Barking 0-0 Margate - I don't think we stand a chance at Margate. I don't want to be disrespectful to my players but it's going to be a mammoth task, says Barking manager Justin Gardner

Saturday 26th October 2019
Barking 0 – 0 Margate
Location Mayesbrook Park, Lodge Avenue, Dagenham, Essex RM8 2JR
Kickoff 26/10/2019 15:00

The Buildbase FA Trophy First Qualifying Round
Saturday 26 October 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Mayesbrook Park

BARKING manager Justin Gardner says his side doesn’t stand a chance of beating Margate at Hartsdown Park on Tuesday night after these two midtable sides played out a goal-less stalemate.

Both goalkeepers excelled during this FA Trophy First Qualifying Round tie at Mayesbrook Park, a bobbly playing surface and a wet and windy day ensured the game turned into a battle and Margate boss Jay Saunders admitted he was happy with having a second chance.

However, despite playing down Barking’s chances of causing an upset on the 3G pitch at Hartsdown Park, Gardner certainly has attacking players that can cause damage when they display their talents down on the Kent coast.

Margate went into the game sitting in 12th-place in the Isthmian League Premier Division table, having collected 15 points from 11 games, while Barking were in thirteenth-place in the Isthmian League South Central Division table with eight points from their nine league outings.  But the different in levels was not evident here today.

Without any local media at his game, Barking manager Gardner requested a post-match interview.

“I thought we done really well today.  I thought we were controlling it. I thought their goalkeeper pulled off two world-class saves and that’s why he’s at Crystal Palace, I suppose and that’s why I shook his hand after the game because he’s kept his team in it!

“I think, if I’m honest with you, I think our chance to win it has gone today.  I think Margate at home is going to be tough for us because people will be travelling from work and all that.  Our best chance to go through was today. The ball’s firmly in Margate’s court for Tuesday.”

Margate boss Jay Saunders, whose side have scored 25 goals in 16 games in all competitions, said: “I’m not overly pleased with the performance but I think it was a case of not coming here and losing the game to be honest. 

“It was tricky conditions, probably the first time this season we’ve come across that but fair play to Barking, Justin’s got a good side and they made us work for the draw.  Although I weren’t happy with certain things, at the end of the day we’ve got another crack at it.

“Obviously at this time of the year you get these kind of conditions and that’s part of Cup football.  You come to places and you’ve got to turn up and do a job.

“I think, for me, you could see by the way we changed the team, we went very big. With the conditions we had to go high for set-pieces and just make sure we were organised and I thought defensively, first half we were ok, second half Joe Tupper’s had to make three great saves and I thought their keeper made some good saves as well.

“It was a little bit too open at the end for my liking but we didn’t lose the game and that’s the main thing and we’ve got another crack at it.”

Margate created the first opening after only 186 seconds when winger Kadell Daniel played a crossfield pass to Adem Ramadan and the winger rolled the ball inside to Frenchman Julien Anau, who dragged his shot harmlessly wide of the target when he was left in oceans of space some 35-yards from goal.

After Margate started the game on the front foot, Barking weathered the storm but both defences were on top in testing conditions.

Both teams were finding it hard to control the ball on the bobbly pitch and Barking should have smashed the stalemate in the 19th minute.

Outstanding centre-half Joe Bruce hung in a free-kick which was punched away by visiting keeper Joe Tupper, despite being put under pressure from an aerial challenge from Barking’s central midfielder Abs Seymour, who was making his 100th appearance for the club.

The ball came out to Junior Dadson, who brought the ball under control before hooking his half-volley flashing just past the foot of the left-hand post from a central position, 22-yards from goal.

“You’d expect Junior to do better than that,” insisted Gardner.

“You’ve watched him for a number of years playing for Cray Wanderers, where you’ve seen him score untold goals. We expected him to score that!”

Exactly 60 seconds later, Margate created an opening from a set-piece.

Daniel clipped a wind-assisted free-kick into the penalty area with his left-wand and left-back Daniel Johnson jumped too early and flicked his header which bounced into the hands of Barking’s 22-year-old goalkeeper Montel Joseph.

It was a pitch where set-pieces should have counted.  Barking squandered a good opening at the halfway point when winger Johnny Ashman smashed his right-footed free-kick over the bar and against the roof of the stand from 35-yards.

