Gate Fightback At East Thurrock
By Tom Morris
Under the floodlights and intense rain, the ‘Gate recorded a hard fought 2-1 win thanks to goals from Noel Leighton and the returning Kudus Oyenuga.
The game started at a frantic pace as both sets of players tried to get to grips with the skiddy surface and windy conditions, the rocks had the first chance of note in the 6th minute, as a free header in the box went just over Tupper’s crossbar. The end to end play continued as Reeves took a tumble in the box, no penalty, then at the other end Andrew Pugh took aim from 25 yards but his effort went well wide of the goal.
Tupper was called into action on 23 minutes as he made a classy save from a header that looked destined for the top corner, at the other end Daniel fired a free kick over the crossbar and Noel Leighton headed over from a well worked corner routine. Possession and chances were pretty even as the conditions dictated the play, the ‘Gate had a good chance on 37 minutes with a swift counterattack; Abnett, Reeves and Daniel combined and Abnett found himself in the box, but his attempted scissor kick went well over the bar.
The telling moment came in the 45th minute as East Thurrock broke quickly down the left flank and Pugh collected the ball and fired home from inside the penalty area, 1-0 to our hosts and that was that for the first half.
The ‘gate started the second half brightly and Reeves and Daniel saw their efforts saved by Giddens, the former was unlucky not to get on the end of through balls from Ramadan and Leighton as Margate pushed forward for an equaliser. Jack Richards replaced Harrison Hatfull and Kudus Oyenuga came on for the industrious Elliott Reeves and Jay Saunders looked to freshen things up, Richards first involvement was to get a yellow card, but he settled in well at full back and helped start several counterattacks.
The equaliser came in the 70th minute as a short corner was worked back to Prestedge, his cross was inch perfect and Leighton nodded home his second league goal of the season at the back post, 1-1 and 20 minutes left to play. The rocks responded well and fashioned two shooting opportunities on the 72nd and 74th minutes but Tupper made the save both times and the ‘Gate defence held firm.
The winner came in the 83rd minute; Prestedge drove in from the right and fired a shot across goal, it bounced up in front of the keeper and Leighton jumped highest to head the ball back into the mix where Oyenuga controlled the ball and lashed it home! 2-1 Margate and Kudus grabbed his 5th league goal and first since returning from an injury layoff. The Rocks pushed hard for an equaliser in last few minutes, but Porter and DJ stood their ground and cleared the danger, when the referee blew the final whistle after 4 added minutes the ‘Gate supporters cheered as Margate earnt all 3 points.
Margate: Tupper, Hatfull (Richards 66’), Abnett, Prestedge ©, Johnson, Porter, Ramadan, Anua, Reeves (Oyenuga), Leighton, Daniel
Subs: Holloway, Jeffrey.