Gate Progress To Next Round
By Tom Morris
Margate travelled to Goring Mead to face Horsham YMCA in the 1st Qualifying Rd of the FA Cup and came away with the victory thanks to a late debut goal from striker Elliott Reeves.
There is always added pressure and expectation in the early rounds of the FA Cup, with prize money and qualification on the line, and the match started at a frantic pace as the players sized each other up and tried to wrestle possession and force an early opening.
In the opening 15 minutes The Gate had an early chance a skipper Swift headed a Ramadan free kick into the keeper’s arms, James Jeffrey went on a couple of mazy dribbles down the left-hand channel but failed to find a teammate with his crosses. Debutant Reeves went into the referee’s book on 19 minutes as Horsham YMCA settled down into what would become a solid defensive display.
In the 24th and 25th minutes the Gate had two chances of note: firstly Robins released Reeves who slipped his marker and was running through on goal but the keeper made a smart save from an ever tightening angle, then Noel Leighton drove at the defence, cut in from the left flank but fired his low shot wide of the post.
The next 5 minutes would be the most significant of the first half; skipper Ben Swift went down after making a defensive clearance and it became immediately apparent, he wouldn’t be able to continue, Chis Sessegnon took the armband and Harrison Hatfull came on to replace him. Then 4 minutes later stand in skipper Sessegnon went down off the ball and was forced off as the physio signalled for a substitution. Jack Richards came on to replace him, DJ took the armband and Jay Porter went into central defence.
The hosts threatened with counter attacks down both flanks as The Gate reorganised and after a driving run from Anua (thwarted by another last-ditch tackle) the half ended 0-0 still a lot of work to do in the second half.
Margate started the second period brightly, dominating possession and passing the ball around quickly but the Horsham YMCA defence were well marshalled by their skipper and held firm, frustration was growing amongst the players and both Noel Leighton and Adem Ramadan were booked for clumsy tackles.
In the 68th minute we finally had a goal to cheer and what a goal it was; a Ramadan cross was cleared to the marauding Jack Richards who smashed a volley into the back of the net from 20 yards. It was a great strike and seemed to settle the nerves as The Gate pressed forward and had half chances from Ababio (who replaced Jeffrey) and Richards, who took aim from range but failed to hit the target this time.
Then in the 82nd minute it was the home fans who were cheering as a low cross into the box was missed by our defenders and Matt Daniel was waiting at the back post to hook the ball home, 1-1 and little over 10 minutes to go!
Elliott Reeves had a free header 8 yards out from a Robins cross in the 84th minutes but fired the ball wide of the mark, however he made amends for this miss 3 minutes later as he first headed the ball against the post only to poke the rebound beyond the keeper and into the back of the net. 2-1 Margate, and a goal that his industry deserved, on a good debut performance form the Gate n9.
After 4 minutes of injury time the referee blew for the final whistle, Margate edged a close game and we can be pleased how the lads adjusted after the injuries to Swift and Sessegnon, our name will be in the hat for the 2nd Qualifying Rd draw on Monday 9th September at 13:00.
Margate: Tupper, Sessegnon, Porter, Anau, Johnson, Swift, Ramadan, Robins, Reeves, Leighton, Jeffrey
Subs: Holloway, Hatfull (Swift 29’), Richards (Sessegnon 33’), Ababio (Jeffrey 61’), Geddes.
The Gate are next in Isthmian League action on Saturday 14th September as we head to Cheshunt FC.