Aylesbury United 2-4 Margate - We’ve not been winning games so for me it was about getting through and that’s always the case in the cup competitions against lower league opposition, says Margate boss Jay Saunders

Sunday 01st November 2020
Aylesbury United 2 – 4 Margate
Location The Meadow, Amy Lane, Chesham, Buckinghamshire HP5 1NE
Kickoff 01/11/2020 15:00

The Buildbase FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round
Sunday 1 November 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from The Meadow

MARGATE manager Jay Saunders says his boys have shown good character after winning their second game in 11 to book their place in The FA Trophy First Round for the first time since 2004.

Ben Williams’ side went into the game sitting in second-place in the Southern League Central Division with 13 points from six games, a couple of points behind leaders Corby Town but with a game in hand.

Margate arrived in Chesham with one win to their name and struggling in the bottom three in the Isthmian League Premier Division table with six points from nine games but this victory will be a shot in the arm for Saunders’ side going into Tuesday’s vital home clash against East Thurrock United, the side immediately below them in the table on five points.

Aylesbury United started the game on the front foot and striker Harry Jones, a signing from Risborough Rangers, opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes before Margate’s debutant striker Norman Wabo, 22, equalised.

Margate did well to go into the break on level terms and Wabo ran on to slot in his second goal of the game just three minutes into the second half.

However, Aylesbury United deservedly drew level with 20 minutes remaining with a contender for goal of the season from Jones, a striker who wears the number two shirt, curling a beauty into the top far corner.

However, Margate sealed their passage into the next round courtesy of Noel Leighton – who played behind lone striker Wabo – scored twice in the space of 130 seconds to give the scoreline a flattering look.

“We’ve got through, it’s not one I want to think about for too long to be honest, we’ve not been winning games so for me it was about getting through and that’s always the case in the cup competitions against lower league opposition,” said Saunders.

“Aylesbury are a decent side, obviously going well in the league, probably a little bit opposite to us. 

“I watched them on Wednesday night (a goal-less draw at home) against Bedford Town and I could tell they were a good side and I’m disappointed that we didn’t do some of the things that could’ve made our life easier today but listen we got the result, we’re through and we needed that win.”

When asked what he got from his side after they ended a miserable run of nine games without a win (and losing their last five), Saunders said: “A good response. I thought if you’re playing a team like Aylesbury, especially here on a pitch, a difficult place to come with the slope, it’s a big pitch.

“I said to the boys you have to come here and do the basics quite well and I didn’t think we did that first 15-20 minutes at all and deservedly went behind and then we had a spell when we got on top and we came back into it and I think we started the second half well but they gave me a good response and have scored four goals, which is really pleasing.

“We haven’t been scoring goals so it’s good to see both forwards get two goals each.”

The Ducks set the tone by creating their first opening after only 34 seconds.

Left-back Jake Bewley threw the ball into Jamie Jellis, who hooked pass set up central midfielder Ben Seaton, who curled his shot around the far post from 25-yards.

“Listen, they’re a side going for promotion. They’re right up there.  I come to watch them and they’re a good side and we tried to show them all the respect we could because they are a good side and I expect them to finish high up,” said Saunders.

“I did say to the boys we have to start on the front foot, we have to be willing to come and have a battle here because that’s what it will be. It won’t be the prettiest of games with the conditions and everything but we have to be ready and people doing their jobs and do them well and earn the right a little bit to then start playing.

“I didn’t think we did that and they started off a lot better than us.”

Left-winger Max Hercules was a threat during the first-half as Margate right-back Chris Sessegnon struggled to keep tabs on the son of Aylesbury United legend, striker Cliff Hercules, record appearance holder and goalscorer for the club (659 games and 301 goals) when the Buckinghamshire outfit were at the height of their powers at Buckingham Road.

“He was good, he was good today. It was hard for Sessegnon, he hasn’t played for a month due to a hamstring injury so that’s his first game back and he’s had none training sessions and come straight back into it today on a heavy pitch against a good player, so it was difficult for him.

“Hercules was bright and he caused us a few problems first-half.  I thought once we got to grips with it, we sort of quietened him down second half but he certainly had a good first half and was causing us problems.”

Margate centre-half Ben Swift’s poor under-cooked back-pass trickled towards his goalkeeper Bailey Vose, who was rushed into a making a poor clearance as he was being pressed by Jones and Hercules lacked composure to send his shot sailing over the crossbar from the left-hand side of the box some 15-yards from goal.

