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Margate manager Jay Saunders still has Isthmian Premier play-off ambitions this season

Jay Saunders isn’t ready to write off Margate’s play-off chances although he is starting to think about next season.

Gate are 12 points off the Isthmian Premier top five with 19 games to play and have been plagued by inconsistency all season.

Margate manager Jay Saunders Picture: Andy Jones
Margate manager Jay Saunders Picture: Andy Jones

It’s not too late to launch a charge up the table from 12th spot but boss Saunders, whose side lost 1-0 to East Thurrock on Saturday, has half an eye on the future.

He said: “We’ll keep working to try and get it right. I said I’d like to try and push to make play-offs this year.

“Injuries haven’t helped with that consistency but also some players haven’t worked out for whatever reason and haven’t been able to perform on on a consistent basis, so we’ve got to look at why that is.

“I’m not saying play-offs are impossible but we’re making it harder and harder for ourselves.

“I’ll take the blame for the things I’ve got wrong - maybe combinations and things haven’t always been right - but sometimes players have got to take responsibility as well.

“I’m not giving up on play-offs because I want to do the best we can to get up and around it and finish as high as we can.

“But next season is in my thoughts because you look at the team and you look at players and you do start thinking about it.

“I knew this was going to be a building season but I feel some players have underperformed and I would say that’s as individuals rather than as a team, as a unit.

“Some have not hit the levels we expect. I don’t know why that is - I can’t put my finger on it.”

Margate were made second favourites to win the Isthmian Premier at the start of the season.

Jay Saunders is starting to think about next season Picture: Don Walker
Jay Saunders is starting to think about next season Picture: Don Walker

Saunders, who won the title with Maidstone in 2015, quickly played down championship chances but felt the play-offs were realistic given the nature of the division.

He said: “Unless you’ve got an unlimited budget and are paying top, top money, there’s no way you can sign 14 players or whatever and be favourites.

“That’s never going to be the case, so that was why I wiped that off straight away but play-offs would have been the ideal scenario.

“I don’t think the league is as strong as it was before, no disrespect to anyone, but I don’t think it is.

“When we won it at Maidstone you had teams like Dulwich, Margate when they were spending lots of money, and Hendon, and any of those sides would be right up there this season.

“I just think it’s a very open league. If you asked me who’s going to win it I couldn’t tell you.

“We’ve played all the top teams and I just think it’s a very open, even league.

“That’s the disappointing thing for me because if you can get on a run you could be right up there but we haven’t been able to do that.”

Margate visit Wingate & Finchley in the Velocity Trophy tonight.

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