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Ramsgate manager Ben Smith responds to accusations his side are “bottling” the Isthmian South East title

Ben Smith has hit back at critics who have suggested Ramsgate are “bottling” the league.

Rams’ 1-0 midweek defeat at Horndean saw them slip to second place behind Isthmian South East title rivals Cray Valley.

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

They responded by thrashing play-off contenders Lancing 7-2 on Saturday, including a hat-trick for Joe Taylor.

TJ Jadama (2), Lee Martin and Joe Turner also scored at Southwood to keep Rams a point behind the Millers.

They have a chance to regain top spot at East Grinstead tonight and visit Littlehampton on Good Friday before Cray go to Broadbridge Heath on Saturday.

“This bottlers tag I’m hearing, it’s outrageous,” said Rams boss Smith. “We’ve got 75 points from 31 games.

“It’s laughable, absolutely laughable.

“There’s an awful lot of people who want to see us fail but before James (Lawson, chairman) brought me to the club, if you said we’d have 75 points from 31 games, I’d have bitten your hand off and so would anyone else.

“When you think we’ve had the FA Cup and FA Trophy runs as well, I don’t think our players get enough credit.

Ramsgate were 7-2 winners over Lancing on Saturday. Picture: Stuart Watson
Ramsgate were 7-2 winners over Lancing on Saturday. Picture: Stuart Watson

“People jump behind the money thing but we deserve credit and Cray Valley deserve credit because what we’ve both done has been unbelievable.

“But this bottlers thing, let’s have it right.

“It’s because the last two seasons they’ve been up and around it and not gone up but that’s not me and it’s not my group of players.

“We’ve been up there once and our fate is in our hands.

“All this stuff just fuels the fire and I think you saw that on Saturday. The players have taken it personally.”

Ramsgate were in terrific form against a Lancing side who won the reverse fixture 4-2 in January.

They scored twice inside six minutes and were 3-2 up at half-time before pulling clear after the break.

Two-goal TJ Jadama in the thick of it for Ramsgate. Picture: Stuart Watson
Two-goal TJ Jadama in the thick of it for Ramsgate. Picture: Stuart Watson

Hat-trick man Taylor also missed a penalty.

Smith said: “We’ll get no credit for it but I thought we were outstanding.

“We’ve scored seven against a team that were fourth in the league.

“My only disappointment is that we didn’t hit 10 because we had the missed penalty, a legitimate goal ruled out for offside and numerous other chances.

“We took it squarely on the chin when we lost at their place, and I stayed out and shook every player’s hand.

“They had all sorts of celebrations, singing Adele as loudly as they could in the dressing room, and you have to wear it.

“I knew they had to come back to us and we absolutely battered them.

“We took our frustration from midweek out on them because we got what we deserved at Horndean with the way we defended.

Joe Turner celebrates scoring for Ramsgate. Picture: Stuart Watson
Joe Turner celebrates scoring for Ramsgate. Picture: Stuart Watson

“We’ve just got to crack on. We’ve got seven games left (including Cray Valley at home on April 13) and if we win seven games, we win the league.

“I thought we made a good statement of intent on Saturday and now we’ve got to back it up because all these teams are desperate to beat us.

“We’ve got to be perfect, and we’ve had to be perfect all year. We’ve let ourselves down in a few games, where we know we’ve been the better side, but that’s football.

“It’s been a long old season and we’ve got to see it as the last leg and do what’s necessary to get over the line.”

Ramsgate host third-placed Sittingbourne at Southwood on Easter Monday (3pm).

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