Lewes 0-0 Margate - We need to get ourselves out of the position we are, says Margate joint-manager Mike Sandmann

Wednesday 23rd January 2019
Lewes 0 – 0 Margate
Location The Dripping Pan, Mountfield Road, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2XA
Kickoff 23/01/2019 19:45

Bostik Premier Division
Wednesday 23 January 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from The Dripping Pan

MARGATE joint-manager Mike Sandmann praised his players character and desire after coming away from third-place Lewes with a deserved point.


Margate were the better side during the first half but the statistic of scoring 25 goals in 25 league games is causing joint-managers Sandmann and Steve Brown a major headache as they are missing someone who can put the ball in the back of the net during periods of dominance.

Margate picked up three injuries on a freezing cold night at The Dripping Pan.

They lost central midfielder Connor Dymond (shoulder) and winger Frannie Collin (groin) and within seconds of using all of their substitutes winger Alex Flisher pulled up with a hamstring injury so Margate had to play the final 15 minutes with 10 men.

Darren Freeman’s men pressed for a winner and they almost snatched the victory with the last kick of the game but Margate keeper Louis Wells saved Jonte Smith’s penalty, the first one that he’s missed during his Lewes career.

Sandmann said: “Pleased with a point. They’re third and we’re in the position we are so if we were offered that before the game, we would’ve taken it especially in the manner of being down to 10 men for the last 15 minutes. 

“We actually made all of our subs and that’s the luck we’re having at the minute. We made our last two subs and then one of our players came off injured. That’s three injuries tonight so we’ll have to deal with that over the next game.

“But that’s a really good point. That’s fantastic character shown by the players. You can’t fault the players’ work ethic and character tonight, to come to a place like this to a team that are third in the league and get a point and keep a clean-sheet, it’s a fantastic point!”

Lewes went into the game sitting in third-place in the Bostik Premier Division table with 44 points from 25 games and on a three-match unbeaten run while seventeenth-place Margate were on 28 points and suffered a late 1-0 defeat away to leaders Haringey Borough at the weekend.

Margate started the game on the front foot and created their first opening after 208 seconds.

Flisher played the ball into lone striker David Smith, who cut inside and lost his footing after hitting his left-footed shot just over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Flisher fed Bradley Stevenson – the on-loan Gillingham midfielder who slotted in behind Smith – and Lewes keeper Lewis Carey dived low to his left to hold on to the ball to prevent Stevenson bending his shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 22-yards.

“We spoke at depth this week. We had a meeting on Monday because things haven’t been going right – we haven’t been good enough as a group,” admitted Sandmann, whose club are now five points clear of the relegation zone.

“We should be doing better and I felt they responded really well tonight and they put in a performance and I actually think we had the better chances first half and we were the better team and we were the ones taking the game to them, which was pleasing.”

Sandmann was quick to praise Stevenson, who impressed during the first half.

“I thought Brad was excellent tonight,” he said.

“He came in on Saturday and met the boys on the day and you can see he’s got tremendous ability and every time he got it he caused them problems. He got some shots off and he’s going to be a good asset for us going forward.”

Margate created a decent chance to take a deserved lead in the 20th minute.

Collin floated a deep cross towards the far post for centre-half Liam Friend, who was left unmarked to cushion his header back across goal for Flisher to hit an overhead kick which sailed agonisingly past the top of the crossbar as Smith narrowly missed the ball at the far post.

“That’s a really, really good chance and we created them first half. We created plenty of them.  To come here and cause a team like that problems is credit to us tonight,” added Sandmann.

Lewes immediately went up the other end and went close to scoring.

Carey launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch and striker Luke Blewden jumped up with Friend and the ball landed at Kieron Pamment’s feet and he drilled his left-footed shot just past the foot of the left-hand post from 18-yards.

The home side were enjoying a good spell of pressure when Blewden cut the ball back to James Hammond who drilled his right-footed shot high over the crossbar from 30-yards.

Hammond, who often dropped deep to pick up the ball at his feet, pinged a 60-yard diagonal pass, which sailed over Jack Paxman’s head and Lewes built down the left before Olumide Oluwatimilehin played the ball inside to Pamment. 

