Margate 0-0 AFC Hornchurch - I think we've done more than enough to win the game tonight, admits Margate joint-manager Mike Sandmann

Tuesday 18th December 2018
Margate 0 – 0 AFC Hornchurch
Location Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 5QZ
Kickoff 18/12/2018 19:45

Bostik Premier Division
Tuesday 18 December 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Hartsdown Park

MARGATE joint-manager Mike Sandmann says it wasn’t his side’s night in front of goal after being held to a goal-less draw by AFC Hornchurch.

Margate created and missed several chances on a wet and windy night at Hartsdown Park and had to settle for a point against Mark Stimson’s side.

“It was a good performance, a good clean-sheet, another game unbeaten but we’ve created too many chances not to win that game and we thoroughly deserved to win that game,” said Sandmann.

“We’ve hit the bar, we’ve hit the post, open goals. If Liam Friend scores just before half-time. I think we’ve done more than enough to win the game tonight.

“It was difficult conditions.  We had the wind with us first half and I thought we played the wind second half very well.  I thought we actually played a lot better second half. A lot of things weren’t running away from us and at times played some great football so we’ve created some good opportunities tonight and we should take them really but it’s a clean sheet. It’s a good performance, another game unbeaten but we look at it as another two points dropped just with the amount of chances we created.”

AFC Hornchurch remain in the bottom four with 20 points from as many games and are a point clear of Harlow Town, while Margate have to settle for 12th place in the Bostik Premier Division table with 27 points from their 20 league outings.

The Urchins started the game on the front foot but it was Margate that created their first opening in the fifth minute.

Jordan Robins played the ball out to winger George Brown, who whipped in a cross for striker Alex Flisher to loop a deflected header over the crossbar.

Margate’s six-goal striker Frannie Collin struck a wind-assisted free-kick, which dipped over the top of the far post as AFC Hornchurch keeper Callum Chafer struggled to cope with the windy conditions, failing to gather crosses and his kicking failed to reach the half-way line on many occasions.

AFC Hornchurch were to be denied by a fine save from Margate goalkeeper Louis Wells, 36, in the tenth minute.

Urchins’ right-back Alex Bentley played the ball up to 14-goal striker George Purcell, who turned and hit a low dipping drive from 25-yards, which was blocked Wells’ right-leg.

Sandmann said: “That’s exactly why you bring Louis Wells into the football club.  His distribution is excellent as well as his presence and his talking, his organisation but his kicking is second-to-none. He created a goal the other week and tonight in tough conditions was excellent.

“We know all about George and he just got his shot off and with the wind it moved well but he’s kept it out and that’s the main thing for us.”

Margate winger Tom Murphy tried his luck from 35-yards, a right-footed dipping drive, which Chafer did well to beat away to his left.

“I thought their keeper was man-of-the-match tonight, I thought he was excellent.  If he hasn’t been given it, then he should,” added Sandmann.

Margate striker Flisher was inside his own half when he saw Chafer was off his line and his left-footed shot from 55-yards screamed past the right-hand post.

Sandmann added: “He’s tried a pop shot but we can go through all night and talk about how many chances and how many times their keeper has kept them in the game.”

AFC Hornchurch went close to grabbing the lead in the 28th minute.

Bentley’s ball over the top was controlled by striker Nana Boakye-Yiadom outside the box and he burst into the area and his loopy shot was blocked by Wells who was grateful to Margate right-back Jack Paxman for showing enough desire to get back on his goal-line to prevent the ball rolling into the net.

“That’s an excellent defensive position from Pax. A good save from Louis and we just switched off there actually.  I remember that opportunity.  The nine (Boakye-Yiadom) just got in behind Swift and Friend and Louis has pulled off a great save and it was good covering defending from Pax.”

Although he struggled with gathering wind-assisted crosses, the Hornchurch keeper excelled at shot-stopping.

He dived to his right to tip Murphy’s right-footed drive around the post to deny the Margate winger finding the bottom corner from 30-yards on the half-hour mark.

Collin drilled a low right-footed free-kick through a crowd of players from 45-yards from a central position and Chafer watched the ball all the way before dropping down on his knees to make a comfortable save and holding onto the ball.

