Merstham 1-1 Margate - I want a lot more money from the owner and about five signings, says Margate joint-manager Steve Brown

Wednesday 14th November 2018
Merstham 1 – 1 Margate
Location Moatside Stadium, Weldon Way, Merstham, Surrey RH1 3QB
Kickoff 14/11/2018 19:45

Bostik Premier Division
Wednesday 14 November 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Weldon Way

MARGATE joint-manager Steve Brown says he has spent his playing budget and there is no extra money available to add to his depleted squad.

Hayden Bird’s Merstham were the better side during the first half and left-winger Tayshan Hayden-Smith tapped in his second goal for the club to ensure the hosts went in at the break in the lead.

But Margate put in a vastly-improved second half performance and deservedly equalised through Liam Friend’s header with 21 minutes remaining, which was the centre-half’s first goal of the season and 17th in 15 league games for the Kent coast club.

Margate climbed up a couple of places and are now in the top-nine in the Bostik Premier Division table with 22 points.  They are only a couple of points adrift of fifth-placed Lewes, while Merstham sit in 12th-place with 18 points from their 13 league games.

“A great response second half because first half we bumped off a little bit too much and let them play out from the back and into midfield and if you give them time and space, Merstham are not bad.  I tell you what surprised me more than anything, the way they pressurised us first half caused us issues.

“We just couldn’t get anything going as an attacking side so we had a chat at half-time, changed things a little bit and asked them to go a different pattern. It was to get the ball into the Merstham half a little bit quicker, play in their half more because we weren’t getting the ball effectively to feet and playing in dangerous areas but we did that second half and I thought we caused them a lot of issues.

“We deservedly got the equaliser.  If you’re their fella he will say, both managers, or all three managers in this case, will probably think both sides deserved a bit more.

“A one-all draw gets us one defeat in the last seven league games with a depleted squad.  I think if you’re asking me what I’m most pleased about tonight, it would be the response second 45 and the work-rate and the commitment showed by that team second half.”

Merstham play out from the back and Margate failed to press their opponents defensive line whenever they had the ball and had time and space to pick their options.

“It wasn’t a case of not pressing funnily enough,” explained the former Charlton Athletic defender.

“I think you have to give them a little bit of credit that the way they play and the way they move the ball if they have one or two dangerous moments where they put you on the back foot or they’ve got dangerous players maybe winning bis battle against you’re man.

“You have doubts in your mind about pressing higher up the pitch because you don’t want to get played through.  You don’t want to be running 60-yards back towards your own goal.

“They were causing us more issues than it should’ve done.  The real downer of the 45 was when we won the ball we gave it back to them fair too quickly and I’m going to give them a bit of credit for that. I thought their passing was terrific.”

Dominant Merstham went close to opening the scoring in the 11th minute, when they hit Margate on the counter-attack.

Frannie Collins’ corner from the right was cleared out and Hayden-Smith flicked the ball to lone striker Walter Figueira on the halfway line.  He noticed that Margate keeper Henry Newcombe was out of his penalty area so smacked a right-footed volley from inside the centre-circle high over the keeper’s head. The ball bounced inside the penalty area and dropped over an open goal, only just though.

“We’ve asked Henry to start in a high position so any through balls that come through beyond our two centre-halves Harry can sweep them up,” explained Brown.

“How often do you see it happen? Once in a Halley's Comet!

“It is an unbelievable strike.  I thought it was in. It just hits the top of the net and you think how’s that not gone in!

“It’s done Henry all ends up. I’m not criticising Henry because we ask him to start higher up so that’s on us but wow! The vision and the technique with the volley, it’s done Harry, bounced around 10 yards out and just taken a wicked bounce and I thought it was in but by the grace of god it bounces high and goes over the bar.  It was a wonderful opportunist moment from their centre-forward.”

Figeira was released down the right channel and his angled drive was comfortably gathered by Newcombe.

Margate offered very little in the final third.  In fact their only chance ended up bouncing towards the base of the corner flag.

Collin and Joe Taylor linked up well down the left touch-line and Collin took several touches of the ball before whipping in a cross towards the edge of the penalty area but Lee Prescott’s volley went horribly wrong.

“It went out for a throw-in,” added Brown.

“I cannot begin to tell you, chalk and cheese from first half to second.

“We were on the back foot and we were caught in possession too much and we didn’t create a lot and we huffed and puffed and by and large we were on the back foot for 45 minutes and we restricted them to three opportunities.”

Merstham missed a glorious chance to score in the 28th minute when Kenny Beaney decided not to go for goal himself, 35-yards from goal.

Instead, he floated in a deep free-kick towards the far post where an unmarked Tutu Henriques guided his free-header towards the near post from 10-yards, only for Newcombe to get across his goal to palm the ball behind to deny the Merstham centre-half.

“I don’t mind chances on the angle like that funnily enough,” added Brown.

“He shouldn’t have a free-header, that shouldn’t happen but it was in an area where we thought Beaney was going to have a shot so we loaded the all up a little bit and it left us one short at the far post.

