Ramsgate 1-1 Cray Valley (Paper Mills) - We expect high standards and when we don't hit them we are critical, says Cray Valley assistant manager Tommy Osborne

Saturday 27th November 2021
Ramsgate 1 – 1 Cray Valley (Paper Mills)
Location WW Martin Community Stadium, Prices Avenue, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 0AN
Kickoff 27/11/2021 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Saturday 27 November 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from WW Martin Community Stadium

CRAY VALLEY (Paper Mills) assistant manager Tommy Osborne says his side didn’t hit their high standards against fellow promotion rivals Ramsgate.

A crowd of 703 fans took advantage of free admission to watch third-placed Ramsgate take on the Isthmian League South East Division leaders Cray Valley but the atrocious conditions of wind, rain and bitterly cold temperatures ensured neither side could find the winner.

Both sides tried to keep the ball down on the artificial pitch despite the horrendous conditions battering the UK this weekend.

Ramsgate, who went into this game with five wins on the spin, grabbed the lead in the 31st minute, courtesy of a headed own-goal from Cray Valley centre-half Nathaniel Blanks, while Kevin Watson’s side claimed a point courtesy of a clinical strike from central midfielder Matthew Attenborough-Warren 27 minutes later.

Ramsgate manager Matt Longhurst said: “I felt we lacked a little bit of belief in the second half.  I thought if we believed in ourselves a little bit more, I think we can win the game.

“Having said that, we were playing against a good team, top of the league and I thought first half we were fantastic. I thought we were absolutely fantastic in terms of the weather and what you’ve got to deal with, wind, rain blowing in your face and god knows what else? 

“Credit to both sets of players because they were very, very difficult conditions to play a football match in.”

Osborne, who saw his team extend their unbeaten league record to 10 games, said: “Tough for us, very tough first half.  I thought we probably had the conditions in terms of the wind in the first half and second half we didn’t have the conditions and it showed. I thought we struggled a little bit to get out of our half at times.

“I think they played the conditions better than us and in the second half if I’m really, really honest.  In the last 10-15 minutes we didn’t really deserve anything more than a draw.

“I’ve watched a little bit of Ramsgate this year and they like to pass it and we like to pass it and when you get conditions as bad as that, it is very difficult.  The game for the spectators isn’t probably that enjoyable to watch and for the players, it’s probably not that enjoyable to play in.

“We had two form teams, third-v-first and I think in those weather conditions weren’t like that today you would’ve seen a real good game between two teams full of confidence so it did really spoil it. I dare say there would’ve been a much better crowd here today as well if the weather weren’t like that.”

Cray Valley started the game on the front foot with the impressive Ade Adeyemo – who plays behind the front two of Hassan Ibrahiym and Marcel Barrington – cutting in from the right and driving into the centre before dragging his left-footed shot across the keeper and rolling his shot past the far post from 25-yards after only 57 seconds.

That set the tone and a back pass from Ramsgate’s holding midfielder Lee Prescott was picked up by a hesitant goalkeeper Jacob Russell and referee Harry Phillips had no option but to award the Millers an indirect free-kick.

Connor Dymond teed up Attenborough-Warren, who drove his shot into the five-man wall and Barrington’s shot on the turn from six-yards was blocked by Russell at his near post.

Dymond’s pass along the deck released Barrington down the right and after the Cray Valley striker beat the offside trap he cut into the box before curling his left-footed shot around the top of the far post from 15-yards.

Ramsgate’s opening chance came in the 15th minute when left-winger Callum Peck played the ball inside to holding midfielder Denzelle Olopade, who fed the impressive right-winger Joshua Ajayi, who turned his man outside the D before sweeping his right-footed shot just past the left-post.

Longhurst said: “We spoke about it. We couldn’t train on Thursday unfortunately because of an accident on the M2 but we did some stuff on Tuesday. We’ve both scored lots of goals, we’ve drawn one-all today but both of us have scored 35 goals before the game today and got the two leading scorers so I think both teams are always going to carry that threat.”

