The FA Cup used to be such a big thing when I was a kid and I think it’s lost some of that magic but for anybody who paid money to watch last night's game, got their monies worth, says Cray Wanderers' Joe Vines

Thursday 06th September 2018

CRAY WANDERERS assistant manager Joe Vines says he wants to enjoy a lengthy FA Cup after beating Rusthall 4-3 on penalties last night.

The Wands booked a First Qualifying Round trip to Southern League Premier Division side Metropolitan Police on Saturday after finding Rusthall a tough cookie to beat.

Cray Wanderers took a 12th minute lead when striker Michael Power headed in Karl Dent’s corner and many expected the floodgates would open.

Tony Russell’s men created 27 chances during Rusthall’s first ever home FA Cup tie played at Jockey Farm Stadium as the home side’s players – with one win in their opening five Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division games – fought tooth and nail against the unbeaten Wanderers, second-place in the Bostik South East Division with a 100% record in four league games, without conceding a goal.

Rusthall grabbed an equaliser on the hour-mark, without creating a single chance on target until the second minute of extra-time.

Goalkeeper Nick Blue kicked the ball out to Junior Dadson, who slotted in at right-back due to Ben Mundele being taken off as a precaution due to a hamstring injury, and from 45-yards from the touch-line the ball flashed across his stranded keeper and nestled inside the bottom far corner.

Power notched his fifth goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 103rd minute but Rusthall equalised on the stroke of half-time in extra time when super-sub Callum Gallie touched Regan Corke’s drive from the edge of the penalty area into the bottom left-hand corner to spark wild celebrations.

So on to penalties.  Rusthall practiced them in training on Tuesday night and Cray Wanderers didn’t but claimed the victory as Power, Barney Williams, Bradley Pritchard and Mitchell Nelson all found the back of the net.

Metropolitan Police switched from the Isthmian League to the Southern League and lost their long-serving Hornchurch, Essex based manager Jim Cooper during the summer as he couldn’t commit to the extra travelling.

They sit in 12th place, having won two, drawn two and lost two of their six league outings.

Cray Wanderers banked £2,890 in prize money last night and there’s an increased £6,000 up for grabs this weekend.

“Met Police meet the Crays, that’s a good one! I never really thought about that,” said Vines.

“I’ve not seen any games this year, I watched Met Police last year.  I know Jim Cooper’s now moved on because of the travelling involved.  I know the assistant or the coach over at Met Police John Nurse, I used to play with him many, many moons ago.

“They’re a league above, they’ll fancy their chances.  I’ve been told they were watching the game last night so maybe we’ll have a few tricks up our sleeve for them and try to make it a good game on Saturday.

“I think the increased prize money is brilliant. They’ve really given people at the grass roots level an opportunity to bring some money in.

“We’re very fortunate that we’re a stable club, we’ve got big plans for the future.  We’ve got several brilliant owners, there’s four of them who put their hands in their pockets to keep the club at the level it needs to be.

“It’s great, it’s brilliant to get that prize money. I don’t know what will happen with it as such but we’re getting the backing from the right people at the moment to allow us to do what we want to do with the team and the club.”

Cray Wanderers are four wins away from reaching the First Round for the very first time in their 158-year history, although the club first entered The FA Cup in 1960.

“I’d love to have a FA Cup run, not necessarily about Wembley but dreaming about bigger things and also it puts a few of the young boys in the shop window a bit in terms of the opportunity to impress teams at a higher level,” said Vines.

“The FA Cup used to be such a big thing when I was a kid and I think it’s lost some of that magic but for anybody who paid money to watch last night's game, got their monies worth.”

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Metropolitan Police  v  Cray Wanderers
The Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round
Saturday 8 September 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Imber Court
, Ember Lane, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 0BT