Isthmian Premier Division Sat 31 August Hartsdown Park
  • Aguiar (74')
  • Barker (83')

Sticking to the old adage that you should never change a winning team, Adam Hinshelwood simply brought back the fit-again Joel Colbran on the bench in place of Ben Mendoza-Sherman.

Ollie Pearce’s early effort, after he’d come in off the left wing and breezed past Julien Anau, was pushed over the bar, two-handed, by ‘gate ‘keeper Jon Miles, with barely two minutes gone.

Sixty seconds later, El Capitan Dan fired in an effort that not only went the same way, except without any intervention this time from Miles, it took one bounce on the roof of the clubhouse and scarpered away down Hartsdown Road. If anyone had had a crystal ball, they would surely have followed the wayward shot, as the next half-an-hour simply acted as a cure for insomnia.

The mind-numbingly dull offering on show being summed up by Pearce’s cross drifting seamlessly above the target while the boredom clearly affected others; as illustrated by Aguiar’s long range attempt threatening the scoreboard about as much as Sadio Mane’s strop seeing an increase in sales of rattles and other baby toys.

Margate were also suffering the effects of tediousness, so they added to it through Jay Porter’s left-sided delivery narrowly evading the head of early substitute, Harrison Hatfull.

Jesse Starkey combined with Pearce down the left but the latter’s shot, marginally outside the box, threatened not.

With half-time mercifully close, Ross Edwards lost out in a fifty-fifty challenge to Blues’ Skipper, Ben Swift, who then proceeded to send his effort inches over the goal frame, from the ‘d.’

Marvin Armstrong nearly woke everyone up by robbing Adem Ramadan inside the area and fizzing a low ball across that eluded everybody.

Games of i-spy were briefly held up, at the start of the second period, when Kadell Daniel delayed shooting and had to settle for a corner. He took the flag-kick himself, only for it to be headed, well, you know by now.

A similar situation at the other end resulted in Ricky being kept at bay by a defensive intervention and Reece Myles-Meekums finding the hands of Miles.

Slightly past the hour mark, Noel Leighton skipped over the tackle of Edwards and set up Hatfull, who was denied by Barker, before winning a corner that required Roco Rees to stick out a reactionary leg to prevent the crowd from hyperventilating and, more significantly, Ramadan from putting the hosts in front. Just for good measure, Barker kept out the number seven as he had a second bite at the cherry.

Jay Saunders’ men looked the likelier scorers at this stage and they were nearly given a helping hand by Joe Tennent, who pulled back Daniel to concede a free-kick. The set-piece was played into the penalty area where Leighton threw his head at it but failed to make contact.

A drive towards the near post by Ramadan didn’t unduly trouble Roco, after the former Tonbridge winger had glided past the recently introduced Colbran, with a quickly taken free-kick having the same effect on Miles. Myles-Meekums the protagonist.

The dead-ball theme continued when a foul on Armstrong brought about the opportunity for Aguiar to curl an exquisite effort up and over the wall into Miles’ top right-hand corner. A goal that was more than worth the wait !

Ten minutes later and it was all over, Alex Parsons was crowded out in the six yard box but Captain Barker mopped up and prodded the ball into the bottom corner, to send the visiting hordes wild.

Anau took down Reece, though Starkey gave Miles an easy catch, in between the goals and replacement, James Jeffrey did an almost identical thing as his free-kick curled safely into the gloves of Rees, in the opening minute of stoppage time.

Not a game that, for it’s first seventy-three minutes, will live long in the memory but Ricky’s beauty and, along with his Skipper, Danny, his maiden strike of the season, helped leave Red’s as the only team to leave this particular Kent Seaside Town with three points in 2019-20.

Just as importantly, a second successive win – and first away – coupled with another clean sheet will give everyone a huge boost heading into a tricky-looking FA Cup Tie at Hastings United next week.