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Ramsgate manager Ben Smith says his players bottled their Isthmian South East semi-final against Chichester, with the lack of quality ‘shambolic’, ‘appalling’ and ‘embarrassing’

Ramsgate boss Ben Smith accused his players of bottling the play-offs and says he doesn’t know if he’ll still be in charge next season.

Smith couldn’t believe what he was watching as Rams lost 1-0 at home to Chichester in their Isthmian South East semi-final on Tuesday night.

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

“Shambolic”, “appalling” and “embarrassing” were just a few of the words used by the manager, who said he would be “ashamed” if he were a player.

He’s one year into a two-year deal at Southwood but with Ramsgate expected to win promotion, he doesn’t know what the future holds.

Ramsgate finished runners-up to Cray Valley with 89 points but fell in the play-off semi-finals for the second successive season.

Smith cited a lack of quality as Rams failed to make their dominance pay before conceding the only goal three minutes from time.

“We had more than enough chances to win that game of football,” said Smith.

“I wouldn’t say we bottled the league but we bottled that tonight - massively.

“The players bottled it. You can’t lose a game you dominate like that.

“We’ve got players in there that on their reputations are too good for this level but sometimes the proof’s in the pudding.

“I was confident coming into tonight and we set up to be as attacking as possible.

“It wasn’t for the want of trying but the quality has absolutely deserted. It was shambolic at times.

“Even at the end we’re getting the ball in a wide area and we end up kicking it straight to the keeper. It’s embarrassing.”

Smith added: “Why doesn’t the second team go up every year in the play-offs? Why don’t they win? It’s a disgrace.

“I cannot believe what I’ve just seen.

Jordan Green in full flow for Ramsgate during their play-off semi-final against Chichester. Picture: Stuart Watson
Jordan Green in full flow for Ramsgate during their play-off semi-final against Chichester. Picture: Stuart Watson

“For the budget we’ve had, that isn’t good enough - end of.

“I’ve just said to the players in there, some of you, the money you’re on, that’s not good enough.

“The reported figures of £900 a week and all that stuff is absolute nonsense but I’ve never shied away from saying it’s a good budget and it has to bring a better standard of quality.

“I’m not going to say performances because we were dominant in the game, but the lack of quality…

“Players that have played at good levels, the lack of quality is appalling and I’d be ashamed of myself if that was me.”

Smith pulled no punches in the dressing room - telling Ramsgate players to their face he felt they had bottled their chance to reach the final.

Report: Ramsgate 0-1 Chichester

“I hope they’re devastated, I hope they’re gutted, I hope it hurts because it hurts me, it hurts the people of Ramsgate,” he said.

“I’ve shielded them from everything, it’s always been on me, but today they’re involved in that - 1 million per cent.

“They are absolutely in that through that lack of quality.

“I never, ever bring the players with me in terms of responsibility but it is today.

“It’s 100 per cent on me but they’ve got to start looking at themselves in the mirror because that was way below what I expect, what the club expect and what they’ve shown in the past.

“I can’t explain the lack of quality. It’s embarrassing.”

Ramsgate won 4-2 at Chichester in their penultimate league match but the Sussex club had learned their lesson.

Their goal led a charmed life but they defended with everything they had before pinching victory at the death.

Smith praised the visitors, making a point of shaking all their players’ hands as they came off, but Ramsgate only had themselves to blame.

He said: “It’s the manner of the way we lost, just doesn’t sit right with me.

“There’s a couple in there I thought were great but they can’t do it on their own and too many players haven’t stepped up.

Goalkeeper Tom Hadler comes up in vain to attack a late corner as Ramsgate's play-off bid ends. Picture: Stuart Watson
Goalkeeper Tom Hadler comes up in vain to attack a late corner as Ramsgate's play-off bid ends. Picture: Stuart Watson

“You think to yourself, you talk a good game. That’s the time (to deliver).

“These are the games people remember.

“You want to write yourself in the history books and I’m lost for words, really lost for words.

“There’s going to be changes, that’s for sure.

“Whether that’s me who makes the changes, we’ll see, but some of those players, I don’t care where you’ve played before, that’s your level, what I’ve seen tonight. That’s your quality, not what you’ve done before.

“I’m devastated for the people of Ramsgate. I’ll have to get over it and try and move forward but the people of Ramsgate, this club deserves success.”

Ramsgate went toe-to-toe with Cray Valley in the title race, scored more than 100 league goals and reached the second round of the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

Whether that’s enough to remain in charge, Smith is unsure.

“Who knows?” he said. We’ll see. It’s football. I said when I took the job I was big enough to take the job. I understand what happens.”

One thing’s for sure, though, he wants to stay on and get Ramsgate over the line next season.

He said: “I came here to do a job, to get promoted, and I’ve not done that so far.

“A lot happens in football so we’ll see.

“Hopefully (I stay) but I personally I owe the people of Ramsgate promotion.

“I’ll be first to say I don’t care about the FA Cup now, I don’t care about the points total, I don’t care about the goals total, I don’t care about some of the good football we’ve played.

“I know that’s throwing some stuff out there we’ve done good but I don’t care about that, that’s done, it’s irrelevant.

“In five years’ time no one will remember that.

“They will remember the players bottled it in the play-offs and that’s on me.”

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