Friday 11th November 2005

Margate look forward to stern FA Trophy Kent derby

Margate welcome fellow Kent side Dartford to Hartsdown for this FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round tie tomorrow, writes Steve Wells - www.margate-fc.com

The Blues will be hoping to improve on last season’s disappointing performance in the FA Trophy when they lost at the first attempt (in the first round) to then lower league opposition Walton & Hersham.

Up until the matches against Cray Wanderers (FA Cup) and Bromley (Westview Cup), Margate’s cup form had been good – beating lower league opposition comfortably on two occasions and enjoying a narrow victory against Carshalton from Conference South. But despite an improved performance, the defeat to Bromley was Gate’s fourth in succession.

The manner of last weekend’s home league defeat to Chelmsford was disappointing, with the major factor once again being a lack of goals. Gates defensive record ranks among the best in the league. In fact, the Blues have conceded 16 fewer goals than at the same stage last season. Of course, the picture is less rosy in the “goals for” column. But missing Pat Gradley from the midfield through injury has been crucial, as has an all new strike pairing. Ellis Remy remains the club’s top scorer on five league and cup goals.

Greg Oates will be out of action for around eight weeks after sustaining a broken arm against Braintree, and Leon Braithwaite could need more time to recover from his knee problem. Charlie Mitten should return to the team and manager Chris Kinnear could stick with the three at the back that played against Bromley: Edwards, Donavan and Okikioulu. Osman Sesay has done well on the right and Warren Ryan or Dean Standen should take up a place on the left side of the defence. John Keister should come back into midfield with Hasim Deen (his last game before playing for Gambia in the Amilcar Cabral Zone II under 23 tournament), and either Dean Standen or Gavin McGowan - depending on Warren Ryan starting at left back. Adolf Amoako and Ellis Remy look set to continue as the front pairing. Pat Gradley could make a welcome return to the bench.

Gate’s league form shows a return of just five from a possible 18 points following two draws, one win and three straight defeats. The FA Trophy represents an opportunity to take a rest from league action, but the Blues can look forward to a stern test from Dover’s conquerors.

The Darts came through an acrimonious first qualifying round tie. The first match at Dover’s Crabble ground was drawn in controversial circumstances. The replay at Stonebridge Road did nothing to repair the relationship between the clubs, but the win for Dartford was the result of a hard fought game and a significant contribution from former Gate player Steve Hafner.

Manager Tony Burman also has at his disposal two other former Margate players. Keeper Kevin Hudson, now described as “vastly experienced” joined the Darts in November 2004, and striker Ian Pulman – who never quite managed to hold down a regular first team place at Margate – joined the north Kent club in the summer of 2005. Ryan Hayes’ red card received against Barking rules him out of the tie with Margate.

Should a replay be needed, it will take place at Stonebridge Road next Tuesday, 15th November – kick-off 7.45pm.

Margate v Dartford
FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round
Saturday 12th November 2005
at Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate