Deal Town 0-2 Margate - You're going to have a team that's going to go out there and give 100% for the club, says Margate boss Steven Watt

Saturday 08th July 2017
Deal Town 0 – 2 Margate
Location The Charles Sports Ground, St Leonards Road, Deal, Kent CT14 9AU
Kickoff 08/07/2017 13:00

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 8 July 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from The Charles Sports Ground

MARGATE manager Steven Watt says his players will give 100% for the club after suffering a depressing campaign last season when the club finished at the foot of the Vanarama National League South table after losing 31 of their 42 League games last season.

Watt is preparing for life back in the Bostik Premier and his side sealed a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Deal Town, who finished in thirteenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division last season.

They had to wait until the second half to win the game as Sid Sollis capped an impressive club debut with a flicked finish, before Sidney Warden came off the bench to head in at the far post.

Margate struck the post twice. Orlando Smith was guilty of the miss of the season when he failed to score in front of an open goal in the first half and Sollis’ deflected header also struck the woodwork in the second half.

“A very good run-out.  I said to the boys before the game it’s another training session and a chance to get some much-needed minutes under your belt in a competitive game,” said Watt, who revealed his side have had three training sessions going into their opening friendly.

“I was more than happy with it.  I thought it was a game we grew stronger and stronger and very pleased with the under 21s coming off the bench and give a good account of themselves as well. 

“We should’ve scored more goals but it’s something that we’ll work on. It’s early days in pre-season and missing six players wasn’t ideal but it’s still showed the strength in depth that we have in the squad.”

Deal Town boss Derek Hares said: “I thought overall you’ve got to be pleased with the way things went.  I thought Margate are a strong side, they’ve got some excellent players but I thought for the first game of the season our lads equipped themselves really well.

“It’s one of those games you could turn up and get turned over five or six but at the end of the day it was 2-0.  They deserved to win but I thought we got a lot from the game, our fitness levels were quite good and I thought we competed very well.”

Hares side play two levels lower than Margate and went into the game on the back of six training sessions.

A crowd of 275 gave Deal Town a welcomed financial boost and Margate were to be denied inside the opening seven minutes when Alex Flisher powered a swerving low drive from 30-yards, which stung the fingers of goalkeeper James Tonkin, who made a low save.

Deal Town’s only chance to score arrived shortly afterwards, following an eye-pleasing slick move.

Striker Connor Coyne played the ball inside to his strike partner Charlie Walsh, who from the edge of the penalty area, played the ball in for Steve O’Brien, who produced a typical finish from a left-back, despite being left unmarked inside the box.  His low drive deflected into Lenny Pidgeley’s hands for a comfortable save.

“We didn’t create many chances,” admitted Hares.

Deal Town played with five men at the back (three centre halves with two wing-backs pushing back) and Smith will only know why he failed to give Margate the lead.

Dave Martin, who was electric down the left, whipped in a cross into the penalty area and the ball was poorly dealt with by the last defender and gifted a chance for Smith and faced with an open goal he took his touch and drove his right-footed shot against the near post from six-yards out.

“They missed a sitter when the lad missed from a yard out and hit the post but I thought overall our defending was excellent. We won’t come up against players like that in our league so we’ve got to take comfort from that,” said Hares.

“We could’ve gone in three or four up at half-time but results in pre-season doesn’t concern me, it’s more the performances and the effort the players give,” said Watt, before he was asked what he said to Smith during the break.

“I didn’t bring it up! I thought we’ll leave that one! There was a lot of pressure on Orlando to do well today. He’s a player in the final third who can unlock and we saw that a few times when he got one-v-one with players and little bits of balance he has and the fitter he gets I think he will be an asset this season.”

Smith appeared to be trod on by Luke Bigginton. It would have been a straight red card in a League or Cup game. Instead lenient referee Michael Marsh decided to speak to the Deal Town central defender.

“He took a knock in training on Monday. If you take a knock on the ankle and you always seem to take a knock on the same ankle,” said Watt.

“I was going to take him off because I thought I’d only play him for 45 minutes. In the second half it started to open up for him a little bit, he was starting to enjoy himself. I was going to give him a little bit longer but I was always planning to take him off early. He took a little knock on the same ankle but he’s ok, he’ll be fine.”

Margate skipper Tom Wynter, who partnered Alfie Foster in the middle of the park, drove a left-footed shot from 30-yards, which saw Tonkin pull off a great diving save to his left to palm the ball away.

“He played last year, he had a bit of an injury from the first part of the season.  We left him out of the side for a few weeks but the last three months of last season he was excellent and I thought he was very good today as well,” Hares said of his goalkeeper.

Margate left-back Tom Mills clipped the ball up to Sollis, who flicked pass played in Martin, who cut into the box and his flicked shot from a tight angle was comfortably caught by the busy Tonkin.

Flisher decided against a long throw in the 20th minute, throwing the ball short to Martin, who whipped in another cross with his left-foot and the strong Sollis powered his header towards the top near corner, which saw Tonkin pull off another great save, keeping the ball out with his outstretched left-hand before Sollis put the rebound over despite being off-balance.

