Two weeks had passed since the Margate masses had celebrated Godo’s last-minute winner against Enfield. The two weeks without our football was not a forecast absence but a result of the so-called “panic at the pumps” but unlike East Thurrock United FC the lads from Lewes did have a full tank for their trip to the seaside.
They couldn’t have asked for a better day either, the skies were clear blue and the sun shone gloriously on the 3g fortress that is Hartsdown Park. The fans were in chipper spirits, so were the staff who jovially questioned some fans choice of clothing “coats? And jumpers? You not heard summer is back? Just as well with the rising gas prices I suppose.” Lewes fans were lively and aplenty and in no time reminded the Margate fans that they would be the ones cheering Joe Taylor. Hearing them lavish support on Taylor would have hurt some among the terraces as only a few seasons ago he was prolific in the blue of Margate.
The game got underway and before the queues for the beer cart had died down Margate found themselves in front. Greenhalgh had played a brilliant ball from midfield, a sight we’re becoming quite accustomed to, out wide to the forever-running Bessey-Saldanha who had acres of space to sprint into before squaring for Thompson for a tap in. 1-0.
The delight lasted all of three minutes as Lewes were awarded a dubious penalty which of course was finished coolly by number nine Margate-born Joe Taylor. 1-1. Watching him celebrate with the Lewes lads in their lovely red and black Lyle and Scott brought the Bullseye catchphrase of ‘look at what you could have won’ to mind. That feeling didn’t last long as Margate were on the attack once again, Greenhalgh’s delivery was again top-notch as his free-kick found the leaping head of Thompson which met the post before Blackman poked it home. 2-1.
Lewes looked sharp but the defence dealt with the waves of attack with competence and when Ohman was called upon he made a couple of great saves. Just before halftime, Margate looked to be up as a corner led to Knight believing he’d scored. Sadly, the linesman thought differently. Looking back half time was lovely, the warmth of the sun, the feeling of contentment as the pints flowed, as too did fan confidence. This was, after all, Hartsdown Park – the 3g fortress where Margate are unbeaten. A second half was welcomed and as good as Lewes looked it was our game to lose.
Sadly, we did exactly that and in some style. The 54th minute of this game was a classic one and a minute that showcased both the beauty and the agony of football, Margate looked to have won a penalty but the suspected handball wasn’t given and while appeals were still descending on deaf ears Lewes broke brilliantly with Ollie Tanner linking with Taylor Maloney. 2-2. Tanner and Maloney were two names that the PA announcer would come to know well over the next half an hour.
The lads in blue were well and truly out of luck. Another impeccable delivery from Greenhalgh from the corner flag found Blackman who headed home his second…. Only it wasn’t as the linesman again raised his flag. Then Lewes took control and Maloney put the visitors in front. 3-2. Lewes fans were still celebrating their newfound lead when Ollie Tanner weaved in and out of our defence and scored a quite beautiful goal. 4-2.
It’s the hope that kills you and when Bessey-Saldanha curled a finish beyond the keeper there was a feeling of ‘this isn’t over’ but that feeling passed quicker than you could say ‘jolly boys outing to the seaside’ with the reappearance of an old foe…. The linesman’s flag. The name Ollie Tanner was spoken over the PA system minutes later as Lewes were now 5-2 up, and before the full-time whistle blew Maloney completed his hat trick 6-2. The 611 in attendance had well and truly witnessed the end of Margate’s unbeaten home form.
Hey ho, you win some you Lewes some and as Ryan Palmer philosophically tells his followers on Twitter ”take your L’s as lessons. No better way to make a response than Tuesday. This is football and that’s why we love the game! Don’t hide from your results. We go again. Up the gate”.