Thame United 2-4 Margate - They gave us a test right to the end but I think over the two games we've probably deserved it, says Margate boss Jay Saunders

Tuesday 07th September 2021
Thame United 2 – 4 Margate
Location Meadow View Park, Tythrop Way, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3RN
Kickoff 07/09/2021 19:45

The Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 7 September 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Meadow View Park

MARGATE manager Jay Saunders says his players’ really appreciated the small band of supporters that made the 276-mile round trip to see their FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replay win at Thame United.

Jake Embery, 22, was Margate’s hero on Saturday when he headed in a last-gasp equaliser to set up tonight’s trip to Oxfordshire and he was the hat-trick hero here tonight as Margate sealed a trip to their Isthmian League Premier Division rivals Merstham in the Second Qualifying Round on Saturday 18 September.

Mark West’s side also scored twice at Hartsdown Park at the weekend and impressive right-winger Greg Hackett equalised Embery’s opener with a contender for goal of the season, before Margate centre-half Lewis Knight rifled in from a corner just 136 seconds later.

Thame United’s goalkeeper Craig Hill  - who was replaced at the interval – gifted Embery his second goal of the night as the former Herne Bay and Maidstone United striker scored from 45-yards to give Margate a commanding 3-1 lead going into half-time.

Embery curled in his hat-trick seven minutes into the second half before Thame United pulled a goal back through Ryan Blake’s third goal of the season as Margate stretched their unbeaten run to six games in all competitions since the start of the season.

“Still not overly pleased with the goals we’ve conceded,” admitted Saunders.

“I thought over the two games we’ve probably deserved it. We’ve had a lot of possession over the two games but we’ve conceded sloppy goals, which killed us on Saturday and we were always chasing it and I think probably without being disrespectful to Thame I just felt Saturday was their chance then. I felt if we played them again we’d probably have enough to get through.

“They gave us a test right to the end, they never gave up.  I think that summed up the cup tie but all in all we scored some good goals tonight and we got the job done.”

Saunders was quick to praise Embery, adding: “He’s had a stop-start sort of season with us just because he’s had a long time out through injuries at Maidstone and he’s been trying to get his fitness.

“He started at Cheshunt, took a whack and got a dead leg so then he missed another game so it’s been a bit stop-start for him. We trained last Thursday and he probably had one of the worst sessions I’ve seen but I just said to him in there his finishing tonight was different class.”

Thame United, meanwhile, have picked up just one point from their opening four games in the Southern League Central Division and beat Thatcham Town 2-0 here in the Preliminary Round.

Margate arrived at Meadow View Park sitting in fifth-place in the league with two wins and two draws but needed two games to beat a side one level lower than them.

Thame United started the game on the front foot, however, as five of their six corners came inside the opening 23 minutes of the game.

Margate keeper Pat Ohman was fully stretched into action after only 76 seconds, following a three-man move.

Hackett raced down the right and played the ball inside to Dan West in the centre and he laid the ball to the unmarked Blake, who started the game wide on the left, and he took a touch before driving a low right-footed angled drive towards the bottom near corner from 12-yards, which Ohman got down low to his right and stretched to grab hold of the ball.

“Listen, I think we’ve given them too many chances over the two legs,” admitted Saunders.

“The last four league games we’ve been really solid defensively (conceding only two goals) and we’ve limited teams to chances but I felt on Saturday we gave them too many chances and tonight again, if I’m being honest with you but look it’s The FA Cup, it’s all about getting through and keeper’s have to make saves at important times. 

“They had a great start on Saturday scoring after eight minutes and it was a good save from Pat but one I expect him, a quality keeper, to save.”

Margate successfully dealt with an in-swinging corner from the right from Thame United’s left-back, which was cleared out to centre-half Harry Tucker, who smacked a clearance on the volley from the halfway line, which bounced and looped over the Margate crossbar.

Knight’s forward pass was intercepted by Thame United central midfielder Harry Mepham who fed striker Lynton Goss, who cut inside Knight inside the box but his shot was drilled over the top of the near post.

Margate weathered the early storm on a balmy September evening and Bivesh Gurung often linked up well with Sam Blackman inside the Margate half as the Kent side played out from the back on numerous occasions.

Gurung played the ball into striker Dan Thompson, who took a touch before drilling his right-footed drive screaming just over the crossbar from a central position from 35-yards in the 13th minute.

“Bivesh has come in and done really well. He was a young lad when I was at Maidstone in the under 15s, under 14s and he got a move to Crystal Palace,” revealed Saunders.

“He trained at (National League) Dover and a couple of clubs and we got in touch and he’s come in for training and done really well these two games with Montel Agyemang out injured. He’s come in and he hasn’t let himself down at all and I’ve been really impressed with him.

“Bivesh and Sam Blackman linked well even when Montel came on, he linked well with him. He’s a good footballer and it’s a great little through ball and Tommo struck it well but just couldn’t keep it down.”

Margate, however, grabbed the lead in the 16th minute when Gurung fed Embery, who skipped past Mepham in midfield and drove forward at pace before drilling his right-footed drive underneath the body of the diving Hill and into the centre of the goal from 25-yards.

