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Season Review - February Edition
By Ryan Day
After suffering a bout of the January blues, Margate hoped that February would bring some much needed joy and provide some breathing space from the relegation battle that was taking place below them.
The month started with a trip to Enfield to take on the play-off contenders who were looking to inflict further misery on the Gate, whilst maintaining their own play-off ambitions with just two months of the season remaining. In a disastrous afternoon for the Blues, three quick second half goals inflicted a heavy 4-0 defeat as Margate sunk further towards the relegation battle below them.
The Enfield game proved to be the last game in the dugout for joint manager Steve Brown who was ill as Margate welcomed table toppers and eventual champions Dorking Wanderers to Hartsdown Park on the Tuesday evening following the heavy defeat to Enfield. Mike Sandmann took sole charge as the Blues were undone by a second half strike from former Gate striker Jason Prior.
Two days after the home defeat Margate announced that Steve Brown had left the club and the search for a new manager was underway whilst Mike Sandmann would remain at the club in a coaching capacity until the end of the 2018/19 season.
Just a day before the Tonbridge Angels fixture, Margate fans were handed the news that they could probably not quite dreamt of with the announcement that former Blues legend Jay Saunders would take charge until the end of the current campaign.
Saunders arrival appeared to galvanise the Blues straight away as he and Sandmann took charge for their first game away at play-off chasing Tonbridge Angels. Despite falling behind, Margate showed resilience and clawed back a late goal from Ben Swift to earn Margate a needed point.
With the mood improving all the time it was time to see if Saunders could shake off the hoodoo of Margate’s terrible home form as they welcomed fellow strugglers Brightlingsea Regent to Hartsdown Park. Finally, there was some joy for the Margate faithful as 563 fans turned up to support Jay in his return to Hartsdown Park. A Ben Swift goal, his second in two games making him Margate’s top goal scorer for the season was enough to earn Margate a much needed three points and move them further away from trouble.
Supporters were still celebrating their first win in a while under their new management team and February was only getting better for them as the ‘Gate ran out 3-0 winners away at Corinthian Casuals with new signing Noel Leighton twice and Kadell Daniel on the score sheet to move the Blues further away from trouble and extend Saunders unbeaten run as Manager to three games.
Margate rounded off the month of February with another point as they held play-off chasers Carshalton Athletic to a 1-1 draw at Hartsdown Park. It looked as if the Gate would be heading for a first defeat under Saunders until a delightful back heel from Daniels in the 94th minute salvaged a point and extended Saunders unbeaten run and moved the Blues closer to survival in the Bostik Premier League.
Friday, 21 June 2019
By Charlotte Richardson