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/ Under 23s Secure Fifth Win In A Row
Under 23s Secure Fifth Win In A Row
Match Report by Ant Coombes
It was the long awaited return of Tom Mills which dominated pre-game talk, but it was the goalscoring masterclass of Sid Sollis that proved the talking point afterwards, with the forward helping himself to a 4 goal haul - a brace in each half at a freezing Hartsdown Park.
Mills came in at left back, with the Sid 'n' Sid strike force continuing as Warden and Sollis lead the line. It started brightly enough for Margate, with Warden jinking his way into the box before skewing his shot wide.
However, the young blues were struggling to earn the right to play, and Whyteleafe sent a couple of early warning signs to the Gate defence - Patrick Lee forced to close down well, with the resultant corner headed over.
Margate responded well, and took the lead in the 7th minute. A fine run - one of many from John Brown - ended with a dangerous ball across the 6 yard box, but - whilst nobody could get on the end of that - it found it's way to Brad Rudd who was afforded the space to set himself and curl home into the top corner from 20 yards.
Just as it looked like Gate were starting to settle, with Brown and Sollis trying their luck, Whyteleafe were level. Lee was able to parry a goalbound effort but sadly for him it fell kindly for the visiting number 9 to slot into the unguarded net from close range.
It was blizzardlike at times, and the direct play from the visitors was looking more likely to pay off, with frustrating setting in throughout the Margate side. Both sides were given free kicks in dangerous positions, firstly Whyteleafe, with the ball sent out of the ground, and then Gate, with Mills trying his luck only to be denied by an awkward save from the visiting custodian, who collided with the post in the process of tipping the goalbound effort for a corner, resulting in a 5 minute interlude for him to receive treatment.
Whilst the cutting wind was difficult on the ears, the viewing wasn't much better for the eyes until Sollis sparked it into life in the final ten minutes of the half. A fine low drive from the edge of the box opened his account to restore Margate's advantage, before he bettered it with a goal to make suffering the conditions fully worthwhile for the hardy souls in attendance. 4 minutes remain in the opening period when the big frontman found himself in possession 25 yards from goal. Slightly off centre to the right hand side, he let fly with a wickedly swerving effort which sailed over and away from the 'keeper into the opposite corner.
There was still plenty of football to be played in the first half due to the earlier injury, and both side came close to adding a fifth goal. Firstly the visitors looked to have found a way through only for Ben Fitchett to recover possession with a fine last ditch tackle, and then Mills got on the end of a fine delivery from Warden and headed marginally wide.
HALF TIME: Margate U23 3-1 Whyteleafe U23
Mills was withdrawn at half time, perhaps with Saturday's first team trip to Brightlingsea Regent in mind, as Ollie Wells replaced him.
It took less than a minute for Gate to get their 4th, with Sollis claiming the matchball with another strike from outside the box. Detractors would claim it was an own goal, but no striker would admit to this, although his effort took a wicked deflection to leave the 'keeper stranded. Whether the initial effort was on target or not is debatable, but with no video replays from multiple angles you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the Margate number 9.
If there was an element of fortune about that one, then Whyteleafe were more than recompensed just 4 minutes later. A cross shot from the left totally deceived Lee, and whilst he was able to recover and parry the ball, it looped up and agonisingly dropped into the top corner.
Wells was getting heavily involved as Margate were finally finding some fluency, a tricky run down the left preceded a cross that was cleared, before firing at the goalkeeper from the edge of the box. He then wasted a gilt edged chance after a Warden cross was headed into his path, but fluffed his lines and connected with thin air rather than the ball.
The final half an hour was largely one way traffic as Margate dictated play. Each player wanted the ball and was prepared to take responsibility - a trait sadly lacking from the opening exchanges. Sollis was clearly enjoying himself, and both he and Harrison Hume saw efforts saved before he hit home his fourth in the 66th minute. There looked to be nothing on until he acrobatically hooked the ball into the top corner from the right hand side of the box. A fine four goal booty, with none coming from less than 18 yards.
Rudd had two efforts in quick succession as he looked to double his tally for the night. Firstly curling goalwards from 20 yards which drew a fine full length save - and secondly from similar range, although this effort cleared the bar and the clubhouse, drawing a few nervous looks from those who had parked on Hartsdown Road.
Margate had further opportunities in the closing exchanges to add some more gloss to the scoreline, Hume heading a Warden cross narrowly wide, before Wells fired straight at the 'keeper after a fine flowing move played him clear. It was the Whyteleafe custodian who nearly ended up out of countenance when he miscontrolled a straightforward backpass, and was incredibly grateful to see the ball trickle inches wide of his post. One of the flipsides of the 3G carpet is the reliable roll and bounce, so it is reassuring to see such causes of mirth for the more sadistic of supporters won't necessarily become a thing of the past at Hartsdown Park.
So, three points for Margate as they continue to rein in leaders Hastings at the top of the Bluefin Sport Development League South table, whilst Whyteleafe remain without an away point and firmly rooted to the bottom.
FULL TIME: Margate U23 5-2 Whyteleafe U23
Patrick Lee, Harvey Killick, Tom Mills, Tom Lindsey, Ben Fitchett, John Brown, Lewis Risk, Bradley Rudd, Harrison Hume, Sidney Sollis, Sidney Warden
Thursday, 08 February 2018
By Charlotte Richardson