“I thought we had a lot of possession but a lot of it was in front of them but I think it was a great little though ball,” said Saunders.

“We had to weather, I suppose you’re away from home, you want to be solid first of all for the first 10-15 minutes and we were that. A good piece of skill, a great turn by Jake and once he went through I felt confident that he’ll take that chance.”

Thame United’s equaliser brought a roar of approval from inside the stadium as Hackett capped off an impressive night with a sublime strike in the 23rd minute.

It came from their fifth corner of the night, swung in left-footed by Lynn from the right, which saw Hackett peel away from Sam Blackman inside the box before latching onto Lynn’s cut-back before turning and drilling his right-footed drive in off the underside of the crossbar from 16-yards.

Saunders said: “Listen, it’s one of those. We defended the first part well and we probably didn’t get out quick enough and he’s turned and had a snap-shot and it’s gone into the top corner.  I think on another game it maybe goes over but fair play to the lad he's found the underside of the bar and after that we responded well.”

Saunders felt the pacey Hackett “could easily play in league’s above.”

Margate responded well as Ben Greenhalgh put in a cross from the left and Embery’s glancing header took a deflection off his marker and trickled past the far post.

Margate scored following their first of three corners, from the well-worked resulting corner, just 136 seconds after conceding.

Greenhalgh played a short corner routine from the right into former Bearsted winger James Bessey-Saldanha, who easily skipped past Blake inside the box before cutting the ball back for Knight to lash his first-time shot into the top near corner from 15-yards.

“Do you know what? As a manager and coaching staff when you work on set-pieces and they come off the training ground, it’s pleasing,” revealed Saunders.

“That’s been one we’ve been kind of working on and we wanted to do it first corner tonight and we’ve managed to do it and it’s come off.  Ninety percent of it was what we planned. I wasn’t expecting Knighty to be there. It was meant to be Sam Blackman and Knighty’s got there and took it really well.”

The game then turned into a cagey affair before Margate sealed the deal by scoring their third goal in the 42nd minute.

The Margate back four would drop deep as Thame United goalkeeper Hill launched very long goal-kicks with his left-boot but the keeper took a free-kick close to the left touchline some 40-yards from his goal.

The Margate defence played the ball up to Embery, who showed vision and composure to drive his right-footed shot sailing into the top left-hand corner of an open goal from 45-yards and Hill’s punishment was to be substituted at the interval for Charlie Barnett.

“You’ve got to give him credit though,” said Saunders. “The technique to do that. I know he’s spotted the keeper off his line, it’s a hell of a strike. He’s drove it well and a lot of the time you see people try to do that and it’s not easy, especially on a pitch that was a bit bobbly tonight.  The actual technique to do that is different class from Jake, so delighted for him. That gave us that little cushion to go into half-time.”

Greenhalgh’s second corner was met by Thompson’s near-post header, which he steered over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box but this was a professional first-half performance from Margate.

“I felt tonight it was a cause of playing simple football and not really overcomplicating things.  At times tonight, when we did, we allowed them opportunities,” said Saunders.

“When we just passed the ball simply sort of dragged them out and pulled them apart and we created chances but I think at times we over-complicated things.  It was just to simplify everything really, just to move the ball.

“The pitch was a little bit sticky so I asked them to move it as quickly as we could and move it well and if we did that, we’d have more than enough to win the game.”

Lynn put in some great deliveries from the left into the Margate penalty area during the second half and Ohman was called into making a flying save just three minutes and 23 seconds in.

Lynn’s cross was flicked on by West and Goss’s shot on the turn was destined to crash into the corner of the net, but the Margate keeper dived to his right to frustrate the home side.

“One of the things we said at half-time was the first 15 minutes that the next goal was important.  Can we be solid and not give them many opportunities? I was disappointed with that but we then responded and scored a good goal,” added Saunders.

Margate went direct in the 52nd minute to kill the game off with their fourth goal.

Knight hit a long ball out of defence, the ball was flicked on by the towering presence of Thompson and Embery sprinted past Tucker before curling his right-footed drive into the roof of the net from 22-yards to seal his hat-trick and take his tally to four for the season.

Saunders said: “It’s a hell of a hat-trick. It’s a good ball from Knighty. He’s spotted Tommo on the diag and it was good movement from Jake.

“I think the first touch set him up well and then he sort of nudged it past and I think the mood he was in with his finishes, he kind of looked sharp all night. It was a great finish, bending it in the top corner. A great hat-trick. I’m sure he[ll look forward to seeing them again.”

Lynn delivered another good cross from the right which was flicked on by Blake – now operating as a central striker – and good wing play from Hackett saw him cut inside and twist and turn two Margate defenders but Dan West sent his overhead kick straight into the hands of the Margate keeper.

Callum Mapley chopped down Margate substitute midfielder Jack Richards on the edge of the penalty area and Thame’s centre-half escaped a booking from the lenient referee.

