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Margate's former AFC Wimbledon and Ebbsfleet United midfielder Luke Moore one of three players to move to Billericay Town

Skipper Luke Moore is one of three players who have left Margate to join a team in the Ryman League Premier Division.

The 28-year-old has joined Billericay Town and will be joined at New Lodge by fellow midfielder Matt Johnson and defender Danny Fitzsimons.

It means eight players have now left Hartsdown either permanently or temporarily since the club's financial problems led to manager Nikki Bull's playing budget being drastically cut.

Luke Moore Picture: Don Walker
Luke Moore Picture: Don Walker

Bull admitted he was sorry to be losing the trio but said the deals suited all parties. It is understood the Blues have received fees for Moore and Johnson, while Fitszimons signed despite significant interest from Greenwich Borough, with whom he enjoyed a successful loan spell earlier in the season.

Bull added: "Luke's a good friend of mine and I'm disappointed to see him go, but it was a very good deal for him, he's not long had his first child, and the offer from Billericay was a very attractive one as it was for the other two.

"It's a blow for us to be losing our captain and vice-captain (Johnson) and also because all three were players who always gave 100 per cent but we obviously wish them all the best at Billericay."

Gravesend-born Moore began his career in the youth set-up at Ebbsfleet before progressing to the first team where he was a regular for three seasons, scoring 20 goals in 124 appearances.

He was part of the Fleet squad which beat Torquay 1-0 to lift the FA Trophy at Wembley in 2008, but the following year he joined AFC Wimbledon, who he helped win promotion to the Football League courtesy of a dramatic penalty shootout win over Luton in the 2011 Conference play-offs.

Moore's five years with the Dons saw him score 32 times in around 160 games and on his release he was signed for Margate in May 2014 by Terry Brown who had also been his boss at Wimbledon.

He was part of the Gate team which won promotion to Conference South in May 2015 and only this summer he agreed a new one-year deal.

Johnson initially came in on loan from Ebbsfleet last season before signing a permanent contract In January and was a virtual ever present during his time at Hartsdown.

Former Luton Town and Dartford defender Fitzsimons joined in the summer after a lengthy injury lay-off and impressed after returning from a loan spell with Greenwich.

The loss of the trio means that six players have now moved from Hartsdown on permanent deals in the last month. Strikers Michael Thalassitis (Hemel Hempstead) and Elliott Buchanan (Chelmsford), and defender Yado Mambo (Bishop's Stortford) are the others.

Forward Daniel Akindayini and full-back Adam Cash are both on loan at Leatherhead - Akindayini scoring twice in the Tanners' 5-2 midweek win at Staines - while on Tuesday the Blues confirmed they had cancelled loan signing Lewis Ward's registration so that the keeper could return to parent club Reading to recover from a quad muscle injury.

Bull says he would not rule out further departures before Saturday's home FA Trophy third qualifying round tie against East Thurrock United with winger Alex Osborn and defender Manny Parry the most likely to leave.

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