FA Vase semi-final preview: Cray Valley PM v Canterbury City

HAPPY VALLEY: Cray Valley celebrate winning their FA Vase quarter-final win at Willand Rovers. PICTURE: Pinnacle

By Hugo Varley
He has played in the Premier League against some of the world’s elite but evergreen striker Kevin Lisbie now has his sights fully focused on one goal – Wembley revenge!
The, former Charlton Athletic striker netted twice against Willand Rovers in the quarter-finals to put Cray Valley PM to within 180 minutes of a dream day out under the arch.
Now the 40-year-old hitman is out to topple Kent rivals Canterbury City and banish his previous memories of playing at the national stadium.
“I was in the Leyton Orient team that lost to Rotherham in the 2014 League One play-off final,” the Millers frontman told The NLP.
“I try not to dwell on it too much but it was a really tough moment to be a part of because we had worked so hard to get there. The experience of playing at the stadium was phenomenal and it is what you dream about as a kid but in a way that made the final result even harder to take.
“To have the opportunity of potential playing at Wembley again is something that I never thought would happen and it would be so special if I could create a few great memories this time.
“I still follow Leyton Orient really closely and I have had a few messages from some of their supporters saying that they will come early and cheer us on if we both make it to the finals day, which is a really exciting prospect.”
Since signing for Cray Valley at the start of last season, Lisbie has rolled back the years and elevated himself towards the upper echelons of the Southern Counties East Premier Division goalscoring charts in both campaigns.
A tally of 22 goals last year has been followed up by 16 so far this term and the veteran striker continues to relish every moment on the pitch.
“I am a bit surprised with how well my body has held up to be honest because I am certainly not as quick and as sharp as I used to be and there is some real quality this level,” he added.
“I am at the point in my career where I am playing for the love of the game and if I can help the team to a bit of success it would be a really great bonus.
“You never know, if we win something then I might even be tempted to carry on playing for another year!”
Cray Valley’s journey to the final four has seen them pick up emphatic victories against the likes of Badshot Lea and Sheppey United, but it was the hard-fought win at Willand in the previous round which really caught the eye.
“That was an almighty test and it certainly helped us to realise what we are capable of,” said Lisbie. “Traveling a long way to a game was something that the boys were not really used to but they all adapted to it brilliantly.
“It certainly wasn’t a great match to watch and I think both sides were probably guilty of being a bit nervous but we handled ourselves really well and in the end I think that we deserved the victory.
“The semi-finals are going to be a completely different test and it is so important that we don’t get carried away.
“Hopefully I can use my experience a bit to help the lads keep their feet on the ground.
“Saying that, you can’t help but have the thought of Wembley at the back of your mind.
“It could turn out to be the last time that I play.
“If it is, playing under the arch with lots of my family and friends in the crowd would certainly be a special way to sign off.”

Dawodu on song for City

They may be just one tie away from Wembley but Canterbury City hit the headlines for an altogether different reason recently – thanks to the singing talents of Mobolaji Dawodu.
After turning up late for a game, striker Dawodu was forced to sing in front of his teammates and subsequently belted out a rendition of popular Mexican folk song La Bamba.
A video of the spectacular performance quickly went viral, which the Canterbury man admits led to a rather surreal few days.
“It was all a bit mad,”?he told The NLP. “It was recorded on the Sunday and I was at home the next day to revise for a test but I got absolutely no work done because my phone was buzzing the whole time.
“I found it all really funny and it was a great way for people all around the country to find out about the club.”
With the final now within touching distance, Dawodu hasn’t ruled out the prospect of another performance.
“We are so close as a group and there is so much excitement around the place at the moment,” he added.
“If we can get to the final then I might have to sing it again in the dressing room at Wembley!”

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