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Saunders Salutes Players
Margate Manager Jay Saunders saluted his side as they battled some hot conditions and an ever-growing injury list to secure their first three points of the season.
Goals from Kudus Oyenuga and Kadell Daniel helped seal a 2-0 victory over Lewes at Hartsdown Park on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking after the game, Saunders said;
“I am pleased as we wanted to get these three points on the board. I thought in the first half we were the better side, but they came into it more and we dealt with it.”
“I’ve got to give the boys a bit of credit as we’ve had a mid-week game, Lewes hadn’t and dealing with the heat and injuries – we’ve had Noel Leighton pull out before kick-off due to sickness, Kudus is struggling, Michael Abnett is out, Sess going down - we are bare bones at the moment.”
Saunders added, “When you look at the side we finished the game with, it is very young and inexperienced. We have Julian making his debut who doesn’t know anyone, he just walks into the dressing room and straight into it.”
“So, to grind it out how we did second half was pleasing. That’s the quietest we’ve been really and we’ve won the game so we take that, move on and try to get everyone back and available.”
With Noel Leighton ruled out through sickness, a starting place was handed to youngster Harrison Hatful, who rose to the occasion, setting up The Gate’s opening goal.
“I rung Harrison last night, he’s not played since pre-season so it was one that came a bit out of the blue but I told him he’d probably start. It’s a great ball in for our first goal, a great assist and I’m pleased for him.”
“You can see in this heat, after 50 minutes he was done. It was tough but overall, he did really well. He’s a young lad with plenty of ability and over time, I think he will just get better and better.
Collecting a clean sheet alongside three points was equally pleasing for Saunders as he hopes the display will offer a foundation to build upon.
“In general, from open play – I know this will sound crazy as we’ve conceded eight goals in three games – we’ve actually been ok, we’ve defended ok. What has been our problem is individual mistakes. Whether that’s Milo, whether it’s one of the back lads, that’s what has killed us.”
“Whereas today, we didn’t have an individual error. Milo was solid, the boys at the back did well and I thought Jordy was excellent. I’ve had to use him as our holding player after we had Rodjo on Wednesday, so Jordy has had to do a job that’s not really him, he’s had to be disciplined and it was another bonus.”
“There are positives even in an ok performance, the main thing is we’ve got three points on the board.”
August is a busy month for teams across the non-league football pyramid, as Saunders admits, his squad will gratefully receive the respite until Saturday’s visit from Worthing.
“We need the break. One player I haven’t mentioned yet is Jack Richards, he will be out for a couple of weeks, so if you look at it, we are thin on the ground.”
“Some of the boys were out on their feet at the end there, playing in this heat and having the extra game in the week has taken its toll and been tough. We have to make sure the lads are right, have a rest up and be in the best possible place we can be for Saturday.”
With three points on the board, Saunders is focused on improving home displays with the aim of making Hartsdown Park a fortress as the campaign unfolds, and believes there is more to come from his squad with each passing fixture.
“I’m a bit disappointed we haven’t been able to give home supporters the kind of passing display we have away from home yet but that will come. I can’t emphasis enough that we are a young, new side. That side that finished the game against Lewes is probably the youngest side I’ve put out in a long time.”
“You’ve got lads like JJ who was playing Kent League last season, Harrison Hatful was playing Academy football, Harrison Pont is still playing Academy football; Gianni wasn’t playing, so you’re looking at players who are stepping up.”
“They are only going to get better and better the more we work with them. We need to be patient and with the injuries we’ve got we just need to pick up points and displays will get better.”
Planning now turns to Saturday’s game against Worthing, another tough fixture in what has been a competitive start.
“If you look at the start of the League, we probably have one of the toughest starts with three games away and I’m disappointed we haven’t got more points on the board.”
“Worthing are a good passing side, they’re a young side who had a good season last year and will do well again this season.”
“I’m hoping Jack Richards might have an outside chance of featuring. Michael Abnett will be another four weeks which is a big blow, Sess we are not sure on yet but we have just got to get the bodies out there and push on.”
Tuesday, 27 August 2019
By Charlotte Richardson