Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory
Saturday 11th January 2014
—Margate FC 2 Hendon 3—
As Maidstone United’s 3G debate rumbles on (they’re currently appealing to the FA to change their rules – as it stands, were they to get promoted to the Conference South, they wouldn’t be allowed to use their 3G pitch) I can’t help but feeling that the amount of winter postponements in non league football adds weight to their case.
I’m a firm believer of playing football on grass, rather than plastic – but you can only imagine how much lost revenue postponements cause clubs at Margate’s level of football & below.
With that said, this was our first game of 2014 – the weather having put paid to our New Years Day fixture with Thamesmead (who have recently signed ex Gate players Lanre Azeez & Tommy Whitnell) and also caused the postponement of our away fixture at Harrow Borough three days later. Our game yesterday was in doubt too, but managed to pass a 9AM pitch inspection, due to the untiring work & expertise of Ivesy.
Manager Terry Brown had used the spare time wisely, bringing in three new players – left back Sam Rents & midfielder Anthony Riviere continued our fine tradition of signing Sutton players, while right back / winger James Folkes had also played for Sutton, previously in his career. While picking the bones out of yesterday’s game, Terry did wonder whether we were due to be called Sutton By The Sea FC! I’ve got to admit, it does sound catchy…
All three started the game against free-scoring Hendon, with their top scorer Jefferson Louis clearly being one to watch out for. Our new look defence was bolstered by the return of John Beales, who partnered Jamie Stuart at the back – Rents & Folkes playing left & right back respectively.
With Phil Walsh toiling on his own as a lone striker, this was definitely a game in which you felt that the instructions were to keep things tight – and we had the best possible start, as an ecstatic Matt Bodkin slotted the ball home, after a cross from Jack Sammoutis caused panic in the Hendon ranks. Sadly, our lead only lasted ten minutes, as from a breakaway down the right wing, the ball was swung in to an unmarked Jefferson Louis, who made no mistake. 1-1, and yet again we had contrived to shoot ourselves in the foot.
As the half went on, it must be said that it was a pretty equal contest, with the new signings coming into their own & trying to stamp their quality on the game – Rents & Riviere particularly impressed me with their poise & passing play, while James Folkes was linking up well with Warren Whitely, who had another good game.
Not long after a Hendon player had hit the bar with a scorching long range effort, Gate retook the lead – a superb cross from the cultured left foot of Sam Rents was headed home with aplomb by Jamie Stuart – his first goal for the club, and one that he looked particularly thrilled about! A superb time to score, and we went into the break 2-1 up & full of optimism after our celebratory Poznan.
With an hour gone, we were 3-2 down. Slack defending again led to an equaliser, & another long range shot from distance seemed to go through Holloway’s hands – although I might have this completely wrong, as subsequent reports have classed Hendon’s third goal as a wonder strike – my apologies if so, Craig!
Having been ahead & then behind in the space of ten minutes seemed to knock the stuffing out of Margate, & although substitutes were made (Ademeno & McDonald coming on) they struggled to make an impact, to the frustration of the crowd.
Although the Choir & Mini Shark lads got behind the lads as always, along with the encouraging yells of Mark & Terry, to name just a couple, Gate were unable to fashion any decent chances, and you have to say that Hendon were deserving of their win, although my own feeling was that we had thrown three points away, slipping down to 15th in the table.
One thing I will say is this – a lot of our fans are absolute diamonds, supporting the club through thick & thin. They recognise that some days you win, some days you lose, but continue to encourage the team no matter how bleak things look.
A small minority of our fans however, never seem to be happy unless they’re criticising. I realise that I might come across like I’m against any criticism at all – I’m not, football is a game of opinions & people have paid good money to watch. However, I don’t understand how some people can possibly enjoy coming to a MFC game & spending the whole time moaning, picking holes in everything, & jeering at our players, should they dare to make a mistake.
That for me isn’t support – unconstructive criticism doesn’t help anyone, especially the players. We have no divine right to success, & with a new look squad, it will take time to gel. I genuinely think a little bit of realism is needed, especially amongst the more cynical fans.
Our next game is away at bottom of the table Cray Wanderers – although I’m hoping to break my away day hoodoo here, the fact that they’ve signed ex Gate players Paul Vines & Cesc Fakinos is slightly worrying – one of the great footballing traditions is ex players coming back to haunt their previous club! With the players we’ve got, though – I feel that if the squad play to their potential, we should notch a much needed win here.
If not, & indeed, if we manage to lose against a side that have only scored 20 goals & let in 82 in a mere 25 games, you know what? I’ll still carry on supporting & encouraging the team as always, win lose or draw. The same as the rest of our stalwart fans have done for years.
Terry’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Not much of an arse, or personality – 4 out of 10“