Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Faversham 0 Merstham 0

Match 90/14/1199 - Tuesday, 28th April 2015 - Ryman South P/O SF

Faversham Town (0) 0
Merstham (0) 0
After extra time. Merstham won 5-4 on penalties.
Att. 678

Entrance: £5.00 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 60/6,404

Match Report

The play-off fixture between the third and fourth placed teams suggests a closely-fought contest and this Ryman League South semi-final between Faversham Town, who finished third and Merstham was true to its billing.

In truth, it wasn’t a great game for the neutral to view; it was tense with both defences dominating and chances at a premium.

Before leaving home and, certainly from early in the first half, I suspected that this game was going to go the distance and sure enough it took a penalty shoot-out to steer the visitors into Saturday’s final against Folkestone Invicta, who likewise needed extra-time to dispose of Whyteleafe.

The game had an ebb and flow that saw each side have periods of dominance but neither set of attackers could break down the resolute defending.

From a personal point of interest there was the ex-Tunbridge Wells pairing of Jack Harris and Josh Stanford in the Faversham team. Unfortunately, Harris got very little change out of a giant central defence pairing whilst Stanford, who I believe has been injured, was introduced as a 74th minute substitute and lasting only 15 minutes before picking up an injury that forced his departure.

A few chances for both sides were created after a dull first half in which neither side created a realistic opportunity.

Rob French, in the Faversham goal, smothered an early raid on the edge of his box and a free header at the far post was sent over the bar. In return, Faversham’s Stuart King, an 82nd minute substitute, saw a double effort blocked before Stanford turned the second rebound wide.

Into extra-time and Wayne Wilson tried his luck from 35 yards, but his free kick clipped the top of the bar on the way over.

Each side had a chance at the death to avoid the penalty lottery but for Faversham, Charlie Robertson glanced a header wide and Merstham’s Peter Adeniyi drove over the bar.

And so it was that 10 months effort was condensed into five kicks from 12 yards to carry their season forward. First up for Faversham was King, an ex-Folkestone favourite, but his shot was a nice height for Merstham’s keeper, Brannon Daly, to dive to his left and push the ball to safety.

One by one, the next eight players strode forward and executed their task with French agonisingly getting his hands to the fourth penalty but he was unable to keep the well-struck shot from entering the net. The final act was left to Adeniyi who sent French to his left and rolled the ball into the right hand corner before being joyously mobbed by his team mates.

For Faversham it is the second time in the last three years they have failed at the play-off stage and they can justifiably reflect that in many other seasons a total of 97 points and scoring 111 goals in the process would have won the championship. But this has been an extraordinary Ryman South season with Burgess Hill amassing 109 points and Folkestone 98 points to leave the Lilywhites in third place.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Tonbridge 2 Dulwich Hamlet 2

Match 89/14/1198 - Saturday 26th April 2015 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (1) 2 Williams 18, Pinnock 85
Dulwich Hamlet (1) 2 Ottaway 22, Vidal 72
Att. 758

Entrance: £6.00 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/6,344

Match Report

The season of Tonbridge Angels Football Club was encapsulated in the final 90 minutes of the game against play-off contenders Dulwich Hamlet.

They produced a spirited performance against a team worthy of their position in the top five but the ultimate sharing of the points dropped the club from what could have been a relatively respectable 16th position to one of the 20th, the club just above the relegation line, and one that history will say in years to come were the side that just about escaped with bare statistics not telling the true story.

The final day when results were needed for Harrow Borough, Canvey Island, Lewes and VCD Athletic in their quest to avoid falling into the bottom four, they all won and in the process leapfrogged Tonbridge Angels, leaving Peacehaven in the bottom four but safe as there was the security of a reprieve on the table due to the demise of Salisbury and Hereford at the beginning of the season.

At the final whistle both teams were able to acknowledge their fans with a smile and for the South London side they were able to celebrate their play-off place with their supporters who had arrived in big numbers and gave their team noisy support throughout the game. They go on to an away game at Margate on Thursday; I can only wish them every success.

For Tonbridge, it was time to reflect and the Meeting with the Manager on Thursday evening also gave a helpful insight into their fortunes, or lack of it, during the past nine months.

The opening question brought was a strange one but brought laughter. Steve McKimm was told by a male member of the audience, “did he know that he had a nice smile”? McKimm replied that his wife tells him he has, but he hasn’t had that compliment from many men! Truth is, he has had very little to smile about this season and he quite rightly bemoaned his luck with injuries throughout the term. Over the course of the season, he has not been able to play what he would recognise his back four of choice since the opening game and against Dulwich Hamlet, the misfortune continued when Tommy Parkinson, named as runner-up in the Supporters Player of the Year Award prior to kick-off went down early in the second half. It is a massive credit to McKimm that his makeshift back four has managed to achieve the least goals conceded of any team up to Bognor Regis, who finished 14th and above them into the top half of the table before you find the next one.

The second half was played with Jack Parter slotting in alongside Charlie Slocombe, hardly the dominant, in terms of size, pairing needed to contain a lively strikeforce led by Harry Ottaway.

