Margate 1-2 Billericay Town - It's out of our hands and it's going to take a lot to get us in the play-offs now, admits Margate boss Steven Watt

Saturday 21st April 2018
Margate 1 – 2 Billericay Town
Location Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 5QZ
Kickoff 21/04/2018 15:00

Bostik Premier Division
Saturday 21 April 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Hartsdown Park

MARGATE manager Steven Watt admits their promotion hopes are now out of their hands after slipping up to an unfortunate home defeat to champions-elect Billericay Town.

Margate were the better side against a club with a £25,000 per week budget and took a deserved lead through Jay May’s sublime curler but their lead lasted only 184 seconds as Sam Deering scored with a deflected strike.

Margate striker turned right-winger Frannie Collin had a controversial goal ruled out as Watt’s men dominated most of the first half.

But Harry Wheeler’s side will claim the league title on Tuesday night with a home win over Harlow Town after Jake Robinson slotted in his 57th goal of the season with a second half penalty.

Billericay are top of the Bostik Premier Division table with 95 points with two games remaining, while the play-off places are now occupied by Dulwich Hamlet (91 points with two remaining); Folkestone Invicta (84 points with one left); Hendon (79 points with two left) and Leiston (76 points with one left).

Margate have slipped down a place to sixth with 76 points going into their last league game, while Leatherhead are on the same number of points with two games left to play.

“I thought we deserved to win the game, I thought we were the better team and dominated for long periods,” said Watt, whose side have won only two of their last 12 games, drawing six of them.

“If you go on chances, the amount of chances that we created, we had enough chances to win two games but you’ve got to give your hands up to Alan Julian, I thought he was fantastic in goal and he’s won the guys the game.

“It’s unfortunate because the way we played deserved three points, I thought we were by far the better team.”

Billericay Town created the first opening on the sun-kissed Kent coast with only 146 seconds in as Robinson cut in from the left before teeing up Danny Waldren, whose first time right-footed drive screamed just past the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Waldren started the game as captain, before the arm-band was passed to Jamie O’Hara and then Joseph Kizzi.

Billericay created their second chance shortly afterwards when 34-goal striker Billy Bricknell turned his man and whipped in a cross for Robinson to head straight at Lenny Pidgeley, when left unmarked inside the box some 12-yards from the Margate goal.

“Half-chances, not what I call real chances.  I can’t remember Lenny making a great deal of saves over the course of the 90 minutes,” said Watt.

“We controlled a very good attacking side.  I thought they started lively but we started very quickly ourselves.”

O’Hara cut inside and floated over a deep cross with his left-foot but the angle was too tight for Sam Deering to steer his header on target at the far post.

Margate weathered the early storm and created their first opening in the tenth minute when James Rogers rolled the ball out to Frannie Collin, who was deployed on the right-hand side of a four-man midfield and he drilled his shot across goal and past the far post from 30-yards.

“I won’t say it was really close but it was a good effort.  It was good play, good build-up play.  Frannie got a shot-off.  You expect Frannie, when he pulls the trigger from that kind of distance, he’s going to hit the target and it’s unfortunate."

Margate were competing well and enjoyed a great spell of possession and pressure after the 20th minute mark.

Striker Jordan Chiedozie played the ball out to Tom Wynter, who sprinted past Deering on the right flank, before Chiedozie played in Sam Blackman, whose right-footed shot from the corner of the six-yard box was turned around the post by Alan Julian.

“It was unfortunate, many great saves from Jules.  It was great build-up play and I put Sam in today because of his energy and he’s forward running if you like and he had a good game,” added Watt, who spoke to Julian out on the pitch after the game for a few minutes before undertaking his media duties.

Collin swung in Margate’s second of seven corners but recalled targetman May nipped in front of Julian to guide his far-post header wide.

Billericay Town went close halfway through the first half when Deering played the ball into Bricknell’s feet, the striker held the ball up inside the box, before teeing up Deering, who curled his right-footed shot around the far post from just inside the corner of the Margate box.

Margate fully deserved their lead when it arrived with 26 minutes and 26 seconds on the clock, courtesy of May’s seventh goal of the campaign.

Left-winger David Martin picked up the ball inside the centre circle and drove straight down the heart of the pitch before playing the ball into Chiedozie, who played the ball inside to Martin who played a short pass to May, who curled a sublime right-footed looping shot into the top right-hand corner from 25-yards.

