Monday, 20 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels 1 Burgess Hill Town 0

Match 23/18/1616 - Saturday, 18th August 2018 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Turner 26
Burgess Hill Town (0) 0
Attendance: 409

Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,121

Before Sky invented football in 1992, I don’t remember people using the word momentum in the context of football matches, now it is used in the jibber-jabber of punditry as often as goal.

There is something about the act of momentum though in as much as you can lose it as fast as you acquired it and such was the case with Tonbridge in this game against last year’s relegation Houdini act Burgess Hill.

For 38 minutes, Tonbridge played some sparkling stuff, went a deserved goal to the good and were looking a safe bet to go on and win the game with plenty to spare. But Tommy Parkinson went down with a head injury and a 10 minute delay ensued following which, despite the midfielder returning to the action, that momentum was lost and never recovered.

Tonbridge were still good value for their win but a comfortable three points turned into a bit of a slog.

The home side opened well with Tom Beere and Jack Parter combining well before the ball was deflected away for a corner and Craig Stone firing at shot at the Josh James in the Burgess Hill goal.

After seven minutes a free kick from Joe Turner was met with a header from Arthur Lee that struck the bar with the rebound being cleared from the line.

Tonbridge finally broke through after 26 minutes when a superb through ball from James Folkes allowed Turner to cut in from the left and bury his shot past the advancing James.

After 31 minutes, Parkinson challenged for a header from a corner and was left prostrate on the ground. After a long break, the skipper was back on his feet, head bandaged Terry Butcher fashion and able to continue.

But with that delay the momentum seemed to drain away. The game continued to be largely one-way traffic but the sparkling stuff of the opening period had somewhat disappeared.

Burgess Hill created their one real chance of the game after 51 minutes when a clever free kick by Connor Tighe opened up an opportunity for Ben Pope but he shot wide.

With a slim squad at Steve McKimm’s disposal it was worrying to see Turner limp out of the game with a dead leg with 20 minutes to go.

Eight minutes remained when a corner from the left was headed back across the face of goal by Sonny Miles for substitute Liam King to plant a header onto the top of the crossbar.

Three games in, seven points on the board and no goals conceded whilst sitting fourth in the embryonic table is a very good start with or without momentum.

Picture: Wes Filtness

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels 0 Lewes 0

Match 22/18/1615 - Tuesday, 14th August 2018 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Lewes (0) 0
Attendance: 552

Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,083

Glass half-full? Unbeaten, no goals conceded. Half-empty? Points dropped at home, momentum from Saturday’s opener stalled.

Chances throughout this game were at a premium and the choice of Jonny Henly in the Tonbridge goal as man of the match illustrates that the best of the clear cut chances fell to Lewes.

The first half had almost passed by when Ronnie Conlon was sent through but Henly saved well with the ball rebounding from his face.

In first half time added, ex-Angel’s goalkeeper, Lewis Carey made his first save when he pushed aside an effort from Tom Beere.

After losing Jared Small in the first half to injury, Tonbridge were forced into a second substitution during the break with Arthur Lee, who had taken a knock to the heel, being replaced by Tommy Whitnell.

The half began with a bit more promise with Craig Stone firing narrowly wide and Small’s replacement, Adem Ramadan seeing a shot comfortably saved.

Leon Redwood, who wore Lewes’ number three shirt but caused problems throughout coming from deep positions, brought Henly into action and might have tested the goalkeeper again immediately if not for a saving tackle from Sonny Miles.

Chance of the evening fell to Conlon who was sent clear after 58 minutes but fired wide with only Henly to beat.

Tonbridge had a good period from the hour mark with Alex Read seeing a header deflected over; Tommy Parkinson steering a header wide and a fine move after 78 minutes saw substitute Liam King set up Beere whose shot was blocked with the rebound falling to Ramadan who fired over.

Henly made sure he would be the man taking home the champagne with a fine save to deny Omarr Lawson in the final significant action.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Rusthall 3 Wick 0

Match 21/18/1614 - Sunday, 12th August 2018 - FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Rusthall (1) 3 Cameron 14 Carey 52 Strachan 90
Wick (0) 0
Attendance: 185
Played at Tunbridge Wells

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 36/1,045

Rusthall comfortably eased their way into the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and in so doing earned themselves the enhanced prize money of £2,250. A further £960 will be won even if they were to lose at Bostik South Cray Wanderers in the next round. Proof indeed on how important financially even a short cup run can be to non-league clubs. Visitors Wick banked £750 for not making it past the Extra Preliminary Round!

This tie had to be moved to neighbouring Tunbridge Wells because of ongoing drainage work on the pitch at Jockey Farm. But, on the positive side, the Sunday afternoon fixture attracted 185 people, a good turn out.

After an early scare in which Rusthall’s goalkeeper, Callum Christie saved well from Wick’s David Crouch, Rusthall took the lead after 13 minutes. Tom Cameron was superbly put through on goal by Alex Carey to clinically finish with the aplomb of a proven striker rather than a wing back.

