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Ramsgate manager Ben Smith on the possibility of swapping divisions with Thanet rivals Margate

Ben Smith says Margate’s league status is irrelevant to Ramsgate as the Thanet clubs face the possibility of swapping divisions.

Gate are fighting for survival in the Isthmian Premier while Rams are leading a three-way scrap for the Isthmian South East title.

Ramsgate manager Ben Smith. Picture: Stuart Watson
Ramsgate manager Ben Smith. Picture: Stuart Watson

They haven’t met in a league fixture since 2008/9 when Ramsgate were relegated, just a year after finishing above Margate to make the Isthmian Premier play-offs.

Rams are desperate to win their first league title in 18 years.

And while that could involve overtaking their neighbours, boss Smith said: “To be honest, I think Margate are irrelevant to Ramsgate in that sense.

“We don’t need them for a gate.

“They’re not very well attended, are they?

“It’s not like having them and suddenly we’ll get an extra gate where we get loads of money in.

“We would get a big gate but we get that anyway so it doesn’t make much impact what league they’re in to us.

“I think the club deserves to be in a higher league than Margate if you’re looking at it like that but, at the end of the day, the proof’s in the pudding and we’ve got to get over the line.

“We’re desperate to do that for James (Lawson), the chairman, who has put so much into this, and I’m not talking finances, I’m talking time. It’s turned into his life’s work.

“And we’re also desperate to do it for the supporters.”

Ramsgate came from 2-0 down to win 5-2 at Beckenham on Saturday and stay two points clear at the top.

Cray Valley remain hot on their heels and Sittingbourne, nine points back in third, are also in the race with 10 games to go.

Joe Taylor (left) celebrates his goal with Joe Turner as Ramsgate go 4-2 up at Beckenham. Picture: Alan Coomes
Joe Taylor (left) celebrates his goal with Joe Turner as Ramsgate go 4-2 up at Beckenham. Picture: Alan Coomes

Ashford assistant boss Tommy Osborne recently said Ramsgate would also be challenging in the Isthmian Premier and able to hold their own in National League South, such is the strength of their squad.

And Smith said: “The frustrating thing is there’s clubs in those leagues that have been there for a while but probably don’t deserve to be there now and don’t have the ambition to stay in there now, whereas we’re desperate to get up.

“The club’s got plans if it were to get up to those levels to kick on again. It’s frustrating to see some clubs dying a death, it’s just a wasted place in one of those leagues, especially when the league we’re in is such a difficult league to get out of.

“It’s always been difficult but this year it looks even harder because there’s three teams that could break the points record and not go up. It’s madness really, isn’t it?

“Higher up the pyramid more teams go up and more come down and I think that should be mirrored down the leagues.

“It would make seasons more enjoyable if you had three or four going up and three or four going down.

“Anyway, we’ve got 10 games to go and if we win all our games, we win the league.

“Cray Valley can say the same at the moment (the sides meet at Southwood on April 13) so it’s an exciting time.

“We’ve got a great squad but so have Cray Valley and so have Sittingbourne. In any other league we’d all be top and putting our feet up by now. It’s just one of those freak seasons.

“I think we’re the highest points per game in the country at our level, Cray Valley would probably be second and Sittingbourne would be right up there as well.”

Ramsgate again showed they have the character needed to win the league with their comeback at Beckenham.

Two down inside 25 minutes, including a penalty opener, they led 3-2 by half-time thanks to TJ Jadama, Lee Martin and Joe Turner.

Joe Taylor extended the lead and Turner’s second completed the visitors’ tally.

Beckenham keeper Nick Blue denies Craig Stone. Picture: Alan Coomes.
Beckenham keeper Nick Blue denies Craig Stone. Picture: Alan Coomes.

Smith said: “I think it’s the third time this season we’ve been 2-0 down and won.

“You don’t want to be 2-0 down but sometimes find yourself in those positions and that’s what you have to do, you have to try and get over the line.

“We found it hard to break down Beckenham at our place so when you’re 2-0 down against them I’m thinking, ‘Where is the goal going to come from?’

“As soon as we scored one, it was like the Alamo.

“I don’t think we were playing horrifically before we conceded but an innocuous tackle on the edge of the box and it’s a penalty, which is quite ironic because recently we’ve not been getting anything and I’m baffled as to why.

“But over the last couple of weeks we’ve started to get some rhythm back, which is exciting for the last 10 games.

“It helps getting players back. You take TJ Jadama and Jordan Green out of any side and it would have a huge impact.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air to have them back.

“TJ gives us so much energy and Jordan is just an absolute threat. He was unplayable in the second half.”

Ramsgate visit Burgess Hill on Saturday (3pm).

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