Chafer received a stroke of luck when Margate struck the underside of the crossbar in the 37th minute.

Holding midfielder Connor Dymond hit a long ball forward, which was chested down by Flisher and Collin smacked a right-footed shot screaming over the goalkeeper’s right shoulder only for the ball to crash off the underside of the crossbar before being hacked to safety.

“Another one you look and think if it’s an inch below and it hits the bar and it goes in,” said a frustrated Sandmann.

“It’s another chance and at that point you’re wondering is it going to be our night tonight? But the boys didn’t give up, they carried on playing some good football and created some good chances.”

AFC Hornchurch issued Margate a warning when right-winger George Saunders put in a low cross for Boakye-Yiadom to turn at the near post but he completely missed the ball as he tried to sweep the ball into the net, allowing Wells to pick the ball up.

Margate missed a glaring miss on the stroke of half-time as Liam Friend produced a centre-halves finish.

Flisher launched a trademark long throw which looped into the box and sailed over everybody but Murphy hooked the ball back across goal for Friend to steer his header over at the far post from inside the six-yard box.

Sandmann admitted: “That’s the chance! We said to Friendy at half-time that’s excellent defending! It’s probably more difficult to miss than score but it’s another chance.  He isn’t normally in those positions and I backed him to score, unfortunately he put it over the bar!”

When asked his thoughts at the break, Sandmann replied: “Just trust each other a little bit more and we have to be better in position.  I thought they started very well and I think they was on the front foot in the first half. After the initial 20-25 minutes we grew into the game and started to take control a lot more. 

“I said just trust each other, move the ball and better movement in the forward areas in the final third and have a little bit more confidence.”

Margate created their first opening of the second half after only 89 seconds when Collin drove in a free-kick from just outside the corner of the penalty area only for the ball to float around the far post.

Chafer’s kicking improved with the wind in the second half and he launched a big kick forward which Boakye-Yiadom latched onto and his shot from a tight angle was beaten behind by Wells at the near post.

An unmarked Boakye-Yiadom then flashed his first time shot across the keeper and past the far post from 25-yards as AFC Hornchurch started the second half on the front foot.

Margate keeper Wells received a huge slice of luck in the 55th minute.

Holding midfielder Miles drove a low right-footed drive towards goal from 30-yards, Wells moved low to his right to spill the ball and scooped it away at the final second before the ball trickled over the line.  Boakye-Yiadom pounced on the loose ball but the visitors couldn’t force the ball over the line despite having several players inside the Margate box.

“I was a long way from it but I said to Louis after and he said ‘it wasn’t even close!’  It’s a slippery night, the wind, the rain. It’s difficult conditions for goalkeepers and I thought Louis was excellent,” said Sandmann.

This was an open, entertaining game and Margate kept banging on the door and Brown was inches away, clipping the outside of the right-hand post after turning on the edge of the Hornchurch box on the hour-mark.

“Again, you’re looking at that chance and thinking is it going to be our night and unfortunately it wasn’t,” admitted Sandmann. 

Dymond played a low pass out to Brown on the right and he dinked in a cross into the middle for Flisher to smash his volley high over the crossbar and into Hartsdown Road from six-yards out.

“I think it’s actually cleared the stand but that sums us up all night,” admitted Sandmann.

“But what we’re pleased about is the number of chances we’re creating.  You’d rather be sitting here creating all of those chances and not scoring rather than not creating and not scoring also so there’s plenty of positives in terms of the performance in terms of chances created but we feel we should win that game and we’ve done enough to do so.”

AFC Hornchurch went up the other end and just 62 seconds later, left-back Porter played the ball into the box for an off-balanced Purcell to lash his left-footed shot over the crossbar from 10-yards.

Miles took a touch and drilled a right-footed low and hard shot towards goal from 35-yards, which forced Wells to step to his right to parry before gathering the ball at the second attempt.

Porter fed the ball into the impressive Miles, who played the ball out to Saunders, whose angled drive was flicked over his crossbar by the Margate stopper.

