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Margate manager Jay Saunders on the challenge of back-to-back meetings with Wingate & Finchley

Margate manager Jay Saunders is wary of back-to-back matches against Wingate & Finchley.

The sides meet at Hartsdown Park tonight and again in north London this weekend as Gate look to build on Saturday's 1-0 win over Bowers & Pitsea.

Margate boss Jay Saunders
Margate boss Jay Saunders

Saunders said: "We had a good win up there in the Velocity Trophy this season but it's a different kettle of fish playing in the league.

"They're in that bottom five and they'll be desperate to get the points.

"It's really tough going back-to-back. I've never been keen on that.

"I had it at Maidstone playing Dover over Christmas and New Year and it was horrible.

"Psychologically, the first game is important because if you get the win, it gives you the upper hand.

"At the same time, you've then got the worry about complacency going into the second game.

"It's an opportunity to play a side that's below us in the league and if we get the points tonight, we'll gain ground on the teams above.

On-loan duo Jimmy Witt and Tommy Lamb are on Kent Senior Cup duty with Gillingham at Dover but Margate welcome back Kadell Daniel after a three-game ban.

"He's been in Paris so hopefully he's well-rested," said Saunders.

"It's good to have Kads back because he's one of the most creative players in the league.

"Even if he's not having the best game, he's got the ability to pull something out of the bag."

Kadell Daniel is back from suspension
Kadell Daniel is back from suspension

Noel Leighton completes his two-game ban tonight while skipper Ben Swift serves the second of a three-match suspension after Gate failed in an appeal against his dismissal in their Velocity Trophy defeat at Horsham.

Gate expected the decision to be overturned but were told there wasn't sufficient evidence, much to their surprise.

Margate coped well without Swift against Bowers & Pitsea with Liam Friend returning from injury alongside Dan Johnson as the hosts kept just their third clean sheet in the league this season.

They took the points with Elliott Reeves' 88th-minute strike after an attempted clearance hit Reece Prestedge and dropped kindly.

Saunders said: "It was good to get the clean sheet.

"Bowers are very game and they've got big lads up front but luckily Friendy was back, so we had his experience to bring in, and he did well.

"Every time we've kept a clean sheet this season, we've won.

"I said to the players if were solid defensively, I felt we could win the game.

"We should have had the game done by half-time - we had a few chances and a lot of possession - but in the end we got a break with with the goal that we've not really had.

"I don't think Joe Tupper's had a save to make so I'd have been disappointed with a draw.

"That's five unbeaten now but four of them have been draws. We probably should have another three wins on the board but it's something to build on."

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