Kingstonian 1-3 Margate - There will be a lot of twists and turns between now and the end of the season and I think the play-off race will come down to the wire, says Margate boss Steven Watt

Monday 29th January 2018
Kingstonian 1 – 3 Margate
Location Fetcham Grove, Guildford Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 9AS
Kickoff 29/01/2018 19:45

KINGSTONIAN  1-3  MARGATE
Bostik Premier Division
Monday 29 January 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Fetcham Grove

MARGATE manager Steven Watt says the race for the play-offs will come down to the wire after his side consolidated third-place in the Bostik Premier Division after sealing a comfortable win over ten-man Kingstonian.

Margate extended their unbeaten run to eight games after coming home from Leatherhead with a 3-1 win over a Kingstonian side in seventeenth-place in the table with 35 points.

Margate grabbed the lead through Jordan Chiedozie’s near-post finish but Leigh Dynan’s side were reduced to ten-men when holding midfielder Kevin MacLaren was sent-off for a nasty challenge after 35 minutes.

Kingstonian levelled early in the second half through Andre McCollin’s header, before Chiedozie hooked in his 28th goal of the season.

Margate sealed the win through winger Kane Haysman, scoring his 14th goal of the season, after scoring seven times for the K’s before his switch to the Kent coast.

Watt saw his side come away from Harrow Borough with a 4-0 win at the weekend and was delighted that they maintained their promotion push here tonight.

He said: “A good performance, it’s always difficult on a short turnaround.  We played on an extremely heavy pitch on Saturday and again tonight.

“I thought it was a well-ground out performance.  Give Kingstonian a lot of credit, I thought they played very well tonight with 10 men.  I’m just happy to get three points and that was the main thing tonight.

“I think Lenny (Pidgeley) had next to nothing to do again, which is pleasing and we had that cutting edge going forward. 

“Again, we’ve had two games in three days and we’ve scored seven and conceded one so that’s a great return. There’s something about this group, the work-rate they give and the effort they give each time they put on that Margate shirt is outstanding.  It’s the backbone of our success and we look to continue.”

Kingstonian started the game on the front foot on a sticky pitch at Fetcham Grove.

Winger Victor Fundi swept the ball out to striker Louie Theophanous, whose angled drive deflected past the foot of the near post from just inside the Margate box after only 40 seconds.

Kingstonian left-back Andrew Musungo fed McCollin, but Fundi’s weak shot towards goal was kicked away by Margate keeper Lenny Pidgeley.

Tom Beere’s free-kick into the Margate box was cleared out to Fundi, who was lurking unmarked on the edge of the box but all he could do was clip the ball into Pidgeley’s hands.

Kingstonian’s Freddy Yao planted a header forward to McCollin, who cut inside to stroke his shot along the deck which was gathered at the second attempt by the Margate keeper inside the opening 10 minutes.

“We know they are a high energy team with some very good attacking players and it was always going to be tough this evening,” said Watt.

“We knew they would come out fast and we weathered that storm well and I thought as the half grew we became the better side.”

Margate winger David Martin lost the ball to K’s right-back Manolis Gogonas, who released Fundi down the right and his cross deflected off Tom Wynter and sailed into the side netting.

Margate lost central defender Ben Swift to a tight hamstring so Watt brought on Aaron Simpson at left-back and Wynter moved across to partner Liam Friend at the heart of defence, while Jack Evans remained the other full-back.

“It looks like a hamstring injury so we’ll have to assess that.  I’m not sure how bad the injury was,” added Watt.

Margate weathered the early storm and created their first opening in the 25th minute.

Haysman played the ball in from the right wing to Sam Blackman, who drove forward from the middle of the park before rolling in Chiedozie, who strode forward to drill his left-footed shot over the top of the near post from 15-yards.

“It was a good chance,” acknowledged Watt.

“It was a good run from Sam breaking from midfield and another great run off the shoulder that Jordan does. If that chance came later in the game I’d fancy him to take it, but it was an early chance on his weaker foot. It was a good strike but he didn’t hit the target.”

Within three minutes, Evans floated in a free-kick and Wynter came up from the back to rise to loop his header across goal and past the far post.

But Margate broke the stalemate by scoring with 30 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock.

Frannie Collin swung in Margate’s second corner of the night from the left and Chiedozie made room at the near post to flick his shot into the near corner with his back to goal from a couple of yards out.

“It was a great ball in and good movement by Jordan off the keeper, that’s what Jordan does. He just finds the net, he’s deadly,” added Watt, who said the striker is “certainly flying at the minute.”

