Thursday, 23 January 2020

St George's (Broadstairs) 0 Hugh Christie 2

Match 66/19/1788 - Wednesday, 22nd January 2020 - Kent Schools Academies Premier

St George's (Broadstairs) (0) 0
Hugh Christie (1) 2 Reed 19 Webb 52
Headcount: 6

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 122/5,115

The last week has been one of milestones both on and off the pitch at the Academy.

On the pitch we had a major first! Wednesday’s games produced the first time that all three of our sides have not only won their games but also each side delivered a clean sheet.

The Elite squad maintained their lead at the head of the National League Under-19 Alliance with a 3-0 home win over Phoenix Sports. The title race looks set to be won in a showdown with Whyteleafe, date for your diary, on 25th March.

A goal from skipper Harry Hudson, who on the previous night, had been a second half substitute in the first team friendly at Brackley Town, put the Angels in front after 10 minutes and this remained the scoreline at the break.

Second half goals from Jacob Lambert after 65 minutes and substitute Louis Copeland, four minutes from time wrapped up the game. Tom Parkinson said after the game that it was a “good first win of the New Year against a good Phoenix side with a clean sheet to go with it. We defended brilliantly throughout.”

The Development 1 side travelled down to Broadstairs for their Kent Schools Academies Premiership game against St George’s, (TSC Academy), who beat them at Kings Hill by 4-1 earlier in the season. But this time, it was Tonbridge that prevailed with a thoroughly workmanlike performance that limited their hosts to just a couple of chances whilst creating plenty of their own. Goals from Josh Reed, who scored after 19 minutes after being set up by Shay Haffenden and a second half effort from Max Webb who got the final touch following a free kick into the box by Angus Fife.

Arguably though, the best performance of the day came from the Development 2 side who beat Wrotham School (Pro Soccer Academy) by a single goal from Nathan Wye. As with the other Development side this reversed an earlier season defeat, but this was all the more remarkable as they took to the field without a recognised goalkeeper with regular midfielder Callum Donaghue taking the gloves.

Tom Parkinson paid tribute to all his Academy sides highlighting the fact that across the three teams they had 15 players unavailable for various reasons. “Hard work and application of those who played today was fantastic. The Improvement as individuals and as a team from the start of the year to now has been massive. Credit to Dom Welsh and Rhys Bartlett who have been a big part of the students development.”

This week’s Man of the Match awards went to Ben Twist, Luke Taylor and Wesley Ibeawuchi.

Of the players presently out on dual registration, last Saturday, Ned Lewis made his debut for Snodland, coming off the bench for the last half-hour against Rochester United whilst Saul Masungeyi featured in Snodland’s Hospitals Charity Cup win on penalties after 1-1 draw with FC Elmstead. Sam Babayale also came off the bench for Tunbridge Wells as they progressed to the Third Round of the SCEFL Challenge Cup at the expense of Canterbury City.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Snodland Town 0 Rochester United 5

Match 65/19/1787 - Saturday, 18th January 2020 - SCEFL Division One

Snodland Town (0) 0
Rochester United (2) 5 Webb 20 Peck 32 Dawes 48 Cackett 53 Gillies 70(p)
Attendance: 78

Admission: £5
Programme: £2
Mileage: 34/4,993

Best laid plans and all that! As Tonbridge Angels’ match was predictably postponed it was a case of where to go. Tunbridge Wells also fell to the previous week’s deluge, and after toying with £22 worth at Gillingham, I plumped for a fiver at Snodland.

The main attraction for the choice was that four of Tonbridge’s Academy lads had this week signed dual registration forms at Snodland. But as said, best laid plans foundered as Ned Lewis was named on the bench whilst the other three were not in the squad, one unavailable and the forms of the other two not processed.

The game was one-sided and, from this viewing, the Academy lads cannot help but improve the side.

Rochester went in front after 20 minutes when a well worked corner ended with a acrobatic finish that brought the most exuberant celebration of the season. It was so over the top there had to be more to it than just the goal.

Rochester added another before the break and three after, each one greeted with similar exuberance. Lewis got a half-hour but saw little of the ball.

A new clubhouse construction is underway at Potyns. The steel frame gives a vision of the size of the building when finished and it is certainly going to be substantial and a great asset, losing the long walk from the community centre that serves as the dressing rooms etc., at present.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Braintree Town 0 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 64/19/1786 - Saturday, 11th January 2020 - National League South

Braintree Town (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Johnson (o.g.) 47
Attendance: 468
New Ground: 340

Admission: Pass
Programme: £3
Mileage: 168/4,959

It was meant to be joyous, and in truth, it was nothing that the Braintree support hadn’t been saying all afternoon, but the little ditty “how shit must you be, we’ve won away” rang out for the first time in seven months.

A depleted Tonbridge side were bolstered by new signing Bilel Hinchiri from Dover whilst Braintree fielded five new signings as George Borg sought to put a 6-0 thrashing by Dulwich Hamlet behind them.

The Braintree goal was put under threat in the opening 30 seconds as debutant Joshua Ajayi had a shot deflected away for a corner and a minute later, Ben Greenhalgh saw his effort parried by goalkeeper Billy Johnson with a defender successfully blocking the follow-up.

A third opportunity in as many minutes presented itself as Sonny Miles’ header from a corner was also saved by Johnson.

Little was seen from the Braintree attack until an effort from Liam Smyth brought the first meaningful save from Jonny Henly after 20 minutes.

Tonbridge continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession with Greenhalgh pulling the strings in midfield and firing over before Hinchiri went close in added time.

The Angels went in front in the second minute of the half following a personal disaster for goalkeeper Johnson. An innocuous looking low cross into the box should have been little more than fielding practice but the ball inexplicably rebounded from his chest and into the goal.

With George Borg a value for money sideshow on the touch line roaring both encouragement and abuse in equal measure, both at his troops and anybody critical amongst his team’s support, of which a young female supporter was of equal entertainment value, the Braintree players had little choice but to improve and place a bit of pressure on the visitors but there was nothing that caused alarm whilst at the other end a cross across the face of goal from Folkes begged a touch and a shot from substitute Khale Da Costa needed saving.

The real moment of fear that the first away win wasn’t going to happen came with five minutes remaining when Henly saved brilliantly at his near post to deny Lucas Kirkpatrick but after that the home team didn’t have the quality to stop the Tonbridge support from having their moment with their players with their little ditty rising into the night sky.

A first visit to Cressing Road, a stadium that has some good bits with proper terracing behind the goals, a decent grandstand and covered standing enclosure but the buildings that house the dressing rooms, bar etc have seen better days and it is understandable the club’s desire for relocation.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Ravensbourne 2 Hugh Christie 2

Match 63/19/1785 - Wednesday, 8th January 2020 - Academies League Premiership

Ravensbourne (1) 2
Hugh Christie (0) 2 Twist 49 (pen) Masungeyi
Headcount: 13

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 82/4,791

This week’s postponement of the first team’s game at Burgess Hill was something of a blessing as a flu bug that has swept through the Academy had affected several players.

With this, and a similar situation affecting the Bromley Academy, a stronger squad was taken to Hayes Lane for a Development fixture against Ravensbourne as manager Tom Parkinson sought to shake the post-Christmas lethargy out of his squad’s legs.

This was very much in evidence in a first half in which they struggled to come to terms with a small pitch at the rear of the main stadium and a physically bigger opposition.

Goalkeeper Charlie Martin had already been called on to make a save before a cross from the right to the far post was met with a towering header to put Bromley in front after nine minutes.

Bromley continued to press for much of the opening half-hour with the Angels failing to create any real threat. Martin was needed again to make a save from the Bromley goalscorer who was posing a constant threat.

Tonbridge created their first opportunity on 33 minutes when a well worked move between Luke Taylor and Saul Masungeyi ended with the Bromley goalkeeper making a good save turning the ball away for a corner, from which Harrison Mayhew headed narrowly wide.

Martin made a splendid save in the final minute of the first half, clawing an effort out of the top corner to preserve just a single goal deficit at the break.

A few home truths during the break saw Tonbridge open the half in a much more positive manner but it was a bit of a gift when Leo Deere was needlessly brought down for a penalty which was successfully converted by Ben Twist after 49 minutes.

A surging run and a cross across the face of goal from Taylor might have put the Angels in front a minute later, as might an effort for Bromley that Martin did well to touch over, but from the resultant corner, a tall central defender was allowed to steal in at the near post to put the home side back in front.

A good effort from Masungeyi on the hour was the precursor to an equaliser four minutes later when good work on the right set up the striker to sweep in an effort at the near post.

Both goalkeepers were kept fully employed in the remainder of the game, Martin saving well on a couple of occasions whilst the Bromley keeper denied Jacob Lambert and Taylor in a frenetic finish to a competitive game.

Parkinson was less than impressed with his side’s lacklustre performance and emphasised the need to improve both fitness and performance levels in the coming weeks if they are to continue to head the National Alliance table.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Tunbridge Wells 5 Welling Town 2

Match 62/19/1784 - Tuesday, 7th January 2020 - SCEFL Challenge Cup 2R

Tunbridge Wells (1) 5 Day 3,46,55 Froggatt 48 Wells 58
Welling Town (1) 2 Round 26 Ademiju 90
Attendance: TBC

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/4,709

With Beckenham 12 points in front, albeit that Tunbridge Wells have three games in hand, it is perhaps unrealistic that a tilt at the SCEFL title might bee unrealistic. A top three finish certainly is not and, perhaps as in the context of this game, a cup success is well within their compass, but with every time I get to see Richard Styles’ team the more I feel that some reward is not too far away.

In this SCEFL Challenge Cup Second Round tie, an early goal for the Wells set the tone; they rode out something of a Welling Town recovery before putting the tie to bed early in the second half with four goals in the first 13 minutes.

Striker Matt Day, recently signed from Canterbury and making his home debut, stole the show with a hat-trick but every one of the Tunbridge Wells side put in an admirable shift on the pitch that the groundsmen had done well to make match fit.

After three minutes, Day opened his account when he converted from close range from a Josh Froggatt surge down the right and pinpoint cross.

Welling rallied well and were deserving of their equaliser on 26 minutes when Chris Round was afforded too much time and space to shoot past Simon Overland, who possibly might feel he could have done better.

The opening salvo of the second period saw Weling blown away. In less than a minute of the half restarting, Day added his second when sent through to coolly chip the advancing goalkeeper and, a couple of minutes later, Froggatt and Jason Thompson opened up the visitor’s defence for the former to add the third goal.

Froggatt provided an excellent assist for Matt Day to complete his hat trick on 55 minutes and Jordan Wells fired home three minutes later to make it five.

Welling’s goalkeeper Jack Moore produced several fine saves and substitute Danny Powell hit the crossbar as the home side threatened to run riot, but it stayed at five and Tobi Ademiju scored in the last minute to add a little respectability to the scoreline.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Tonbridge Angels 3 Chippenham Town 2

Match 61/19/1783 - Saturday, 4th January 2020 - National South

Tonbridge Angels (2) 3 Williams 1 Theobalds 45 Turner 60
Chippenham Town (1) 2 Owen-Evans 32 Chambers 54
Attendance: 596

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/4,671

Muddy Marvellous!

On a pitch that in horse racing terms would have been described as beyond heavy, two teams at the wrong end of the National South table produced an epic encounter with twists and turns from the opening minute.

Tonbridge, continuing the horse racing theme, leapt out of the gates and were in front after just 35 seconds. A free kick punted forward by Rhian Bray initially found the feet of Jason Williams, his touch found Roberto Ratti whose exquisite back heel opened up the path for Williams to stride forward before curling a shot into the far corner with Chippenham goalkeeper Will Puddy grasping at thin air.

A great start but the Wiltshire side quickly recovered their composure and started taking the game to their hosts with a free kick over and a shot from Callum Gunner going wide.

After 12 minutes, Williams pulled up with a hamstring problem and was replaced by Jared Small in the first of three substitutions for the Angels in the space of 25 minutes. After 24 minutes Alex Bentley went down after making a challenge and needed to be replaced by Jack Parter with a knee injury.

