Margate (1) 2 Bath City (0) 2 – FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Replay – Tuesday 5 December 2017 – Hartsdown Park
(City won 5-4 on penalties)
After a snoozefest of a first encounter a week ago few could have expected such an enthralling evening on the South coast, which took an 11th-hour penalty shootout to be decided. A collection of Margate’s players were held up following a serious accident on the M2, which meant kick-off for this FA Trophy 3rd qualifying replay was delayed until 8.20pm. Both teams started on the front foot with Marvin Morgan shooting side on the turn, but it was the hosts who went ahead on 29 minutes. Dave Martin was given time and space to shoot from 20 yards and it zipped past a surprised Luke Southwood. City tried to respond before the break with Andy Watkins’ header palmed away by Patrick Lee. Liam Friend’s clearance after this parry found Jordan Chiedozie through on goal, but Southwood rushed off his line to smother his effort.
Facing a side who had only conceded six goals at home all season, the Romans required a magician and the returning Jack Compton duly obliged seven minutes into the second half. Having missed a month through injury, the former Yeovil man was given a free-kick 20 yards out after Morgan was needlessly held by Liam Friend. Compton stepped up and curled the ball splendidly around the wall, out of Lee’s reach. He bettered this within ten minutes. Having cut infield from the right, Compton unleashed a tremendous shot from 30 yards which flew past Lee and gave City the lead. They appeared in control but were hit by a sucker punch on 79 minutes as Margate levelled. Martin’s corner wasn’t fully cleared and fell onto the boot of Lee Prescott on the edge of the penalty area, who volleyed expertly through a crowd of bodies. It spurred on Steve Watt’s men, as City’s goal led a charmed life in the closing stages, with Southwood also producing goalkeeping quality of the highest order. Kane Haysman’s low drive clipped the base of the post with a slight touch from the Reading loanee, before he magnificently kept out Martin twice in quick succession as City failed to clear their lines, with the former Bristol Rovers man then hitting the bar in a remarkable sequence of events.
The first half of extra-time saw City grow back into the game with substitutes Nat Jarvis and Oaklan Buck going close before the latter was a victim of a flailing elbow by Tom Wynter; damaging two of his teeth in the process. Isaac Pearce also hit the bar as Margate appeared to tire, but they regrouped for the final 15 when Jay May’s heavily-deflected effort looped in the air and rebounded back off the woodwork, with his rebound scrambled off the line from Miles Welch-Hayes. Jack Batten was thrown on in an unorthodox forward role with time running out, which nearly paid off as his jinking run and shot flashed across the face of goal.
No further breakthrough meant penalties and with City’s issues from the spot in recent seasons, and six successive losses in shoot-outs, the omens didn’t look good. Margate won the toss and elected to go first, which backfired when Collin’s low drive was comfortably repelled by Southwood. The next eight kicks were all successful as Matt Richards, Frankie Artus, Kevin Amankwaah and Nat Jarvis netted for City, with Margate’s Liam Enver-Marum, Jack Evans, Jay May and Matt Bodkin keeping their nerve in response. At 4-4, Jack Batten had to score for City to progress, but the defender’s strike was well parried by Lee, giving the Kent club another chance. It was one they didn’t take as Ben Swift’s weak kick was blocked by the legs of Southwood; allowing George Rigg to confidently step up and send Lee the wrong way, as well as sending his team-mates and supporters into raptures, just as the clock ticked on to 11pm. A cruel way to decide two evenly matched sides over two matches, but Jerry Gill will have few complaints about the character shown by his team as they’ll hope for an easier ride in the next round against Hendon, also of the Isthmian League.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Rigg, Welch-Hayes, Richards, Amankwaah (c), Ball, Watkins (Buck 90), Artus, Morgan (Batten 107), Compton (Jarvis 80), Pearce. Subs not used: Ollis, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Compton (53, 61); Margate – Martin (29), Prescott (79)
City Bookings: Buck (94)
Referee: D Spain