The Youth Of Today
Saturday 8th January 2014
—Margate FC U10’s 0 Sittingbourne Young Boys 3—
Originally, I was hoping to make this two match reports – reporting on Terry’s U10 team is always a pleasure, & when she invited me along to watch and report on their game against Sittingbourne Young Boys before we set off in Mark Sandwell’s ‘Magic Bus’ for the suburban setting of Finchley, it was too good an offer to turn down.
I had another staunch Margate supporter along with me in the form of Dan Boyle, who very kindly dragged himself out of bed early Saturday morning, for the 9:45 kickoff. Catching up with & listening to Dan is always a highlight of any journey, & as we made the short walk up to Hartsdown Park, we were both anxiously checking Twitter for the result of the Wingate & Finchley pitch inspection.
As Dan & I arrived at a blustery Hartsdown Park, we were greeted by a beaming Terry & Frankie, who was celebrating his birthday that day. After wishing him many happy returns, he promptly morphed into his referee’s outfit (I think he must keep it under his clothes, much like Superman!) and looked to organise the teams into kicking off in good time.
Margate were in their home kit against a determined looking Sittingbourne outfit, who sported pink & black stripes – one thing immediately noticeable was the size of their female #2 – clearly their defensive enforcer, judging from some of the slightly apprehensive looks on some of the Margate boys faces!
The teams sportingly lined up & shook hands before the match, only adding to the impression that it was like watching the first team, after they’d shrunk in the wash somewhat!
Sittingbourne kicked off in very windy conditions, which I felt wouldn’t help the Margate cause – their main strength being a fluent passing game that has been well instilled into them by Terry.
Gate started brightly however, & some good linkup play between Cam & Tommy earned the first throw in of the game, which was promptly hoofed down the pitch by the Sittingbourne defence. They attempted to mount a counter attack, but Margate’s defence, well marshalled by Arthur, stood firm.
What with the conditions, the ball seemed to be going out of play fairly often, both sides having throw ins – unfortunately Margate took a foul throw which was then given to Sittingbourne. Cam was in determined mood, scrapping for whatever he could find, and thwarted a Sittingbourne attack with an excellent tackle.
In a rare foray up the pitch, Margate earned a corner that was scrambled clear by the Sittingbourne rearguard, & a threatening counter attack was quickly nullified by the impressive Arthur, who put in a superb shift in defence.
The blustery conditions weren’t helping the players at all, with the game proving to be a scrappy contest – although some excellent work from Cam & Frankie led to a shot being well held by the Sittingbourne keeper.
Frankie’s play also stood out – as a lone striker, he did an excellent job of holding up the ball & bringing others into play, and was unlucky to see his shot go wide as Gate began to threaten.
Unfortunately, the defence found themselves too far upfield, leading to a breakaway for Sittingbourne – their number #10 outpacing Arthur (to be fair, I think he’d outpace me too!) before finishing with aplomb past a helpless Mikey.
Galvanised by their goal, which was very much against the run of play, Sittingbourne began to stamp their authority on the game – Mikey showing great awareness to rush out & block a shot, which Arthur cleared well.
Margate attempted to get a foothold in the game, and won another corner – sadly this was also cleared & Gate were left exposed on the break – Grant this time showing some excellent defensive work to make the crucial tackle.
Mikey had to be alert yet again to postion himself well & save from another Sittingbourne breakaway, and the away side continued to pile on the pressure – they saw a free kick hit the bar, before an uncharacteristic fumble from Mikey (it happens to the best of us) led to an easy tap in for the Sittingbourne striker, who made it 2-0.
All credit to the young keeper though, he kept his head well after that mistake & put in a solid display between the sticks. Arthur attempted to get an attack going with an excellent searching pass out to the left wing, which found new recruit Toby – sadly, despite his best efforts, he was muscled off the ball, with Margate struggling to kick uphill in the wind.
In the last action of the first half, Arthur showed great composure yet again to see a Sittingbourne attack out for a corner, which came to nothing.
As the halftime whistle went, I checked on Twitter & found out that sadly, despite Wingate & Finchley’s best efforts, the game wasn’t able to go ahead, owing to the rainy weather conditions that had left the pitch waterlogged (will it ever stop?!)
After having to relay the bad news to Terry & Frankie, Dan & I speculated when the season was likely to end – all things considered, we felt July could be a safe bet!
Terry’s young charges kicked off in the second half, and Sittingbourne continued to show their attacking intent by winning another corner, which was well cleared. An early attack was neatly dealt with by Toby, and as the attacks mounted, Arthur & Cam both showed excellent defensive qualities.
It has to be said that the Sittingbourne #10 was their main man – the diminutive lad looking to be Sittingbourne’s only threat – one you felt that their side knew already, as they fed him the ball at every opportunity.
Margate were determined to get back into the game, Frankie battling well to earn his side a throw, before a long range effort from Grant sailed wide of the post. Gate were having much the better of the chances, although Sittingbourne still looked dangerous on the counter – dogged defending from Grant & Arthur kept their opponents at bay, before Mikey made a superb reflex stop, to keep Gate in the contest.
A defence splitting pass from Cam was just too long for Frankie, who battled gallantly throughout – Arthur also attempted to get an attack going with an excellent clearance which found Toby on the breakaway – unfortunately, he found himself outnumbered by pink & black striped shirts.
As the game went on, it was really end to end stuff – and I caught myself wondering how different the game would be if Margate managed to score – their tails were well & truly up. Sadly, their hopes of a comeback were dashed when a scramble in the box from a Sittingbourne corner led to their striker slotting home for 3-0.
A real kick in the teeth for Terry’s valiantly battling side, who, credit to them – refused to let their heads drop, with both Toby & Frankie unlucky to see shots go wide. Some mesmerising play from the Sittingbourne #9 was also a highlight, weaving past the Margate defence, who eventually got the ball away.
The lowlight of the game arrived shortly before fulltime – a frustrated Frankie put in a strong but fair challenge as he ran back to defend; the Sittingbourne player did not have a problem and bounced straight back up – however, the angry reactions of the Sittingbourne parents – indeed, one actually swore at Frankie – were a disgrace.
As the final whistle blew, their coach did himself no favours, by confronting the referee (Frankie the elder, who had an excellent game throughout – much better than some of the disgraceful officials we’ve suffered in the League this season!) before storming off & turning the air blue.
An unfortunate end to a well contested game – the actions of the Sittingbourne adults did leave a sour taste, but on this evidence, Terry’s lads will get back to winning ways sooner, rather than later. A superb battling performance, unfortunately a combination of errors & being hit on the break proved to be their undoing.
They now face two trips to Faversham, to play both the Eagles & Rangers respectively.
Arthur deservedly won Man Of The Match for an assured, confident display in defence – he really is growing in stature by the game – although credit must also go to Frankie, who battled well throughout.
In other news, Terry’s plans for a Sports Relief match – which involve the male fans & staff of Margate dressing in drag for a match on the 5-a-side pitch – continue to gather pace, with others aiding and abetting. An excellent cause, so if you feel like getting involved, please check the Margate Football Club page on Facebook, or message Terry Scott on there for further details.
With Sports Relief not being until the weekend of the 21st -23rd – there’s still lots of time to declare an interest in dressing as a woman & kicking a ball about. Now, about that dress…