City U.13s Taste League Success At Last
By Graham Hadler
Joy For City As Determination and Team Spirit Shines Through
What a difference a week makes and what a reward for hard work and patience!
After City’s tough result the week before and now with a team suffering injuries and illness, City turned up to Margate’s soon to be improved Hartsdown ground with its fantastic 3G playing surface and central community club feel and atmosphere thinking wouldn’t it be marvellous if they had a facility like this to train on and play every other week, even in the challenging conditions of a strong end to end wind and driving rain.
Despite all of this City left the dressing room after stirring words from the team management showing a steely determination in their body language with players looking like they had a point to prove.
Skipper Oliver Hadler won the toss and elected to face the wind against a skilful Margate side knowing if they could weather the storm of attacking football Margate play and the gusty wind they might pin Margate back in the second half.
City set up with a very solid formation with the busy and athletic Kayden Grant anchoring the midfield to allow the attacking talents of Salman Cody-Yediayli and Kadir Rencber to flourish up front.
Leading the line was Charlie Rabenda who was to put in such a fantastic shift chasing and holding up the ball for those supporting from the midfield he probably deserved a goal for his efforts.
Yet despite the wind against them it was City who looked most dangerous on the break and, like the previous week, having had an early sighter of goal, Harvey Rudd was played in around the corner at the top of the Margate box by Cody-Yediayli and unleashed a stunning strike into the top corner to give City the perfect start.
As expected though, Margate were slick and lively but Hadler and the towering Theo Hoyle looked comfortable shielded by the excellent tenacious Grant in front of them.
The dangerous Rudd was a constant out ball for City on the break but Margate were back in the match on 20 minutes when a speculative drive from 20 yards swerved and zipped off the soaking top and was initially well saved by Jake Richards only to see the rebound scrambled in by the alert Margate striker.
Margate almost had a second a couple of minutes later but Richards saved well again and this time was glad to see the ball pushed away to safety.
City were concerned that moments later the excellent Grant had to come off injured after a crunching tackle took both players involved out of the match.
However, City were fortunate in his replacement to have Noyal Shine probably one of the most adept holding players in the league to come on.
A further shake of City’s pack brought Cailun Tapsell on in an unfamiliar central midfield role but whose industry and effective use of the ball was key to City stabilising the midfield and seeing out the first half all square.
As hoped for, City pressed higher at the start of the second half as the wind blew stronger. Playmaker Cody-Yediayli kept the passing simple and effective in the difficult conditions but was always on the lookout for openings in Margate back line.
Margate were now doubling up on Rudd but even then couldn’t prevent him crossing for Kadir Rencber to control the difficult ball on the turn (with a slight whiff of handball) and slam his effort beyond the keeper from 6 yards. Margate protested but the referee was happy with what he’d seen and perhaps City felt luck might be on their side.
Margate were stung to up their game and 4 minutes later Richards made a stunning match defining save diving full stretch to parry a fierce drive around the post. If Margate had equalised again City might have wobbled but galvanised by Richard’s effort, City were up for the challenge.
Rabenda was a real handful for the Margate defence running his socks off alone at the top and was so unlucky when breaking the close attention of two Margate defenders and beating the keeper only to see his sharp drive smack off the outside of the post and away.
The Margate team were a well drilled and talented side and still looked dangerous and hit the City bar to prove they were still very much in the match.
Man of the Match Theo Hoyle was imperious at the back for City and to prove the point thumped a clearance goal bound from five yards inside his own half. The moment the ball had left his boot it was clear the Margate keeper had misread the conditions as the wind backed ball bounced up and over the keeper to nestle in the back of the net.
City had been 3-1 up in their first encounter at home and contrived to draw the match then but it never seemed likely to happen now.
Leo Pynn was now higher in support and overlapping Rudd creating more headaches for Margate defence and Shine’s reading of the game in his disciplined anchoring position was now stopping everything Margate were trying to create from deep.
In the dying moments City’s spirit and performance was epitomised by their fourth goal when Tapsell, who’d been bright and lively throughout, chased 40 yards to close down the Margate fullback deep in the Margate half and force the error to win the ball. Rabenda picked up the play and released Tapsell who remarkably still had the zip in his legs to sell the Margate centre-half a body swerve to open up room for his rifled shot to the bottom corner of the net.
At the final whistle Margate were gracious in their acceptance of City’s exuberant celebrations for their first league win in what had been a very entertaining match played throughout in a fantastic spirit by both teams in difficult conditions in a great facility for football to showcase everything that is good about grassroots football.