Margate centre-half Ben Swift headed the ball up field, striker Noel Leighton held the ball up before playing the ball out to Ramadan on the left. He cut inside and two Barking defenders doubled up on him to ensure that the former Tonbridge Angels winger blasted his shot high over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Anau shimmied his way past Seymour as he drove towards the edge of the Barking box but the ball bounced up off a bobble and Anau failed to keep his shot down from similar distance.

Barking enjoyed a good spell of possession and wasted a glorious chance to smash the deadlock on the half-hour mark.

They produced a slick one-touch passing move down the right which included Jack Roult, Ricky Tarbard and Michael Dixon, who played Ashman in behind Johnson and he floated in a precise cross towards the far post where the unmarked Seymour planted his header over the top of the far post from 12-yards.

Barking right-back Tarbard played the ball into Seymour’s feet and the Barking skipper spun Margate centre-half George Essumann before flicking his shot over the top of the right-hand post from 22-yards.

Despite standing at over six foot five tall, Margate target man Al-Hafeez Sanusi and Noel Leighton failed to impress and the pair endured a frustrating afternoon.

“I was a little bit disappointed with our front four today if I’m honest with you,” admitted Saunders.

“I didn’t think big Hafeez (Sanusi) and Noel (Leighton) really got going today, although second half Noel had a couple of chances.  I thought out wide first half we kind of played with the two wingers on opposite sides Kadell Daniel and Adem Ramadan were coming in and not creating enough for us so that’s why were switched it second half to try to get more balls in their box.

“I thought that worked better for us so maybe we got that a little bit wrong first half.”

Margate’s holding midfielder Reece Prestedge sent Barking left-back Jordan Peart to the ground and Seymour’s floated in a free-kick which was met by Roult’s towering header, which he steered across the face of goal and just past the far post.

Dadson threw the ball into Barking striker Dixon, whose right-footed drive from 22-yards was comfortably smothered by Tupper, who dropped down to his knees to make the save.

“You’ve got to give Barking full credit. They went with the wind first half and tried to get their shots off and really put balls in and around the box and cause us problems at times but I was pleased first half, I thought we defended against the wind really well, second half, not so much,” said Saunders.

Margate finished the first half on the front foot and created a couple of chances inside the final three minutes.

Daniel cut inside Barking right-back Tarbard before unleashing a right-footed drive from 18-yards, which bounced right in front of the diving keeper, who did well to dive to his left to push the ball towards safety as the winger tried to find the bottom far corner with his low drive.

Ramadan’s flick released Daniel, who skipped past Bruce down the right before crossing towards the far post where Leighton brought the ball under control before sweeping his right-footed shot on the turn, which bounced into the hands of the Barking keeper from 22-yards.

“Again though, for me they’re half-chances.  I’m not going to stand here and say there were good chances and we should’ve scored,” said Saunders.

“I expected us to create a bit more with the front four that we had on the pitch so for me they were a little bit disappointing and we’re trying to get that right, click up there. 

“Hafeez has come in (from Concord Rangers) for the last two games. Noel has been left out of it and had a spell on the sidelines. We’ve got good options but for one reason or another it’s not quite clicking in the final third so we’ve got to get that right.”

Gardner added: “It was a feisty game, we were in their faces and they didn’t like it and I’m sure they didn’t appreciate coming here, the surface and the facilities aren’t as good as Margate but that’s what non-league is about and that’s what The FA Trophy is about! We were the underdog.”

When asked his thoughts at the break, Saunders replied: “There were a few harsh words said but needed saying and the players knew it!

“They were sort of arguing amongst themselves when I came in, which I like because it shows they care and they realise that probably we were not quite at it.

“We swapped Kadell and Adem over. I said can we get it out wide and try to get balls in the box. I felt that would cause them problems there, make sure we picked up a lot more of the second balls.

“It wasn’t a pretty game to try to play pretty football on that or try to get on the ball was always going to be difficult and I felt we had to play to the conditions and you’ve got to do that.

“I think if it had been at our ground, it would’ve been a different game.  Fair play to Barking, they kept trying to do what they did and I can’t take nothing away from them in the end.  Joe’s probably kept us in it slightly.”

Leighton, who had both of his socks rolled down his legs, burst into life with Margate’s first second half opening inside nine minutes, drilling a low right-footed drive from 35-yards, which forced Joseph to dive to his right to parry before the ball was cleared towards safety.

Barking’s keeper was called into more serious action shortly afterwards when Sanusi fed the ball into Ramadan down the left wing before he cut the ball back to Daniel, who took a touch before whipping in a cross which was brought down by Leighton at the near post before stroking his left-footed shot towards the bottom near corner, which was kicked away by the Barking stopper, similar in build to George Kamurasi and loud like him too.

