Margate raid fellow Ryman side Cray Wanderers for second time
MARGATE have raided fellow Ryman Premier side Cray Wanderers for the second time in two weeks as their squad for next season starts to take shape.
Hot-shot striker Tommy Whitnell has signed on the dotted line for Gate one week after former team-mate Sam Long did the same.
Gate boss Chris Kinnear said last week he hoped to have two more signings in the bag by now.
But one is better than none and the signing of Whitnell could be The Blues' most important acquisition of the summer.
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After the departure of 35-goal striker Kwesi Appiah to Crystal Palace in January, Margate struggled badly in front of goal.
New signing Whitnell bagged 25 goals in 48 appearances for Cray last season, a strike rate better than one goal every two games.
He was also prolific in 2009/2010 in the Blue Square South when he was with Welling.
So, has Whitnell been signed in the hope he can replicate Appiah's goal scoring exploits? You bet.
And somewhat ironically, Whitnell's last two goals for Cray came in their 3-1 win against Margate in April.
And in another bizarre twist of fate, that was the same day Sam Long also scored his last goal for Cray.
Margate CEO Cliff Egan has expressed his delight at the two recent signings and is also very happy with how the club is looking on the pitch ahead of the new season.
Egan told the Gazette: "Tommy is a proven goal scorer at this level and that is why we have brought him in. Getting a goal scorer at this level is absolutely vital and they can be very difficult to find. Sam Long impressed everyone in the two games he played against us last season so we are very happy that he has joined us as well. They are both top signings.
"Chris (Kinnear) doesn't mess around when signing players.
"He is very meticulous in who he targets and makes sure he is 100 per cent sure they are the right players he wants before giving the go-ahead.
"The players we have brought in so far can see how well run the club is and there are an awful lot of players that have expressed an interest in joining us which delights me." Egan added that Kinnear is currently locked in talks with another striker he wants and has told fans to expect to see quite a lot of activity in the coming weeks.
He added: "There isn't a lot of time before pre-season training starts at Northfleet next Tuesday but I am sure that Chris has got something up his sleeve.
"He plays his cards very close to his chest. I am often kept in the dark until the last minute as well, but I would expect there to be a flurry of announcements both on and off the pitch before we kick-off the new season."