Cranbrook are enjoying a terrific season in the Joma Devon & Exeter League Division Four and Saturday’s 9-2 mauling of hosts Bravehearts – the Mid Devon men play on the same Silver Street pitch that is home to Southern League outfit Willand Rovers – means that Cranbrook stay hot on the heels of the only team to sit above them in the table, Farway United.
We caught up with Cranbrook boss Jon Martin following his side’s latest win and first up asked him: ‘Your thoughts, please, on the performance’
He replied: “It was special, certainly on a personal level. You see I had never managed a win over them. Indeed, its fair to say that they [Bravehearts] have been my bogey side over the years and I can assure you that, albeit very privately, I was concerned as we travelled to Willand that, once again, I’d come away with nowt to show from a meeting with them. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t overly confident about getting the win.”
He continued: “However, as it happened, we started very well and were sharp in all areas to such a degree that we quickly established a two-goal lead. We then then had a couple of lapses in concentration whilst trying to deal with constant long balls, and this resulted in us allowing them back into the game, but, fortunately, we were able to get ourselves back in front before half time and, given that we did similar in the second half – ie scored a very early goal – from that we gained the confidence to go on and gain an emphatic win.”
The Cranbrook boss was very honest when he added: “I’d have to hold my hands up and accept that we did take advantage of a couple of dubious decisions in the first half, but we had numerous decisions go against us in our draw at Bampton earlier in the season so I’m not gonna apologise for that and, as all good football folk know, ‘what goes round, comes round’ and these things do tend to even themselves out over a campaign.”
“On Saturday, I felt we played really well and I did see that their keeper’ got the Bravehearts Man of the Match – that did not surprise me for he played so well and, had it not been for his first half heroics, I am sure we’d have scored seven or eight – before the break! That said, in the second half we got our performance ‘bang on’ and, from numbers 1 to 14, the attitude was excellent.”
Next up we asked the Cranbrook boss about the form of Jordan Wilkinson who became the second player in the team this season to net five times in a single contest – the other being Joe Byrne earlier in the campaign.
Jon answered saying: “He [Jordan Wilkinson] is flying at the moment. He’s loving his football just now and I know that that is important to him. Its 11 goals in his last five games and he’s now third in the top scorers table – that’s quite some feat given the fact that he was banned for the first four games! However, I would like to make the point that as well as he is performing just now, I am sure he’d be the first to say his teammates are all contributing to the scoring.”
That led us nicely to our next question which was: ‘Your team now has scored 52 goals in just nine games this season and, what’s more 13 different players have scored so far – that stat must please you?’
Jon replied: “Yes it certainly does! To have scored 52 goals in nine games with 13 different scorers, is testament to the ability in the squad. Everyone seems to be chipping in, and, as a manager, that’s footballing heaven sent, as we are not having to rely on one player to get the goals and that’s a big bonus – and a key factor to our current success.”
He continued: “Mind you, it’s a fact also that its not been all about goal scoring this season to date. Some of our defensive performances have been equally as good. I strengthened defensively over the summer and we now have several quality players competing for places at the back and the engine room, the midfield, has also been excellent. It was a huge worry when, in pre-season, we lost club captain Tom Taylor to a season-ending ACL injury. I was definitely concerned, but Callum Hoare has come into the club and his class has shone through. In addition to that, Sam Steer returned to the club after a brief spell at Ottery and is another one who’s been excellent. But I’d like to reiterate that everyone’s been excellent and it’s a bit unfair to pick out individuals – I certainly feel we are now a ‘United’ team with players chipping into the process from all areas.”
Next up we asked: ‘You have got through nine games now, twice as many away as at home where you have a 100 per cent record. You sit second to Farway. Do you think the title will be determined by you and Farway United?
Jon replied: “The table suggests that there are three ‘stand-out’ teams in this league (Joma Deon & Exeter Division Four), Farway United, us and Bravehearts and, realistically, I cannot see anything other than those three occupying the top three spots come next May.
“However, I do not want, in any way, to be disrespectful to other teams in the league. Bampton are a very decent outfit, particularly on their pitch, Culm United have recruited several players from Uplowman and they will – and invariably do – cause teams problems.
“South Zeal are a good young side and the fact that Sidmouth Town have two teams playing higher level that the side that plays in our division suggests that can strengthen whenever. I have no doubt that, along the way, there will be some ‘shock’ results and I am certain that we’ll not find anything ‘straightforward’ about the action in our remaining games.
“We’ll need to be focussed and continuing to work hard to be able to get to the end of the season where we hope we will be.”
There is no league action for Cranbrook this Saturday (November 27), Jon Martin and his men are next in league action the following Saturday (December 4) when they visit Colyton. They then have two more matches before the Christmas break with a December 11 home meeting with the only team to sit above them in the current table – Farway United – and a week later (December 18) Cranbrook travel to Cullompton Rangers.