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Saunders Delight With Cup Win
Interview conducted by Matt Gerrard, BBC Radio Kent. Written up by Charlotte Richardson.
Margate Manager Jay Saunders was impressed with his side’s resilience as they overcame further injury set-backs to cause an upset in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday afternoon.
Saunders knew his side were in for a test, hosting Vanarama National League side, Concord Rangers and was thrilled with the way his players stepped up to secure an away tie against Salisbury FC in the next round.
“I’m really pleased we’ve made it through to the next round. Obviously, we knew we were in for a tough game, taking on a side from the League above with a new back five because of injuries we’ve got – and then with Reece making his debut in midfield. It was a challenge, but I’m delighted with the win.”
Reflecting on the 90 minutes, Saunders admitted some pointers had to be made at half-time to ensure The Gate inflicted revenge on the side who knocked them out the competition the season before.
“I was disappointed with us in the first half especially with how open we were. It was a tough opening. Manny has come in from Gillingham, an 18-year-old lad who has met everyone for an hour on Thursday, young Harrison Hatful played out of position at right back and our keeper Joe Tupper has only been here a couple of weeks so it’s a new back five.”
“I was disappointed with the goal we conceded but I half expected it as I know Concord are a good side going forward. At half-time, once we had a chance to talk to the players, we came out and were much tighter and defended well when they had a lot of possession.”
Saunders added, “I didn’t think they had anyone who was going to carve us open with a bit of magic. I expected lots of balls into our box and we had to defend the first and second ball better.”
“On the break, I thought we looked dangerous. Elliott Reeves was a handful up top for us and worked his socks off all afternoon.”
With multiple injuries heavily altering the starting eleven on a seemingly weekly basis, Saunders has yet to showcase the best his side can produce this campaign. But there are certainly encouraging signs for the season ahead.
“I’ve said it before and I keep saying it to the lads, if we can keep clean sheets, we’ve got players in this team who can score goals and it has shown this afternoon. With players like Jack Richards coming on, we have real quality in the forward areas, it’s just a shame we’ve not been able to keep everyone fit on the rest of the pitch.”
Having enjoyed some memorable runs in the Emirates FA Cup himself, Saunders hopes to produce more magic for Margate supporters who have helped the club during its current injury crisis.
The final word following a successful afternoon's work at Hartsdown Park, was reserved for those fans, especially the contingent who have engaged with the club’s 12th Man initiative.
“The FA Cup is a competition I have fond memories of both as a player and a manager. It’s a cup I’ve always had good runs in. It’s important for the club to do well in and help bring some money back into the football club and for supporters too.”
“The 12th man campaign has really enabled us to cope and supported us with the injuries we’ve had, so if we can pay back with a little cup run for them, it’s all good.”
Tuesday, 24 September 2019
By Charlotte Richardson