“It was one of those moments where they picked him out but at least the headers on the angle.  I thought he should’ve headed it back across goal. If he headed it back across goal, they may have a better goalscoring opportunity but I’m happy seeing people head it or shoot when the angle’s like that, it gives you’re keeper a chance.”

Although their weren’t that many clear-cut chances during the first half, Merstham certainly deserved their lead when it arrived with 33 minutes and 52 seconds on the clock.

Margate left-back Tom Mills failed to stop Figueira in his tracks and he worked the right-channel before drilling a low angled drive towards goal from 20-yards, which forced Newcombe to dive low to his right to parry.

Hayden-Smith just wanted it more than Margate right-back Jack Paxman and got to the loose ball first to slide the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from inside the six-yard box.

Brown said:  “It was a good save, it was a shot from 20-yards out and all he could do was get something on it and he got a good strong right arm down.

“Their 11 just gambles, anticipates quicker than Pax and slots it into an empty net.

“We were a bit unlucky in the build-up. He hits Mills, he reads it and he gets the interception but he skids off the surface and hits him on the shin and it bounces straight to their player and he takes a touch and shoots so we were a little bit unfortunate how that came about.

“But give credit, the strike was good.  That’s good forward play.

“Pax is very, very much on a learning curve. We’ve brought him up from Deal Town and he’s doing very, very well but he’s on a learning curve and those moments there he’s cost us a goal, not just that moment but he’ll learn from that.”

When asked about his thoughts at the break, Brown replied: “Sometimes you can look at a team and can be very critical and when you get in at half-time your voice can be elevated but that wasn’t the case today. 

“I’m going to give Merstham credit for that first 45 performance and it put us on the back foot.  We just couldn’t keep hold of the ball, our passing wasn’t great.

“We struggled on this pitch and the pressure that Merstham put us under but I’m going to give them credit for dominating the first 45 but what was said at half-time was constructive.

“It was more to do with styles of play and how can we adapt our style of play in the second 45 to put their back for under more pressure and get the ball down in their own half. We asked for a little bit more width.”

Margate got to grips with the game after the interval and Hayden-Smith was less of a threat down the left wing.

Brown said: “They’ve got individuals that certainly will catch the eye when they’re on top of the game. By the same token when they’re not in the game and you’ve seen second 45 when we’re pressing and asking questions of them, they’re getting a little bit isolated. I’m going to give our players an enormous amount of credit for that turnaround and the performance second 45.”

Margate started the second half on the front foot but Merstham keeper Amadou Tangara was dominant in his penalty area when Margate put balls in there.

The former Dulwich Hamlet stopper pulled off a great save to prevent Margate from scoring a 55th minute equaliser.

Prescott’s left-footed diagonal pass was controlled by Mills, who whipped in a deep cross towards the back of the penalty area and Sidney Sollis cracked a volley from the edge of the box, which forced Tangara to parry whilst diving to his right.

“The keeper makes a good save low down, good strike from Sid but again I can flip it around, it’s on the angle, it’s tough to score from there,” admitted Brown.

“A good move. A great ball to the far post. Sid’s come into the side but he’s another young lad, 19 years-of-age, playing at this level for the first time. All he needs is one or two opportunities and he can score tremendous goals.  I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with Sid before and on another day he’ll get more minutes between now and the end of the season and he’ll get his opportunities. It was a good strike, a good save.”

Prescott delivered another ball into the box for Mills to loop his header into the keeper’s hands from a couple of yards inside the Merstham penalty area.

Brown and Mike Sandmann made a double change as right-winger George Brown and target-man Alex Flisher came on, replacing Sollis and Taylor.

Collin’s driven free-kick from 35-yards deflected past the right-hand post and Flisher almost made an immediate impact on the game in the 59th minute.

Collin swung in Margate’s fourth corner of the night, in from the left and Flisher cut across his man to make space and plant his free-header past the near post.

Brown said:  “Bullet header. We’ve had more chances than I think. It’s a decent delivery near post.  Flish just literally entered the field of play not long before that, gets across his man, meets it very well, very, very strong header, couldn’t direct it. If he gets that on target there’s no stopping that!”

Merstham were still a threat on the break but the longer the game went on so did their balls out of defence.

Kershaney Samuels made a darting run straight down the middle before playing a crossfield pass out to unmarked right-winger Ghassimu Sow, who took a touch before drilling his right-footed shot over the crossbar from 22-yards.

Margate increased their tempo and desire levels during a good second half performance and Paxman drove down the right before playing the ball inside to holding midfielder Jordan Robins, who fed Flisher, who scuffed his shot past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Left-back Ben Harrison and Hayden-Smith linked up well down the left before Samuels found Figueira in a good place but his decision making was poor and his cross into the box sailed harmlessly wide of the far post.

Margate deserved their equaliser when it arrived with 23 minutes and 54 seconds on the clock.

It came from their fifth and final corner of the night, swung in by Collin from the left.  Merstham do not tend to leave a man on the near post at corners.

Collin’s first ball in was cleared and Merstham failed to clear their lines.  Prescott collected the ball at his feet on the edge of the box and recycled the ball back to Collin. He cut inside his man and floated a right-footed cross towards the far post for Friend to bury his downward header into the bottom near corner, despite the keeper getting down low at his near post in an attempt to make the save.