Musungo threaded a low pass down the left channel to Theophanous, who cut the ball onto his right-foot to drill his angled drive past the foot of the near post.

Referee Bhupinder Gill pulled out a red-card to Kingstonian captain MacLaren for a bad challenge on Blackman in the 35th minute.

“I thought it was a bad challenge.  I thought he’s out of control on the tackle, I really did,” claimed Watt.

“I’ve seen worse tackles, if you like, but he knows what he’s doing, he’s gone in, I think he’s over the top of the ball.  It’s more the pace he’s gone in at. I would say out of control, that’s the term they use nowadays.  He went in to tackle off the floor, out of control, which I thought he was and the ref saw it was a red card, which I thought was the right decision.”

MacLaren took a while to leave the field of play, walking over towards the Margate bench to exchange words with Watt.

“We had a few words, I said things.  I wasn’t too pleased with the tackle, so we had a few words.  We spoke at half-time and sometimes it goes in the heat of the moment.”

Great defending from Friend denied Kingstonian an opening just before the break when Theophanous played in McCollin through on goal but the former Folkestone Invicta defender made a well-timed tackle to poke the ball behind for a corner.

“It was a great tackle, it was well-timed. Friendy’s been a rock for us at the back this season, he’s been outstanding,” added Watt.

A long ball out of defence from Kingstonian right-back Gogonas was seemingly picked up by Pidgeley outside the box and after consulting his colleague, referee Gill showed the keeper a yellow card.

Watt said: “I couldn’t see from where I was but the feedback I’ve had from players on the pitch said he wasn’t outside the box, it was on the line.  I’m disappointed that they got in from a straight ball but it’s one of those things. The linesman has got a better view than what I have, I can’t really comment on it.”

When asked about his thoughts at the break, the Scotsman replied: “Just manage the game! If we manage the game properly it’s an easy evening and we got off to the worst possible start! We conceded the goal but we responded well.

“It was a game where the players were extremely tired out there and they gave everything they had tonight. Look, we could’ve come away with maybe four or five goals but we didn’t but we got the three points and that’s the main thing.”

Kingstonian equalised with exactly three and a half minutes on the clock, following a set-piece.

Beere whipped in a precise right-footed free-kick from the left channel and McCollin made space to glance his header across Pidgley to find the far corner from eight-yards.

Watt said: “It was disappointing to give away! We had good possession in their half and we conceded a poor free-kick in our final third. It’s a great delivery and a good header. They were dangerous tonight from set-pieces.  I look at the stats and I was worried, not worried, but I gave a little bit of thought on that and it would be an issue and they scored from it.  It was a great delivery and a good header but we responded well.”

Friend took a bang to his head in the build-up to the goal and play re-started three minutes and 18 seconds after the ball nestled into the back of the net.

But Chiedozie was in clinical goalscoring form and his second goal of the game arrived with eight minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Martin swung in a quality corner from the right and Chiedozie hooked his right-footed shot from 12-yards on the turn over the keeper’s left-hand shoulder and looping into the net.

“It was a great ball in, again, a great little run from Jordan and a great little finish. It’s what he does, he’s clinical and he takes his chances,” added Watt.

Evans was withdrawn through another hamstring injury so Matt Bodkin came off the bench to slot in at right-back while striker Jay May replaced Martin.

James Rogers played a crossfield pass along the deck to Bodkin, who drove in a cross for Haysman to plant his free header across the keeper and past the far post.

Kingstonian goalkeeper Rob Tolfrey was beaten for a third time with 24 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

Blackman fed Chiedozie down the right channel, the striker held the ball up and backhealed the ball back to Bodkin, who took one touch before whipping in a great cross into the Kingstonian box.  May headed across goal and Blackman slipped at the far post but the ball bounced off his head and Haysman swept a first time shot across Tolfrey into the bottom far corner.

“It was a great move, great play, a great ball in by Bods, good from Jay. It’s unfortunate for Sam, if he doesn’t slip, I think Sam scores but he slips and he’s done ever so well to keep the ball alive on the floor and just nod it down to Kane.  Kane has scored a lot of goals this season and I’m just happy he’s popped up with one against his old club tonight.”

Musungo got in behind Bodkin and his low cut-back was cleared out to Yao, who drilled a low right-footed shot through a crowd of players and Pidgley dived to his left to parry before grabbing the ball at the feet of sub striker Dennis Oli, the keeper cutting his right eye as he bravely made the save.

The Margate keeper was receiving treatment for 11 seconds shy of six minutes but was able to continue.

