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Canterbury City manager Ben Smith reacts to FA Vase semi-final defeat against Cray Valley

Canterbury City manager Ben Smith admitted missed chances in the first leg probably cost his side their chance of reaching the FA Vase final.

Saturday's 1-1 draw at Salters Lane meant it was City's Southern Counties East League rivals Cray Valley who went through from the semi-finals 2-1 on aggregate.

Ryan Flack's 55th-minute strike had been all that separated the sides after the first leg at Badgers and Smith admitted it was always his fear the chances his side squandered that day would come back to haunt them.

Canterbury manager Ben Smith with coaches Will Graham and Ben Brown Picture: Alan Langley
Canterbury manager Ben Smith with coaches Will Graham and Ben Brown Picture: Alan Langley

He said: "I'm devastated, I mean what can you say? We missed our chance and let's be honest over the course of the two legs it was a big, big chance to go through because for all I've talked them up and they are a good side, you look at clear-cut chances and we're the ones who have had them.

"To not take them, you kind of look back at the first leg, the chances we missed would that bite us in the backside and it did.

"Even at the end there we had chances, it was just that lack of quality I guess, they're the ones that go and nick a goal and they deserve to go through for that."
Smith felt City's game plan worked a treat in the second leg but he always felt scoring the first goal was key before a club record crowd of 1274.

He added: "The longer we were in it the more the pressure was going to tell. (Cray keeper) Deren Ibrahim's pulled off a couple of good saves there at the end and we've had chances.

"It's just a shame we didn't get the one to equalise because as soon as we did score they were rocking.

"I knew all along that they would do if we could score against them.

Cray Valley keeper Deren Ibrahim and City striker Dean Grant look on as Gary Sayer's spectacular acrobatic effort finds the net Picture: Alan Langley
Cray Valley keeper Deren Ibrahim and City striker Dean Grant look on as Gary Sayer's spectacular acrobatic effort finds the net Picture: Alan Langley

"These sides are used to winning and they're used to winning comfortably so to suddenly put them under intense pressure on a big spectacle that's what we wanted to do and we did it.

"The game plan from minute one of the tie to the end, it went how we wanted it to go without taking our chances."

Smith said he remained incredibly proud of his team's achievements in the Vase and that more importantly their heroics had helped put the club – still without their own home – back on the map.

He said: "We're not happy with going out but we're happy with what it's done (the Vase run).

"We had 1200 here today, 1200 watching Canterbury, now no one would have expected that. When we went for our planning permission (for a new ground) we had people on forums, and online commenting saying how can they get a ground when they've only got 20 people watching so that's two fingers up to those sort of people."

The final at Wembley will take place on Sunday, May 19, with Cray facing either Northwich Victoria or Chertsey.

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