Thurrock 0 Margate 1
Report by Hazel Woodward
There was great anticipation for the first game back in the Premier Division of the newly sponsored Bostik League. Ship Lane looked glorious in the sunshine as Thurrock, promoted last season from the Ryman North, took on Margate recently relegated Conference South. Steve Watt had totally renewed the Margate squad, mostly with former Maidstone players that had also played with him at Hastings last year, including former Conference South Golden Boot winner, Frannie Collin. Thurrock welcomed back Lewwis Spence and welcomed Dennis Oli for his first League game in Fleet colours.
The first ten minutes were dominated by Margate and Thurrock spent most of the time defending good Margate crosses from Dave Martin and former Thurrock favourite Matt Bodkin. There were excellent clearances and interceptions from Remi Sutton in the penalty area early on from the Margate pressure.
Next to be alert and clear well was George Winn who had an excellent game. Joe Bruce was also called upon and he played in his usual efficient way. Thurrock continued to stand firm and good work by Lewwis Spence lead to Thurrock advancing down the pitch. However, a free kick to Margate then led to the ball near the Thurrock goal and an amazing save from Bobby Mason with his legs, stopping what would have been a certain goal.
Thurrock were finding it hard to penetrate the efficient Gate defence until a long ball out to the left led to a Thurrock corner following good work by Charlie Stimson. The resulting corner flashed across the goal but no-one was able to get in a shot.
An uncompromising tackle from James Goode then led to a small fracas in the centre and James was subsequently booked.
A lovely Thurrock passing move in the 19th minute showed the skill Thurrock can do have on the floor but again no-one could get in a shot. A cross by Reece Morgan was collected by Spence but the Gate goalkeeper put enough pressure on Spence and the ball went out for a goal kick. Just after this we saw a Spence special as his bending shot went only just over the crossbar. Another attack led to a free kick being given against Thurrock for a foul on their goalkeeper.
Margate were still attacking and an excellent cross by Dave Martin from the Gate left lead to a shot that only just over the bar. Phew! That was close, was the thought running through the Thurrock
We then saw some excellent play by Dennis Oli but again Thurrock could not put pressure on ‘Gate’s goal. There were then two good clearances by Joe Christou, firstly from open play and then from a free kick. Following this, Reece Morgan was forced into a good clearance as Margate continued to press forward.
Some good play by James Goode in the middle led to another attack and Thurrock had a free kick taken by Joe Christou which just went over the bar. Thurrock again got into Margate’s penalty area with Charlie Stimson holding up the ball with his back to goal, but the close marking of the Margate defence stopped a shot being played. A further corner to Thurrock was cleared by Margate and soon it was half-time.
Jordan Clark came on for James Goode at half time but sadly a quick Margate attack and pass from Dave Martin led to Frannie Collin scoring from close range.
An incident off the pitch between the dugouts led to Dave Martin and Reece Morgan being strongly spoken to by the referee. Only Martin was booked, and maybe Fleet can count himself lucky it was only a booking. Thurrock worked hard to attack, and a good cross from Lewwis Spence from the left flew across the area. Then it was Margate’s turn to attack with Bobby Mason having to make a good save.
Most of Thurrock’s attacks were coming down the left side with Remi Sutton and he thought he had forced a corner but a goal kick was awarded. A great central run by Lewwis Spence led his shot being charged down. In the 65th minute Glenn Poole replaced Ronnie Winn. Ronnie had worked hard but had seen little of the ball.
Thurrock had much of the play in the second half but it was so difficult to penetrate the Margate midfield and defence. Thurrock continued to press and win corners and in the 70th minute frantic defending by Margate saw a Joe Christou header cleared off the line by one of two defenders standing on the line after the goalkeeper had punched the ball.
Craig Hall then came on for Dennis Oli. More Thurrock attacks led to further Thurrock corners with good work by Glenn Poole, Jordan Clark and Lewwis Spence. With five minutes of injury time given, Charlie Stimson attacked in the area and did well to win a corner off the goalkeeper who landed heavily and seemed to need treatment on his shoulder. However, he flew out to punch the resulting corner. A further corner was again punched out by the keeper and soon the extra time was over.
Margate are a strong, organised side and will certainly be in the top five of the Division. Thurrock worked hard but found it difficult to pass through their midfield which meant players up front were moving and working hard but didn’t see enough of the ball. There were many more attacks in the second half, mostly coming from the left. The ball just didn’t fall kindly for Thurrock in the area but there was no lack of effort.
Thurrock: Bobby Mason, Reece Morgan, Remi Sutton, Joe Bruce, George Winn, James Goode (Jordan Clark 46′), Joe Christou, Lewwis Spence, Charlie Stimson, Dennis Oli (Craig Hall 78′), Ronnie Winn (Glenn Poole 65′).
Mrgate: Lenny Pidgeley, Chris Sessegnon, Tom Mills, James Rogers, Liam Friend, Tom Wynter, Matt Bodkin (Orlando Smith 72′), Jack Evans, Lee Prescott, Frannie Collin, David Martin (Ben Smith 78′).
Scorer – Frannie Collin (47′)