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Saunders Evaluates Pre-Season
Saturday’s 5-2 victory over Hythe Town concluded a productive pre-season for Margate Manager Jay Saunders and his new-look squad.
It has been a packed couple of months as The Gate’s players have been recruited and gelled together as a group ready and raring for the BetVictor Isthmian League campaign.
Reflecting on the pre-season as a whole, Saunders is pleased with how the group has come together and shown positive signs ahead of Saturday’s opener against Brightlingsea Regent.
“I’m pleased as to go undefeated is good, although like I’ve said to the boys after the game, I don’t think we can get carried away with that.”
“In general, pre-season is about getting into good habits and winning is a good habit. Would I have liked some sterner tests along the way? Probably, but the tests we did have we overcame and that’s good.”
Assessing Margate’s final 90 before the competitive action begins, Saunders admits the test posed by Hythe offered a glimpse into what to expect as the season unfolds.
“Every game at this level, is quite similar in that the first 20 minutes tend to be quite tight. I think once we changed it, we started with Kadell in at 10 but switched Jack in there, Adem on the left and Kads on the right and we looked more comfortable.”
“Even at 1-0 down - and for me that goal was a foul on Milo (Jon Miles) - we hit the post twice and we probably weren’t as clinical in that opening spell but that is what games are going to be like.”
“You need to feel your way into it. It was the same against Ramsgate, in the first 15-20 it was a tight contest but once the games open up, I think we have got players who can hurt teams.”
Saunders has recruited shrewdly over the summer period, and whilst pleased with his squad, admitted he is still on the hunt for some additions.
“When I came in last year, I didn’t think we had enough attacking options which I was quite open about or enough goals in the team and that was a big thing for me over the summer. If you look at it, we’re a very young squad but I think Jack Richards has scored four, Kadell around the same, Kudus has scored, Noel’s been scoring so have JJ and Adem; so, for me there are good goalscoring options in the final third.”
“What is pleasing for me too is how we look defensively. I think we have gotten better. We lost Jay and Michael to injuries which was a shame but our two centre halves Swifty and DJ have looked good together.”
Saunders added, “In midfield we are light, and we need to look at that as we lost Connor Dymond which wasn’t ideal and this week we’ve lost Connor Wilkins and Rory Head due to work commitments, so our midfield is where we are looking to strengthen still.”
Focus now turns fully onto the visit of Brightlingsea Regent to Hartsdown Park this Saturday as Saunders looks forward to unleashing his motivated players into competitive play.
“It’s when it all matters. That is what you prepare for, what you work hard in pre-season for and we are looking forward to.”
“I’ve seen that we are favourites for the league, and for me, we can’t have the expectation of that on us. Like I say we’re a young squad, a new group and what I think what we’ve got is an exciting team.”
“I’d like to think supporters will enjoy the type of football we play, the goals we score and if we can carry that forward, build the crowds and get them behind us then we can have a good season. For me realistically, I’d like to aim for play-offs, but it might take us a little while to get that gelling together and get us just right.”
Young, hungry and talented are words uttered to describe the Margate squad as pre-season has ticked away, and Saunders firmly feels there is a special blend amongst the group.
“They are all winners. You’ve got the young players who want to improve and break into the pro game. You’ve got the older lads – Michael Abnett who is a great age at 28, Milo and others – who are ambitious, they want to do well.”
“We’ve got a good mix there and I think if we can add one or two more midfielders, it will strengthen us. We’ve got good lads out there, they all care, they’re a great bunch and they want to make the supporters proud, and hopefully we can do that.”
Join us on Saturday 10th August at 3pm as Margate play for their first points of the season by hosting Brightlingsea Regent at Hartsdown Park. Tickets for that game can be purchased here.
Why not sign up for the season? Make a saving and gain entry to all BetVictor Isthmian League games in 2019/20 by buying a Season Ticket which is on sale here.
Monday, 05 August 2019
By Charlotte Richardson