Rusthall should have put the game to bed in the first half as they created, and wasted, a bevy of chances with Carey at centre of everything. They ended the half with a 30 yard drive from Cameron that came back from the bar.

Six minutes into the second half, Rusthall finally converted one of their chances to double their advantage. Jordan Anderson retrieved a cross on the left, cut the ball back to Carey who found the top corner from the edge of the box.

Wick offered very little and the only surprise was that it took until the last minute for Rusthall to add a third. Regan Corke, who had put in a string of crosses from the right, finally found a man on the end of one giving substitute Callum Strachan a tap in.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Merstham 0 Tonbridge Angels 3

Match 20/18/1613 - Saturday, 11th August 2018 - Bostik Premier

Merstham (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (2) 3 Small 15 Jones (o.g.) 37 Reid 49
Attendance: 209

Admission: £6 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 84/1,009

New season, fresh optimism and a revised set of priorities. With my Gillingham season ticket no more (they seem to have adjusted well to my defection with maximum points from their opening two games) I’m ready to immerse myself into Tonbridge Angels.

I wouldn’t like to say that the summer brought a wave of optimism from the Tonbridge support but with each signing that was made, people started to raise their expectations as the makings of a good squad were realised.

Unfortunately the dreaded B-word (budget) has limited Steve McKimm to a 16 man squad and we wait until the darker days of November onwards when the odd suspension or injury kicks in to see if this is going to be a telling factor in the long-term. Perhaps some more money might find its way into the pot before this comes to pass.

The first 15 minutes of the new season passed uneventfully with neither goalkeeper seeing action.

Merstham’s goalkeeper, Chris Haigh, would have hoped that situation had lasted longer as he got hopelessly underneath a long cross from Joe Turner for Jared Small to loop a header into the net for his first goal for the club following his transfer from Harlow Town.

Jack Parter, who enjoyed an impressive afternoon, surging forward on countless occasions, sent a cross fizzing across the face of the goal begging a touch that was not forthcoming after 24 minutes.

The second goal that the first half performance from the Angels justly merited came after 37 minutes when a ball pulled back by Small was inadvertently bundled into his own net by Merstham’s Jelan Jones.

Tonbridge ended a total dominant first period with a shot from Turner that was narrowly over the bar.

It only took five minutes of second half play for the Angels to effectively put the game beyond their hosts with a finely crafted third goal. James Folkes, getting forward from full back, linked well with Tom Beere who found Alex Read to curl an outside of the foot shot into the far corner for his first competitive goal for the club.

Unfortunately for Merstham, the situation went from bad to worse when, having made a treble substitution, Calum Davies suffered a blow to the head and suffering from concussion was unable to continue leaving the Moatsiders a man short for the remainder of the game that was delayed 10 minutes by the injury.

If one was to be hyper-critical of the Tonbridge performance it might be that they didn’t put their hosts to the sword given their dominance and man advantage. Sonny Miles planted a header against the crossbar as did Folkes but no further additions were made to the score sheet.

But nobody should be churlish about a result and a team performance that saw goalkeeper Jonny Henly not asked to make a single save in the entire game.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels Academy 4 Ebbsfleet United Academy 1

Match 19/18/1612 - Wednesday, 8th August 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels Academy (3) 4 Stirman 23 (pen),44 Lambert 34 Babayele 52
Ebbsfleet United Academy (0) 1 No. 8 85
Headcount: 44

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/925

Academy manager Tommy Parkinson said on his after match interview that he didn’t know what to expect as his side played their first game against Ebbsfleet’s academy. But what he saw delighted him as his talented youngsters took apart a far more established set-up.

In the opening stages it took a while for the Angels’ lads to find their rhythm and Ebbsfleet dominated including an effort that hit a post and another that forced Angels goalkeeper, Joe Roberts into a save low to his right.

Tonbridge’s first attempt came on 13 minutes when Jacob Lambert brought a good save out of the visiting goalkeeper.

Ebbsfleet continued to dominate so it was against the run of play that the Angels went ahead after 23 minutes when Josh Stirman was brought down in the box. The Angels skipper dusted himself down to send the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot. Josh admitted after the game that he hadn’t taken a penalty for about two years and didn’t particularly enjoy the experience!

The goal bred confidence into the Tonbridge side and they were good value when they doubled their advantage after 34 minutes. A cross from the right was spilt by the goalkeeper under pressure from the Harrison Mayhew leaving Lambert with a tap in.

Tonbridge went into the break three goals to the good when a ball pumped forward was head on by Tom Hylton into the path of Stirman who ran on to finish clinically.

There remained time for Roberts to excel denying an Ebbsfleet effort with a fine save at his near post.

Tonbridge showed no signs of taking their foot off the pedal as they added a fourth early into the second period when Sam Babayele hooked the ball into the far corner after being set up by Stirman.

Ebbsfleet worked hard to salvage some consolation and thought they had one when their centre lobbed Roberts but were denied by a fantastic saving clearance from the line by Harry Hudson.

