No More Nails
Saturday 15th March 2014
—Margate FC U10’s 3 Faversham Town Eagles 2—
Although the title of this blog sounds like a product you might pick up from a local B&Q, the truth is, this was almost as tense as the senior squad’s game later that afternoon.
With manager Terry Scott also going to the senior side’s away day at Billericay, she asked whether I’d mind help setting up equipment, and if I could do a match report. Terry being Terry – the most unselfish, warm-hearted person I know, I was delighted to accept – watching her U10 side is always a pleasure, as they play some great football, despite their young age.
In truth, setting up was no bother at all – I helped Frankie’s dad Chris with lugging the goals out to the pitch, in between him telling me about his career for Canterbury City – who recently have started a groundshare arrangement at Ashford United. It was great to listen, and he even mentioned about playing against ex Manchester United star Alan Brazil, in his twilight years, as well as former Crystal Palace striker Bruce Dyer, in youth football.
After that, it was merely a case of setting up the Respect barrier, which along with Terry helping, took no time at all. I was also honoured to help the boys practice by swinging in a few corners with my trusty left foot – I can only apologise for the ones I completely shanked, to say I’m out of practice is a slight understatement!
With corners done, Chris prepared the lads for the game, by throwing the ball in the air, and the chosen player taking a touch to bring it under control, before shooting at the goalie.
Their next warmup involved passing between two players, the objective being to leave the keeper stranded & gain an easy tap in. Terry also remarked that in last week’s training session, various passing drills were worked on – and this definitely showed the benefits of that exercise, during the game.
Faversham arrived, but didn’t seem to have a particular warmup routine – various members of their squad running about, and others being quietly spoken to by their coach.
As Frankie arrived to referee the game, and inform me that he’s growing some designer stubble for the ‘laydees’ match next weekend, as well as getting his legs waxed for Sports Relief, he did well to hide the trepidation in his voice, before taking to the field of play to organise the two teams.
It was a mild day with not much wind – perfect football conditions, although the boys did have to contend with a rather bobbly pitch!
Faversham were in a dark blue strip with yellow trim – very reminiscent of the old Wimbledon kit, in the 90’s. The teams followed the usual pre match routine of lining up & shaking hands, before Faversham got the game underway.
Margate started strongly, getting the ball straight away from kickoff, and Tommy seeing a mazy run down the left wing being thwarted at the last minute, by the opposing right back. The early stages were very much Margate, which was why it was a major surprise when Faversham broke away to score against the run of play, Mikey having no chance with the clinical finish.
A shell-shocked Margate defence nearly conceded a second soon after, but the finish was wasteful & hit the side netting. In recent games that I’ve watched, Frankie & Cam have been noticeably linking up very well, and this was very much in evidence for Gate’s equaliser – some intricate passing between the two, ending with Cam slotting home a close range finish for 1-1.
Margate’s defensive frailities were well & truly behind them, as they nullified the Faversham attack well – in a game which swung from end to end, a half chance for Frankie was well defended by Faversham, and a possible breakaway was thwarted by a superb tackle from Paul.
Arthur also grew in confidence as the half went on, and some composed defending led to a pass upfield, which led to a corner – sadly this came to nothing, although it was evident that Margate were having the best of the play – Faversham’s striker (#17) looking to be their main threat.
As the half wore on, chances came & went for both teams – Frankie managing to take the ball round the keeper, but finding the angle too tight for him, followed by Faversham trying to hit Gate on the counter attack, in which they earned a corner after a fumble from Mikey.
Cam & Frankie were running the show up front, and after some excellent hold up play from Frankie, Cam found himself unlucky not to score after a great run.
Arthur was growing in stature as the minutes went by, and some composed defending followed by an excellent pass to the right wing, fashioned a chance for Frankie – who shot narrowly over.
Just before halftime however, Margate fell behind again – a breakaway leaving lone defender Arthur exposed at the back – their striker evaded Arthur’s hesitant tackle before finishing with aplomb to make it 2-1.
On the stroke of halftime, Gate scored a deserved equaliser after great pressure from Frankie, who set Cam up with an excellent pass, for the diminutive striker to gleefully bury his strike beyond the keeper.
As the halftime whistle blew, it really could’ve been anyones game, judging from the first half performances.
My main worry was that Arthur would let his head drop after his defensive error – however, I should’ve given him more credit, as his first action of the second half was to take his time on the ball, and make a great clearance upfield, to set Margate on the attack.
Gate continued their attacking dominance from the first half, with Frankie being crowded out, before being able to get his shot away.
A couple of robust but fair 50-50 tackles were made by both sides – and it was refreshing that there were no dissenting voices from the kids, or the parents, as the game flowed superbly – both sides clearly just wanting to play football, avoiding any niggles.
A venomous curling effort from Frankie sailed just wide, with the keeper beaten all ends up – Gate now had their tails up, and after winning a corner that came to nothing, they made Faversham pay with their second corner of the half – a great delivery from Cam that was well finished by Reece, who had an excellent game along with Tommy, whose workrate was superb throughout.
Reece tried to overdo the sublime, but was lucky to see his loose pass not punished by the Faversham attack – he then rectified his error by finding himself unlucky to see a great effort go just wide of the post.
As Margate wore down their opponents, Cam had a shot well parried by the Faversham keeper, before Gate earned a succession of corners, that unfortunately came to nothing. Another curling effort was well saved by Mikey – a safe pair of hands as always – and a breakaway for Margate could’ve ended the game as a contest – however, Cam was intent on getting his hat-trick, which was unfortunate for Frankie as he had managed to get himself in superb positions throughout the game, and can consider himself extremely unlucky not to score.
A mazy run from Arthur set Gate on the attack once more, but this was eventually thwarted – it must be said that Arthur’s composure was superb, as it was at a late stage of the game, and most defenders would’ve just hoofed it. An old head on young shoulders!
Faversham had a late flurry of chances, but the Margate defence held firm.
After about the 5th check of the watch from Frankie (he had to allow some extra time for a previous stoppage) he finally blew the whistle for full time, by which point my nails were non-existent!
An enthralling contest, that could’ve ended up 5 or 6-2 to Margate – although Faversham played their part in an excellent game between the two sides. This victory moves Terry’s Margate side up to 4th in the League, with their next game being another home fixture against Galactico.
Man Of The Match (as voted for by the players parents) deservedly went to Arthur, who put his slight error in the first half behind him, and continued to lead by example throughout. Honourable mentions also go to Cam & Frankie – Frankie in particular for another workmanlike performance, after his hat-trick in the previous away fixture.
Indeed, Dan (who had joined me halfway through the game) compared Frankie to Alan Shearer – ‘an old fashioned style of centre forward’
The game was a pleasure to watch, and set us all up nicely for the short trip to Essex, to watch the Margate senior side lock horns with Billericay.
All credit to Terry, Chris & the other parents that turned up to support their kids – it really was great to see.
Here’s hoping that Terry’s young charges can earn another terrific result against Galactico – but most of all, that they continue to enjoy their football, as was evident from this game.