Sunday 27th March 2005

Another tough test for goal-shy Margate

MARGATE welcome high-flying Cambridge City to Homelands for the second game of the tough Easter programme, writes Steve Wells.

When the sides met at Milton Road earlier in the season, it was the Lilywhites that recorded a 2-1 victory. Margate had enough chances to win the game themselves, but in the Cambridgeshire rain, Gate’s goal-shy habit proved to be the difference between victory and defeat.

In the early stages of the game Che Stadhart hit the post when firing goal-wards following good work from Rocky Baptiste. Both Greg Oates and Mark Green also had shots from distance but it was the home side that took the lead within 20 minutes of the start. The hosts took full advantage of defensive uncertainty as Jon Stevenson scored the opening goal of the contest.

Margate picked up the pace again and looked certain to get back in the game during the rest of the half, but they did not. With seven second half minutes on the clock, Gate pulled level when  Green scored his first competitive goal for the club with an excellent effort from 20 yards.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, Aaron Barrnet – at the time Gate’s top scorer – had an effort cleared from the Cambridge area. The hosts went straight down the other end and scored their second goal through Jon Stevenson.

After a good run that saw Margate climb away from the danger zone and as high as 14th, Gate have now gone five league games without a win – including three defeats in a row for the first time since November 2003. A return of five from a possible 18 points – including just one win – has seen the Blues drop to one place above the bottom three. Whilst other results have gone against Margate, current league form is all the more frustrating given the nature of the positive performance (despite defeat) against Crawley in the GLS cup. At home, Margate have fared better; taking 10 from a possible 18 points – one point better than Cambridge’s away form.

Injuries and illness have not helped Chris Kinnear’s cause but neither has his goal-shy side. Three goal-less games on the bounce tells its own story. Mark Green’s recent reappearance on the bench after his lengthy lay off through injury; Eseyas Yhdego’s availability and Pat Gradley’s appearance from the bench are all positives that will give the club a timely boost. One definite change from the side that lost heavily - 5-0 -  to Grays will be Nej Hussein in for Peter Trego who misses out through suspension.

Manager Gary Roberts will be pleased with his side’s progress this year. From eighth place in the Dr Martens League last year, the Lilywhites have been in the top five for most of the season, and even though they missed out on the title with defeat against Welling, they remain a safe bet for the play-offs. They and also enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup.

City are one of those sides that have accumulated more of their points away than at home. Not good news for Margate, then. Except that whilst most of the league separate the sides in the full league table, just three places and goal difference separate them in the current form table. City have won just once in their last six league games – taking five from a possible 18 points, although typically they have a better record over their last six away games.

Dave Sadler (16 league goals) and Robbie Simpson represent the main goal treat for Cambridge, although Sadler has scored twice as many as his teammate. Attacking midfielder Carl Williams misses the game through suspension.


Margate v Cambridge City
Nationwide Conference South
Easter Monday, 28th March 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Ashford Town FC, The Homelands, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth