Home   Thanet   Sport   Article

AFC Wimbledon v Ramsgate: Manager Ben Smith’s message to Rams fans and players before FA Cup second-round tie at Plough Lane

Enjoyment is the name of the game as Ramsgate look to pull off an FA Cup shock at AFC Wimbledon.

The sides meet at Plough Lane in a televised second-round tie tonight (ITV4, 7.45pm) for the right to host Championship title contenders Ipswich next month.

Ramsgate manager Ben Smith. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ramsgate manager Ben Smith. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Few give Isthmian South East leaders Rams much hope as the lowest-ranked side left in the competition.

But that gives them nothing to lose against their League 2 opponents and 1988 winners, with AFC having inherited the original Wimbledon’s history.

It’s already the furthest Ramsgate have ever been in the FA Cup, and you never know what might happen.

“Have we got a chance? Yes, we do,” said manager Ben Smith.

“Generally you see scores of non-league versus EFL at fives and sixes, so the likelihood is in terms of odds that they will win.

“But we remain hopeful and full of belief that we can pull something off and we’ll do our best to do that.”

Ramsgate will be roared on by 1,500 travelling fans in south-west London and Smith wants them to savour the moment. The same goes for his players.

“Just enjoy it,” he said.

“There’s so much expectation on the game but you’ve got to remember the club has never been in this situation before.

“So go there, enjoy it, take every single bit of the occasion in and be as loud as possible.

“Let’s have a great show of what Ramsgate Football Club is.

“You talk about how often do these moments come round and it’s few and far between.

“Football’s so serious all the time where we’re desperate to win, and so are other managers, but sometimes you’ve just got to enjoy it and have fun.”

Lee Minshull: A foot in both camps

Smith was at Priestfield last Tuesday to see Wimbledon’s 1-0 defeat by Gillingham.

A cagey game was settled by a late Conor Masterson goal.

It gave him a chance to see the Dons up close but they could be a different proposition as favourites in front of their home crowd.

“You look at them and we know how they play,” said Smith.

“The question is, will they play that way against us, because they’re expected to be on the attack?

“They’re at home, quite a few leagues above, and they’ve got some top players there.

“So you look and go we can plan for this and plan for that but actually the game might be a very different game than what we saw.”

Former Ramsgate boss Jim Ward will be in the away end tonight.

Ward, who took Rams to the first round in 2005, said: “What I’d like more than anything else is for Joe Taylor to get a goal so he’s joint leading scorer in the FA Cup.

“If Wimbledon don’t take Ramsgate lightly they should win the game.

“But if they do take them lightly there could be a shock because Ramsgate are OK, I’ve got to tell you.

“They’ve got some good players, especially in the final third.

“Jordan Green, Joe Taylor and Benny Bioletti, the three of them can cause anybody problems, but we’ve got to get the ball to them.

“It’s how we do that but there’s plenty of experience in midfield.

“They won’t just bang it long. Ben doesn’t do that.

“He likes to try and play football and they’re good to watch.

“But when he does bang it long they’ve got a couple of moves that they do and it works. Tactically they’re good.

“It would be the best result in the club’s history if they won.”

Ward has already seen one of his old clubs - Maidstone - reach the third round.

He’d love to see Ramsgate follow suit.

“It’s great to see Maidstone and Ramsgate still in the FA Cup,” said Ward. “I’ve had calls from all over the place.

“I look for Maidstone and Ramsgate’s results every week, if I’m not at the Ramsgate game. I still go and watch most games, where it’s local.”

Eighth-tier Ramsgate have played seven matches to reach this stage.

They’re used to being underdogs, upsetting Chatham, Cray and AFC Totton in the qualifiers, followed by a magnificent comeback victory against National League Woking in the first round.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More