'Gate Held by Late Brightlingsea Strike
Report by Tom Morris
Undeterred by storm Denis the ‘Gate made the long trip to Colchester to face bottom of the table Brightlingsea Regent and came away with a 1-1 draw as the weather conditions played a part in both goals.
Defender Liam Friend failed a late fitness test and had to watch the game from the side lines with Dan Johnson restored to the starting XI next to skipper Ben Swift. Like in recent weeks we started brightly, Daniel and Leighton were linking up well and both saw efforts on goal deflected out for corners, our hosts were also adopting a ‘shoot on sight’ policy and gave Tupper an early touch of the football with a long range effort in the 5th minute.
Experienced midfielder Prestedge was seeing a lot of the ball early on and began to run the midfield, in the 13th minute his cross field ball found Abnett who had Sessegnon on the overlap but the marauding full backs cross was picked up by the wind and went over the goal. Three minutes later and it would have been 1-0 Margate had it not been for a great reaction save by Turner after Leighton, Sessegnon and Daniel created a shooting opportunity with some fast interplay.
Fast forward to the 29th minute and Brightlingsea went close from a corner as Mudd headed towards the top corner but Tupper dived and made a good save. At the other end a ‘Gate corner fell to Johnson but his deft chip towards goal went agonisingly wide of the post. As the wind and rain picked up neither set of players were able to fashion a goal scoring chance and referee Karl Sear brought the half to a close.
The second half started like the first ended with the gusty conditions playing havoc to any decent goal scoring chances being created by either team.
That changed in the 58th and 62nd minutes. Firstly Jake Clowsley send a speculative over head kick towards goal but Tupper read the danger and saved well before the play of the match just minutes later; a long clearance had the hosts defender watching the ball drop out of the sky, Prestedge seized the opportunity to apply pressure and nick the ball off of the centre half, he was forced out wide to the left hand side of the pitch as the defender regained his footing before Reece sent a half volley chip towards goal. Whether it was its natural flight or slightly wind assisted the ball hit the underside of the cross bar, hit the post and bounced over the line! 1-0 Margate and what a goal it was to give us the lead!
Moments after the goal Brightlingsea countered and set their striker though on goal but Prestedge sprinted back and made a superb tackle to win the ball and clear the danger. Saunders replaced Ramadan with the returning Jack Richards who fired goalward with one of his first touches but saw his effort drift wide of the post.
The second half turned in the 81st minute as a kick out off the ball cost Daniel his place on the pitch, the referee duly showing him a straight red card! A minute later and Noel Leighton was replaced by Elliott Reeves after taking a knock in a 50/50 encounter. A minute later and Brightlingsea were level as a corner was cleared at the near post back to the taker who fired a cross into the box, the wind picked the ball and took it beyond Tupper and into the side of the goal, 1-1 and only a few minutes left to play.
There was still time for O’Reilly to miss the ball when unmarked at the back post – any notable contact and it would have surely been the winning goal for our hosts! Ben Swift talked himself into a booking after what looked like 2 consecutive clean ball winning challenges and Margate Assistant Manager Mike Sandmann was also sent off by the referee for disputing Swift’s challenge from the ‘Gate technical area. Although there were 5 minutes of added time, we held on an secured a second successive draw. 1-1
Margate: Tupper, Sessegnon, Porter, Prestedge, Johnson, Swift ©, Ramadan (Richards 73’), Robins, Leighton (Reeves 83’), Daniel, Abnett
Subs: Kallmeier, Lamb