Russell thwarted the Millers again when Attenborough-Warren and Adeyemo linked up down the left before Barrington cut into the box before drilling his right-footed shot towards goal from 16-yards on the angle, which was beaten away by the busy Ramsgate keeper.

Longhurst said: “Those conditions for goalkeepers, the two goalkeepers, I know I’m speaking about them as well, because I do generally think in a game like that today, which is top-v-third with the magnitude of the game and also in those conditions, I do have to give credit to them.  Jacob has been excellent. He’s only 20-years-old and he’s been excellent all season.

“Look, we know they’re decent and we know what their threats are. They play a system which is quite difficult to play against, they find extra bodies in midfield. 

“I thought they started a little bit brighter than us, they had the ascendancy with the wind and the rain behind them. We had it blowing into our faces so it was probably to be expected after that.  I can’t fault the players, certainly in the first half.”

Osborne added: “I mean in the first half we did look threatening. I think we had three or four efforts.  We got Ade and Hassan in areas we like to get them and I thought we were on the front foot in the first half. I don’t think they troubled us too much in the first half.”

Cray Valley’s attacking line was a threat during the first half, playing the game on the front foot and causing Ramsgate’s back four problems.

Rory Hill and Ibrahiym linked up a couple of times on the right before Adeyemo played the ball to Ibrahiym, who unleashed a right-footed drive from 25-yards from a central position which was comfortably gathered by Russell, dropping down to his knees to smother the ball into his midriff.

Osborne said: “The way we play in those sort of areas where they can get shooting opportunities in and around the box but that’s what we encourage Ade and Hassan to do.  Two or three times that was the case. We’ve just got to capitalise on it.”

Ramsgate, however, grabbed the lead, against-the-run-of-play at the time, with 30:02 on the clock.

Left-back Jake McIntyre played the ball down the line to striker Ashley Miller, who showed good skill and clever feet to beat his man before whipping in a cross from the corner of the penalty area.

There were only two players inside the Cray Valley penalty area. Goalkeeper Chris Lewington and Blanks, who powered his header into the roof of the net at the near post to score an own-goal.

Longhurst said: “We spoke massively about it. I’ve looked at all of the footage of all of their games and we’ve also had them watched and they do concede goals from crosses because they’re playing three at the back.

“That goal was a little bit lucky but we just said to the boys before the game and at training this week don’t deny the opportunity to cross the ball in against them and ask questions and that’s where the goal came from, so if you don’t cross it, that doesn’t happen.”

Osborne added: “From our perspective we were disappointed with that because without watching that back, there wasn’t any pressure on Blanksy and Chris, with the position of catching the cross.

“We’ve got two experienced lads there, who this season have been solid for us defensively.  We have been very, very good and those two have been a massive part of that but between the pair of them realistically that’s a goal we don’t like to be conceding like that.”

Cray Valley play with three men at the back and in the centre is Alex Breffo.  He gave the ball away to Ajayi, who cut towards the penalty area before flashing his right-footed angled drive past the diving keeper and past the near-post.

Ramsgate centre-back Jamie Coyle put his body on the line to ensure Adeyemo’s drive was comfortably pushed away by Russell, stepping to his left, in the last action of a first-half that Cray Valley dominated.

Longhurst said: “We done well in the first half. We weathered the storm in terms of the weather and also what Cray Valley throw at you and I felt that was harder of the two halves to deal with. Having said that, we came out for the second half and it didn’t rain for the first 30 minutes so it was a little bit easier for them!”

Osborne said: “Kevin Watson, the gaffer, had a little bit of a pop at them because we’ve been better in recent weeks, obviously the conditions play a part and it’s a lot more difficult to play in those conditions but in our last five or six performances we’ve been a lot better than what we’ve played today.”

Longhurst replaced the ineffective Peck at the interval and on came a left-wing replacement in Nico Cotton and Ramsgate started the second half on the front foot.

However, Attenborough-Warren almost scored when his right-footed wind-assisted free-kick from the left some 35-yards from goal, got caught up in a gust of wind, looped up into the air and dropped to curl just past the foot of the near post.

However, Cray Valley deservedly equalised with 11 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock.