“It was a great finish and great build-up play,” said Watt.

“Dave coming off the line and playing a nice little 1-2 and Jay with a fantastic finish.  I thought it was what we deserved really.  We looked like the side that was really on the front foot and that we were going to score.”

However, Billericay Town responded like a wounded animal, forcing home an equaliser just 184 seconds later following a sweeping move that Margate should have cleared when they had bodies lined up on the edge of their penalty area.

Robinson squeezed the ball through to Deering, whose shot on the turn deflected off pressing Margate right-back Wynter and nestled into the bottom left-hand corner.

“It was unfortunate for us again and it seemed to be our luck at the minute,” admitted Watt.

“A couple of unfortunate ricochets that fell their way and the initial strike, it’s a fantastic block or attempted block from Tom (Wynter), somehow found its way in the back of the net so I thought we were unfortunate to concede when we did and we didn’t deserve it.”

Watt was angry when his side had a 35th minute goal ruled out for a controversial offside decision.

The outstanding Martin cut inside and floated over a cross from the left for Collin to hook his driven shot into the ground and across the keeper into the bottom far corner from 15-yards, but lino Glen Childs raised his flag as he felt May tapped it in from his position standing on the line beside the left-hand post.

“Jay May didn’t tap it in!  Jay May didn’t touch the ball, it went straight in!  Jay jumped up over the ball and it was given for (offside),” said Watt.

“He was on the goalline, the keeper’s nowhere near him. He’s purposely got out of the way of the ball, for me it’s a bizarre decision and an incorrect one.  The referee cost us there in my opinion because he’s not interfering with play.  He’s not obstructing any one’s view of that.

“If he was off or not, I don’t know. Between the two of them, the linesman blamed the referee and the referee blamed the linesman so that tells you between the two won’t take responsibility of the decision, which I think it’s cost us.”

Margate finished the half on the front foot and Collin’s diagonal from inside the centre circle went over to Chiedozie, who beat Matthew Paine, Billericay’s holding midfielder, for pace and his cross from the right wing was headed away by Waldren’s diving header and Martin chipped the ball back into the box for Collin to hit his drive agonisingly past the far post from 15-yards.

Watt was delighted with his side’s front foot performance.

“I thought both halves we were on the front foot and the only team that looked threatening going forward.  It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the points because of the chances we created and the way we played, we certainly deserved it!”

Margate let some sloppy defensive play creep into their game at the end of the first half. 

A poor clearance from keeper Pidgeley was collected by Robinson inside the Billericay half on the flank and the talented winger was allowed to run 50-yards with the ball at his feet before getting just inside the box and drilling his shot past the near post.

“We just talked a little bit of what we were trying to do and how we can do a little bit better in areas,” Watt replied to the question of what was said inside the home dressing room at the break.

“We needed to keep pressing and keep going and forget about the goal given against us.  There’s no point getting caught up in that.  We had to focus on the next 45 minutes and the game’s there for winning.  It was very positive at half-time.

“I thought we deserved more than what we got today, unfortunately.”

Former Bromley keeper Julian, 35, denied Margate by making a brilliant save inside the opening five minutes of the second half.

Chiedozie hooked the ball forward for Blackman to drive forward before playing the ball out to left-winger Martin, who whipped in a cross towards the near post for Chiedozie’s downward header from 12-yards to be destined to nestle inside the bottom near corner, only for Julian to get down low to his right to get a strong hand to the ball to turn it behind for a corner.

“It was an unbelievable hand, I don’t know how he got his fingertips to it and it trickled past the post. It is a world-class save, you have to save that,” said Watt.

“In these moments again where we were creating chances, that’s why they’ve taken Jules from the league’s (National League) they’ve taken him from. He’s a very, very quality goalkeeper and he’s made some fantastic saves today.  I’m sure between the refs poor decisions and Jules’ performance he’s certainly won them the points today.”

Billericay, who played three central defenders, played the ball out of defence from Kizzi and Deering twisted and turned Liam Friend on the right hand corner of the Margate box and he cut inside from the by-line but his shot rolled into Pidgeley’s hands.

James Rogers struck a left-footed dipping drive narrowly over the Billericay crossbar from 35-yards after the ball came out to him after the away side dealt with Collin’s corner from the left.

Julian thwarted Margate again on the hour-mark when a big kick from Pidgeley fell at May’s feet just inside the box and May’s hooked volley was blocked by the keeper.

