Friday 18th March 2005

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Margate bid to continue impressive Homelands form

MARGATE welcome Surrey side Carshalton Athletic for the Nationwide South game at Homelands, writes Steve Wells.

When the sides met in August, it was Margate that ran out winners by a goal to nil. Gate enjoyed most of the chances in the first period and it was during the opening half hour of the game that Adrian Clarke opened his Margate goal account for the new season.

But the second half was a different story with the home side on top. The Margate back line was severely tested and but for some battling performances in defence, the points might have been shared.

However, even in the second half, Margate did have chances on the counter to add to their goal tally. But in the event, the one goal was enough to secure Gate’s first three points of the new season.

Margate’s current form has taken a recent hit from two defeats in three away games. Overall form sees Gate ranked 12 having won eight points from two wins and two draws in six games. Home form however has shown a marked improvement since the early season, with just one defeat – New Year’s Day against Welling – in six games at Homelands. This performance sees Margate’s home form ranking at six, with 11 from a possible 18 points.

Illness and injury were a factor in last week’s defeat at Hornchurch, and manager Chris Kinnear will be hoping that the mid-week half time substitution of Greg Oates in the GLS cup game at Crawley has not added to those concerns.

The issue of Margate’s wafer thin squad is well documented, and although the naming of long-term injury victim Mark Green was a positive sign, it remains to be seen how ready for league action he is.

But not withstanding numbers, the performance against Crawley was encouraging, and will certainly have helped to erase the disappointment of last Saturday’s defeat at Hornchurch from the memory.

The Robins come into the Conference South after finishing 7th in last season’s Ryman Premier League, with not much to choose between their home and away records.

This season, Carshalton have been more successful at their Colston Avenue ground than away - although only by two points. Home form remains respectable, and they are currently ranked eight. But away form has suffered more recently – six games yielding just four points including a win over bottom of the table Redbridge.

Nic McDonnell and Sam Saunders are the Robins danger men, with 16 goals – over a third of all Carshalton’s goals – between them.

With just one point and two places between the sides, this looks like a close game on paper. But being at home, and with the mid-week performance behind them, Gate should fancy their chances of sealing a positive result to keep a safe cushion between them and the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Margate's league trip to Grays Athletic will be played on Good Friday, 25th March (3pm).   Their John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup semi-final at Folkestone Invicta takes place at the Westbourne Stadium, Cheriton Road on Tuesday 12th April (7:45pm).  The other semi-final, at the Hoverspeed Stadium, between Dover Athletic and Gravesend & Northfleet takes place next Tuesday.

St Albans City travel to Homelands to play Chris Kinnear's side on Tuesday 5th April (7:45pm)


Margate v Carshalton Athletic
Nationwide Conference South
Saturday 19th March 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at The Homelands, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth