Football Management & Technology

Cray Wanderers vs Margate – Monday 29th August – The pre-match thoughts of Neil Smith


Cray Wanderers vs. Margate, Monday 29th August, 3 pm 

The pre-game thoughts of Neil Smith

Cray Wanderers and play their second game of the Bank Holiday weekend this afternoon as Margate are the visitors to Hayes Lane.  Here Neil Smith looks back to Friday night’s fine performance at Bishop’s Stortford which saw Cray come away with a 1-1 draw and what we can expect from Margate this afternoon.


Hello Neil.  A Happy Bank Holiday Monday to you, your staff and players.  An excellent result for us on Friday up at Bishop’s Stortford.  We recovered well after going an early goal down and overall it was an excellent match wasn’t it?

It was a very good game and Bishop’s took the lead with a superb goal and they have some very good players. We knew it was going to be tough and to go one nil down against one of the favourites for promotion and get a point was a great result. We were a bit disappointed though as we felt we could have won it at the end when their keeper saved from Danny Bassett in stoppage time.

They had a good spell after they went ahead and hit the bar shortly after and we just had to hang in the game didn’t we for a few minutes.

Yes, they had a five minute spell where they scored and hit the bar but once we weathered that we finished the half stronger and we were more compact.  Second half with the subs we brought on gave us a bit more but before going through the subs I though Jalen Jones was outstanding, Harold Joseph, Danny Bassett, Tom Derry and off the bench, Sinn’kaye come on and did really well as did Billy Crook and Anthony Cook.

I think overall perhaps a draw was the right result as both keepers have had to earn their corn especially in the second half and Shaun Rowley made a couple of key saves especially early in the half and Jack Giddens from Danny at the end.

Yes, that was a good save from Shaun and also Harold got in a good block to turn the ball away.  I thought we showed a lot of character. I know these are all good players and that they are growing together but that was the first time I saw character, urgency and a togetherness.  When you are building a team that doesn’t happen overnight, that has to grow. Hopefully we are seeing the start of that togetherness you need from the 16 players and not just the 11 that start. Against Canvey Island, subs have come on like Billy who scored the winner and also tonight the changes we made helped get a result in the end.

A great goal from Mitch Chapman at Bishop’s Stortford and one he has deserved for his performances in the early weeks of the season.  He tucked away that finish superbly didn’t he.

Mitch was outstanding and took the goal well, waited for the ball to come down and hit the target. If you can hit the target you’ve always got a chance to score.  Mitch has been brilliant since the start of the season and thoroughly deserved his goal.  

We are three unbeaten in the league now and I made one or two changes for the Bishop’s Stortford game.  Roman Charles-Cook came in for his first game and I thought did well at right back and will grow into that position as he needs to get up to speed with it as he has been with Sutton United.  I look at the team and I just can’t not have Sam Wood in the side, Alex Bentley had a slight ligament strain, Woody came in and was outstanding as well.

Let’s look ahead to today’s game against Margate. A handful of ex Cray Wanderers players may feature, especially Freddy Barton and Cameron Brodie who joined Margate last week. Fjord Rogers who scored in their 1-1 draw with Horsham played for Cray last season as did manager Andy Drury and centre half Harry Hudson played for us back in the 2019-20 season.  

It will be a good game, I like Freddy and Cameron was outstanding for us last season. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to manage him as he went back to Dartford with an injury. Two really good guys and I wish them all the best for the season obviously after we have played them this afternoon.  It will be a tough match for us, as you mentioned Andy played for Cray last season and is a class player and you may have one or two there that might want to put one over myself but we are ready for the match.


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