Aylesbury United certainly deserved their lead when it arrived with nine minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

Seaton slid in under pressure in the middle of the park to sweep the ball out wide to right-winger Anthony Ball, who drilled in a deep cross along the deck towards Hercules, who was left unmarked at the far post inside the box.  He cut the ball back for Jones to smash his first-time shot across Vose’s outstretched left arm, to score from six-yards.

Saunders said: “I don’t want to take nothing away from them. It’s poor from us. It’s come from our corner.  We’ve had a set-piece and we’ve left ourselves two-against-two at the back.

“Jake Porter and Bailey Vose have got to organise that and make sure that if our midfielders have gone running off and we can’t afford to do that and we’ve got to be disciplined in our jobs.

“I’ve made them very aware of their threats from crosses into the box and they’ve broke from our corner and scored so really disappointing from our point of view.”

Ball and right-back Jack Wood linked up down the right and Ball’s left-footed angled drive from just inside the corner of the box was comfortably saved by Vose, down on his knees into his midriff at his near post.

However, out-played Margate grabbed an equaliser following their first of four corners with 20 minutes and 39 seconds on the clock.

Jack Richards delivered a deep hanging corner from the left and Leighton rose at the far post to loop his header behind him.  Margate’s right-winger Richard Afrane-Kesey drilled the ball back in across the goal-line where former Dartford striker Wabo tapped the ball into the left-hand corner from very close range.

“Listen, we showed a good reaction. We sort of weathered it a little bit, the early start and we got back into it and we’ve worked on set-pieces and we felt we could hurt them at the back post area,” said Saunders.

“It’s well-worked for us, Noel’s done really well to keep the ball alive in the second phase and a good ball across the box and Webo – that’s the reason I believe he can score goals and he’s proved that. We’ve not had someone like that, that when things can drop in the area you feel can nick those sort of tap-ins.  I’m really delighted, he really started to cause them a few problems from that point on.”

Margate, who went into this game having scored only six league goals in nine league games, saw their confidence increase following their equaliser and started to dominate proceedings.

Sessegnon and Reece Prestedge linked up down the right and central midfielder Prestedge drilled his cross into the box, which took a deflection of Seaton’s left-leg and goalkeeper Jack Hopwood gathered the ball while diving to his left to prevent the ball going behind for a corner.

Hopwood launched a big kick aiming for Hercules own the left.  The winger nudged Sessegnon in the back, which was enough for the ball to bounce over the head of the Margate right-back and Hercules cut into the box and his right-footed angled drive rolled into Vose’s hands for a comfortable save at his near post.

Aylesbury United kept knocking on the door and Margate’s 22-year-old goalkeeper pulled off a great save in the 29th minute.

The Ducks enjoyed a spell of pressure in and around the Margate penalty area and Hercules worked the ball inside to Seaton, who was left in oceans of space to take a touch before drilling his right-footed shot towards the roof of the net from 35-yards.  Vose dived high to his left to tip the ball onto the top of his crossbar and over for Aylesbury’s third (of six) corners.

“A good touch again from us sitting too deep. I don’t think we’ve gone out pressurising the ball. The lad has had two touches and been able to shoot.  These are the little things that we need to be better at and work at and be better at but a good save by Bailey,” said Saunders.

With 10 minutes to go before the break, Ball found himself inside the D and his right-footed shot was comfortably held by the busy Vose, smothering the ball low to his right – as Seaton was keen to link up with Aylesbury United’s attackers.

Leighton was playing at least 20 yards behind an isolated Wabo, who was willing to run the channels up front on his own for the away side.

Wabo was to be denied a goal on the counter-attack in the 38th minute when central midfielder Archie Burnett hit a ball over the top which split open centre-half Jordan Jenkins to put Wabo through on goal but a poor touch inside the box allowed Hopwood to come off his line to use his legs to deny the striker.

“Listen, we spoke about it and we felt Norman could hurt them down the sides.  I thought he was excellent today,” said Saunders, who may have found the prolific striker that he has been searching for.

“A good ball by Archie. He’s had a tough afternoon for a young lad. He’s only just turned 17 and he’s never come somewhere like this and had to deal with that sort of game so it was a learning curve for him but a great ball and Wabo was really causing the centre-halves problems at that point.”

Aylesbury United’s right-back Wood played the ball up to Jones, who played a short first time pass into Jellis, who cracked a first-time right-footed drive screaming just over the Margate crossbar from 25-yards.

Somehow, Margate went in at the break on level terms but they put in a much better second-half performance starting it on the front foot.

Saunders said: “I felt we needed to go another 20%. I felt we were playing well within ourselves. We looked a little bit like we were struggling to get to grips with their game plan and just the basics, picking up second balls and things like that we weren’t doing well enough and you have to do that in cup football.

