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Margate's former Aldershot and AFC Wimbledon defender Brett Johnson out for season

By Mark Stokes

Nikki Bull has described Brett Johnson as ‘irreplaceable’ after learning that Margate’s skipper is to miss the rest of the season.

The 31-year-old defender received the results of a scan on his injured knee on Monday and Bull admitted the news for club and player was the ‘worst case scenario’.

Johnson sustained the injury after a collision with his own keeper Valery Pajetat during the 1-0 defeat at Hampton & Richmond on Saturday, February 11.

Brett Johnson Picture: Don Walker
Brett Johnson Picture: Don Walker

Gate boss Bull said: “The news couldn’t have been any worse. Brett’s torn his cruciate, his meniscus and his medial ligament and he’s fractured his fibia.

“We knew when he got hurt that it was bad because he stayed down and Brett’s the type of player who never stays down.

“It was a freak accident and in terms of knee injuries, it’s probably one of the worst I’ve seen. Losing Brett is a massive blow because he’s irreplaceable.

“He’s a leader as well as being one of the few experienced players in our squad.”

Bull felt Gate’s lack of nous was again exposed in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Wealdstone – the bottom club’s 15th in a row in Vanarama National League South.

The only goal came in time added on at the end of the first half when Wealdstone midfielder Aryan Tajbakhsh, making his debut on loan from League 2 Crawley Town, struck with a half-volley from the edge of the area.

Bull said: “It was a game where, for all bar 10 minutes at the end of the first half, we did exceptionally well but we got punished again for switching off.

“We seem to have this habit of running out of steam in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the first half before we get our second wind.

“Ninety nine times out of 100 the players do their job but that one time they don’t, we concede a goal.

“We had three or four opportunities to clear our lines but we didn’t and the ball was smashed in from the edge of the area. It’s frustrating because Saturday was a game we could have won.”

Winger Ben Swallow was man-of-the-match on the final appearance of his 28-day loan spell. Bull had asked Havant & Waterlooville if the Blues could extend the arrangement but was told no.

He added: “Ben was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch on Saturday and now we’ve lost him. I asked Lee Bradbury (the Havant manager) about keeping him but they don’t want to renew it so now he’ll go back into their team as part of their push for promotion.”

Bull has extended midfielder Harrison Bennett’s loan spell from Reading for another month, while Royals under-21 keeper Lewis Ward is also back at Hartsdown after making 16 appearances earlier on loan earlier in the season.

Bull also brought in former Farnborough, Eastleigh and Whitehawk striker Reece Connolly, who made an encouraging debut against Wealdstone.

The Blues were are in action at East Thurrock United on Tuesday.

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