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Ramsgate manager Ben Smith knows what it will take to win the Isthmian South East title after rescuing a draw against Sittingbourne

Ben Smith says Ramsgate must maintain the levels they showed in their fightback against Sittingbourne if they are to win the league title.

Rams trailed the Brickies 2-0 at half-time when second met third in Isthmian South East at Southwood on Easter Monday.

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

Joe Taylor replied from the penalty spot five minutes after the break and Joe Turner levelled in the 78th minute.

Ramsgate have fallen three points behind leaders Cray, with five games remaining, following the 2-2 draw.

But if they hit the heights they showed in the second half against Sittingbourne, there’s still all to play for.

“We’ve just got to worry about ourselves,” said Rams boss Smith, whose side visit Phoenix on Saturday (3pm).

“If we turn up like we did in the second half, we can beat anyone. If we don’t, we’re average.

“That energy and desire has to be there from minute one.

“If we don’t win the title, it won’t be because we drew with Sittingbourne, who are a very good side.

“It’ll be because we couldn’t keep a clean sheet at Horndean, we threw away the first game of the season at Sevenoaks and we couldn’t beat Merstham and Sheppey at home.

“There’s five games to go and a lot can happen.

“If Cray win all their games, you can only say well done, can’t you? I’m sure Steve McKimm (Millers boss) would say the same if it was the other way round.

“If we have to go through the play-offs, so be it.

“We’ve got players who can turn up in big moments, so we’ll see, but there’s still a long way to go in a short space of time.”

Smith felt he made a mistake by starting defender Craig Stone against Sittingbourne.

He had 17 stitches in his eyebrow after being caught by an elbow in Rams’ 2-1 win at Littlehampton on Good Friday.

The centre-back was feeling the effects and Chris Harris made Ramsgate pay with an early double.

Sinn’Kaye Christie replaced Stone before the half-hour mark and Ramsgate worked their way back.

“If Sittingbourne were going to score, I could have scripted their goals,” said Smith.

“Part of that is on me because I started Stoney and I shouldn’t have done.

“He’s a great player and a proper leader but once he came off we were able to compete a bit more.

“Fair play to him for giving it a go but it didn’t work out.

“Sittingbourne are a very direct side.

“I’m not knocking them because they’re very good at it.

“They play it up to the big man and it’s all about flick-ons around him. They pin you in and get in your face.”

Smith remained calm at the break and Ramsgate were back in business with Taylor’s penalty - his 34th league goal of a record-breaking season.

And when Turner levelled, the manager felt victory was there for the taking.

Smith said: “Sittingbourne will be kicking themselves after being 2-0 up but we came back and I thought we should have gone on and won.

“I was gutted in the end because we had chances to win it but the ball wouldn’t go in.

“That said, I’m immensely proud of the character shown by the players.

“At half-time, we just had to focus on some key bits of the game.

“I’m not going to pretend it was a blood-and-thunder speech, because I don’t really believe in that.

“It’s about what tactical changes or tweaks you can make to impact the game moving forward.

“The players weren’t happy with how we’d played but we spun the game on its head in the second half.

“The penalty helps but I thought we started the second half really well. We had had them on the back foot and got to grips with them.”

Sittingbourne felt Taylor made the most of the penalty but Smith defended his player.

He said: “The lad’s got two hands all over his shirt and Joe’s rolled him.

“You can say whatever you want but anywhere else on the pitch, it’s a foul.

“To be honest, we could have had a penalty in the first half when Jordan Green was pulled down.

“We could have had two at the end as well, one for handball when the lad’s hand is in the air and then someone’s gone straight through the back of TJ Jadama.

“Again, it’s a foul anywhere else on the pitch.”

Ramsgate visit East Grinstead on Tuesday (7.30pm).

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