Gate Fall To Defeat Against East Thurrock
By Tom Morris
On one the coldest afternoons of the year so far Margate welcomed the Rocks to Hartsdown Park in the BetVictor Isthmian League and laboured to a 1-0 defeat thanks to a Frankie Merrifield strike in the 77th minute.
The ‘Gate stated brightly and Kadell Daniel wriggled into the box and shot narrowly wide in the 2nd minute. A minute later the same player slotted a pass through the defence to Roman Campbell who took the ball past the keeper and crossed for Noel Leighton to tap the ball home but the covering fullback charged across and cleared the ball out for a throw in. Campbell charged down an under hit back pass in the 10th minute that had Jack Giddens scrambling out to clear the ball off Roman for a goal kick.
The Rocks came into the game in the 18th minute as Merrifield wriggled free of his marker and fired a powerful effort goal wards but saw his effort blocked by the ‘Gate centre back Daniel Johnson. A quick counterattack 10 minutes later saw Json Ring deliver a dangerous cross into the box, but Ramadan rose highest and cleared the ball. The game was broken up by several niggly fouls and late tackles as both teams tried to get a grip on possession and create a notable goal scoring opportunity. That chance fell to Olukoga in the 34th minute when he drove into the box and looked odds on to score but for a last-ditch diving tackle from Liam Friend. Before the half ended there was still time for Gilbey to have the freedom of the pitch 14 yards from goal, but he rushed his effort and shot well over Joe Tupper’s goal. Half-time 0-0.
The second half began with East Thurrock on the front foot: Foxley, Gilbey and tweed all had chances in a good spell of possession for our visitors, but they could not break through the defensive line of Sessegnon, Porter, Friend and Johnson. At the other end Ramadan played Daniel in behind the Rocks defence in the 47th minute but his powerful shot was deflected out for a throw by the recovering defender. Both teams were playing well when in possession, but the final ‘killer’ pass eluded them time after time. In the 60th minute Campbell and Daniel played a pair of one-twos, but the final cross was poor, and the Rocks keeper Giddens easily collected the ball.
Tupper tipped the ball onto his crossbar and out for a corner in the 65th minute and had to be alert moments later when Gilbey darted into the box but the lively attacker shot wide of the target. The play that would settle the game came in the 77th minute, Foxley won a corner after a quick counterattack and delivered the ball into the 6 yard box where our defenders failed to clear the ball and Frankie Merrifield slide in to put the ball in the net and the Rocks 1-0 up.
Manager Saunders replaced Noel Leighton with Elliott Reeves and although the speedy attacker made an impact up front the ‘Gate were guilty of lacking the quality final ball after neat and tidy build up play. In the final few minutes Daniel tricked his way into a crossing position but watched as the keeper came out and collected his effort with ease. In the final few minutes East Thurrock replaced goal scorer Merrifield with Matthew Price and ran down the clock without the ‘Gate registering another effort on target, ending a hard fought game with a 1-0 victory.