Whitehawk (H) - 12th August 2023
By Josh Cole
Margate are back in Isthmian Premier Division action as we take on newly promoted Whitehawk at Hartsdown Park for the opening game of the 2023/24 season.
Margate ended pre-season with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Sheppey United at Hartsdown Park last Saturday. Two goals from Ben Greenhalgh and another from Phil Roberts got the Blues firing, however they did let slip a two goal advantage towards the end of the game.
Manager Reece Prestedge said there were “positives to take” from the game against Sheppey and you can watch the full interview by clicking here.
The Blues will be without Roberto Ratti (injury) on Saturday, whilst the club dual-registered goalkeeper Reece Hobbs from National League South side Dartford on Friday afternoon, and his expected to be between the sticks as the ‘Gate begin their new campaign.
Whitehawk also known as ‘The Hawks’ are back in the league this season having been promoted from the Isthmian South-East Division via the playoffs after beating Hythe Town 1-0 in the final. Whitehawk played seven pre-season games and their results include a 5-0 win against Baffins Milton Rovers, a 5-2 win vs Newhaven, aq 5-0 win against Westfield, a 3-1 win against East Grinstead, a 2-0 win vs Hassocks, a 2-0 loss against Burgess Hill, and finally a 0-0 draw vs Sheppey United.
Head 2 Head: The ‘Gate have struggled against the Hawks having met nine times since February 2013 with one win going to Margate, five going to Whitehawk and three draws. The last time the two teams met was last season in the Velocity Trophy Quarter-Finals where Whitehawk knocked out Margate at Hartsdown Park in a nine goal thriller ending 4-3 to the visitors.
Familiar Faces: Former Margate defender Sinn’Kaye Christie, who was a part of the team last year and played in the Kent Senior Cup Final has signed for Whitehawk this season, as well as former ‘Gate striker Louis Collins who joined the Sussex side on Friday afternoon.
The Officials: The man in the middle for Saturday’s opener is Daniel Blades and he will be assisted by Samuel Hall (Assistant Referee) and Marian Stoichitoiu (Assistant Referee).
Fans should note that anyone in the Hartsdown Bar before 11:30am to watch the Lionesses World-Cup Quarter-Final vs Colombia will get FREE ENTRY for the league game in the afternoon!
We look forward to welcoming everyone to Hartsdown Park for opening day of the 2023/24 season, however if you are missing the game then you can follow our live match updates on our official twitter account @margatefc_ from 2:30pm!
UP THE ‘GATE
Blues Seal Opening Day Win
Report by Dylan Smith
Margate opened their season in fine fashion with an impressive 2 – 1 against new boys Whitehawk. A double from Phil Roberts, with a goal in either half, gave the Blues the perfect start to the season.
The game initially started as a cagey affair between the two sides. The ball predominantly found itself around the midfield, as both sides looked to get a grip on the game. However, out of the blue Margate were awarded an early penalty. Steve Cawley was brought down in the box by the opposition keeper Mitchell Walker, which led to him being yellow carded. Sadly, the ‘Gate were denied their first goal of the season, as the spot kick from Ben Greenhalgh was saved.
The Blues wouldn’t drop their heads though, as they would go on to take the game by the scruff of the neck. A shot that went high and wide from Archie Johnson and a near miss from Montel Agyemang were the most notable opportunities from this burst of momentum.
As the first half continued to tick away, Margate would have most of the possession, with corners and chances, but it would be Whitehawk who would go closest to opening the scoring as a ball was whipped in from the left corner was headed just wide of the post.
The deadlock would be broken in the 33rd minute by the Blues. Some excellent build up play in midfield, led to a cross from the right-hand side, which made its way to the back post where Roberts would go on to take it into his path and slot it calmly into the bottom right corner, making it 1-0 to the ‘Gate.
With half-time on the horizon and the Blues looking confident, a shock was sent through the team as Whitehawk levelled the game at the death of the first half. Captain Jack Dixon received the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box and smashed it across goal, bringing the newly promoted side level as the half time whistle went.
With the game at 1-1, the second half was very much make or break for both sides. A couple of lucrative efforts from Greenhalgh and forcing corners was how the Blues started the second half in a positive fashion.
Despite the game heading towards a 1-1 draw with the clock counting down, it was the man of the moment Roberts who gave Margate the lead once again in the 80th minute. A fine strike from 25-yards ended up in the bottom corner, sending the Hartsdown Park fans into raptures.
A nail-biting goal mouth scramble from Whitehawk in the remaining minutes wasn’t enough for the Hawks to draw level. This left the ‘Gate as victors on the opening day, giving the home crowd something to cheer about after the full-time whistle.
Margate now turn attention to Tuesday evening, where they face a tough test away at Hornchurch.
The ‘Gate currently sit 6th in the Isthmian Premier Division.
Margate: Hobbs, Hatfull, Johnson, Agyemang, Sterling, Hudson, Blackman, Cawley (Smith 89’), Roberts, Greenhalgh, Rutherford (Cham 74’)
Subs not used: Salmon, Sutcliffe, Mazzone
Phil Roberts – ‘33, ‘80