If we want to be up there and pushing in and around those play-off places, then you’ve got to win your home games and beat the teams around you, says Margate boss Jay Saunders

Tuesday 11th January 2022

MARGATE manager Jay Saunders says he is expecting a tricky home game against Hornchurch on Saturday.

Margate’s Isthmian League Premier Division game at Potters Bar Town tonight was postponed by match referee Jack Bloxham due to a waterlogged pitch around 90 minutes before kick-off – despite a local referee passing the surface playable at around 14:30 in the afternoon.

Saunders said it was the “correct decision”, to call the game off but was “gutted” for the Margate supporters who hired a minibus for the 184-mile round trip.

Margate have sealed three wins on the bounce over the festive period by beating Cray Wanderers (3-2), Folkestone Invicta (3-1) and Bowers & Pitsea (4-2) in their last outing on Monday 3 January 2022.

Margate are in ninth-place in the league table, having collected 37 points from 23 games – four points adrift of the play-off zone with 19 games remaining.

Mark Stimson’s side are one place higher than Margate with 38 points from 22 games and arrive on the Kent coast having won their last six league games.

“It’s a really tricky game, we’re both really close in the league,” said Saunders.

“They had an indifferent start to the season but I always felt they were going to pick up, especially when you look at the squad they’ve got and Stimmo’s a good manager.

“We know it’s going to be a tough test but we’ve been one a good little run ourselves and it gives us an good opportunity for a home game.

“We went there (in September and lost 2-1) and played quite well earlier on in the season, came out empty handed but if we can get to the levels we have recently, obviously we beat Worthing and Folkestone at home, so we’ve had some really good performances so hopefully we can continue that on Saturday.”

Victory over the Essex side on the artificial pitch at Hartsdown Park will continue with their impressive run of victories, which includes beating leaders Worthing 4-2 at Hartsdown Park five games ago.

“Listen, if we want to be up there and pushing in and around those play-off places, then you’ve got to win your home games and beat the teams around you but what we’ve done recently is just concentrate on ourselves and really get ourselves right,” said Saunders.

“I’ve been really pleased with the boys lately, there’s been some really good performances and that will be our main focus.

“We’ll make the boys aware of Hornchurch and what they’re good at and how we can affect them but we want to make sure that we’re right and that’s sometimes hard when you’ve had the break we’ve had having no games for a couple of weeks but we’ve just got to prepare right and that’s all we can do.”

Saunders is now concerned of a potential fixture back-log following tonight’s game in Hertfordshire being called off.

“We’ve got cup games now with the Kent Senior Cup coming into it, the Velocity Trophy, which takes priority over the league. We’ve now got these Tuesday night games now that are going to pile up as well.

“I think the biggest thing for me is we’ve been on quite a good little run, we’ve hit quite a little bit of form and we want to keep that going.  We’ve got training on Thursday, so we’ll have a good session on Thursday and at least we know our game is going to be on against Hornchurch.”

Saunders revealed that left-back Joe Anderson will be available against Hornchurch if he tests negative for Covid-19 but midfielder Ryan Palmer is ruled out as he is self-isolating for 10 days.

He said: “Joe Anderson, he would’ve missed Saturday (postponed game at Leatherhead) but he’ll be back available on Saturday, all being well and his test’s ok, which will be a big bonus for us.

“The squad is not the biggest, it hasn’t been the biggest all season but we’ve got through.

“Ken Feyi, a centre-forward we brought in from Brightlingsea, got injured on his debut but he’s got an outside chance being back available on Saturday, which will be a big plus.

“We’ve gone about two months without a centre-forward, so we’ve got Tommo (Daniel Thompson) back now and if we can get Ken back as well, we’ll have better options.”

Visit Margate’s website:  www.margate-fc.co.uk

Margate  v  Hornchurch
Isthmian League Premier Division
Saturday 15 January 2022
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 5QZ