Deering’s free-kick from the left was played inside to O’Hara, who swept his right-footed drive past the post from 30-yards, when no one in a Margate shirt closed him down.

Billericay Town grabbed the winner with 18 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock through the prolific Robinson, 31, a £24,000 capture from Hemel Hempstead Town last March and Billericay’s highest goalscorer in a season.

Substitute pair Adam Cunnington and Robert Evans linked up and Deering looked destined to score when he only had Pidgeley to beat inside the box but Friend came across and slid in to bring him down and referee Gerry Heron pointed to the spot and booked for Margate man.

Robinson’s right-footed penalty nestled into the bottom left-hand corner to the delight of the vocal travelling fans behind the goal.

Watt said: “We’ve cleared it and we haven’t squeezed up with the ball and then we’ve got caught in between two lines and Deering’s got in. Friendy’s got to make a block and Deering’s been clever and ensured contact. It was a penalty, you can’t argue with that and he put it away well.”

Margate created one glorious chance to equalise as their impressive attacking play warranted at least a point but in truth all three.

Chiedozie, whose best play was linking up with his team-mates in a deep position outside the penalty area, played the ball out to Martin, who whipped in another great cross but May’s cushioned downward header from seven-yards dropped agonisingly past the foot of the far post with 71 minutes on the clock.

Watt admitted:  “Jay’s got to score, Jay’s got to score! Jay’s had a volley as well and Jules’ made another good save so as many chances we’ve had today, I think we’ve got to do better and some of them and on other occasions we’ve got to give Jay a massive lot of credit.”

May was one of five changes from the side that came away from Staines Town with a 2-2 draw last time out.

Defender Ben Swift (suspended), midfielder Lee Prescott (hamstring) were unavailable for their penultimate league game.

Impressive Margate created one final chance inside the final eight minutes but Chiedozie lashed his shot over the crossbar from the edge of the box after being set-up by Blackman.

Margate’s play-off hopes are now in the laps of the gods and will be hoping that Leiston lose at home to Needham Market on Tuesday night and Leatherhead lose at home to Hendon 24 hours later before Watt takes his side to Imperial Fields in Morden, south-west London, to play Dulwich Hamlet on the final day of the season.

“It’s a big game.  Look, mathematically we’re still in with a shout so we’ll go there trying to win the game,” said Watt.

“It’s a shame we are where we are now because we’ve done well over the course of the season and I think we deserve more and it’s just a shame back end of the season things have not gone our way.

“We’ve had too many draws, too many late goals, not consistent enough performances at the back end of the season has cost us and it’s unfortunate because this group of boys in terms of quality are more than good enough to be in the play-offs.

“It’s out of our hands. We’ll see what happens after the midweek games and we’ll probably know where we are after that.  It’s going to take a lot to get us in (the play-offs) now but you never know in football, you never know but we did everything we could to win today, it’s unfortunate we just didn’t get there.

“I think Billericay guarantees them the league, I think it’s gone to Billericay but credit to Dulwich for pushing them all the way for as long as they have.  I just wished we haven’t drawn so many games. It could’ve been us in amongst that push as well because I think we certainly deserve to be in amongst it.”

Margate: Lenny Pidgeley, Tom Wynter, Tom Mills, James Rogers (Sid Sollis 90), Liam Friend, George Essuman, Frannie Collin (Basselle Aristride 77), Sam Blackman, Jordan Chiedozie, Jay May, David Martin.
Subs: Jack Evans, Aaron Simpson, Sidney Warden

Goal: Jay May 27

Booked: David Martin 21, Liam Friend 63, Sam Blackman 70

Billericay Town: Alan Julian, Joseph Kizzi, Sam Deering, Matthew Paine, Dean Inman, Josh Urquhart, Ricky Modeste, Danny Waldren (Robert Evans 54), Billy Bricknell (Adam Cunnington 53), Jamie O’Hara (Luke Rooney 87), Jake Robinson.
Subs: Liam Hughes, Nick Wheeler

Goals: Sam Deering 30, Jake Robinson 64 (penalty)

Booked: Alan Julian 18, Joseph Kizzi 80

Attendance: 832
Referee: Mr Gerry Heron (West Wickham)
Assistants: Mr Glen Childs (Canterbury) & Mr Nick Fruin (Beckenham)

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