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|Mike Green reports from Hornchurch
|Hornchurch||1||Glynn 69 (pen)|
Nine games for exiled Margate to maintain league status
I wish I could sit here and reflect on an afternoon at the Hornchurch Sports Stadium and say with any conviction that it will live long in the memory!
Truth is it won't because this game turned into what many feared it would - a mid table game between two struggling sides left to wonder what might have been.
You always sensed it would take a mistake for either side to win the game and so it proved, as in truth neither side did enough to warrant the three points...
But you still couldn't help but wonder "what might have been", because of course earlier in the season, Hornchurch had a financial backer and full time manager and topped Conference South. Then their backer went bust and the money (and the manger and players) went, and their slide began.
Indeed they went into this game knowing that even the Play Offs are now just a remote possibility. Then again, as we all know, Margate's problems are of course well documented, but with the return to Thanet and their spiritual home at Hartsdown Park now just a few short months away, a weight seems to have been lifted from the shoulders of Chris Kinnear's side and with it it seemed on this day that their "get up and go had got up and gone"!!!
The first half is instantly forgettable, as neither keeper got their knees dirty. Matt Glynn's free kick for the home side was shephered wide of his right post by Gate keeper Peter Trego, whilst Scott Gooding sent a free header high over the Margate bar.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Che Stadhart shot straight at keeper Micky Desborough, whilst only Moses Jjunju will know how he sent a free header over the bar from three yards!
The second half in truth wasn't much better but was to centre on Margate keeper Trego. First on 61 minutes Lee Allen was denied by a great save low to his right, after wing back Andy Locke's great run.
Then on 65 minutes came the moment that turned the game undeniably the way of the home side. A suicidal back pass left Trego very short as Chris Stowe raced clear. The keeper's only "option" was to bring the striker down leaving referee Darlow with no option but to send Trego to the dressing room. A long walk normally but even longer at this ground as the pitch is in the middle of an athletics track!
Eventually Nejdet Hussein came on (there was a delay as the Margate bench tried to find another keepers jersey) to face Glynn's penalty albeit four minutes after the initial foul. Full credit then to Glynn as he coolly rolled the penalty into the corner of the net.
Try as they might Margate couldn't find their way back into the game, and it was left to Hussein to ensure that the scoreline didn't flatter the home team even more, with two stunning saves - the second of which in stoppage time to deny Locke's exquisite chip - but these three points stayed in Essex.
Afterwards manager Kinnear was as philosophical as ever "It wasn't a good game at all and we're very disappointed! We just look very tired at the moment, yet whilst we're still under this (transfer) embargo, we cant freshen things up, and it getting very difficult for the players." The manager went on, "Unless we can start signing a few players, the rest of the season is going to be a hard old struggle and yet again shows the characters of these players."
A point that skipper Adrian Clarke also put forward as he said: "today the cracks were there for all to see. Hopefully we can regroup and move on in time for when we play Carshalton next week. Lets face it, no one's too good to go down! Even though we've been on a good run, everyone else seems to have been winning too. We need the points quite badly and we thought we'd get them today. We now must make sure we get three points next week."
Wise words, or perhaps a warning that no one had dared utter... Nine games left in exile for Margate - nine games to make sure that they return to Hartsdown as a Conference South club. There's still you fear another chapter yet to be written!
Hornchurch: Desborough; Southon, Johnson, Gooding; Locke, Tomlinson, Hill, Allen (O'Connor 83), Bowes; Glynn, Stowe (Douglas 76)
Margate: Trego (sent off 67); Edwards, Keister, Smith; Oates, Charalambous (Barnett 76), Stadhart, Clarke, Benevides; Baptiste (sub Hussein 67), Jjunju (Watson 57)