Smith believes Canterbury are underdogs
Smith believes Canterbury are underdogs

Canterbury City boss Ben Smith has insisted his side are massive underdogs going into the First Leg of the BUILDBASE FA Vase against Cray Valley (PM) on Sunday.

Speaking to KSN, the City boss told us, “It’s difficult for us to get too excited as we know how difficult it’s going to be for us, but if you’d have said to us before the competition started that we were going to reach the Semi Final, we’d have bitten your hand off.”

“So, we’ve got to go there and embrace it and enjoy the occasion. There’s no pressure on us at all, so let’s go out there and have our “Big Day” and if we end up having another “Big Day” then so be it, but we go out there Sunday with no fear at all trying to upset the odds.

Given the luck that we’ve had with injuries prior to Vase games this year we made a lot of changes at Erith Town last week and that side is nothing like the one that will play Sunday. We had the “Vase Blues” – no disrespect to Erith as they took their chances really well!

On form you’d say that we would have been out by Christmas, but it’s played on the day and so far, on the day we’ve done really well as we’ve got a much better side than a lot of people give us credit for and we’ve had an up and down season in the League – early on we lost six in a row!”

“Take that spell and we wouldn’t be that far out of things. We’re not as “bad” a side as the League table says we are in the grand scheme of things, we’re already looking at our squad for next season!”

“But is perfect preparation to spring us into next season – you must have your eye on the prize and Wembley is on the horizon, but I’ve got other aspects that I think could really catapult the Club forward into next season as well!”

“So, for me it’s not just that if we don’t get there… we will be able to look back on a massive achievement for the club with so much pride to take forward when with the right momentum, we will be a force to be reckoned with as we’ve proved in the Vase run when we’ve more than matched up to the bigger sides who were supposed to out play us!

We’ve had a couple of injuries as we’ve had all season before the Vase which is why I stuck my head on the block so to speak and made loads of changes last weekend, the way our luck was going we couldn’t afford any more injuries. We’ll go there Sunday as close to full strength as we can be.

Facing a two legged tie, we asked what extra problems that posed. “It’s a strange mindset,” Smith admitted, “and as a young manager, it’s a real test of how you balance it – do we go there and shut up shop and try to get them back to our place or do we try and get a lead?”

“There are no away goals so it’s a strange one to try and work out really. Can we beat them at their place? Can we beat them at our place? Whatever, we’ll give it our best shot over the two games – there is literally no pressure on us as we’ve surpassed so many people’s expectations – including possibly our own – so now the players are doing it for themselves!”

“It’s not “let’s get the Club here,” let’s get the Club there”, or “let’s put pressure on the Council” to get to Wembley, do it for you as a collective group, they’re not doing it for me a manager or for the Club’s supporters, they’re doing it for a day that they will never ever forget as players – I don’t see that there is any pressure on us at all, so we should go there and enjoy ourselves and occasion as no one is expecting us to get through.”

“I’ll ask you now to put your mortgage on one side getting through, I know that it would be us! The dream is there, it’s just a question of how much the players want it!”