He was given space by the Margate defence to stroke a low right-footed drive towards goal from 25-yards, which bounced up and forced Wells to spill the shot and Blewden pounced on the rebound and poked his shot from eight-yards which was blocked by the alert goalkeeper.

Sandmann added: “Lou will be disappointed not to hold the first one, so it’s a shot from outside of the box, which we will take and Louis made a fantastic save again.”

Margate holding midfielder James Rogers fouled Blewden but Hammond scuffed a poor right-footed free-kick harmlessly wide of the target from 35-yards.

Sandmann said:  “It was fantastic to see James Rogers get through 90 minutes tonight. For me that is a massive plus. He’s been out for a long time and we’ve missed him and to get him through 90 minutes tonight was great!”

Stevenson drove down the right wing in the 32nd minute and his right-footed angled drive from 35-yards forced Carey to back-peddle before making a comfortable save at his near post.

Margate keeper Wells made a comfortable save to prevent Pamment scoring from just outside the corner of the penalty area, the ball taking a bounce before being gobbled up by the 36-year-old.

Margate squandered an excellent chance in the 37th minute, the opportunity falling to centre-half Ben Swift.

Flisher swung in a corner from the right which was patted away by Carey from inside a crowded goal-mouth but Swift hooked his volley over the crossbar from eight-yards out.

“Do you know what?  I’ve seen Swifty score a very similar goal so to be honest I backed him when it dropped to him but it just wasn’t to be but again we were putting them under pressure, which is the most pleasing thing,” said Sandmann.

Carey’s resulting goal-kick was played into left-back Leon Redford by winger Pamment but his shot from the edge of the Margate penalty area took a deflection as the ball landed just over the crossbar.

Margate keeper Wells made another comfortable save at his near post as Redwood tried to bend his free-kick from just outside the corner of the penalty area into the bottom near corner.

Sandmann said:  “Apart from the one he spilt, I don’t think they really troubled Louis first half, I really don’t.

“I thought our backline was excellent. I think we have one of the best defensive records in the league (conceding 29 goals in 25 league games) and you can see why tonight, you really can. It’s just the other end of the pitch where we really need to improve on but tonight was a big step in that direction.”

At half-time, Sandmann said: “Just to be aware that their full-backs were looking to get on. I wanted more of the same, cause them problems and think about where we’re hurting them as a group and make sure we’re not switching off and just more of the same in terms of intensity and making sure we’re taking the game to them and I thought we did that.”

Sandmann revealed he is not in a position to splash the cash to bring in a prolific striker.

“You look at any team in this league and you look at the strikers and they cost you the big money and unfortunately we’re not in the position to do that,” he said.

“We’ve brought in players like Bradley Stevenson and Joseph Hungbo, the lad from Crystal Palace, he’s in Israel at the moment and he’ll be back after the Leatherhead game and he’ll improve that. 

“Unfortunately we’re not in that position this season but the lads that we’ve got try their best and they’ll do whatever they can do climb the table.”

Lewes created three openings within a six minute period just before the hour-mark.

Pamment flicked his pass back to Redwood, who ran past Paxman before drilling a left-footed shot over the crossbar from 25-yards in the eighth minute of the half.

Lewes centre-half Stacey Freeman played the ball into Hammond, who shrugged past Chris Barnard before Omarr Lawson teed up Hammond, who drilled his shot just past the right-hand post from 30-yards.

Pamment drove down the left before cutting the ball back for Lawson, whose powerfully drilled shot was blocked by Friend and Hammond placed his shot past the far post from inside the Margate box.

“Nothing that you would say they should’ve scored.  Again, we defended well, 11-v-11 we kept a good shape,” added Sandmann.

The introduction of substitute winger Dayshonne Golding sparked Lewes into more of an attacking threat as the quiet winger Harry Reed slotted in at right-back.

Margate striker Smith offered very little during the game and cast a frustrated figure as the Kent side failed to create any goalscoring chances during the second half.

Margate suffered a cruel twist of fate as Collin and Smith were withdrawn and on came subs David Martin and Sidney Sollis.

Seconds later Flisher went down wide on the left with a hamstring so Margate played the final 15 minutes with 10 men.

“I can’t tell you what exactly is going through my mind but it is what it is,” admitted Sandmann.

