Forget the match, feel that scoreline. This was a long way from
City at their best, but some how a brief moment of Michael Whittington
magic was enough to get us out of gaol and snatch a barely believable
victory over a strong Margate side left wishing they'd taken chances
in long spells where they enjoyed the better of the game. The result
was reward for City's strength and determination on an afternoon
where nothing seemed to be going right for us until the ref finally
caught up with play and by sheer luck fluked a decision and called
it right to give City a chance to score from the penalty spot -
one of just two shots on target we managed in the whole 90 minutes.
We actually started with some bright moments, Webb breaking well
out of midfield and whilst his cross missed Whittington the ball
was won back by Mustoe and the move ended with Williams turning
inside on the edge of the box and placing a shot just wide of the
far post. However it was Margate who looked the more confident side
for most of the first half, at times the ball whistling across the
face of the City goal as our defence struggled down the flanks.
Bath got plenty of chance to reinforce his claim on the keeper's
shirt, making a fine save at the feet of Gate's James Pinnock as
he scrambled back across goal to get down at the far post. Tom
Hamblin made a solid block on the line with Dean Standen blazing
the follow-up well wide, while the impressive Paul Abbott cut in
well past Sykes but also skewed his shot well wide. City may not
have been finding it easy to put much together, but while Margate
were trying to play some good passing football an entertaining amount
of their passing was going well astray.
Even at this stage the ref deserves some special mention. It's
hard to explain exactly why he was so poor - but put simply, he
got so much wrong. Players quickly lose confidence when there seems
little sense to the decisions being made, and he gave several minor
free kicks that left both sides looking totally confused. Then he
got a few throw-ins wrong. Then he booked Tom Hamblin for what was
barely a push on the touchline well into the Margate half (to add
to the injury Hamblin now has 5 yellows and a ban), only to follow
it up without booking a Margate player for an apparent elbow on
Chris Thompson that he must have seen in order to give a free kick.
To even things up he then did book a Margate player - Abbott for
a nothing jump at Sykes that barely merited stopping play. Then
Webb went into the book, perhaps for kicking the ball away at a
free kick but it was hard to guess. By the time the ref stopped
Mustoe taking a quick free kick and then wouldn't allow it to be
retaken the match was close to being spoilt by his antics. By half-time
the ref had well earned his lecture of Mustoe and Thommo.
City were much improved in the second half with Mustoe
getting an iron grip of the midfield, but as the game opened up
it didn't really look as if we'd benefit as the two teams went toe
to toe and traded attacks. Webb sliced a shot well wide with the
strikers queuing up for a cross, Aaron Wilson picking up a Fowler
ball with a clever diagonal run but his shot was also well into
the T-End. At the other end Margate were closer with Pinnock producing
a fine diving save from Matt Bath.
Both sides did seem to be getting closer. Whitts wriggled free and
this time his 20 yard swerving shot was only just wide of the post,
but City survived a scare when Pinnock tumbled over Hamblin's challenge.
From the other end it looked overly dramatic, but when the ref waved
play on you had a sinking feeling that could well mean it had actually
been a foul... The ref had added to his popularity with the City
fans in booking Whitt for dissent after an offside decision. Sure,
throwing the ball down in a huff wasn't clever, but then he'd been
played on by two defenders.
had put in a display that doesn't really do justice to words like
lacklustre and disinterested. There were some nice early touches
and a clever cushion header, but these were cameos in an otherwise
lethargic looking first outing in a City shirt that was hugely disappointing.
There is some strong mitigation for a player who is doubtless lacking
some match sharpness and who is still just getting to know his new
team mates, but the T-End will soon lose patience with any player
who looks unwilling to put themselves out for the cause. Hopefully
there's much more to come from the strolling postman, but that didn't
avoid the feeling his departure to be replaced by Tustain at least
saw us go back to having 11 players on the pitch. This was part
of a double substitution with Miller also coming on to help plug
a worrying problem Margate were causing on our right.
