Saturday 7th September 2013
—Margate FC 1 Leiston 1—
For a fairly dull game that finished in a 1-1 draw, Rollercoaster Ride might seem a strange title for this particular blog.
The reason I used this phrase, was due to the fact that Margate followed up an excellent 2-0 win away at Met Police with an 8-0 (Eight – as the old vidiprinter might have recorded!) loss at Dover.
The Met Police game involved us playing the entire second half with ten men (Scott Kinch seeing red for two bookable offences) after we fell victim to a certain referee’s incompetence for the second season on the trot. Sadly, I wasn’t at the game, but when a referee refuses to talk about a player going through the back of you, & then proceeds to give you your second booking for using a word beginning with ‘F’ you realise that some refs seem to take a perverse pleasure in taking centre stage. Even then, there was an element of farce as the ref didn’t realise he’d already booked Kinchy, until the outraged yells from the Met Police bench told him otherwise. What the FA don’t seem to understand about the Respect campaign (worthy though it is) – respect, I feel, does need to be earned, whether an official or a player.
Rant over, & from all accounts, it was a well ground out performance against one of our bogey teams in recent years.
This excellent result put us joint top (second only on goal difference) with Kingstonian.
As I headed to Dover for our Kent Senior Cup tie with the rabble from the Crabble (or in politer circles, Dover Athletic Football Club & ex manager Chris Kinnear) our car crew included Mel, Steve, Grant, Dan The Man & myself (Dave Dolphin in the boot!) – my optimism for a good contest was high.
Although we fielded an experimental line up, the 8-0 capitulation was a sickener, leading to the dolphins collapse on the floor in an apparent inability to watch any more of the game (and who could blame him?)
Reading that has given me the shivers again (and not just down to remembering Dover’s ground, which brought to mind something from the Blair Witch Project (or The Hills Have Eyes, delete as appropriate!) so I’ll move on to this weekends game, which happened to be Non League Day against Leiston at Fortress Hartsdown.
With so many people putting in sterling efforts to promote this day & of course Margate FC – in particular David Pittman & Sarah Egan, although I’m sure there’s many more I haven’t mentioned (apologies to those I’ve missed out) a bumper crowd was expected, with a respectable 494 attending in the end.
The game, unfortunately, was a highly forgettable affair. Although excellent to see the return of Charles Ademeno & Phil Walsh up front, we never seemed to get going & fell behind after 20 minutes to a clinical finish from Leiston’s Craig Parker, noted in the programme as being a goal scoring midfielder. With that type of finish, it was easy to see why.
We weren’t behind for long however, as a neat passing move in midfield saw the ball fed out to Warren Whitely, the skilful winger lofting over an excellent cross which Phil Walsh met with a diving header that gave the keeper no chance.
Whilst on the subject of the keeper (Alex Street) I have to mention that he took some ear-related banter from the choir exceptionally well, even waving on request! Due to the silent, brooding (or Noel Imber types) we normally see keeping goal for the opposition, I was full of respect for the way he took the light hearted banter with a light hearted smile of his own.
As the half time whistle blew with the scores level at 1-1, my first thought (and hope) was that we’d come out in the second half with all guns blazing. Sadly that wasn’t the case – with Leiston creating more chances & looking the more dangerous of the two sides, it took more of Hollers’ heroics in goal to keep the scores level.
A major positive was the performance of Paul Vines (brother of Joe), our recent signing from Dulwich Hamlet, when he entered the fray from the subs bench, replacing Walshy. Picking up the ball as the game entered its final death throes, he muscled his way past two challenges before unleashing a thunderbolt of a shot which cracked against the bar, desperately unlucky not to score – it really was one of those days!
As the final whistle sounded, the fans & indeed myself were left to reflect on a solitary point at home & an average performance – although I have to mention this – it says a lot about the quality of our squad, that we go away disappointed not to have beaten a team.
I felt a lot more reassured when reading the Margate FC website, in particular joint manager Craig Holloways view of the game, a direct quote being –
“I was disappointed in the lack of belief that we showed during the second forty five minutes. Some of the decision making of when to play was poor and at times we hung on to the ball too long when passes were available. We want to win all our home games so its a slight set back but this will be addressed and we will look to Tuesday nights game with East Thurrock and the three points.”
Where a lesser manager might have come out with cliches (‘one of those days / games etc’) Hollers was upfront enough to express his disappointment & to reassure supporters that the negatives from the Leiston performance would be addressed. Full marks to him, & very much looking forward to the game against East Thurrock United on Tuesday.
As for myself, I spent my Saturday night on a train going to Medway, with an inflatable dolphin in a Margate shirt for company. They weren’t lying when they said football was a funny old game!