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Boss Mark Stimson highlights a lack of fitness as a major issue at Margate and accepts everyone at the club is ‘desperate’ for an overdue victory amid lengthy winless Isthmian Premier run

Boss Mark Stimson has highlighted a lack of fitness as a major issue at Margate and accepted everyone at the club is now “desperate” for an overdue win.

Relegation-threatened Gate lost 4-1 at home to Dulwich in Isthmian Premier last weekend to extend their winless run to 18 matches.

Margate boss Mark Stimson. Picture: Picture: Randolph File
Margate boss Mark Stimson. Picture: Picture: Randolph File

Little has changed since Stimson replaced Reece Prestedge in December, despite a plethora of recent new faces.

“It’s fitness - that’s all it is,” said Stimson. “So many times now, I’ve watched teams just run past our players in the second half.

“We’re bringing in players but the two full-backs (Toby Stevenson and Archie Panyi) haven’t really played for six months.

“We’re picking up players who need probably three or four games to speed up. We’re chasing fitness and that’s the hardest thing to chase.

“If you can’t get the ball or that man, you’re always chasing.”

Report: Margate 1-4 Dulwich Hamlet

Former Gillingham manager Stimson’s CV is impressive in general, despite the 56-year-old having not won a competitive game since April.

When asked if he had experienced such a torrid spell before, he replied: “No.

“I’ve done more than 1,400 games as a manager, from League 1 down. I’ve never been in this position.

“Why is it happening? I’ve got to be careful what I say… There’s a few things and we’re trying to change them.

“We will be working, as always, to try and improve the group and get this win that we’re possibly now desperate for.

Defender Archie Johnson – has left Margate. Picture: Randolph File
Defender Archie Johnson – has left Margate. Picture: Randolph File

“That’s a horrible word to use – but I think we’ve got to that stage now. What has gone on before doesn’t change overnight.”

Among those recently signed by Margate, who also lost 4-0 at Hastings last Tuesday, are midfielders Yaser Kasim, Kadell Daniel and Dominic Vose, plus Stevenson and Panyi.

Influential playmaker Ben Greenhalgh has also made a timely return from a ban and set up 18-goal striker Steve Cawley against Dulwich.

Stimson said: “Ben’s legs looked a bit better.

“As for Steve, with the amount of goals that he scores with a team that’s doing so badly, that’s a great record. It’s a shame we haven’t given him more service.”

Incredibly, of Margate’s last 14 goals, only four have not been scored by Cawley.

Stimson admitted: “Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks, with a couple of training sessions and a couple of shooting sessions, some other people might bring their shooting boots.”

There does at least now appear to be plenty of experience within Gate’s ranks.

Stimson noted: “How do you get the best out of them?

“Try and play them in the correct positions where they want to play, get them being effective in the team but, most importantly, get them super fit.

“When you’re super fit, you’re mentally much stronger and can start doing things that become unnatural to you.”

Margate visit promotion-chasing Chatham this Saturday in a Kent derby.

Stimson said: “Chatham, wow, there’s a story for you!

“It’s not the best game for us to have this weekend on paper. But then, it might be because form goes out the window a bit in derbies. This week, we’ll train on Tuesday - the first time we’ve trained on a Tuesday since I’ve been at the football club - and it’s the first time that the boys have trained on a Tuesday since pre-season.

“Hopefully, that’ll help.”

That derby is followed by a trip to fellow strugglers Cheshunt on Tuesday and, despite Margate’s predicament, Stimson is upbeat.

He explained: “It’s the biggest word in the world, isn’t it? ‘If’. It’s about how you look at things.

“Me being me, if we can win the next two games, we can get out of the tricky situation - but we won’t be anywhere near being clear of anything.

“If we lose the next two games, we might be further adrift. But it’s about the next 10 games.

“We thought our season should start on Saturday and let’s see how many points we can pick up in the next 10.

“It’s been a very poor start points-wise and, performance-wise, there’s one or two things to work on.”

Stimson, who hoped to add another new signing this week, also praised the club’s fans for again sticking behind his players.

“I’ve said to the players there (in the changing rooms) that I’m amazed,” he revealed.

“I’ve not been in this situation before.

“I’ve, obviously, been in teams that have lost games and supporters have gone against the team for whatever reason. But with these supporters here, there were more than 100 people behind that goal, still clapping, on Saturday. I applaud them.

“What they’re giving the players is unbelievable.

“They’re still believing, they’re showing they are by clapping the players, and we want to try and pay them back.

“We’re desperate to pay them back with some results.”

Left-back Archie Johnson has left the club while young Colchester loanee Ryan Lowe has returned to his parent club.

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