“As soon as we went down to 10 men through the injuries it became difficult and we defended well though.

“When you’re in the position we are, those little bits of luck. People talk about luck in football, you have to earn your luck and what I will say tonight, I think we did.”

Lewes had momentum to finish the game on the front foot – as Sollis was the lone striker up front for Margate but Margate’s defence held firm at the other end.

Lewes upped the tempo and Hammond floated in a deep cross towards the far post for Lawson to send his downward header straight into Wells’ gloves for a comfortable save inside the final four minutes.

Reed drove down the right wing before releasing Golding, who cut in from the right towards the D and his left-footed drive from 18-yards was tipped over the crossbar by the Margate goalkeeper.

“I’m glad he didn’t start from the beginning,” said Sandmann.

“He’s a good player Dayshonne. He came on and was a bright spark. To bring a player like that on, we’re on our last legs and he’s going to give them a spark and I thought we defended the box really well.

“Some of the blocks and some of the defending, desire to keep clean-sheets, I don’t think very rarely we can question desire. It just hasn’t been going right for us but hopefully that can be a step in the right direction.”

Ans when Freeman hit a speculative right-footed drive just past the right-hand post from fully 40-yards, the freezing cold 510 fans felt that was it.

However, Lewes had time for one last attack.

A sliced clearance from Barnard put Margate in trouble and Scottish referee Gerry Heron gave Lewes a lifeline to snatch the victory by pointing to the spot after adjuging Paxman had fouled Callum Overton on the left-hand side of the penalty area after the ball bounced and Margate failed to clear their lines.

Twleve-goal striker Smith – who replaced the quiet Blewden with 11 minutes of normal time remaining – had the chance to break Margate’s hearts.

But Wells dived to his right and held onto Smith’s penalty, which proved to be the last kick of the game.

Sandmann heaped praise on Wells for doing his homework on Smith.

“Do you know what? Me and Louis spoke before the game.  You watch the opposition and you watch videos and highlights and Louis watched it as well and he commented before the game the lad, when he takes a penalty he goes down that side and luckily he stuck that side and that’s good work from Louis doing his homework.

“I think he was watching videos in the hospital while his partner was giving birth so it was definitely worthwhile time spent!”

Injuries to big players during the course of the season has ensured Margate are looking over their shoulders at the wrong end of the league table.

Margate welcome Leatherhead to Hartsdown Park on Saturday.

Nikki Bull’s Tanners are four places and six points higher than Margate as both managers come up against an old club.

“We need to get ourselves out of the position we are, there’s no hiding that factor.  We haven’t been good enough during the course of this season,” admitted Sandmann.

“That’s a good point away from home, that’s a good performance and we just need to build on that.  We need to clear our heads and get tonight out of the way and focus on Saturday.

“We’ve got some injuries, we’re going ot have a bare squad again but we’ll give it our best shot and if we do that between now and the end of the season, I’m sure if we perform like that more often than not, we’ll pick up more points than we lose.

“We’ll just keep climbing the table and keep picking up as many points as we can and get ourselves in a good position and start looking up. We need to get ourselves in a position where were looking up the table and not down but only we can get out of that ourselves so we have to be the ones to get ourselves out.”

Lewes: Lewis Carey, Thomas Day (Dayshonne Golding 61), Leon Redwood, James Hammond, Frankie Chappell, Stacey Freeman, Harry Reed, Olumide Oluwatimilehin (Jonte Smith 79), Luke Blewden (Callum Overton 84), Omarr Lawson, Kieron Pamment.
Subs: Michael Dome-Bemwin, Sam Karl

Margate: Louis Wells, Jack Paxman, Tom Mills, James Rogerts, Liam Friend, Ben Swift, Frannie Collin (Sidney Sollis 73), Connor Dymond (Chris Barnard 44), David Smith (David Martin 73), Bradley Stevenson, Alex Flisher.
Subs: Owen Kallameier, Jordan Robins

Booked: Jack Paxman 33, Bradley Stevenson 88, Liam Friend 90

Attendance: 510
Referee: Mr Gerry Heron (West Wickham)
Assistants: Mr Luke Chapman (Horley, Surrey) & Mr Nick Blogg (Horsham, West Sussex)