Margate match report
match report by Philip Murphy
Lee O’Leary’s reign as Kingstonian manager was moments away from a perfect start but a late Ben Greenhalgh goal denied K’s the three points at a scorching Hartsdown Park. The home side’s late penalty cancelled out Tyrese Owen’s first half-opener to ensure that the spoils were shared on the opening day.
On a day when The Sugababes headlined Margate Pride, K’s made 9 changes to the lineup that contested last season’s final league game. Only Tolfrey and Beaney remained from that April fixture, with Declan Skura and substitute Jordan Wilson the only other members of last year’s squad to feature.
O’Leary’s charges started brightly and enjoyed much of the early possession. Gabriel Ajuchi’s lively run on the left paved an opening but Amadou Tangara saved comfortably from the deflected effort that followed.
Tangara was called into action moments later when an overhit Collins cross had to be tipped over, before another bustling run from Ajuchi forced a smart save from the Ivorian stopper.
For all K’s possession, the ‘Gate had opportunities, with Rob Toflrey saving smartly from Troy Howard, before K’s scrambled clear following a defensive mix-up.
With Louis Collins taking corners from the right, it looks like the two-footed corner taking heroics of Kenny Beaney may not be required this season. On the stroke of half-time, it was Collins who delivered an inswinging corner which landed perfectly on the head of Tyrese Owen. The towering midfielder powered home from close-range to give K’s a deserved half-time lead.
O’Leary’s men stayed on the front foot in the second half but missed a glorious chance to add breathing room. Hoops pressure, led by Beaney, pounced on uncertainty in the Margate defence but Gogo hit the post with the goal gaping.
Seconds later, the hosts thought they had equalised at the other end, but James Bessey-Saldanha’s effort was ruled out thanks to an early offside flag.
In searing heat, the game suffered as a spectacle but the resolute Hoops looked comfortable in restricting the hosts to half-chances.
In the dying moments, however, Margate were awarded a penalty when Bessey-Saldanha fell to the ground following an untidy challenge just inside the box. Greenhalgh dispatched to the bottom left corner to earn his side a share of the points.
In the end, K’s were left to rue what might have been, but it was an encouraging display for Lee O'Leary's new-look side, warmly appreciated by the traveling contingent. Next up. the Imperial Fields era commences on Wednesday night, with Wingate and Finchley the visitors to Mitcham.
Margate: Amadou Tangara, Harrison Hatfull, Taylor Fisher, Lewis Knight, Harry Hudson, Adeyinka Cole, Sam Blackman, Ben Greenhalgh, Troy Howard, Marcell Deslandes, James Bessey-Saldanha.
Subs: Adam Topley (for Harrison Hatfull, 78m), Kieron McCann (for Marcel Deslandes, 67m), Peter Ojemen, Emmanuel Oluwasemo, Harvey Smith.
Goal scorers: Tyrese Owen (45m, 0-1), Ben Greenhalgh (90m pen, 1-1)