Big-spending Fulham had striker Rob Scott to thank for saving their blushes on the south coast as non-league Margate pushed the Second Division side all the way in their FA Cup first round tie.
The biggest sporting event to hit the south coast town since a star-studded Spurs side featuring Martin Peters, Martin Chivers and Alan Gilzean won a third-round Cup tie 6-0 here more than two decades ago brought than 5,000 fans and the Sky television cameras to Huntsdown Park. The Southern League side, whose manager Chris Kinnear – currently an East London PE teacher – has ambitions to steer into the Football League, made the dream start by taking the lead in the sixth minute – even if they were indebted to the generosity of referee Rob Styles, who decided Matt Lawrence’s foul on forward Martin Buglione had taken place inside the area and awarded a penalty.
Television replays showed Styles was wrong but nobody of a Margate – or neutral – persuasion was complaining. Former Brighton midfielder Mark Munday sent South African international goalkeeper Andre Arendse the wrong way from the spot and the shock suddenly seemed on. Fulham seemed passive, perhaps mirroring the zen-like calm of manager Ray Wilkins in the away dugout, whilst Margate were lively with Lee Spiller bright in possession and Buglione a constant menace up front. Spiller set up a great chance for Paul Sykes to make it two – but he scuffed his shot straight at Arendse from twelve yards.
Fulham, perhaps relieved that let off, weren’t behind for too long. They gradually interrupted Margate’s feverish start with some pretty passing patterns and levelled midway through the first half when Paul Peschisolido chested down Paul Watson’s throw for Richard Carpenter to run onto. The midfielder rampaged to within 25 yards of goal and hit an early shot that deflected off an unfortunate Bill Edwards and looped over the otherwise excellent Lee Turner. Margate’s cause wasn’t helped by the departure of Buglione before half time with a knee injury.
The Margate goalkeeper made a string of fine saves in the second half as Fulham’s greater quality began to tell. He twice through himself at the feet of Peschisolido to prevent the Canadian international from putting the Cottagers in front, but couldn’t prevent in-form Scott from turning home Peschisolido’s cross thirteen minutes from time after the part-timers had failed to clear Watson’s corner.
MARGATE: Turner; Dixon, Edwards, Blondrage; O’Connell, Munday, Pilkington (Cory 89), Spiller, Martin; Buglione (Lamb 45), Dixon. Subs (not used): Readings, Emerick, Harop.
GOAL: Munday (pen 6).
FULHAM: Arendse; Blake, Morgan, Lawrence; Watson, Herrera, Bracewell, Smith, Carpenter; Peschisolido, Scott. Subs (not used): Walton, Aggrey, Cullip, Hayward, Thomas.
GOALS: Carpenter (23), Scott (77).
REFEREE: Rob Styles (Brighton).