The ‘January Blues’ are a common affliction, money is tight, so are your trousers, it’s a struggle.
For followers of the Gate January, as it is in every year, has been all about the blues. A mixed bag is probably the best way to describe the first month of the year, since New Year’s Day’s heroics against Folkestone, Margate won away at Pitsea before getting battered by Hornchurch on manager Jay Saunders’ birthday. The lads made up for it though and gave Saunders a delayed birthday gift the following week when Corinthians Casuals came to town, comprehensively beating the colourful visitors. When the only thing casual was the refereeing, the final outing in January was to Enfield and was one that everyone associated with the Gate would rather forget.
Inevitably, February is here and on the first matchday of the new month on a bright but blustery day, Margate welcomed Horsham, a side that by all accounts is one of the league’s richest. The side from West Sussex brought numbers, hoards of Horsham fans filled the clubhouse before kick-off, the majority of which were wearing sparkly green hats and bringing the ‘vibes’. Those hats were sadly the only sparkling thing about the first half. A dull first forty-five minutes led some Margate fans enquiring to stewards “can I get my money back for that?” An opinion that was perhaps harsh as Margate had got the ball down and tried to play but it was all a bit “nice” without aggression and without a recognised striker on the pitch it was no surprise that sides went into the break at 0-0.
The second half got underway and Horsham came to life, a remarkable double save from Bridle-Card on his much-welcomed return kept the game goalless. Then a few minutes later when Bridle-Card was beaten and it looked for all the world that Horsham would take the lead, the goal frame doubled up as a Margate defender keeping the ball at bay. If any side was to break the deadlock you’d probably back Horsham.
Saunders though wanted the win, a double substitution saw two recognised strikers enter the fray. Trusty Vance Bola who you can never doubt for effort and endeavour and new boy loanee Gbode from Gillingham were sent to salvage points. A golden chance fell to Gbode whose first touch let him down and the opportunity was squandered. There was no debut goal for Gbode but he put himself about and was clearly giving his all which Gbode’s well for the future.
Ben Greenhalgh as always was class, at one point he even passed it to himself, forget the one-two Greenhalgh plays a one-one. Despite his efforts, the game looked like it was destined to be ending as a goalless draw. A free-kick was awarded in the final minute of added time. “This Saturday afternoon might be salvaged after all. It’s now or never”’. Ben stepped up, we’ve seen him step up before and deliver, the free kick as to be expected was menacing and arrived in the six yards box. A ricochet or two saw the ball suddenly not going towards goal but dropping behind the giant figure of Lewis Knight, who swivelled turned with the grace of fox in the box Kevin Phillips and put his laces through it like. 1-0. Jubilant scenes! Our Knight in blue armour had won the game in the dying seconds, and sent the Margate faithful leaving ecstatic and far from blue.