While there's a fighting chance to stay up, we'll keep on fighting, says Margate coach Mike Sandmann

Friday 03rd March 2017

MARGATE coach Mike Sandmann says he is fighting to keep the club in the Vanarama National League South.

The Hartsdown Park outfit have endured a depressing season as they are rooted to the foot of the league table with a record of five wins, a draw and 25 defeats in the league and are staring relegation back into the Ryman Premier League right in the face.

Nikki Bull quit the club on Thursday 23 February, so Margate chairman Alistair Bayliss brought in Steven Watt (who was assistant manager at Hastings United), Sandmann (who runs Dover Athletic’s Academy), while Steve Brown stays on as assistant manager.

The new management team have suffered 2-0 home defeats to both Whitehawk and Chelmsford City in their first week at the club.

“It happened very quickly, we didn’t get to see the players before the first game so that was always going to be quite difficult,” said Sandmann.

“The first time we met the players was in the dressing room before the game but then we saw a massive improvement between Saturday to Tuesday already. 

“You can see Margate is a fantastic club with some fantastic supporters and volunteers and people wanting to help out.

“I think that was the biggest thing that stuck out for me on the Saturday was the supporters and volunteers and this could be a very, very good club.  It certainly has the right people there who all want to help and to pull in the right direction, which is pleasing.”

Margate are 16 points adrift of tomorrow’s opponents Concord Rangers, who are fifth-from-bottom in the table, but the Kent side will need a miracle to avoid relegation.

“We needed to quickly identify where we needed to strengthen and we needed to do that quickly,” said Sandmann.

“We’ve brought some players in so for us we improved on Saturday and on Tuesday against Chelmsford we were looking to do the same.

“Every game we’re looking to improve and hopefully all it takes is a goal or something to go our way or results to go our way.

“We’re just looking to improve on every game at the moment and see how it goes.”

When asked whether he has written off the season, Sandmann replied: “No! Absolutely not! I don’t think you can write off anything until it’s mathematically impossible so while there’s a fighting chance we’ll keep on fighting,” he said.

“We knew it was a tough ask, we’re certainly not writing it off so we’ll be fighting each week to try to turn the results around and then who knows what will happen.”

Margate have now suffered a depressing 15 defeats on the spin and reflecting on their defeat to fifth-placed Chelmsford, Sandmann said: “Chelmsford are a very, very good organised side, they’re up the top for a reason and for 40 minutes we competed.

“We had a very good chance to go 1-0 up and the referee gave them a soft penalty, which when you’re down at the bottom and they’re at the top, those things don’t go your way.

“I think it was soft but credit to the players’, they came out fighting again in the second half.

“Chelmsford had a couple of opportunities to score more goals and we had a fair share of chances as well, just two opportunities that went just past the post.

“At this stage one goal makes a massive difference.  You can see why they are up the top and it’s pleasing how we conducted ourselves and competed in the game, which was pleasing and it was a massive improvement on Saturday’s performance.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s trip to fellow strugglers Concord Rangers, Sandmann said: “We don’t really look at where they are in the league, we know every game for us between now and the end of the season is one of those games and we have to approach it the same, and of course when teams are up and around you it’s important to claw points back of them but we’re not interested in their position in the league.

“We’re just interested in improving on the last performance and hopefully by doing that we can get three points and I don’t think the groups far away from getting that.

“We spoke to them after the game and we were pleased with them, despite losing 2-0 and we’ll be approaching the game to win the game like we will be between now and the end of the season.

“We trained last night and it was a lively training session. The players’ have responded very well and we’re keeping spirits as high as we can.

“It’s not nice to lose games of football but we’re in the position we’re in and we’ve just got to make sure we go out and have the right mentality to win the next game.

“The club are still in a position to stay up.”

Watt was unavailable for comment today because he was busy on his phone to tie up a couple more players ahead of tomorrow’s game.

Former Aston Villa and Maidstone United defender Ben Swift has signed for the club, while Sutton United striker Pape Gueye has signed for a loan period of one month.

Margate have confirmed that the loan of Harrison Bennett from Reading has been terminated.

Visit Margate’s website: www.margate-fc.co.uk

Concord Rangers  v  Margate
Vanarama National League South
Saturday 4th March 2017
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Thames Road, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 0HH