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Delight With Merstham Win
Margate Manager Jay Saunders was pleased with the way his squad executed Saturday’s game-plan against third-place Merstham FC at Hartsdown Park.
A first-half header from Noel Leighton proved enough to secure three Bostik League points against one of the hotly tipped sides for promotion in the division.
Playing at a gusty HDP, Saunders could not conceal his delight with the 1-0 victory:
“It was a satisfying win with them being third in the league and having a great season. It was tough conditions and I think it was a really good three points.”
“I think it’s easier to play into the wind as it encourages teams to play and I felt we created the better chances in the first half. My big gripe was that we only went in at the break one nil up.”
“We were good without the ball today and limited them to two long shots really. Louis made a save first half which tipped onto the crossbar and they hit the post second half but other than that, I can’t remember them having a hell of a lot of chances and that is really good.”
“When I came in, I said that defensively as a side we’ve been good, it was just the attacking threat and today I thought our front two were a real handful for them.”
The combined efforts of match-winner, Leighton, and strike partner Tobi Sho-Silva was applauded by Saunders, alongside their team-mates who showed great discipline and determination throughout the 90 minutes.
“Both of them were fantastic and I’m disappointed for Tobi as I thought he deserved a goal for his display.”
“Noel has missed an easier opportunity later on in the game but it was a great header from a great delivery by George Brown and good thinking from Jordy to take the short corner. It set us up to go out second half and have something to cling onto.”
Saturday’s result made it back-to-back wins at Hartsdown and wins against opposition vying for promotion.
Whilst the results may have raised a few eyebrows elsewhere, Saunders expressed no surprise and believes there is more to come from his squad until the end of the campaign.
“With the points we have against third in the league, a side everyone rates very highly, I thought we had a bit of a free hit today. Not a lot of people would have expected us to get much. We fully expected to and did.”
“You can only ask the boys to do what we want, carry that out and they did. We had a couple people get here later, Jo Hungbo didn’t get here until 25 minutes into the first half which gave Jordan a first start. Jordan is a centre forward normally and we’ve had to play him left-wing in a 4-4-2 which he is not used to it but I thought he had a really good shift and for a young lad showed promise.”
“The rest of them had a phenomenal work rate and that was the pleasing thing. I think if you’ve got that work rate and nucleus to be hard to beat, you’ve got a chance.”
Whilst impressive results and displays, Margate have had it far from their own way in recent weeks.
Injuries, suspensions, travel issues and more have been in the background but as the business end of the season quickly approaches, there is no time to pause.
“For Mike and I, it has been a good challenge. It is frustrating because we are very thin on the ground. We’ve called a couple of lads up from the Academy today and it is tough but that’s part and parcel of it and you’ve got to get on with it.”
And get on with it The Gate have done – and will continue to do – as Saunders sets his stall for the remainder of games coming up.
“I set the boys a target before the Bognor game, I said I wanted six points from the next two games which maybe they even felt was a little unrealistic given where Bognor and Merstham are in the League but I just felt that we are capable.”
“After the game today, I said to the lads, if we don’t finish top half of this league – for me – they’ve let themselves down, because with the squad and players we have got we should be finishing in the top half even with the bad parts of the season.”
“We need a top half finish and that’s what we’re going for; don’t get me wrong the goal was always to stay up and that is what I was brought in for but I’d like to push.”
“At training on Thursday, I said to the players ‘We’re ten points off play-offs’ – let’s see if we can get those ten points. I’m not saying make play-offs but let’s get those ten points on the board and see where we are.”
The next opportunity to put those points on the board is away at Burgess Hill next Saturday. After a couple of weeks at home, it will be a tricky trip according to Saunders.
“It is a difficult task, as today when you’re playing third in the league, the pressure was probably on them more than us. Whereas, now you go to Burgess Hill who are lower than us in the League, fighting for the lives on the back on a good result today.”
“It will be a real tough game and an equally tough place to go but we’re going there full of confidence. The boys will train this week and look forward to it.”
Monday, 18 March 2019
By Charlotte Richardson