No joy for 'Gate at "home"
Margate (0) 0 Exeter City (0) 1
McConnell pen (58)
Nationwide Conference (Saturday 16 August 2003)
at The Hoverspeed Stadium, Dover
by Peter Guise
Margate slumped to their second successive defeat "at home" at the Hoverspeed to relegated Exeter City after dominating the first half of this Nationwide Conference encounter and failing to make chances tell.
The home side started much the brighter with Keister's cheeky lob from the centre circle straight from the kick off looping just over the visitor's crossbar. Saunder's glancing header on eight minutes went narrowly wide of the right hand upright and eleven minutes later Warren Patmore repeated the feat on the other side of the goal with Sigerre lurking ominously. Steadily, the Grecians clawed their way back in to the game culminating in Martin Thomas firing over with a half volley on 38 minutes after more good work by James Coppinger down the right channel. Jean-Michel Sigerre had to be stretchered off just before the break after an unfortunate clash with a possible cruciate ligament injury that could prove a real problem for Gate's attacking fortunes. He was replaced by Che Stadhart who immediately entered the fray with a shot on the turn well saved by Bittner in the visitor's goal.
Whatever Exeter manager Eamon Dolan said to his team at half time it certainly worked. City started the second forty-five with renewed vigour. Just before the hour mark Reiner Moor broke down the left, cut in only to be upended by Jay
Saunders in the box. It was an action that earned the Margate man a yellow card and Exeter a penalty. Substitute Barry McConnell, on for the injured Hiley, strode forward and drilled his spot kick straight down the middle with Smith
diving away to his right.
Chris Kinnear rang the changes sending the re-signed Sam Sodje on for Iain O'Connell and it was Sodje who wheeled away in delight on 64 after seemingly scoring an equaliser only to be pulled up when the referee awarded a free kick
as the makeshift striker was rightly adjudged to have fouled the 'keeper to create the chance. Adrian Clarke entered the arena for Margate in place of John Keister and had two efforts that he might have doe better with. Firstly, firing over the bar and then wide after a good run from Greg Oates who, by now, was finding increasingly large amounts of green space down the right.
James Coppinger, easily City's man of the match, could have crowned a fine performance in the closing stages had it not been for Smith's reflex save to tip his ferocious right foot drive over the bar. Despite the strengthening of the strike force during the summer Margate are finding it hard to finish. No doubt, it has been a harsh start to the season but honest endeavour needs to be coupled with lethal strike rates if Margate are to fulfil their self-set ambitions.
Margate: Smith, Oates, O'Connell (Sodje 63), Porter, Leberl, Annon, Keister (Clarke 60), McFlynn, Saunders, Patmore, Sigerre (Stadhart 43).
Subs not used: Pulman, Abbott.
Booked: Saunders (58).
Sent Off: none
Exeter City: Bittner, Hiley (McConnell 25), Gaia, Jeanin, Todd, Coppinger, Cronin, Ampadu, Thomas, Flack, Moor (Afful 79).
Subs not used: Reed, Canham, Rice.
Sent Off: none
Referee: A. Conn.