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Ramsgate manager Ben Smith calls for calm amid suggestions his Isthmian South East leaders are slipping up

Don’t panic is the message from Ramsgate boss Ben Smith following back-to-back draws.

Smith has heard murmurings of concern after draws with Sheppey and Hythe - but says there’s no need.

Ramsgate manager Ben Smith. Picture: Stuart Watson
Ramsgate manager Ben Smith. Picture: Stuart Watson

They’re six points clear in Isthmian South East and although second-placed Cray Valley have two games in hand, it’s a strong position to be in.

The Millers visit Three Bridges tonight.

Rams drew 2-2 at Hythe on Saturday, having been held 0-0 at home by Sheppey last weekend.

Smith said: “Lots of people are saying, ‘Oh, Ramsgate are slipping up’.

“A point away at Hythe is not a slip-up.

“We’ve gone to Hythe, Sittingbourne and Cray Valley and not lost, and when you look at the state of the pitches, it doesn’t exactly suit our style of play.

“I think people could be overly harsh and actually discredit teams like Hythe because they expect us to win every game but it doesn’t happen like that.

“You draw a couple of games and people go, ‘Ooh, Cray Valley are right there, it’s pressure’.

“This isn’t pressure. Working in the NHS or the fire brigade or teaching, that’s pressure.

“This is an exciting stage of the season and I think people have just got to remain calm and the key thing is not panicking.

“There’s no need for it. We’re in a good place.

“There’s not one ounce of shock that Cray Valley are where they are.

“People start saying, ‘Ramsgate have drawn a couple of games’ but I think we’ve got the highest points-per-game total in the country at this step, so people need to calm themselves down a little bit.

“We’re top of the league, the goal difference at the moment is an extra point, so it’s in our hands and it’s up to us to go on one of those runs that we’ve been on this year.”

Goals from Jack S Paxman and Alfie Paxman saw Ramsgate fight back from a goal down to lead at Hythe but the Cannons scored a late equaliser in an entertaining derby.

“It was a blood-and-thunder game,” said Smith.

“Question marks for us would be could we mix it and I was pleasantly surprised with the character we showed because that pitch is an absolute leveller and they have a very distinct style of play which you’ve got to counter-act.

“When you go there, if you’re mentally weak, you’re going to struggle big-time.

“They’re such a well-organised side and they are a threat.

“They’re a side who have mastered the art of trying to drag you into their game.

“People don’t give them credit and don’t give teams that come away with something credit.

“I’d have taken a point before the game and that’s not being negative.

“We’ve got a total to accrue by the end of the season and a point at Hythe is not going to dent our title aspirations.”

A rare midweek off gives Ramsgate the chance to train before hosting Merstham on Saturday (3pm).

They’ve only trained one since their FA Cup run ended at AFC Wimbledon at the start of December.

Smith said: “With all the midweek games and a lot of players on the edge in terms of injury, we didn’t want to put much more on them,” said Smith.

“We’ll train this week and start building some momentum again.

“Where we’ve had a couple of changes, it’s about getting back to basics and going over some of the principles we had in the first half of the season.

“It’s about re-highlighting those principles and getting them back at the forefront of what we’re doing.”

Ramsgate visit Horndean next Tuesday (7.45pm).

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