“I told them a few things, obviously we made a change like Freddie Moncur coming on for Archie Burnett, which I thought made a difference.

“We needed to be 10-15 yards higher up the pitch everywhere really and getting a little bit closer and do the ugly side of it and if we can then add little bits of quality then I felt we’d be ok.”

Afrane-Kesey drilled in a cross from the right which gave a Hopwood a sticky situation as he allowed the ball to almost slip through his fingers at his near post before gathering at the second attempt after 100 seconds.

Margate grabbed the lead with two minutes and 9 seconds on the game, courtesy of a clinical finish from Wabo.

Left-winger Richards released Wabo through the heart of the pitch and the striker’s pace easily took him past Jenkins and left-back Bewley and once inside the box Wabo drilled his right-footed shot past the keeper from 15-yards.

“We made four or five passes in our own half, which we spoke about being a little bit more patient in the build-up,” said Saunders.

“Jack Richards played into Norman and it’s a great turn and flicked it around the centre-half and he’s run through and that’s what he’s very good at. It was a calm finish and it’s something that we’ve lacked and it’s a good finish for someone making his debut.  I’m delighted for him.”

Aylesbury United then regained dominance with Seaton floating a right-footed free-kick in from the right, which was flicked on by Wood and holding midfielder Mark Riddick poked his shot towards goal, which was smothered by Vose low to his left.

Eleven minutes in and Swift was penalised for handball but the four-man Margate wall did its job to deny Hercules from 25-yards.  However, Jellis put the ball back in and Seaton’s header looped over the Margate crossbar.

Centre-half Dave O’Connor went up front for a short period of time just before the hour-mark, making space at the near post to meet Hercules’ right-footed cross from the left flank towards the near post but O’Connor’s header was pushed around the post by Vose, diving to his left.

Aylesbury United continued to press and Seaton played the ball into O’Connor inside the box and the ball fell at Wood but the right-back’s shot sailed just past the far post.

Prestedge gave the ball away inside the Aylesbury half and Riddick hit a sublime long ball to put Hercules in but his right-footed chip from just outside the penalty area dropped past the top of the right-hand post.

Margate weathered the storm, however, and went close to grabbing the lead again at the half-way mark.

Left-back Jay Porter played the ball into Wabo and his low cross from the left was cleared out to Leighton, who placed his first-time left-footed shot across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post from 20-yards.

Aylesbury United deservedly levelled with 24 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock and there won’t be many better goals than this one this weekend, sorry season, from Jones.

Jones skipped past Margate’s centre-half Liam Friend on the halfway line before sprinting forward with the ball at his feet and once on the edge of the box his shirt was pulled by Porter. 

Jones then cut inside and curled a beautiful left-footed shot around the diving keeper to find the top far (left) corner from 18-yards.

Saunders said: “Oh, it’s a hell of a strike and I think if you gave him another 20 balls on his weaker foot I don’t think he’ll be able to do that, he’s caught it sweet.

“I actually felt at that time they actually deserved to get back into the game. I thought we started the second half really well and went 2-1 up and we looked in control and then we had a 10-15 minute spell when we made a couple of silly mistakes and we let if affect us rather than just get back on the ball.

“They upped the tempo a little bit and it’s a great strike from the lad.  At that point I actually felt we might go on and lose the game because I felt they were in the ascendancy and we were struggling to really get hold of the ball and have any effect on the game.

“I felt we were going to be up against it because I really felt we went into our shells a little bit and wasn’t getting on the ball well enough and not looking after it.  We kept turning it over against a side that’s full of confidence like they are.

“But the boys showed good character. They could’ve gone in their shells but they didn’t. They kept going and Noel scored a good goal.”

Expecting Aylesbury United to go on and seal the deal, Leighton had other ideas as his two goals snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Margate grabbed the lead with 30 minutes and 52 seconds on the clock following a well-worked move from a set-piece.

Porter was inside his own half when he smashed his left-footed free-kick over to the other side of the pitch and Friend did well to hold the ball up close to the touchline before playing the ball inside to Prestedge.

Prestedge played a clever short pass into Leighton and as two Aylesbury players raced out to press him (one of them being the keeper), Leighton kept his composure by lashing his right-footed shot into the roof of the net from 10-yards.

“I felt all the time we actually had a little bit of quality on the ball we opened them up,” said Saunders.

“The free-kick’s gone wide and Liam Friend’s done well to retrieve it and Prezza has played a great little reverse pass into Noel and Noel’s taken it well.

“If you’re looking at all of the goals we’ve scored today, they’re good goals.  It was a good finish from Noel. It was difficult to see form here, I actually thought it went into the side-netting but he’s put it away and I’m pleased for him.  He’s been out injured, it’s only his third game back so it’s good for him to get on the scoresheet.”

