Margate relish eagerly anticipated Dons
Margate welcome AFC Wimbledon to Hartsdown Park on Tuesday night for one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season, writes Steve Wells -
Margate welcome AFC Wimbledon to Hartsdown Park on Tuesday night for one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season, writes Steve Wells - www.
When the two sides met at the Fans Stadium just three and a half weeks ago, it was Margate that were the victors by a 2-1 margin after a hard fought game that you couldn’t take your eyes off of.
The Dons opened brightly, but Margate took the lead on 15 minutes after enjoying a good passage of play. Firstly, Bill Edwards played a trade-mark long ball forward that Bertie Brayley flicked on to Danny Hockton. The striker got the ball wide to Ian Hilaire just outside the area but his shot cannoned off Dave Sargent and the Dons cleared.
Margate then made steady progress down the left with a series of throw-ins. From one close to the corner flag, Dean Standen found Brayley. He did well to skip past a couple of defenders on his way to the bye-line before pulling the ball back with a delightful left foot cross that was met by Hockton – coming in from a deeper position – who powered home a header out of the reach of Little.
Gate’s confidence rose as they took the game to the hosts but 11 minutes later, Wimbledon equalised. Woolner sent a nice ball into the Margate area where Butler sent a delightful lob over Behcet, with Carthy on hand to complete the job from close range.
Wimbledon then held sway for most of the remainder of the half.
Margate had a dream start to the second half when with just four minutes gone, Brayley collected a long clearance and knocked the ball over for Hockton who, turned and from distance fired in a shot that had Little well beaten.
The home side then seemed to lose their way until the closing stages when they laid siege to the Margate area. But Gate hung on, despite going down the 10 men for the final few minutes.
For Margate, it has been a bit like pre-season in mid-season. But now with Danny Hockton and Bertie Brayley in tandem up front, the Blues have an outlet for the chances that they have been creating for most of the season.
Across the season to date, the form comparisons for the Blues make interesting reading. Gate’s four home wins are no more than second bottom Windsor and Eton have achieved, while three home defeats matches the achievement of Heybridge Swifts. Overall, Margate’s nine defeats are fewer than Hampton & Richmond but eight victories are lower than everyone except for the bottom three.
Gate’s defeat at Chelmsford on Friday evening was their first in eight games but they still remain fifth in the current form table. Three wins and two draws have seen the Blues accrue 11 from a possible 18 points in their last six games.
Darren Behcet missed out on Friday after picking up an injury during the warm-up, but he should be fit for Wimbledon – Charlie Mitten dropping to the bench. Greg Oates – a second half substitute at Chelmsford – could come back into contention at right back with Dean Standen dropping to the bench. And Chris Kinnear will have to choose between John Keister and Hasim Deen in the centre of midfield.
The Dons have enjoyed a swift rise up the non-league pyramid and are enjoying a good first season at this level. Having won the Division One title comfortably last season, the Ryman Premier has proved to be more of a challenge to Wimbledon than many commentators expected. But, the Surrey side remain in touch of the play-offs although an improvement in current form is going to be required to secure one of the four coveted places.
The Dons are currently ranked 10 in the form table having taken nine from a possible 18 points following two wins, three draws and a single defeat – against Margate at the Fans Stadium.
On the pitch, the danger men look to be Richard Butler and Shane Smeltz who have over 30 league and cup goals so far this season. In addition, recent loan signing Martin Carthy and Dwayne Plummer were impressive for the Dons at the Fans Stadium. But with Carthy’s loan period having expired, manager Dave Anderson will have to make a change unless an extension can be agreed.
Wimbledon have been defensively very strong all season, and positively miserly away from home so this game looks likely to be a tight affair. If the form book is anything to go by, then Margate should start as slight favourites, but it could go either way.
Meanwhile, Margate have been forced to cancel helicopter rides which were due to take place from 9am on Saturday 4th March. Cancellation is due to the farmer, whose field was due to be used for the event, withdrawing from the arrangement today. This has left the Club no option but to cancel. All tickets holders can reclaim their payment in full at the Hartsdown Road Social Club between 9 am and 10 am on Saturday 4th March, or contact the Club on 01843 221769 to make other arrangements.
A statement issued on the club’s website said: “Margate Football Club apologises for any inconvenience caused to ticket holders by this cancellation.”
There will be segregation at Hartsdown Park (7:45pm) - visit the club's website for further details.