Ahead of Saturday’s game against Harlow Town, sports reporter Peter Mann spoke to Gate manager Steve Watt about the challenges to come:
Margate FC are preparing themselves for a testing run-in to the season in the Bostik Premier Division as, with five games to go, they look to seal a spot in the play-offs.
It’s a tight affair at the top though, just eight points separating leaders Billericay Town and fifth place Margate, with only the champions and one from the next four sides being promoted.
Recent form though has been, to a point, The Gate’s downfall as, although unbeaten in their last six, they’ve all been draws, and sides around them have games in hand.
Those draws, against Leiston (2-2), Hendon (1-1) and Metropolitan Police (2-2) away, Enfield (1-1) and Worthing (1-1) at home, before the return East Kent Derby with Folkestone Invicta (1-1) on Bank Holiday Monday, have given manager Steve Watt and his battle-hardened side some work to do.
Steve said:“The season on a whole has been a good one. But we have drawn too many which has been an issue.
“Although there have been something like eight, maybe nine games, this season, where we’ve conceded in the final minutes we have also had three unbeaten months.
“However, if those matches, even a handful, had gone more in our favour, then things would have been very different.”
From the last six, drawn matches alone, victory in just three of them would have Margate leading the way but instead they are looking over their shoulders at what Staines, Leiston and Leatherhead can muster.
As The Gate still have Staines, Billericay and Dulwich Hamlet to play in their final three games, and Staines still to oppose Leatherhead, Billericay, and Folkestone before they host Margate, it couldn’t get much tighter.
Watt knows however that his Hartsdown Park side need to turn those draws back into wins and finish the season strong for a play-off spot.
“Looking at those draws, then we’ve gone in front in all bar the Hendon game,” explained Steve.
“Key moments however, more so in the big games recently, have gone the wrong way and if they’d gone the right way things would have been different.
“The return match with Folkestone (Margate lost 3-1 against their East Kent rivals on New Year’s Day), we looked fresher and fitter and deserved to win it.
“Granted they were the better side but their ‘keeper was the busier, so now we go to the Harlow game and we need to win.
“We can’t be cagey, I want us to go out there and put the game to bed.
“I want us to approach every game like that, especially as we still have everyone to play around us.”
Margate host Harlow Town at Hartsdown Park this Saturday (April 7), kick-off at 3pm – ticket prices and further information available via http://www.margate-fc.co.uk/club/ticket-prices/