Lewes let everyone in for free on a freezing night at the Dripping Pan- and had the chance to send the majority of the five hundred and ten crowd home with a warm glow by scoring a last-gasp penalty. New father Louis Wells had other ideas, however, and was on hand to ensure that his Margate team left with the point that their performance deserved.
The Rooks could have closed to within five points of leaders Haringey Borough if they'd recorded a victory- and must have fancied their chances when an injury took Margate down to ten men with fifteen minutes to go, all substitutes used. Rooks pressure finally earned them a spot kick right on the final whistle, and up stepped substitute Jonte Smith with a chance to score his thirteenth goal of the campaign. He struck the spot kick to the right of Wells, but the keeper was down quickly to save, to the delight of his team mates and the travelling support. It capped a fantastic couple of days for Wells, as he and his partner were celebrating the birth of daughter Sophie the previous day. We expect that by the time Sophie gets to eighteen she'll be sick of hearing the story about how her daddy saved a penalty for her, but congratulations to the Wells family on their happy event!
We also had a massive match in the North Division, and that turned out to have all of the drama- and the goals- missing at the Dripping Pan. Tenants took on landlords as Grays Athletic entertained Aveley, and goodness they gave the 'home' support some real entertainment in the first half, recovering from conceding an early goal- Thomas Richardson with it- to score three of their own through Adalberto Pinto, Charlie Allen and Joao Carlos. Had the half time score been 3-1 then perhaps Athletic might have thought they had the three points wrapped up, but Louis Hazelwood reduced the arrears with a fabulous free kick just before the break to leave them biting their fingernails.
That said, Grays held out until ten minutes before the end, when Hazelwood got his second of the match to level the scores, and then, with three minutes remaining, James Love showed none of the emotion connected with his name to the Athletic fans, firing home a corner to earn the Millers a victory which will undoubtedly be talked about in these quarters for years to come.
Aveley climb to second, four points behind leaders Bowers and Pitsea with a game in hand. Grays are ninth, seven points off a playoff place.