Margate went close again in the 59th minute when Barking doubled up on Ramadan before Prestedge took a couple of touches before stroking a low left-footed drive with his third touch, the ball flashing past the diving keeper and just past the foot of the left-hand post.

Prestedge then turned provider when he teed up Anau who cracked his right-footed drive sailing over the crossbar from 35-yards with Barking centre-half Jack Hayes attempting to close him down with a sliding tackle.

Tupper, who is on a season long loan from Premier League side Crystal Palace, kept Margate in the game with a couple of vital saves.

Firstly, with 16 minutes and 51 seconds on the clock, Max Bradford, who played in central midfield behind the front two, released Dadson, who put in a low cross towards the far post where Dixon spun Essumann just outside the corner of the box and got a swift right-footed low drive away, which was destined for the bottom near corner, only for Tupper to dive low to his right and use a strong right hand to push the ball behind for Barking’s second and final corner.

Gardner said: “I don’t think Tupper had no right to get down to the ball, he had no right because his body was moving to the left and even when he got a hand to it, I thought it went through bit it went for a corner.

“I thought he was their best player to be fair to the goalkeeper today.  Their captain (Ben Swift) as well, I thought he was decent. I thought he really organised their defence and kept us at bay.”

Saunders added: “Listen, I thought Joe Tupper was excellent today. Since we’ve got him in from Crystal Palace, I think he’s been outstanding and I thought he was again today, especially second half.

“I just said to him he’s probably kept us in it during that spell in the second half. They probably had a 10 minute spell where they got on top in the second half and they had those chances but we rode that. He’s made a couple of good saves and thankfully we’ve kept a clean sheet.”

Ashman swung in the resulting corner from the left towards the near post where Bradford’s header was sailing towards the far corner but Margate right-back Chris Sessesgnon was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

And just eight seconds later, the ball was recycled back in by Bradford and put Ashman in on goal but Tupper rushed off his line to make a vital save when the Barking winger only had the keeper to beat.

Gardner said: “I turned away, I thought that was going in! He’s a big goalie but he’s stuck out his leg and he’s pulled that one off.”

Within a spell of a flurry of chances and excitement, it was then the turn of Barking’s keeper Joseph to make another decent save.

Daniel, who looked to be Margate’s biggest threat, put Leighton (who had skipped past Bruce) through on goal but Joseph spread himself to make a vital save with his legs.

“I think he’s probably got to score when he goes through.  I’m sure Justin will say the same about a couple of chances they had but I felt when he goes through one-on-one, I think he’s got to score,” said Saunders.

“Noel’s having a frustrating time in front of goal at the minute and that’s why we took him out of the last home game. I just felt he needed a rest but we have to take those chances really because when you’re not at your best, if you get those half-chances and you can take them it kills the game off.

“Honestly, I felt whoever got that first goal would have gone on and won the game because it was always going to be a tight affair today.”

Gardner added: “Their number 10 (Leighton) was slipped through and even their centre-back said ‘Goal!’.  Montel’s saved it so that was a good save from him.  I think he’s had two good saves, compared to their goalkeeper, he had four!”

The game opened up during the final 15 minutes as both teams went for the win.

Substitute Jack Richards, who featured down the right, swept the ball into Prestedge, who chipped the ball up to substitute striker Elliott Reeves, who brought the ball under control before shooting towards the bottom near corner from eight-yards but the shot lacked power and the keeper gathered.

Hayes punted a left-footed ball over the top of Sessesgnon to put Dadson in down the left but after cutting in towards the edge of the box his shot was poor and drifted harmlessly past the far post from 20-yards.

Gardner said: “I know we definitely didn’t fancy a replay and I suppose Margate didn’t.  We wanted to get the game dead and buried and it was a bit like tennis in the last 10 minutes.  We always wanted to get the win because we didn’t want a replay so I told them to keep going and going. We didn’t want to throw the game away but I thought it was a good game for the neutral. 

“I thought Margate’s supporters got their money’s worth.  The weather was terrible, spitting rain is not the best rain. It was windy, it’s quite open here so I thought it was a good game.”

Essumann let in Dixon in the final nine minutes but Margate keeper Tupper got his team-mate out of a hole after making a vital save with his feet as Dixon got in straight through the heart of the pitch.

Richards’ free-kick from the right some 35-yards from goal was met by a towering header from Leighton, which looped over the Barking crossbar from 15-yards.