Wabo turned provider when his defensive splitting through ball cut open Wood to put Margate substitute left-winger Toby Bancroft through on goal straight down the heart of the pitch but Hopwood raced to the edge of his box to make a vital block with his legs.

“I don’t like to back the keeper’s there, I think it’s a bad miss from Toby but I don’t want to kill him,” said Saunders.

“The keeper stood tall and made it hard for him.  I fancied Toby to take that.  I feel for him because at Enfield the other week he had an opportunity and he missed and that today, I thought please score because it will do his confidence the world of good but unfortunately he missed it.  Go on then, we’ll give it to the keeper and say it was a good save form the keeper.”

Margate scored a flattering fourth goal with 33 minutes and 2 seconds on the clock as Wood -now playing on the right of a three-man defence alongside Jenkins and with Bewley on the other side – switched off.

Porter threaded the ball down the line to Leighton, who had time and space to cut into the box and drilled his right-footed shot into the bottom near corner from 15-yards, leaving goalkeeper Hopwood rooted to the spot to score his second goal of the season.

“Once he turned inside, he just chopped in and once he chopped inside I fancied him to score form there,” said Saunders.

“I don’t think the centre-half got out to him quickly enough and he’s drilled it in so from their point of view I think they’ll look at that and say poor defending  but it was a good finish and I pleased that both of our forwards have got two goals.

“It meant we were able to bring Wabo off and give him a little break because he’s not played for a month or so and with a game on Tuesday night, well hopefully Tuesday night, we can give him a little rest.”

Aylesbury United’s substitute midfielder Ollie Hogg swing in their sixth and final corner and O’Connor steered his header past the far post.

Margate almost snatched a fifth goal inside stoppage time when Bancroft put the ball in from the right towards the far post but Afrane-Kesey placed his volley past the foot of the left-hand post from six-yards.

“Richard’s got caught in two minds, I think,” said Saunders.

“He thought about heading it and at the last minute he changed his mind and tried to volley it and he’s disappointed in there because he was a big part of our plans today. We could hurt them down the left-hand side and we didn’t get him enough on the ball so it would’ve been good for him. He’s done a lot of work defensively today, which I’m pleased for him and he deserved a goal.”

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposing a four-week lockdown from Thursday, Margate face a vital six-pointer clash against East Thurrock United at Hartsdown Park.

“In all fairness to them after John Coventry left, they probably expected to have a tough season,” said Saunders.

“I still stick by that we don’t deserve to be where we are, we probably should have some more points on the board.

“We’ve not had any people that can finish. I feel Webo coming in and we’ve also signed a midfielder who didn’t go through in time for today, hopefully he’ll be available for Tuesday so we’re trying to add bits of quality that will make a difference in that final third.

“Hopefully we can go and get a positive result and after that we go into lockdown and it stops then.

“It’s a big game, they’re all big games but I don’t want to get caught up in it because we’ve only played nine league games. We can be sat their quite comfortably with an extra nine points on the table.

“There’s been games we haven’t been good in and we deserved to lose those games but other games we could be sitting with more points but it’s alright saying that, we’ve got to turn them into results.

“I feel having Wabo’s quality and the lad we’ve got coming in on Tuesday will make a big difference. He’s got real quality and we’re still looking to improve the squad and hopefully we’ll be able to do that or again it could be put on hold, so we’ll see.”

Aylesbury United: Jack Hopwood, Jack Wood, Jake Bewley, Mark Riddick, Dave O’Connor, Jordan Jenkins, Max Hercules, Ben Seaton, Harry Jones (Patrick Gourgel Sequeira 78), Jamie Jellis (Ollie Hogg 67), Anthony Ball (Juwon Akintunde 78).
Subs: Pierce McNamara, Kuda Sagoya, James Weatherill

Goals: Harry Jones 10, 70

Margate: Bailey Vose, Chris Sessegnon, Jay Porter, Reece Prestedge, Liam Friend, Ben Swift, Jack Richards (Toby Bancroft 66), Archie Burnett (Freddie Moncur 46), Norman Wabo (John Ufuah 82), Noel Leighton, Richard Afrane-Kesey.
Subs: Owen Kallmeier, Charlie Hatton, Jamie Coyle

Goals: Norman Wabo 21, 48, Noel Leighton 76, 78

Booked: Liam Friend 73, Noel Leighton 89

Attendance: 243
Referee: Mr Stuart Kyle
Assistants: Mr Lee Hodgkinson & Mr James deSchoolmeester