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margate2016By the picture I’ve used, I think you can guess immediately where this report is heading…

So, Conference South 1 League One 1, and I think that’s about all you need to know, really. Actually, that’s a little bit unfair – it was better than the last time we were there.

Come to think of it, being a rebel army conscript in Turkey right now is better than thinking back to that horror show.

To be fair, we were slightly better than we were against Dover last Tuesday. At least, when we finally got going – the sense of deja vu when Margate scored was a bit too real.

Thankfully, we quickly got the penalty, scored it on the rebound, and that was sort of that. We still look off the pace, although the heat didn’t help, and like Tuesday we’d win by about 4-0 if it was this time next month.

I paid even less attention than usual to our starting lineup, but it appears we played three up front which unsurprisingly didn’t work.

We did apparently put a trialist in, one Sean Kelly who is a defender and ex-St Mirren. He didn’t stand out, although he wasn’t the only one. Mind you, he’s young (22) and he can score goals apparently, which is a bit more than our strike force can do from open play right now…

OK, that’s being a bit harsh. All pre-season caveats apply here, and it wasn’t that bad in truth. I’ve seen worse PSFs, even in seasons where we were ultimately promoted.

The second half showed some promising play by the youngsters, though whether League One will be a step too far for them next season remains unclear.

But two games in, there’s no point in denying the obvious – people are collectively underwhelmed thus far. And already the game against Reading is making people gulp.

We could do with Charles starting games from now on. I note that Nightingale was missing yesterday – not another injury, surely? Maybe that’s why we’re looking at Kelly?

Which is why I’m glad we don’t have any games until next Saturday. There’s clearly a lot that needs to be done on the training pitch this upcoming seven days, and I’m in no doubt it will be.

Having watched both Dover and Margate, your editor noticed the fitness did improve in a matter of days, even if the sharpness still needs to come.

Playing more games will do that, and I don’t doubt that after Tuesday we stepped things up a bit on the training ground. NA pretty much stated that after Dover.

And given that this promotion-winning side is still largely intact from the heroes at Wembley, you should expect them to start firing sooner rather than later.

Because as we all know, pre-season is purely about fitness…

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Improvement over Dover. Nice sunny day.

Minus points: We didn’t win. Still pretty much in pre-season mode.

The referee’s a…: Gave us a penalty that perhaps wasn’t one, so we can’t hate him.

Them: Felt like AFCW circa 2011/12 with all the ex-players they had for them. Buchanan scored, Brett Johnson came on, and Luke Moore won a MOM award to the bewilderment of those around me.

No change from his time with us, then.

Games and results aside, Margate does seem to be a semi-regular fixture on the pre-season calendar these days, and with good reason.

It’s an afternoon for a pissup, they seem to be welcoming to us (their PA bloke constantly emphasising we were in League One, which was very nice of him), and if you get a sunny and warm day the seafront itself is actually quite nice.

We first played there a decade ago, and the comments made about the area in the arse-end of winter still stand today. They’ve finally re-opened Dreamland though, making it the Coney Island of Europe.

And if you’ve ever been to that particular bit of Brooklyn, you’ll know why I said that.

Point to ponder: Are we simply reading too much into PSFs right now? It’s been pointed out on here before that we are less than a fortnight since the players returned from their break, and out of necessity a lot of things have been planned at short notice.

We’ve had to start replacing L2 players with ones for L1, practically within a month. The PSFs themselves were obviously put together quite hurriedly – four games in seven days starting with Reading should tell you that.

If we were still in L2, I would guess we would have hosted at least one of Millwall, Charlton or Gillingham this time around. And unless details have been kept away from prying eyes, there’s not even a training camp this year.

That may not necessarily be a bad thing, because at least we know we have to shape up for Walsall quickly. Yesterday, the stronger XI played for 60 minutes rather than 45, which is unusual in the second game.

True, it’s not ideal, but remember it’s all because we got promoted to League One. I’m sure we can all cope with that.

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Flying ants. Cunts. 2) Hearing a plausible theory that aforementioned ants are like people who drink in Wetherspoons between 9am and 2pm. You can tell it’s pre-season. 3) Your editor spending a bit too much time in the amusement arcades on Margate seafront. Worse, finding it as enjoyable as the game.

Anything else? I’ve squeezed enough out of this whole day as it is, you’ll have to write this bit yourself.

So, was it worth it? It’s a day out in Kent, I guess.

In a nutshell: Chas and Dave have a lot to answer for.