Mitten expected to return for Gate's Melbourne debut

Thursday 02nd March 2006

Margate travel to the Melbourne Stadium to take on former Southern League rivals Chelmsford City for a Friday night Ryman Premier League clash, writes Steve Wells -

Back in November Margate lost their unbeaten home record with their third league defeat in succession against a City side that did not look capable of setting the world alight themselves.

Chelmsford took the lead in strange fashion with just three minutes on the clock – the Margate defence looking very static. The Blues failed to create too many clear chances of their own, and when they did – particularly in the second half – the Chelmsford defence were able to scramble the ball off the goal line.

For the most part, the game was a tense affair with frustration from both sides sometimes boiling over into confrontation, perhaps not helped by the referee’s frequent use of his whistle. But it would be hiding from the truth to say that Mr Slaughter was the sole reason for a game that was disappointingly low on quality throughout.

The Chelmsford winner arrived in the fourth minute. A long clearance from the Claret’s defensive area found Jamie Richards, and with the Margate defence seemingly looking on, he rifled in a shot that beat Charlie Mitten in the Margate goal.

Five points separate the two sides now, and Margate will be looking to take their good recent form into what could be a competitive encounter.

From near bottom of the form table a few short weeks ago, Gate are now ranked third – just behind Braintree on goal difference and Heybridge Swifts. A return of 12 from a possible 18 points has been accrued from three wins and three draws. The key difference has been Margate’s ability to turn chances into goals, a well documented problem earlier in the season.

The acquisition of Danny Hockton has been key, the former Dover striker accounting for five of the 11 goals. Defensively, the Blues still look strong with just five teams having a better “goals against” column.

Bill Edwards should return to the side after serving a one match ban, but Pat Gradley could need more time to recover from a hamstring strain. If Greg Oates recovers in time, then Dean Standen could make way – dropping to the bench. And goalkeeper Charlie Mitten could make his first start since the 2nd January away defeat to Redbridge in place of Darren Behcet.

Chelmsford City had a dreadful start to the season with just one win in their opening 10 games. Form improved for the second set of ten games with six wins and a steady climb up the table. The return to their home town was also a big boost for this famous non-league club.

Currently mid-ranked in the current form table, the Clarets have accrued nine points from three wins in their last six league games. As ever, consistency is what separates the mid-table from the top and so it is with City – wins over Wealdstone, Redbridge and Slough off-set by defeats to Hampton, Maldon and Harrow.

Chelmsford City’s two danger men should both be available; Jamie Richards on nine league goals and Tony Boot who has scored five since his switch from East Thurrock United. Another former East Thurrock player, captain and midfielder Dean Palmer is a recent addition to the squad.

If you cannot get to the game then visit for LIVE coverage of Margate's first ever visit to the Melbourne Stadium.

Chelmsford City v Margate
Ryman Premier League
Friday 3rd March 2006
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Melbourne Stadium, Salerno Way, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 2EH
Telephone: 01245290 959