Hopefully we can get ourselves where we need to be, says Margate defender Liam Friend
MARGATE defender Liam Friend says the club can finish the season well and secure a play-off place.
Seven wins on the spin put Steven Watt's side in second-place in the Bostik Premier Division table but they suffered a set-back with a 3-2 defeat at Needham Market last weekend.
Margate defender Liam Friend
Photo: Margate FC
The hosts took the lead through Jamie Griffiths but Margate striker Jordan Chiedozie equalised with his 31st goal of the season.
Griffiths scored his second of the game before Daniel Morphew converted a penalty to give the hosts a 3-1 lead with six minutes left, before targetman Jay May came off the bench to pull a goal back for Margate at the death, scoring his third of the campaign.
“I don’t think we started very well and were second best all over the pitch, which gave them a leg up to start the match,” admitted Friend, 29, who saw his club’s 11 match unbeaten run come to an end up in Suffolk.
“As the manager put in his interviews we probably weren’t at our best but at 2-1 down with 20 odd minutes to play, you never know what could happen but then the ref gave them a penalty, which was a very strange decision and that gave Needham the cushion they wanted to see out the game.”
Big-spending Billericay Town are at the summit with 67 points from 28 games and occupy the sole automatic promotion place.
Margate follow in second-place with 66 points from 35 games, followed by Dulwich Hamlet (65 points from 33 games), Folkestone Invicta (63 points from 34 games) and Hendon (60 points from 33 games), who make up the play-off quartet.
“I think you can probably put our campaign into three categories,” said Friend, who switched from Folkestone Invicta in the summer.
“The first part of the season was solid but we drew too many games, especially ones from winning positions. Then we had a poor spell over Christmas and New Year, then we went on a great run, which has put us where we feel we should be.
“Hopefully, now with players we have coming back, we can put on another run and finish the season well.”
With Billericay Town’s budget, the Essex outfit should win the league title and they do have seven games in hand on Margate in a 46-game campaign.
“I think when it’s one or two games in hand you can probably say they still have to win them etc but they have only lost three all season, so it’s going to take a huge drop in form for anyone to catch them,” said Friend.
“I think if we just concentrate on ourselves, hopefully we can get ourselves where we need to be.”
Subject to the current wintry blast, Margate are scheduled to host fourteenth-placed Kingstonian on the artificial pitch at Hartsdown Park on Saturday.
Margate came away from Fetcham Grove, Leatherhead with a 3-1 win over the K’s on 29 January.
Friend said: “Kingstonian will be a tough game as all the games are at this level. We played them a few weeks ago and had to play very well to beat them, so hopefully we can put last week’s loss behind us and start another unbeaten run as soon as possible.”
Friend was asked about his thoughts on playing on an artificial pitch every home game.
“I think there is a lot of negativity around the pitches,” he said.
“I know some people struggle and feel stiff the next day on them etc and if you are a traditionalist you would always say grass is the best but with the winter we have had, you are asking a lot from volunteer groundsmen and fans to make a decent surface achievable.
“So if it was a case of playing a game on a pitch which is mostly sand or potentially having to play three games a week in March and April than a much better option is an artificial pitch, as long as the quality of it is high.”
Visit Margate’s website: www.margate-fc.co.uk
Margate v Kingstonian
Bostik Premier Division
Saturday 3 March 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 5QZ