton’s long range right-footed effort was comfortably saved by Northwood.
Cray, however, doubled their lead with 13 minutes left when Main latched onto Bremner’s through ball, raced into the penalty area, cut inside his marker and kept his composure to slot home from eight yards past the diving near-post goalkeeper.
The deserved victory was sealed late on when substitute Michael Power – whose missed the last eight games with a ruptured appendix - waited for support and when it came he squared the ball for Drew Watkins. His 30-yard screamer crashed into the roof of the net, despite the flying Gannon getting a slight touch to the shot, as the talented midfielder scored his third of the season.
In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Francis insists: “One swallow doesn’t make a summer – first rung of the ladder that’s what we said to the chaps.”
After crashing to their tenth defeat of the season on Saturday, he added: “You always get a chance to bounce back in football but if you blink you’re back here. We just needed to restore a little bit of confidence.
”We had four new starters in the side today. We’ve been disrupted by injuries and illness and (this was) a really impressive performance.
”I didn’t think we were ever in trouble and we could have been three or four up at half time. But a pleasing performance and we’re looking forward to Saturday because we tend to play quite well against Met. Police.”
The Police, who are two places and two points below Cray in the table, won 2-1 at Ashford Town on Saturday, and Cray will be looking to complete the double over the boys in blue, having defeated them 2-1 in their first home game of the season.
”When we played them earlier in the season I said to their manager that they were better than last season,” revealed Francis.
”Every team we’ve played this year have been better than last season. I think it’s more a competitive league. The teams are better set-up. But we’ll prepare on Thursday to go with the same side – take that belief forward.”
Two of tonight’s four changes, Adam Young and Junior Baker, received special praise from Francis.
”I’m pleased for Adam Young because he’s been very patient and a really good team player,” he said. “I thought our man-of-the-match was Junior Baker, our left-back, whose come through from the reserve team.”
Francis admitted it was “great” to have 13-goal striker Michael Power back in the squad following his injury lay-off.
”Great to have him out there,” he said of the 78th minute substitute. “It’s great to have him back. We’ve really missed him as he gives us so much and something different. He’s maturing into a real quality player.”
And although Main has netted 21-goals already this season, Francis insists he must “work harder.” “It’s no good just scoring goals. I think he’s absolutely different class in terms of one-on-one situations but Jon is a developing player.
”He’s never worked so hard playing football but he’s still raw but one-on-one I take him to score. He scored a great goal but his performance wasn’t up to scratch and he’ll admit that,” said Francis.
Cray Wanderers: Steve Northwood, Terry Khan, Ian Rawlings (Capt), David, Junior Baker, Adam Young, Drew Watkins, Jamie Wood, Gary Abbott (David Hall 68), Jon Main (Matt Woolf 84), Leigh Bremner (Michael Power 78). Subs: Richard Dimmock, Joe Francis
Burgess Hill Town: Pat Gannon, Mark Pulling (Capt), Phil Elkins, Ryan McMillan, Kieron Curry, Leo Day, Lloyd Cotton, Neil Watts (Richard Greenfield 53), Ryan Bradley, Ashley Davis, Bradley Walsh (Herve King 53). Subs: Luke Gedling, Phil Greatwick, Ian Sutton.
Referee: Mr David Buck
Assistants: Mr Aji Ajibola & Mr Ian Fissenden