“We’re so fortunate to have a player like Dave at the club,” admitted Watt.

“We got him on loan (from National League side Bromley) last season and got him to buy into what we want to do and he’s happy to do this.  You saw that he’s a player with great energy and unbelievable quality and I think going forward we’ve got very good options with players. We’ve got exciting players going forward so we can hopefully cause some teams some problems.”

Ben Swift played the ball up from the heart of defence into Martin in the centre and he rolled the ball out wide to Flisher, who threaded the ball into Sollis’ path, who flicked his shot across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post.

Flisher’s third of seven long throws was hurled low down into Sollis’ feet and his first time drive was comfortable caught by Tonkin after 27 minutes.

Deal Town weathered the storm and Margate had to wait another 12 minutes before creating another chance.

Flisher’s short throw found Smith, who scuffed his angled drive towards the bottom far corner, which Tonkin gathered at the second attempt.

Margate were a threat down the left and Martin played the ball inside to Smith and Flisher teed-up the unmarked Mills, whose left-footed drive from 25-yards was caught by the Deal stopper.

Neither side made a substitution at the interval, which was strange considering this was their opening outing.

“I was happy with the first half,” said Margate boss Watt.

“I thought we could’ve controlled the possession a little bit better. It was a little bit end-to-end for me.  We looked to try to score too quickly, I think, we tried to make things happen too quickly. I just asked the boys to be a little bit more patient in possession and pick our moments to attack really. I think we did that in the second half.

“I think Deal tried a bit. We ended up having a lot more opportunities but first half I was more than happy with how it went because it’s always difficult in the first half of games.  I asked the guys to come out and start fast, which I think we did.”

Hares said: “I just thought we competed well. We rode our luck a little bit with the one that hit the post and a couple of others. James Tonkin made two or three excellent saves but very pleased with the first half and to be fair both sides didn’t really change too many players until (just before) they scored the first goal, which maybe was a little bit of a compliment to us.  Once they scored the first goal perhaps then they felt they can relax and go on and get two or three more as it happened, they only got one!”

Margate went close to breaking the stalemate inside the opening five minutes of the second half.

Martin slipped a sublime first time pass to put Sollis through on goal but he dragged his shot across goal and past the far post from 18-yards.

Watt was full of praise for the highly-rated former Tonbridge Angels striker.

“He’s an 18-year-old, he’s a player we’ll be looking to maybe try to get tied down. He’s a very, very good player, a good prospect for the club.   Missing the goal didn’t faze him. He blocked it off, put himself about. He was unlucky not to score more goals. He hit the post with a header and another couple of efforts but I was really impressed with Sid. For a young kid to lead the line like he did at 18-years-of-age in a team he’s unfamiliar with.  He trained with us all week, but it’s not easy for a kid that age to come in and put in a performance like he did today so we’re really happy with Sid and let’s hope we can get something sorted for him.”

Flisher turned Bigginton and left Dan Adams struggling to keep up as he reached the by-line to whip in a cross towards the far post but Sollis’ steered a deflected header against the near post.

Flisher’s sixth long throw of the afternoon picked out an unmarked Martin, who curled his shot on the turn just past the foot of the far post.

Margate notched a deserved breakthrough, timed at 12 minutes and 43 seconds.

Flisher’s seventh long throw was flicked on at the near post by central defender Liam Friend and landed on Martin’s right-foot to strike a volley from eight-yards and Sollis flicked the ball into the roof of the net.

“It’s a great asset that Flish has, that throw.   I know myself, I’ve scored many goals when I’ve played with him (at Maidstone United) for many years,” said Watt.

“I’ve seen the throw cause many problems and it’s something that we haven’t worked on yet. We haven’t done the work of how to attack it and get players in positions. It’s something that we’ve made a note on, that we’re going to do and work on that throw and work on where I want people to be.  I’m more than happy with people in the right positions there.”

Hares said: “It was a good goal. I don’t think we could’ve done a lot with it. That’s why I’m pleased about it really. Both goals, they had to work for it. It wasn’t as though we did things wrong really, it was just good play from them.”

Deal Town substitute striker Ryan Phillpott cracked a drive, which took a deflection, looped up in the air before dropping wide of the far post on the hour-mark, but Friend and Swift provided solid protection for Pidgeley.

Martin whipped in a free-kick down the left channel towards the far post and Friend came up from the back to steer his effort just past the foot of the far post from close range.

Deal Town’s best chance of the second half saw Philpott try to beat Pidgeley with a sublime right-footed chip from 35-yards, which the keeper back-peddled to tip over the crossbar before the keeper was replaced by another youngster.

Hares said: “It was a good shot and a good save actually. He was quite a distance out. It looked like it was going into the top corner and the keeper made a good save. It was a good effort.”

