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Margate manager Jay Saunders on their winning start to the new season

Ben Greenhalgh scored on his debut as Margate won their Isthmian Premier opener at Wingate & Finchley.

Summer signing Greenhalgh finished a lovely pass from fellow new boy Vance Bola in the 31st minute to give Jay Saunders the winning start every boss craves.

Margate boss Jay Saunders Picture Oakley Photosport
Margate boss Jay Saunders Picture Oakley Photosport

Gate defended well and showed flashes of the form Saunders knows his side are capable of once everyone’s bedded in.

“We played well in the first half,” said manager Saunders.

“Once we scored we took our foot off the gas and let them back into it.

“It was a great ball from Vance to Ben for the goal and I thought we might kick on and get a couple more but we eased off a bit.

“The second half wasn’t the best but it’s the first game, you just just want three points, you don’t care how they come.

“Like I said, it’s going to take five or six games to get going, and you could see that.

“We’re a little behind on fitness, because of injuries in pre-season.

“You could see in spells what we’re capable of, it’s just a case of getting four or five players a little fitter and up to speed.”

Goalkeeper Pat Ohman - one of three signings completed on the eve of the game - made several fine saves on his debut.

The other late additions, left-back Joe Anderson - who played under Saunders at Maidstone - and forward Bola also played their part.

“A big thing we tried to work on was to be more solid defensively,” said Saunders.

“Pat Ohman had a brilliant debut in goal, Lewis Knight and Ben Swift were outstanding, Ando and Chris Sessegnon as well. We looked solid and that was pleasing.

“Any manager will tell you, you just want three points from the first game.

“Otherwise, you’ve got to wait until next Saturday and if you don’t win that, you’re then chasing them.

“It’s not like playing Saturday-Tuesday where if you lose the first game you get a chance to put it right quickly.”

Margate have released summer signing Tommy Cooney in light of Anderson’s arrival.

He’s since joined Sevenoaks in Isthmian South East.

“Ando’s been at Fulham, he’s played in the Football League and he was with me in the Conference at Maidstone,” said Saunders.

“When he got in touch and said he was thinking about playing again it was something we had to look at. He’s still only 31, he’s got that know-how and he’s been excellent since he came in training.

“I’ve always been a believer in having good relations with players - there’s not many I’ve fallen out with.

“I had to let Ando go at Maidstone but I was upfront with him so when he was keen to get back involved, he picked up the phone.

“It’s unfortunate with Tommy but I made it clear with supporters and the chairman that when you sign 15 or 16 players, they’re not all going to work out.

"Tommy’s a good player and a good lad but, for whatever reason, it didn’t work for him here.”

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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