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Margate manager Steve Watt says fixtures are taking their toll on his squad

By Mark Stokes

Manager Steve Watt admits his playing resources continue to be tested to the limit by Margate’s congested fixture list.

Tuesday's FA Trophy third qualifying round defeat on penalties to Bath City was the second of nine games the Blues face before the year is out.

Eighth-placed Margate host Hendon (fifth) in the Bostik Premier on Saturday before a Kent Senior Cup quarter-final tie at Bromley on Tuesday, December 12.

Steve Watt Picture: Don Walker
Steve Watt Picture: Don Walker

The Gate are close to chalking up 30 matches and the Saturday-midweek pattern is likely to persist until the new year with Watt admitting it is a real challenge to keep his squad fresh.

He said: “It’s a constant balancing act and something I’m trying to get used to as a manager.

“By the time we play Hendon on Saturday, we will have played 30 matches already which is incredible. The demands put on players and clubs at our level is something that needs looked at.

“If you look at our game at Bath last Tuesday (the first Trophy meeting which finished goalless), you’ve got players getting home from a fixture at 3am and then having to be up a couple of hours later for work.

“When you get the highest level (of the game) complaining about over-training and playing and then you look at what semi-professional clubs go through, it’s crazy.

"The game’s evolved, gone are the ‘old school’ days of just getting on with it, sports science plays a big role in trying to minimise injury and maximising a player’s potential (at the top level).

“Clubs like ours don’t have that sort of technology so we have to look at what else we can do. One improvement would be to take away the pressure of having to re-arrange fixtures so soon after a game has been postponed.”

Dave Martin's strike had Margate ahead at half-time against Bath but two goals in 10 minutes from Jack Compton turned the game around before Lee Prescott's 79th minute effort forced extra time.

With no further score Bath went through 5-4 in the shootout with George Rigg scoring the decisive penalty after Gate's Ben Swift had seen his saved in sudden death.

The match finished just before 11pm - the kick-off having been delayed until 8.20pm after a number of Margate’s players were held up following a serious accident on the M2.

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