All that was missing from this entertaining game was a goal and Margate kept pressing.

Collin ran the right channel and cut the ball back for Paxman, who wrapped his foot around the ball to put over a first time cross but substitute winger Dave Martin steered his free header straight at Chafer from 10-yards.

“Dave Martin came on the pitch and I thought he was excellent when he came on and you always know you’re going to have a chance. It’s just if we’re going to take them or not but unfortunately it wasn’t our night,” admitted Sandmann.

“Do you know what, you don’t normally see Dave in those positions.  I think I remember him telling me he’s scored one header in the whole of his career so he could’ve doubled it tonight! Again, good position, good delivery and the keeper’s made another good save.”

Paxman played the ball into Flisher’s feet and he put Collin in behind and as centre-half George Winn slid in, the Margate striker’s drilled shot was pushed behind at his near post by the outstanding Hornchurch keeper Chafer.

“We could be speaking about their goalkeeper all night, he was excellent and made some great saves and we played some great stuff at times and created some good chances,” added Sandmann.

Margate substitute Liam King released Collin in behind and he hung over a cross from the right for Martin, who smacked his volley over the crossbar at the far post from 10-yards out.

AFC Hornchurch weathered the storm, however, and almost grabbed the victory at the death.

Purcell, who dropped deep several times, played a crossfield pass from the right over to Porter on the left and his low drive from 22-yards was gobbled up by Wells at his near post for a comfortable save.

“It’s an opportunity, it’s from outside the box. We expect Louis to save it. I remember it didn’t trouble him too much, it went straight into him.  It’s got to be a hell of a strike to beats Louis from there,” added Sandmann.

“Second half, I thought we limited them to very few chances and we created a lot ourselves.

“Of course, it’s two points dropped with the amount of chances that we’ve created but we look at the positives. It’s another clean-sheet, it’s the third game unbeaten and hopefully we can take performance into Saturday’s game and get three points on the board.

“We won’t create as many chances as that in another game without scoring. If we can play at the same intensity and move the ball as well as we did at times tonight and create those chances I’m sure we will take one.”

Margate welcome Whitehawk to Hartsdown Park on Saturday. The Hawks are rooted to the foot of the table with 13 points from 19 games and are now seven points adrift of AFC Hornchurch.

“It doesn’t matter what position teams are in this league, you see everybody is beating everybody so it’s really irrelevant.  One win for us and it can put us just outside the play-offs so you just need to put a run together, a couple of wins back-to-back and we’ll see ourselves at the right end of the table,” said Sandmann, whose side are only five points adrift of fifth-placed Tonbridge Angels.

“Whitehawk are battling for their lives. Their (home game against Worthing) was called off tonight.  It will be a tough game, like every game in this league is. There’s no easy ride. Everyone is capable of beating everybody in this league and that’s what makes it so open this season.

“We’re just going to get stronger. We’ve got James Rogers to come back in fit after his operation.  If we can strengthen as well and if we’re able to strengthen then we will do.  We’re starting to improve and we’re getting better as a group.

“Bringing Louis Wells and Connor Dymond in gives us more experienced players and they have made a massive difference to the group in our organisation and it’s only a matter of time before we put some wins together.

“We always said at the start of the season the longer this season goes on I do think we’ll get strong and we will at the back end of the season as well.”

Margate: Louis Wells, Jack Paxman, Tom Mills, Connor Dymond, Liam Friend, Ben Swift, George Brown (Liam King 81), Jordan Robins, Alex Flisher, Frannie Collin, Tom Murphy (Dave Martin 68).
Subs: Owen Kallameire, Chris Barnard

AFC Hornchurch: Callum Chafer, Alex Bentley, Jay Porter, Taylor Miles (Nathan Livings 82), George Winn, Kenzer Lee, George Saunders, Lee Prescott, Nana Boakye-Yiadom (Jamie Hurst 81), George Purcell, Ronnie Winn.
Subs: Jordan Clark, Connor Hogan

Attendance: 340
Referee:  Mr Daniel Proctor (Halling)
Assistants: Mr Joe McKay (Maidstone) & Mr Jamie Eacott (Walderslade)