“He got caught with a knee so Len will need a stitch or two in there,” revealed Watt.

“It was always a concern at the time because we made the substitutions and knew what we had to do but we had stuff in place really if he needed to come off but I knew he would be alright. He’s a big, strong, brave lad so I knew he’d be ok.

“I was a little bit worried. Initially I started off and I thought he took a knock and he’d be ok but then when I heard it was a cut you worry about the size of it and how bad it is but credit to Keith the physio who got the bleeding stopped and we were able to get on with the game.”

Despite that injury, Kingstonian failed to test the Margate keeper for the remainder of the game.

Margate, though, created a couple of chances inside the seven minutes and 44 seconds of injury time.

Bodkin hung over a cross form the right-wing towards the far post where May rose above his marker to plant his header straight at Tolfrey from six-yards, the striker punching the ground in despair at the missed chance.

“I fancied Jay to head it. He got up really well but I thought the defender defended it really well, he got his body underneath him so he couldn’t get a clean purchase on the header but it was good play again, a good cross form Bods.”

Chiedozie then released May through the heart of the pitch and after going wide he cut the ball back to Chiedozie, who flicked his shot across Tolfrey and past the far post.

Watt said: “I just feel for him, I thought he deserved a hat-trick tonight. He was a constant threat all night. He’s got his couple of goals and he was unlucky not to get his hat-trick again, like he was Saturday but he’s getting in positions to take chances and he’s taking more than he’s missed.”

Dulwich Hamlet lead the Bostik Premier Division table with 62 points in the bag from 30 games but second-placed Billericay Town are only a couple of points behind but with seven games in hand.  Margate have closed the gap to three points on Billericay but Watt’s men have played eight games more.  Folkestone Invicta are in fourth-place with 53 points from 29 games, a point clear of Staines Town.

“Nothing’s done yet, we’re only at the beginning of February and we’ve got a long, long way to go yet and there will be a lot of twists and turns between now and the end of the season and I think the play-off race will come down to the wire,” said Watt, as he prepares his side for the visit of bottom-six side Lowestoft Town on Saturday.

“I don’t think you will know exactly where everyone is until the end of February so we’ve just have to wait and asses things then.

“Well, the title’s gone, no one else will get the title. I think we all know where the title’s going to go (Billericay Town).  We’ve just got to aim to finish as high in the table as we can, that’s all we can do.  We look to win every game we can and we look to the next game. What will come at the end of the season will be.  You finish in a way where you deserve to finish as I see it.”

On paper, Dulwich Hamlet, Billericay Town and Margate (the big three) were always going to be at the top end of the table.

“There’s a lot of big clubs in our league, I wouldn’t say we were the big three,” said Watt.

“There’s a lot of good sides in our league. We’re probably three teams who teams would suggest would be in and around it.  There’s a lot of quality sides in this league and a lot of sides who are very good attacking sides.

“I’ve played in this division a few years back, compare now to then, it’s a lot more athletic, a lot more pace, a lot more attacking prowess so it’s a tougher league, I think. 

“I think what the boys have done, they deserve a massive amount of credit with the amount of games they’ve played in a short space of time and to be where they are now, I think they deserve all the credit in the world.”

Kingstonian: Rob Tolfrey, Manolis Gogonas, Andrew Musungo, Kevin MacLaren, Leo Chambers, Marvin Elliott, Freddy Yao, Tom Beere, Louie Theophanous (Connor Hunte 84), Andre McCollin (Dennis Oli 71), Victor Fundi (Noel Mbo 63).
Subs: Jack Minchin, Jahmal Howlett-Mundle

Goal: Andre McCollin 49

Sent Off: Kevin MacLaren 35

Margate: Lenny Pidgeley, Jack Evans (Matt Bodkin 56), Tom Wynter, James Rogers, Liam Friend, Ben Swift (Aaron Simpson 17), Kane Haysman, Sam Blackman, Jordan Chiedozie, Frannie Collin, David Martin (Jay May 55).
Subs: Lee Prescott, Patrick Lee

Goals: Jordan Chiedozie 31, 54, Kane Haysman 70

Booked: Lenny Pidgeley 45, Jack Evans 49

Attendance: 225
Referee: Mr Bhupinder Gill (Iver, Buckinghamshire)
Assistants: Mr Conor Griffin (Hanwell, Middlesex) & Mr Deryll David (Edgware, Middlesex)

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EMAIL STEPHEN McCARTNEY:
stephen@kentishfootball.co.uk