The City side immediately looked more balanced and
more menacing. The crucial moment came soon after when Mike Fowler
played a clever lob forward from midfield and sub Joe Tustain did
well to win the ball in the air and flick it on into the path of
Michael Whittington. The
youngster cut in from the left and having reached the penalty area
produced a sharp turn back infield away from the byline. The twist
was too much for Margate's Justin Skinner whose foot was still headed
for where the ball had been moments before. It was such a clear
penalty even this ref could do nothing but point at the spot. No-one
was getting that ball off Whitts and he marched off to place it
on the spot, before calmly sending the keeper the wrong way and
giving City a perhaps unlikely lead.
Once ahead we actually did far more to look like we
actually deserved the scoreline. we were helped by some terrible
kicking by the Margate keeper, before long when the visiting defence
found their backs to goal with Whitts behind them you could be sure
the ball wouldn't be going back to the keeper. Whittington was getting
better as the game went on and he was now getting kicked up in the
air with sickening regularity. Perhaps our best moment of the match
came when Mike Fowler took advantage
of an overlap, sold a dummy and cut into the penalty area past two
defenders with another of those magical twinkling runs he can produce.
His shot was firm but parried wide, just eluding Alex Sykes. It
was wonderful football, but only our second shot on target.
With the whistles coming off the T-End and Tim Harris
pointedly tapping his wrist on the touchline it looked as if the
ref had lost his stopwatch as well as his marbles. Margate almost
forced us all in to a midweek cross country trek to the furthest
margins of Kent with a strong run across the by-line, but Hamblin
was again in place to hack the ball from the goalmouth and Bath
was able to clear. It was finally all over and the T-End were able
to celebrate an important win - and the club an extra £2,000
prize money in the coffers that vindicated Harris gamble on bringing
in extra players for the game. The team jigged in a celebratory
'Randall' and can look forward to the draw on Monday. The ref meanwhile
was saved by the stewards who intercepted and ejected a fan who
wanted to discuss his performance with him. Rumours the angry man
was the ref's assessor could not be confirmed as we publish...
T-Ender Match Snaps
Thommo enjoys another
run at the Margate defence.
Webb brings City
clear for some first half respite.
In the run-up to the
match Tim Harris had been busy to give City a whole new forward
line. Former Swansea and Coventry 'Flying Postman' John Williams
came in for his debut alongside the returning Michael Whittington
up front. Mysteriously Michael Noakes had gone AWOL, whilst on the
right skipper Chris Thompson moved to right-back with Jonny Miller
on the bench.
"He looks as if he's
just won that shirt in a raffle."
No prizes for guessing who that was about....
City's midfield did
well but we still look a little lop-sided. Wilson hugs the touchline
which gives us real defence stretching width down the left, but
on the right Fowler and Webb both come inside to get involved. We
had real problems down our right flank until Miller came on as a
sub, with Thommo still able to drop back from midfield to double
up on the Margate winger when required.
We're on our way! The
last time we put together two wins in the FA Trophy we went all
the way to the quarter-finals. It may be asking a lot but it's good
to aim at something.
We never convinced
or hit our best form in this match, but for all of their possession
Margate failed to take their chances. City may not be able to argue
that we entirely deserved to win, but we did finish the stronger
side and the pace and sharpness of Michael Whittington up front
provided us with a crucial edge that ultimately proved decisive.
It may be a cliche to say good sides win when not playing well -
we did that today to keep a clean sheet against a free scoring Margate
team. For a side without a win in five matches that has to say something
positive about this side's will to win.
After Saturday's games a grand total of ten of our fellow division
members are through, with a further five still involved in replays
later in the week. The most eye-ctaching scoreline was Hemel's
goalfest, beating Abingdon United 8-4, four of their goals coming
from former Chesham hitman John Lawford, recently signed from
Bedford Town. Perhaps the other result to catch the eye was Team
Bath's 3-0 win at Leatherhead who could not translate their FA
Cup form into Trophy success, the students hero being Scott Canham
who grabbed a hatrick.
Stamford recorded a notable 2-1 win over recent winners Radcliffe
Borough, and Cirencester are also through, edging out Hanwell
Town 3-2 with a last minute Marc Richards winner. Chippenham's
dodgy form continued as they were held at home in a 3-3 draw with
Didcot Town but King's Lynn have most to worry about from the
weekend despite brushing aside Leyton in a 2-1 win. After ther
match boss Tommy Taylor announced he would be leaving for a coaching
role at Peterbrough United, just a week before Lynn play in the
1st Round of the FA Cup and with the side still top of the Southern