Gardner heaped plenty of praise on Bruce, who ensured Margate endured a frustrating game in front of goal.

“He’s 37-years-of-age. I’m lost for words for him. He’s like Billy Elliot, he doesn’t seem to be getting older in actual fact,” said Gardner.

“He said to me at the beginning of pre-season he’s the fittest he’s been in about 10 years. I suppose defenders look after themselves when their getting older.  Thirty-seven today and he didn’t look out of place ss a young centre-back out there today, he was tremendous!”

Margate kept pressing to snatch a late winner but both sides deserved a second bite of the cherry down on the Kent coast.

A second into stoppage time, Reeves released Richards down the right and he whipped in a cross of high quality but striker Reeves found a pocket of space in the centre of the box close to the penalty spot and caressed his left-footed volley just past the right-hand post.

“I thought it swung our way a bit and maybe we could’ve gone on and won it but it wasn’t to be,” added Saunders.

“It was a hell of a ball from Jack Richards, maybe Elliott coming on cold as a sub, if it was someone else maybe, but it was a hell of a ball.  I think it kicked up a little bit off the ground but it was a great ball by Jack and maybe Elliott could’ve done better but that’s us in front of goal at the moment for whatever reason it’s not quite happing but we’ll keep working on that and try to get it right!”

Daniel slopped the ball through to Reeves, who drilled a right-footed shot on the turn from 25-yards, which stung the fingers of the outstanding Barking keeper.

Both manager’s gave their thoughts on Tuesday night’s replay.

Barking have so far banked £6,640 in prize money in The FA Cup and The FA Trophy this season and there is a further £2,450 up for grabs for the winner on Tuesday night, while the loser banks £800.

“All I know, we won’t give a performance like we did today! I know we’re better than that and hopefully on Tuesday we’ll show that,” insisted Saunders.

“I think it will be a different game. We’re used to the 3G pitch and they’ll have to come to us. They’re a side that likes to play, to be fair to them, so I’m sure they’ll come down and enjoy (the pitch) as well, so we’ve got to be on our game.

“We can see they’ve got some dangerous players, they’re well organised so we have to make sure we do our jobs and I think we need to be better in the final third, a lot better.

“They didn’t deserve to lose the game today. I’m always honest, I’m not going to stand here and say we should’ve won it because we shouldn’t. They deserved something out of the game.”

Gardner has thrown in some mind games but his side are more than capable of coming home from the Kent coast having pulled off a giant-killing act.

Gardner said:  “I don’t think we stand a chance! I don’t want to be disrespectful to my players but it’s going to be a mammoth task.  Someone’s just said it’s a two-and-a-half-hour journey for us to get there, some players finish work at five, some boys have told me already that they can’t get there until seven so that messes our preparation.

“But it’s a cup game, anything can happen, you’re right, but maybe they got out of jail and they’ll take us home and probably put it to bed.  It’s a cup game, we’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll go there and we’ll have to change it up because people will be tired and getting their late and we’ll just give it a good go ourselves.  I think our best chance of winning has gone today.”

When asked what The FA Trophy means to Barking, Gardner said: “To us, it’s the money. We need to improve, the money can maybe bring in another player. We’re down to the bare bones.  The only positive we’ll have one of our centre mids (Sam Owusu) so there’s one fresh face so that will be the only one that I’ll be bringing in, or maybe I’ll have to call a couple of under 23s in.”

Barking: Montel Joseph, Ricky Tarbard, Jordan Peart, Jack Roult, Jack Hayes, Joe Bruce, Johnny Ashman (Kojo Apenteng 90), Abs Seymour, Michael Dixon, Max Bradford (Stuart Collins 71), Junior Dadson (Nana Boakye-Yiadom 87).
Subs: Richard Kadima, Daniel Flemming

Booked: Abs Seymour 83

Margate: Joe Tupper, Chris Sessesgnon, Daniel Johnson, Reece Prestedge, Ben Swift, George Essumann, Adem Ramadan (Jack Richards 76), Julien Anau, Al-Hafeez Sanusi (Elliott Reeves 61), Noel Leighton, Kadell Daniel.
Subs: Craig Holloway, Jay Porter, O’Shane Stewart, Harrison Hatfull, Michael Abnett

Booked: Al-Hafeez Sanusi 18, Julien Anau 28

Attendance: 110
Referee: Mr Tom Ellsmore (Woking, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Andrew Senior (Lingfield, Surrey) & Mr Daniel D’Urso (Burgess Hill, West Sussex)