Substitute goalkeeper Barnett left a gaping hole to his right and Richards tried to exploit the space by stroking his right-footed free-kick from 22-yards into that hole but the diving Barnett was relieved to see the 70th minute set-piece sail over the crossbar.

Saunders said: “It (being 4-1 up) gives us an opportunity to give minutes into other people. Jack Richards hasn’t had many minutes. Montel was coming back from an injury. Vance Bola is coming back so it gives us a chance to get some other players on and give people like Sam Blackman and Ben Greenhalgh, some of the senior players, a little rest.”

The game then turned cagey for 10 minutes before Mark West’s side rallied and had a late go.

They notched their second goal of the night in the 82nd minute following a set-piece as referee Ryan Dix harshly penalised Margate right-back Mo Kamara for a handball down the left channel and Goss delivered and Blake rose in the middle to bury his header into the roof of the net from six-yards.

“It wasn’t a free-kick! It hit Mo on the back and the ref’s given it handball.  I think they moaned a lot so he gave them a freebie,” claimed the Margate boss.

“Bivesh got out to the ball and done well and got a foot on the cross but it deflected actually unfortunately straight to their player and he’s nodded it in and what it did it made it a little bit scrappy for the last eight minutes.

“If that doesn’t go in the game sort of dies but it gave them a lift and to be fair to them they had another chance shortly after which Past made a good save.”

Lynn whipped in a low cross from the left and Blake held his head in his hands in agony after shooting straight at Ohman from six-yards out at the near post inside the final three minutes.

Another decent cross from Lynn was knocked down and Goss dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post at the death.

“They’re the home team, they’re looking like they’re going out of the Cup and you have to throw everything at it,” said Saunders.

“I felt our game management at that point was not great. I felt we just should’ve kept the ball and put it in the right areas and just not rush things and for some reason, we got a little bit over-excited and started to panic up a little bit. I don’t think there was a real need to but fair play to them, they’ve got some good fells in charge down here, really nice people Mark West and his staff. They’ve been really welcoming and over the two games they’ve given us two good games.”

Former Margate manager Nikki Bull, meanwhile, brings his Leatherhead side to Hartsdown Park on Saturday, before Margate travel to Hornchurch on Tuesday 14 September, before a trip to Merstham follows in the next round of The FA Cup.

“You don’t want teams in leagues above you do you so I’ll take it.  It would’ve been nice to have been at home but we’re enjoying it. We’re six unbeaten, we haven’t lost yet this season.

“For the club the FA Cup is massive. It brings revenue in so really pleased. It was a lifeline on Saturday, scoring in the 94th minute and we thought we’re still in the hat and I’m pleased we’ve got through for the club and the supporters.

“The supporters are unbelievable to make the effort to come up here. We’ve had a little whip-round and gave them some money to get some food and drinks because I think there was about 10 of them that came up in a minibus and we really appreciate it.

“I felt we deserved to do that because our performance on Saturday wasn’t good enough really so it was a little thank you for making the effort to come up. They’re a great bunch and the boys really appreciate it. As you saw at the end, they all went straight over to the supporters.  We seem to have that unity a bit this year which is important.  I don’t think the club has had it in a long while. We’ve got a group of lads who appreciate them.”

Returning to the bread and butter of the seventh-tier of English football, Saunders added: “We want to continue our league season. We’ve had a good start.  Another home game, hopefully, another good crowd. We’ve been getting good support down at Hartsdown so hopefully, we can continue it but we’re a new side and we’re still building and still working on things but overall I’m pleased with how it’s all going.

“Listen, we’ll worry about the Merstham one when it comes to it but first of all Leatherhead. I’ve just said to the boys in there, we’ve got a run of games now where home games we want to get good points on the board.

“Leatherhead will be a tough game. Nikki Bull always has good sides so that will be a real tough one and then Hornchurch is always a difficult place to go but we’ll worry about that after the Leatherhead game.”

Leatherhead also progressed through tonight, beating Isthmian League South East Division side Whitstable Town 1-0 tonight, courtesy of Cameron Black’s 24th minute goal.

Thame United: Craig Hill (Charlie Barnett 46), Finlay Murray, David Lynn, Harry Mepham, Harry Tucker, Callum Mapley, Ryan Blake, Jack Tutton (James Holmes 63, Lynton Goss, Jack Tutton, Greg Hackett (Harry Scott 77).
Subs: Brodie Gray, Andy Gledhill

Goals: Greg Hackett 23, Ryan Blake 82

Booked: Harry Mepham 90

Margate: Pat Ohman, Mo Kamara, Joe Anderson, Bivesh Gurung, Lewis Knight, Ben Swift, Ben Greenhalgh (Jack Richards 60), Sam Blackman (Montel Agyemang 66), Jake Embery (Vance Bola 72), Dan Thompson, James Bessey-Saldanha.
Subs: Owen Kallmeier, Ryan Palmer, George Lamb, Martial Godo

Goals: Jake Embery 16, 42, 52, Lewis Knight 25

Attendance: 237
Referee: Mr Ryan Dix
Assistants: Mr Ross Cole & Mr Dean Carney