Up For The Cup(s) – Part One
Tuesday 29th October 2013
—Margate FC 1 Folkestone Invicta 1—
(Margate win 4-3 on penalties)
With Margate still suffering from their Jekyll & Hyde syndrome in the League, our fans could be forgiven for thinking that the two imminent cup ties we had coming up would be a welcome distraction (a League Cup tie against Ryman South side Folkestone Invicta, followed by the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy – in which we were due to face Calor League Division One side Clevedon Town – both sides being one step below us in the non league pyramid)
I’m a strong believer in there being no such thing as an easy game, and Mick in particular made this point by saying this rule applied even more in Cup ties, where an upset could always be a mere 90 minutes away, regardless of what team you happen to support.
I was very honoured to have been invited into the sponsors lounge for our League Cup tie by Alan Anstice, who was sponsoring the game – and along with die hard supporters such as Mark Sandwell, Andy Page, Terry, Mel, Jim Dow, and Margate Youth Secretary Beth Marshall, it made for some excellent company – thanks again for your kind invitation & hospitality, Alan.
Folkestone in particular represented a potential banana skin – the fellow Kent side having reached the Ryman South playoffs in the last two seasons – a strong pedigree indeed! Backed by a somewhat cynical & geographically challenged following – (more on that later) – their danger man was a young Dutch striker by the name of Johan Ter Horst, who had been attracting rave reviews from various sources.
Margate started with a heavily changed side from the League defeat at Lewes, with young prospect George Whitelock, new signing Georges Ehui, Cesc Fakinos, Scott Kinch & Paul Vines (sporting a Jessie J style haircut) entering the starting XI in place of the usual strike partnership of Charles Ademeno & Phil Walsh – who were rested from the squad – with Warren Whitely, Jack Sammoutis & Richard Avery dropping to the bench, alongside the company of two U21 players from the Academy – striker Gary Vizzard & winger Issac Pagsiyah.
Folkestone named a strong lineup as expected, names such as veteran striker Paul Booth & player-coach Roland Edge starting the game, with the previously mentioned Ter Horst eager to pit his wits against a defence from a higher league.
The game began in a somewhat scrappy vein, with neither side seeming to be able to keep hold of possession, and George Whitelock must have been ruing his luck – fresh from coming back from his suspension due to ‘Stamp-Gate’ – his night was ended less than 10 minutes in, the midfielder hobbling off to be replaced by Jack Sammoutis. Luckily George’s injury seemed to be only a slight knock, and he seemed confident of only a very brief layoff.
The highlights from the half consisted of a couple of chances that both sides felt they could have done better with, Matt Bodkin uncharacteristically skying a shot over the bar after Paul Vines had played him through, before Hollers made an excellent covering save from Ter Horst when the youngster was clean through on goal.
As the halftime whistle blew, you couldn’t help feeling that the two sides were cancelling each other out, in what appeared to be a disjointed game where Gate were unable to stamp their usual fluent passing game on proceedings.
A major highlight of the evening came in the shape of the ‘Mini Shark Lads’ – so named due to their lucky mascot, who is – you guessed it – a diminutive plush toy shark! In the absence of the Choir, their excellent support rang out throughout the ground, even introducing a new Margate related song (and conga!) in the process – in what can only be described as an amazing performance from the lads, they did themselves and the club proud. A genuine credit to Margate.
With just an hour gone in the second half, the Folkestone keeper made an excellent double save to deny both Paul Vines & Cesc Fakinos, both players impressing me with their effort, particularly Vines who was toiling on his own in what appeared to be a 4-5-1 formation.
Hollers was urging his side to switch on and stay alert, and indeed took his own advice when he made a fine stop from a Folkestone player, spreading himself well to deflect the ball to safety. As the game continued to ebb into the late stages, nails were being bitten & nerves were beginning to show from the fans – cue the introduction of young hopeful Gary Vizzard, who had previously earned glowing reports for his goalscoring exploits in the Margate U21 Academy side.
Indeed, it turned out to be young Vizzard who broke the deadlock to put Gate ahead, an excellent pass from Fakinos – who continues to impress with his reading of the game – laying the ball into the path of Vizzard who clinically finished without needing to break stride.
However, in a game which ended up having more twists & turns than an Alton Towers rollercoaster, Folkestone equalised just past the 80 minute mark, with that man Johan Ter Horst despatching a superbly curled shot past Holloway to send their fans into raptures. The game got niggly in the final stages, with Folkestone fans widely deriding the performance of what I felt was a very competent referee – one of their heckles involved asking him if he was from Ramsgate – I’ll leave that one with you, discerning reader!
As there is no extra time played in the League Cup, once the final whistle went, it meant the dreaded experience of spot kicks – which were taken in front of the Thanet Cars South Stand.
Joe Vines was first to step up for us, and in shades of John Terry, slipped as he made a connection, enabling the Folkestone keeper to palm his effort away. Joe’s frustration was palpable, although as it turned out, he needn’t have worried, Hollers proving himself equal to parry away Folkestone’s first penalty.
Hearts were going into overdrive yet again as Joe’s brother Paul stepped up for our next spot kick – would he succeed where his brother had stumbled? Yes, was the overwhelming answer, as he hammered home his penalty off the bar & into the net to get Gate off the mark. Folkestone’s next penalty taker was unlucky to see his effort come off the inside of the post before rebounding out, but as a somewhat (well, very) biased Margate fan, who cared?
Mark Sandwell’s protege Matt Bodkin stepped up, reducing The Who fan to turn away in understandable nervousness – a perfectly placed penalty into the corner of the net by the wing wizard allayed Mark’s fears, with a finish that gave the keeper no chance. Johan Ter Horst predictably proved to be a spanner in the Margate works, calmly despatching his spot kick past Holloway, before Cesc Fakinos promptly followed suit, slotting in past the Folkestone keeper to make the score 3-1 to Gate.
Luchford for Folkestone made it 3-2, leaving the chance for Academy prospect Vizzard to seal the game – unfortunately the keeper got a strong hand to his penalty to keep it out. Stevenson ensured a nervy finish as he fired his penalty home to make it 3-3, and the pressure was now on Margate.
However – cometh the hour, cometh the man, and inspirational skipper John Beales coolly notched his kick to put Gate 4-3 up, in what was now a sudden death contest. Thankfully, Folkestone’s next kicker shanked his spot kick high & wide, earning Gate a hard earned victory over a competitive Folkestone side, and a home tie against Hastings United in the next round.
Folkestone’s missed penalty to give the Gate the win can be viewed below – credit to Thomas Brown of the Thanet Gazette.
Finally, it would be extremely remiss of me to not include Terry & Mel’s review of the opposition keeper –
Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“I think maybe a 3, was a bit wobbly for us”
Arse-O-Meter – 3 out of 10