However, the Angels were denied their clean sheet when the visitors scored with a shot into the bottom corner with five minutes remaining.

Tommy Parkinson paid testament to his player’s work ethic and attitude not only during this match but also in training since their induction into the Academy.

On this performance, individually and collectively, the future is bright for this talented team.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Tunbridge Wellls 1 Corinthian 2

Match 18/18/1611 - Tuesday, 7th August 2018 - SCEFL Premier

Tunbridge Wells (0) 1 Lawrence 74
Corinthian (0) 2 Hurcomb 82 Housego 86
Attendance: 151

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/887

Finally, what has been an interminable pre-season (of my own making by starting in June), I finally have competitive football and with it comes change.

The long, baking summer was replaced by a soaking as the Culverden pitch, an absolute credit to the work of Brian Sampson and his team, enjoyed the liquid refreshment from the sky. And for a long period during the game it appeared that the veritable goalfest of pre-season was about to be replaced by a goalless draw.

Both Tunbridge Wells and Corinthian opened up their season with defeats on Saturday, the Wells going down at Glebe whilst their visitors were brushed aside by a Chatham side who are among the favourites for the SCEFL Premier this season.

The opening half-hour was, I’ll use my term absorbing when nothing really happens. Josh Biddlecombe and Jeremy Tudor-Pole had efforts saved with ease by Corinthian goalkeeper, Aiden Prall whilst at the other end, ex-Wells man Bradley Large had a shot cleared from the line.

And that was really the story of the first period with Biddlecombe stretching Prall into a good low save the only real action to employ a goalkeeper.

It took 65 minutes for the game to come to life as Prall dropped a cross but the resultant stab at goal by Tudor-Pole was wide.

There was an air of resignation that neither side had the fire power to break the deadlock when Tunbridge Wells were awarded a free kick wide on the left about 20 yards out after 76 minutes. Tommy Lawrence’s free kick, whether it was a cross or not only he knows, found its way through the crowded penalty area to nestle in the far corner.

It was a wake-up call for Corinthian and eight minutes later they were level. A cross from the right was deflected upwards and an acrobatic overhead kick from Large looped the ball back across the face of goal for Michael Hurcomb to bury a header.

At this point a draw was definitely a fair result but Corinthian found a winner with three minutes remaining. A cross was only cleared to the edge of the box from where Oscar Housego struck a controlled, low shot back into the net.

Certainly, for Tunbridge Well, a cutting edge in front of goal is needed for this season to show any real improvement on the last one, but everyone with a Wells allegiance knows that.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels 1 Nottingham Forest Under-23 1

Match 17/18/1610 - Saturday, 4th August 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Folkes 51
Nottingham Forest Under-23 (1) 1 Sodeinde 26
Attendance: 303

Admission: £3 Senior
Team Sheet: 50p
Mileage: 38/849

Tonbridge Angels emerged from their last pre-season friendly against Nottingham Forest Under-23s with a creditable draw after staging a rousing second half performance.

On another very hot afternoon, both teams took advantage of a pristine surface to pass and move to great effect in a thoroughly enjoyable encounter.

Gary Brazil’s charges included Greek international Apostolos Vellios, formerly of Everton, who has made 40 first team appearances for Forest and Victor Sodeinde, a striker signed from Maidstone United earlier this year.

After an even opening period in which Joe Turner saw an early effort deflected for a corner and Jonny Henly save with his feet from Vellios, Nottingham Forest took the lead after 26 minutes when a cross from a Forest trialist evaded both Jack Parter and Sonny Miles to find its way to Sodeinde, who shot into the far corner.

Tonbridge had the ball in the net on the half-hour when a free kick from Tom Beere was headed home but ruled out for offside.

The hosts ended the half strongly with Alex Read firing over; Tom Parkinson’s effort was blocked before Turner went closest with a shot that was denied by a fine low stop by Jordan Wright.

The Angels started the second half as they had ended the first, on the front foot, with a far post header by Arthur Lee that was pushed to safety at the foot of his post by Wright and a superb move that ended with Reid testing the keeper.

The much-deserved equaliser came after 51 minutes when a move involving Jared Small, Parter and Parkinson ended with a cross to the far post by Turner who found the head of James Folkes who headed across goal into the far corner.

Both teams made multiple substitutions around the hour mark and Henly needed to be alert to deny Anel Ahmedhodzic and Arvin Appiah.

Tonbridge had a strong penalty claim turned away when Smith was brought down and a rasping drive from 25 yards by Tommy Whitnell was tipped over by Wright as the hosts ended the game strongly.

Steve McKimm, speaking after the game, was pleased with his side’s fitness, passing and movement and delighted with the outcome. Of his new signings he said that they had bought into what he was trying to implement. For the start of the season he expects tough games against a Merstham side that has been strengthened by manager Haydn Bird and a young, energetic Lewes team that visit Longmead on Tuesday, 14th August.