Watt said: “That was pleasing for me to see how we protected Lenny’s goal.  He was required there and anything he had to do he did very, very well.  Lenny is an experienced keeper and does things that aren’t noticed. A minute to go before half-time he took about a minute to take a goal-kick. These are little things that are key in games in the right moments and Lenny’s game management is very, very good and it’s something that will benefit us as a team.”

Warden, who played for Maidstone United’s Academy and Glebe last season, made an impression as he doubled Margate’s lead with 29 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Martin reached the left by-line and chipped the ball towards the far post where striker Warden steered his downward header into the bottom far corner.

“I’m very happy with Sidney Warden today when he went on,” said Watt.

“He’s a young kid, great energy, very, very fit, very intelligent. He picks his runs very, very well. I was very impressed when he went on today. I was glad when he got his goal, I thought he deserved it. Sid’s trained with us this week and we were very happy with the way he trained so he got his opportunity today.”

Hares added: “Again, I don’t think it was bad defending. I just think it was a good goal they created and they worked it well and took it well.”

Deal Town striker Walsh went close with a right-footed free-kick, which dipped just over the Margate crossbar from 25-yards, before substitute striker Sam Wilson rode a challenge in the box but failed to beat sub keeper Stan Waller.

Hares said: “He’s pretty good at those to be fair to Charlie. We didn’t create a lot, we had three or four efforts on goal really, I suppose, but really we restricted them.  I know they had three or four efforts and probably should’ve scored a couple more but overall that was the pleasing thing.

“Steve King, our coach, he works well with the team. He puts a lot of effort in to organisation and I think that showed today.

“The positives were the fitness and the application of the players was excellent and our defending, I thought we defended strongly throughout the game really against a top side and if we do that against most teams in our league, we’ll be fine.”

Deal Town can expect a tougher test when their Vanarama National League neighbours Dover Athletic visit The Charles Sports Ground on Tuesday night.

“That’s going to be an even bigger test because they’re now two leagues above Margate,” said Hares.

“These first two games are really for the club. These first two games is to build on fitness and start sharpening up for the season, get two good gates and it all helps for the club and then from next Saturday (at home to K Sports) we’re really concentrating on teams around us and maybe results will be a little bit more of an importance.”

Margate travel to newly-promoted Bostik South side Ashford United on Tuesday night and Watt said: “This will be a good tests for us against Ashford.  I know Danny Lye very well, they’re a good side, a strong, physical side so I’m looking forward to that game and I’m looking forward to how we adapt to it.”

Watt revealed that he will sit down with striker Michael Thalassitis, 24, who has found celebrity status following his week on television reality show Love Island and has had his personal life put into focus in the national media. 

“It’s an unusual situation for a manager in his first full season, it’s been different you could say,” admitted Watt. 

“I’ve been in regular contact with Michael. He’s been given an opportunity now to make a good bit of money in doing what he’s doing.  He’s never once said to me he doesn’t want to be at this football club. He’s said he wants to come back. Obviously his other side of it is requiring his attendance more than here.

“He understands he won’t be paid at the club until he’s in so we’re not paying him while he’s away so he knows that and he accepts that.  ‘You wouldn’t expect that any other way,’ was his words to me, which is great to hear. He’s told me he’ll be in next week, hopefully he’ll be back in on Thursday of next week and we’ll then sit down and have a good chat face to face and talk about things moving forward.

“The football club are fully behind him and we still want him to be a part of what we’re trying to do here and we understand it, the backlash of what he’s been on.  There’s a bit of demand for him.  I think we’ve got to accept that.

“There’s guys not here today for different reasons. I don’t think why we should be any different for the likes of Mike. We’ll support him up until the point where it does become an issue but as of now, I don’t think it is.”

Meanwhile, back on the pitch, Margate fans can expect a much better campaign this season.

Watt said: “The look of the Margate side you know you’re going to have a team that’s going to go out there and they’re going to leave everything on the pitch for you every minute and that’s something that we’ve instilled very early and the performance, good bad or whatever, we give 100% for the club and you could see that today even in a  pre-season friendly.”

Deal Town:  James Tonkin (Harry Brook 63), Joe Reeves (Josh Peacock 69), Steve O’Brien (Harry Alexander 69), Dean Hill (Kristian Gregory 56), Liam Hark, Luke Bigginton (Lee Scott 56), Joe Anderson, Dan Adams (Max Burnetti 75), Charlie Walsh, Connor Coyne (Ryan Philpott 56), Amir Zureiqi (Sam Wilson 56).

Margate: Lenny Pigeley (Stan Waller 76), Khalil McFarlane (Harvey Laws 81), Tom Mills, Tom Wynter, Ben Swift (Jack Fenton 77), Liam Friend, Dave Martin (Ben Fitchett 77), Alfie Foster (Harvey Killick 76), Sid Sollis (John Brown 63), Orlando Smith (Sidney Warden 56), Alex Flisher.

Goals: Sid Sollis 58, Sidney Warden 75

Attendance: 275
Referee: Mr Michael Marsh (Herne Bay)
Assistants: Mr Piotr Zachwieja (Chatham) & Mr William Bussey (Hythe)

Coverage Sponsored by: