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Reaction from Cray Valley manager Steve McKimm following 2-2 draw in Isthmian South East title battle at Ramsgate

Steve McKimm could afford to smile despite Cray Valley missing the chance to take full control of the title race.

The Millers, 2-0 up at Ramsgate with five minutes left, looked set to go three points clear in Isthmian South East and preserve their remarkable 100% away record.

Cray Valley manager Steve McKimm, left. Picture: Stuart Watson
Cray Valley manager Steve McKimm, left. Picture: Stuart Watson

That would have left them needing four points from their final three games to clinch the championship.

But title rivals Rams salvaged a 2-2 draw to stay top on goal difference, having played a game more.

Cray were so close to victory but a point was no disaster, with their fate in their own hands.

Millers boss McKimm said: “I’m disappointed we didn’t win but I’m happy we’ve got a point.

“We didn’t have to win today’s game.

“I didn’t let the players know that but I knew it.

“If we’d won it would have given us more of an advantage going into the last three games but it was more important for Ramsgate to win because we’ve got the game in hand.

“So if we mirror their last two results and we win our game in hand (at Hythe on April 23) then we win the league.

“That’s easier said than done, because three games in a week is tough, but we’ve got the squad to cope with that.”

Cray Valley struck either side of half-time - Kyrell Lisbie and Freddie Parker the scorers - to take charge at Southwood.

Jordan Green and Alfie Paxman secured a point for Ramsgate but McKimm was the happier of the two managers.

“I couldn’t speak for Ramsgate but I know what we prepared our boys for in training and what we set out to do to try and exploit some of their weaknesses and cope with some of their strengths,” said McKimm.

“There were no nerves. I don’t put nerves into players. There shouldn’t be nerves playing football. It’s a game you should enjoy and flourish in. Once nerves get involved, you start losing some of your performance.

Cray Valley threaten a late winner at Southwood. Picture: Stuart Watson
Cray Valley threaten a late winner at Southwood. Picture: Stuart Watson

Report: Ramsgate 2-2 Cray Valley

“My boys were prepared and ready and it showed in their performance.

“I’m extremely proud because we’ve come here, with the atmosphere, and they’ve got some real quality players, and I thought we were excellent.

“Credit where credit’s due - Ramsgate never gave up and got their point - but I felt there were certain parts of the game where they couldn’t live with us.

“It’s a point towards our target and we put our best foot forward next Saturday to try and get three points.”

The draw ended Cray Valley’s hopes of completing the season with a 100% away record.

They’d won 16 out of 16 on the road before arriving at Southwood - a superb achievement by anyone’s standards.

McKimm said: “It should have been 17 but Ramsgate showed that desire to keep going.

“We’ve done that ourselves a couple of times this season and got our rewards. It’s easy to throw the towel in.

“We’re disappointed with a couple of bits of defending and a couple of bits of attacking but once I look back at the video, I’ll think this is a good point coming here.

“We should be 17-0 but we’re not greedy. To have 16 wins and a draw is magnificent for any side at any level, whether it’s a pub side in the park or a Premier League side.

“It’s testament to the boys. We’ve only conceded 10 goals in those 17 games, which is some record as well.

“We don’t set up any different away from home.

“We’ve done really well this season and we’ve got to continue that because nothing’s done.”

Remaining fixtures: April 20: Chichester v Ramsgate, Cray Valley v Herne Bay; April 23: Hythe v Cray Valley; April 27: Horndean v Cray Valley, Ramsgate v Three Bridges.

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