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Ramsgate manager Ben Smith’s verdict on 2-2 draw with Isthmian South East title rivals Cray Valley

Ben Smith felt the occasion got to some of his players after Ramsgate snatched a draw against title rivals Cray Valley - labelling their defending “embarrassing”.

Two late goals - an 85th-minute Jordan Green strike and Alfie Paxman’s injury-time leveller - saw the Rams rescue a point in front of more than 2,500 fans at Southwood.

Rams midfielder TJ Jadama is stopped in his tracks. Picture: Stuart Watson
Rams midfielder TJ Jadama is stopped in his tracks. Picture: Stuart Watson

And while that showed character, boss Smith was unimpressed with what went before it as Kyrell Lisbie and Freddie Parker fired the visitors into a 2-0 lead.

“I’d have taken a point from where we were although I wouldn’t have seen where it was coming from,” said Smith, whose side remain top of Isthmian South East on goal difference, although the Millers have a game in hand.

“We had some players out there who froze and defensively we were embarrassing.

“It’s not often I’d say that but we were an embarrassment and so naive.

“Cray Valley are very streetwise. They’re very organised, they play percentage football and they do it well.

“We lacked that streetwise attitude in certain moments and ultimately that’s what cost us.

“I knew they were a physical side and I thought they bullied us.

“Defensively we were so shaky and that’s something we’ve got to sort out quickly.

“We had some players back there who haven’t played a lot of football for us and the real basics were lacking.”

Smith cited Lisbie’s opener, shortly before half-time, in highlighting the difference between the sides on the day.

He said: “It’s come from our free-kick in their half and we’re trying to play short when we’re actually causing problems by putting the ball in their box and making them have to defend.

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

Report: Ramsgate 2-2 Cray Valley

“Instead of that, we have other ideas and try to invent something that’s not there and suddenly they’re away down the side of us.

“We’ve seen the number of times we break away and they bring us down but we don’t do the same.

“We might as well have tickled them. He’s run 30 yards with the ball and no one’s even thought to bring him down and take a yellow card. It’s crazy.”

Green found the corner from Lee Martin’s pass to give Ramsgate late hope and turned provider as Paxman made it 2-2 in the sixth minute of added time.

It’s advantage Cray in the title race, given their game in hand, but the point keeps Ramsgate in the hunt with two matches to play.

“The lads have shown character,” said Smith.

“People question the character of the players and make stupid comments about budgets and stuff but there we go.

“Yes, we’ve got a good budget but so have the team we’ve just played and no one says a word about it.

“We’ve got a point and now we’ve got to win our last two games and hope someone does us a favour.

“When you look at the teams they’ve got to play, they’re not the sides they were, so it looks unlikely, but you never know.

“We needed to win this game to stay in the driving seat but Cray still have to be perfect.

“They’ve done well. Back in November when they were scoring late goals, people were saying they aren’t going to keep doing that but they have and fair play to them.

“Obviously it’s us with the late goals today and we’ll see where that takes us.”

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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