Watson brought on Gavin Tomlin at the break for Adeyemo, although Tomlin was forced off later on in the game with a groin strain, while Hill came off due to a hamstring.

Tomlin was wide on the left and he played a sublime through ball along the deck to split open the two Ramsgate centre-halves (Coyle and Callum Emptage) to put Barrington through on goal.

The two centre-halves managed to get back and shut the door but the ball ran loose for Attenborough-Warren to clinically sweep a first-time right-footed shot across the keeper and into the bottom far corner of the net from 15-yards.

Osborne said: “It’s a fantastic pass from Gav Tomlin. The weight on the pass in those conditions, you’ve got to get the weight of the pass just right, like that.

“Marcel used his pace and power to nearly get in and to be fair to Matty Warren he's followed up like we ask our midfielders to do.  It would’ve been easy for Matt to sort of stand his ground and not to join in with the play, but he’s been aggressive and on the front foot and he’s got his rewards.  It’s a good finish as well because he didn’t have a lot of room to aim for and he finished it really well.”

Longhurst added: “There’s an element of luck in every goal that’s scored across anywhere and I think that’s a slight little bit of luck if I’m honest.

“In midfield we haven’t dealt with the ball.  We’ve tried to be clever and tried to nick the ball instead of just sending them back towards their own goal.

“Other than that, we haven’t really had too much to deal with really in the defending side of things in the second half. We had a lot of the ball and the conditions play a part in terms of the quality.  The wind was blowing about all over the place.”

Ramsgate won the corner count by 8-1 and four of them came in quick succession during a four minute spell as the clock reached the hour-mark.

The Millers’ defence defended resolutely as they defended Ashley Miller’s deliveries, the closest that Ramsgate came was from their fifth corner, which saw Coyle’s driven shot blocked at the near post and the ball coming out to Cotton, who dragged his left-footed angled drive through a crowd of players and past the far post.

Longhurst said: “We had that period when we had four corners and it kept dropping down and we hit them and they blocked them but to be fair to them, they’re throwing their bodies on the line and putting themselves in the way of us scoring, which you have to give them credit as well.”

Osborne added: “Although we’re disappointed with our performance in general, especially second half, what we did say to them after the game was that we defended our box quite well because they had a lot of set-pieces, corners and crosses.  But I thought Connor Dymond, not just him, but he defended his box really well today, as did the team.”

Coyle swept a pass from the halfway line to feed Cotton down the left and his left-footed angled drive from 25-yards was comfortably gathered into Lewington’s midriff after dropping down to his knees with 20 minutes remaining.

Cray Valley then went in search for a winner as Dymond’s free-kick came back to him and his speculative right-footed drive from 35-yards was saved by Russell at the second attempt.

Central midfielder Dymond then whipped in a free-kick into the Ramsgate box, which was poorly cleared to David Omperon, but the left-wing-back lacked composure and lashed his left-footed free-kick over the crossbar from the left-hand side of the penalty area from 15-yards.

Osborne said: “We wasn’t threatening enough in the second half. I know we’ve scored the goal with Matty Warren but we are quite honest with ourselves and we are critical of players sometimes, probably over-critical but we didn’t look a threat in the second half to go on and win the game and that’s something in recent weeks that hasn’t been the case because in recent weeks going forward we’ve been a lot, lot better than we were today.

“It feel to a defender, no disrespect to Dave.  He hasn’t got the composure that someone like Gav Tomlin, or Hassan Ibrahiym, Ade Adeyemo or Marcel Barrington. They’ll probably show more composure in those areas so David probably should’ve done a little bit better.”

Ramsgate had the final say, however, when they were awarded a free-kick 28-yards from goal after Dymond ended Ajayi’s progress in the centre of the pitch by committing a bookable foul.

However, Ajayi’s right-footed free-kick was smashed into the wall and Olopade lashed his right-footed drive over the crossbar from 30-yards.

“If we believed that we could win the game a little bit more in the second half, I think we could go on and win it but at the same time they carry a threat when they do get on the ball.  The conditions kind of nullified both teams a little bit if I’m honest,” said Longhurst.