Brown added: “Did you think the keeper could save that? Of all the chances we had that was one where you give credit for the recycled second phase as I call it.

“We’ve circled the edge of the box, we’ve recycled it out to Frannie and you know he’s going to cut back on that right and when he cuts back on that right that is the cue for everybody in the box to make their runs.

“Liam made a run round the back, you’ve always got to occupy the back space. The last thing you want to see is the ball go through everybody and out from the side. He met that well.  I still don’t know, I thought it took a little deflection maybe or something or the keeper got a hand to it but I don’t really care, it went in!”

Beaney takes all of Merstham’s set-pieces and his free-kick into the Margate box was flicked on by Henriques but none of his team-mates could apply the touch at the far post.

Merstham’s holding midfielder Kavanagh hit a couple of long balls as he tried to put substitute striker Calum Davies in behind the Margate defence.

Davies got in behind once but Mills won the foot-race to make a perfectly-timed penalty-box tackle.

Brown said: “Their front boys got a bit more isolated second half. I thought by and large they went long, quite long, which we mopped up. They had a couple of good moves but we accepted that.

“We said to the players at half-time they’re going to get hold of the ball and they’re going to have some moves in the second half that are going to come.  They had moments but I thought we did ever so well second 45, created enough opportunities to get at least the draw.”

Margate substitute George Brown went on a long-bursting run but his left-footed drive deflected into Tangara’s gloves for a comfortable save in the final 15 minutes.

Pacey Figueira cut in to the heart of the Margate defence before playing the ball into Samuel’s feet and he set the ball up for Kavanagh to hit first time, which cleared the crossbar from outside the penalty area.

Margate kept knocking on the door inside the final 10 minutes.

Chris Barnard’s diagonal pass went to Brown, who burst down the right before wrapping his foot around the ball to put in a great cross into the box. Flisher found space and cushioned his free header towards the left-hand corner of the goal, only to be denied by a great save from Tangara, diving to his right to palm the ball towards safety.

“Flish caused a few problems, he was a nuisance when he came on and he put himself about,” said Brown.

“Listen, I thought we had enough opportunities second half to maybe nick that 2-1.”

Mindful of being caught on the counter-attack, Collin curled in a great free-kick from within the left-channel and Tangara produced another great diving save to ensured Margate didn’t score an injury-time winner.

Brown revealed the scene at Hartsdown Park nowadays when it comes to bringing new players to the club.

“We are threadbare, we’ve got 12 or 13 players left that are on the pay role. We’re filling the bench with players who are on zero money.  Every time we train four or five can’t train because they’re carrying knocks from the game before.

“I don’t think people are appreciating and understanding what those players are giving week-in-week-out to get these results.

“We can’t rotate anybody, we can’t change anybody, we can’t bring anybody in particularly. We don’t have the finances to do it so this is what we’ve got and they’re churning out some hard-working performances.

“All I can give them is credit. We’ve very critical when they’re not very good and we’ll hold our hand up, the Burgess Hill and Potters Bar performances were very poor. We’re one league defeat in seven on a shoe-string.

“With the injuries we’ve got sitting in the stand our budget is small. We haven’t been able to replace that money so we’re running off with what we’ve got left. We’ve got 13 paid players left and their churning out performance after performance so we’ve got to give nothing but praise for the squad.”

When asked what he needs to claim a play-off place at the end of the season, Brown, who takes his side to eleventh-placed Kingstonian on Saturday, replied: “A lot more money from the owner and about five signings.  We’re not going to see any of the players sitting in the stand return this season, they’ve all got cruciates and one has a ruptured Achilles now.

“I don’t expect the money to come.  He put an awful lot of money in last year. It was a huge loss in the financial year and he gave us a decent enough budget this year and we’ve lost half of it to players who are injured. It’s not a lot you can do about it.  We are very, very thin on the ground for players and it’s not like me and Mike aren’t trying, we’re phoning players and people every week.”

Merstham: Amadou Tangara, Harry Osborne, Ben Harrison, Tom Kavanagh, Tutu Henriques, Jake Hutchings, Ghassimu Sow (Tom Bird 78), Kenny Beaney, Walter Figueira, Kershaney Samuels, Tayshan Hayden-Smith (Calum Davies 67).
Subs: Ciao Guimareas, Eoin Kirwan, Timi Oshineye

Goal: Tayshan Hayden-Smith 34

Booked: Harry Osborne 31, Tayshan Hayden-Smith 39

Margate: Henry Newcombe, Jack Paxman, Tom Mills, Jordan Robins, Liam Friend, Ben Swift, Sidney Sollis (George Brown 58), Lee Prescott, Joe Taylor (Alex Flisher 58), Chris Barnard, Frannie Collin.
Subs: Owen Kallameier, Harvey Brand

Goal: Liam Friend 69

Booked: Ben Swift 82

Attendance: 131
Referee: Mr Graeme Ions (Tunbridge Wells)
Assistants: Mr Stephen Matthews (Bookham, Surrey) & Mr Lawrence Torz-Brown (Roehampton, Surrey)