After 26 minutes Harry Donovan brought a full length, low save from Puddy but Chippenham gained a deserved equaliser after 32 minutes when a cross into the box saw several deflections before the ball fell for Tom Owen-Evans to hook a shot into the net from close range. In the melee of arms and legs, Parter took a knock and he needed to substituted by Liam Smith.

Tonbridge had used all their substitutes by the 34th minute and Chippenham had used one of theirs. A consequence of pitch, a lot of games in a short space of time or just mere coincidence? Little bit all those factors, I guess.

Ben Greenhalgh’s shot took a deflection and from the resultant corner a clearance only found the waiting D’Sean Theobalds and from the edge of the box the midfielder’s drive arrowed into the net in the fifth minute of first half added time.

In the early moments of the second half, a cross to the near post from Small found Ratti who, under pressure and falling, dragged his shot narrowly wide and getting injured in the process.

Chippenham drew level in the 54th minute when Donovan, struggling with a first half injury, lost possession in the middle of the field for Owen-Evans to play in Karnell Chambers who rounded Jonny Henly to score.

Tonbridge quickly responded and were back in front five minutes later. A lofted cross into the box from James Folkes was met with a leaping header from Joe Turner that gave Puddy no chance.

Chippenham were offered a way back into the game after 79 minutes when a reckless challenge from Donovan was met with a straight red card from the referee but the man advantage lasted just four minutes when a petulant kick out from Ryan Case brought a second yellow.

Ratti, who had absolutely run himself into the ground, hooked a shot wide and for Chippenham the impressive Chambers flashed a shot across the face of goal as the Angels breathed a sigh of relief.

As the final whistle blew players from both sides slumped to the ground in sheer exhaustion, bodies strewn here, there, everywhere. But it was the Angels who had taken the spoils and into so doing leapfrogging their opponents in the table and out of the relegation places.

Maidstone United 2 Tonbridge Angels 2

Match 60/19/1782 - Wednesday, 1st January 2020 - National South

Maidstone United (2) 2 Hoyte 3 Allen 27
Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 Williams 18 Donovan 77
Attendance: 2,520

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2
Mileage: 19/4,633

A day that started with little optimism and even a bit of apprehension ended with spirits lifted and a derby day point that should really have been all three.

The only blemish on a New Year’s Day that is will be fondly remembered was a smoke bomb that came from the Tonbridge contingent after the first equaliser which was no reflection on the magnificent support the 300 or so supporters gave their team throughout the 90 minutes.

Steve McKimm fielded his new signing from Dover, Roberto Ratti, who impressed with his tireless running.

Tonbridge had the first sighting of goal after a couple of minutes but Maidstone were in front just a minute later when a ball to the left flank saw Ibby Akanbi cross low and hard to the far post where Gavin Hoyte was on hand for little more than a tap-in.

Far from being the first realisation of worst fears, the Angels picked up the gauntlet and continued to take the game to their hosts. A corner from Ben Greenhalgh, one of 17 for the Angels, was met with a fine header from Sonny Miles pushed you safety by Stones goalkeeper Chris Lewington.

But, a minute later on the 17th, Tonbridge were level when Greenhalgh’s cross was only partially cleared to Jason Williams, who drove the ball into the bottom corner for his first goal for the club.

Maidstone regained the lead after 27 minutes when Jonny Edwards was sent clear but a wonderful saving tackle from Rhian Bray was only rewarded with the ball looping up and into the path of Allen who finished from around eight yards.

Tonbridge continued to dominate the possession and Greenhalgh, twice, and Harry Donovan both had decent efforts before the break.

If the Angels had been dominant in the first period the second half was going to become a procession as the traffic became as one way as the county town’s road system.

From the outset, George Elokobi cleared a Bray header from the line and the resultant corner saw a golden chance for Ratti spurned.

Lewington was the only man standing between Tonbridge and an equaliser making saves from Alex Bentley, Williams and substitute Jared Small. Frustration that continued pressure had not brought reward was relieved on 77 minutes when Donovan picked up another loose clearance, stepped forward a couple of paces and drove a low shot between Lewington and his near post.

In the fairness of reporting, Maidstone did press the urgency button and had a couple of efforts that were nothing more than wasteful and barely threatened whilst a couple of late Greenhalgh free kicks caused all sorts of concern for the hosts.