“Listen, it’s a winters sport and we’re in Ramsgate in the end of November so there’s every chance it’s going to be like it is now but that was the only disappointment from today really. I think the weather spoilt what would’ve been a really good game to watch and ultimately we’re all in it to watch good football. That’s what we all want to watch, we’re all football fans ultimately.  The weather was a little bit frustrating for both teams.”

Reflecting on the attendance, the Ramsgate boss said: “That’s unbelievable what we’ve done as a club from top to bottom and to have 703 people in that weather, regardless of free tickets or not, baring in mind Cray Valley don’t have a large away support, I think that’s absolutely just fantastic, really good.”

Ashford United – 3-1 home winners over VCD Athletic – return to the summit of the Isthmian League South East Division with 35 points from 15 games.

Cray Valley slip down to second-place with 34 points from 15 games, followed by Haywards Heath Town (32 points from 15 games), Ramsgate (30 points from 15) and Herne Bay (27 points from 13 games).

Expect changes to team personnel on Tuesday night as Longhurst takes his side to Haywards Heath Town in the Velocity Trophy Second Round, while Watson’s side return to Thanet, to play Margate in the Kent Senior Cup First Round.

Longhurst said: “We’re going to completely change the team so it will still be the squad, we really haven’t changed the team for the last five or six games now, so there’s a lot of boys that need some minutes and they’ll all play.

“You didn’t have to go in that competition this year but we purposely put ourselves in it to make sure everyone gets football because we’ve got games over the Christmas period and we want everybody up to speed.

“Look, I think (the league table) is starting to take shape you would suggest but there’s such a long way to go. We’re not even at the halfway stage yet but after 15 games we’re probably ahead of schedule of where we would’ve liked to have been.

“We’ve got a new group of players, a young group of players as well and obviously delighted with the start to the season.”

Osborne added: “Yet again, I’m going to be a little bit critical. We expect high standards with our lads and when we don’t hit them, we are critical.

“I wouldn’t say we were hanging in there but we were doing a lot of defending, so we can’t come away today saying ‘we should’ve won the game, we should’ve done this’.  We’re very, very honest with our performances. We didn’t say to the players that they haven’t done well.  I don’t feel we deserved to get all three points today, so we’re fairly happy coming away with a point.

“We haven’t got 11 first-team players fit, that’s the truth so it’s going to be a difficult one for us because we’ve got Herne Bay at home next Saturday, which in this league is probably going to be two of the teams that are looking to get in and around the play-offs and we have to bare that game in mind.

“For us this week I would say our biggest thing that we have to try to get these players back for and available for next Saturday.  Denzel Gayle has got a niggly injury. He’s come on today. If we had a fully fit squad, he probably wouldn’t have come on. He probably wouldn’t have even been on the bench so at the moment for us it’s all about trying to get our injured players back.

“The league is so tight. I think there’s going to be chops and changes for quite a while. Normally you find after Christmas when you hit January that’s when the table tends to take shape and you see the teams who are going to be in and around the play-offs and genuine promotion chasers.”

Ramsgate: Jacob Russell, Jerald Aboagye, Jake McIntyre, Lee Prescott, Callum Emptage, Jamie Coyle, Callum Peck (Nico Cotton 46), Denzelle Olopade, Ashley Miller, Tijan Jadama, Joshua Ajayi.
Subs: Harry Maher, Mekael Williams, Vinnie Medhurst, George Baker-Moran

Goal: Nathaniel Blanks 31 (own goal)

Booked: Jamie Coyle 75

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Chris Lewington, Rory Hill (Harry Day 79), David Omperon, Alex Breffo, Nathaniel Blanks, Cem Tumkaya, Matthew Attenborough-Warren, Connor Dymond, Marcel Barrington, Hassan Ibrahiym, Ade Adeyemo (Gavin Tomlin 46, Denzel Gayle 69)).
Subs: Harry Hopper, Jude Salmon

Goal: Matthew Attenborough-Warren 57

Booked: Cem Tumkaya 85, Connor Dymond 87

Attendance: 703
Referee: Mr Harry Phillips
Assistants: Mr Ryan Smith & Mr Jack Ridge