Steve McKimm, when asked about players that would continue to be at the club next season had revealed at the meeting that he would not be tearing up the team sheet at the end of the season, the nucleus of the team would be offered a place next year and the last thing he wanted would be to start with a blank sheet of paper as he had done back in July. One player that would not be returning, however, was to be Marvin Williams, who sadly will be retiring from the game at just 27 years of age, victim of an Achilles injury that would not have been helped by the likes of the hard, dusty pitch of today.

Marvellous Marvin said goodbye to fans, grateful for his contribution for the last six months, with a goal after 18 minutes. Mitchell Pinnock, for whom Tonbridge supporters will be crossing fingers and toes that he returns in August (however unlikely that may be), played a peach of a pass over the top to Williams, whose pace took him clear of the defence and a deft lob over the advancing Phil Wilson completed the act.

One of Tonbridge’s achilles heel this season has been the goalkeeping position, six have been used in total. It was a topic that was brought up and McKimm said that he had high regard for the present incumbent, Billy Bishop, who was available following his release from AFC Wimbledon. However, his authority within his own six yard box might have been brought into question when a cross from the right allowed Ottaway a simple far post header to level the scoring just four minutes after the opening goal.

Dulwich looked every inch the side of play-off credentials and had chances to go into the break in front, Ottaway rounding Bishop only the see his shot cleared from the line by Parkinson being the pick of the opportunities.

In his team selection, McKimm had opted to rest Tommy Whitnell, who was awarded the Supporters Player of the Year award, to the bench. After an hour, Marvin Williams took his final bow, to a rousing send-off from the Tonbridge faithful, to be replaced by Whitnell, who was completing a full set of appearances for the club this season.

Tonbridge had a great chance to restore their lead after 70 minutes when Nathan Elder was sent clear. However, the big striker’s lack of pace meant that he had to take his shot early and his effort cleared the bar. The big man’s presence has been invaluable towards the end of the season and when asked if he could be back, McKimm obviously would be pleased to have him but the player would be assessing his options. In the walk round after the game I shouted to Nathan, “see you next year?” and received a thumbs-up in return, I wonder?

Within a minute, Dulwich supporters were wildly happy as the visitors took the lead. Xavier Vidal cutting in front the right and firing a low shot past Bishop with Dulwich only needed a point to cement their play-off place.

Mitchell Pinnock has been the shining light of Tonbridge’s recovery from the lowest point at Grays, as McKimm described it, to the recovery and Ryman Premier safety and Tonbridge supporters would give their right arms to have permanently in their side. One forum member has even offered to pay his wages! With five minutes remaining, Tonbridge were awarded a free kick, 25 yards from goal. Pinnock curled an exquisite shot into the far corner beyond the grasp of Wilson. Fantastic goal, if we are not too see Pinnock next term, we can only say thank you for your time at the club this year.

A draw suited both sides and the final whistle brought a walk-round from both teams acknowledging the support that had been given.

Steve McKimm, looking forward, had revealed that although he made claim to a play-off spot this season, he knew that it was an unrealistic objective, but next season would consider it a failure if that was not to be achieved. McKimm came across as very likeable and someone that deserves much better fortune than he has enjoyed this season. Amen to that.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Tunbridge Wells 3 Greenwich Borough 3

Match 88/14/1197 - Monday 18th April 2015 - Southern Counties East

Tunbridge Wells (1) 3 Cass 7, 53 Seenan 82
Greenwich Borough (2) 3 Vines 9,68 Humphries 23
Att. 204

Entrance: £4.00
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 36/6,306

As an hors' doeuvres for the main course to be served on 2nd May, this was a tasty little appetizer.

Both managers were mindful of the upcoming League Cup Final and neither wanted to show their hand when it came to team selection. I cannot imagine for one instant that the likes of Paul Booth or Lee Radford will be warming the bench at Park View Road and for Greenwich Borough, Gary Alexander being employed as a centre half.

Back in November, on a really cold evening at Prince’s Park, Greenwich were disappointing given their highly publicised budget and Tunbridge Wells were well worth their point. On this occasion, especially in the first half, they gave glimpses of what can be achieved when such resources are made available. For long periods, the home side chased shadows but to their credit they hung in there and produced a second half performance in which they might even have gone on to win the game, but that said, a draw was a fair result from a highly entertaining game.

The game got off to a blistering start with a couple of goals in the opening 10 minutes and continued with much the same tempo for the entire 90 minutes. After six minutes, Brendan Cass converted a Ian Parsons cross at the far post to open the scoring for the Wells, but this was only to last a couple of minutes when a slick two pass attack opened up the home defence and allowed Paul Vines to place his shot past Steve Lawrence.

A similar quality goal from Jamie Humphries on 23 minutes put Greenwich in control as they particularly dominated the midfield areas.

The introduction of Lee Radford in the second half gave Tunbridge Wells renewed momentum and, 10 minutes into the second half, Cass was able to convert a Beecroft cross from close range with a header at the far post.

Vines added his second of the game and it appeared that Greenwich would be going into the Cup Final with a confidence building win before Chris Seenan bundled the ball home from close range after good work down the left from Radford to level the scores once more.

In the aftermath of the goal, the Greenwich goalkeeper, Craig Holloway, made a claim to the referee that brought the Wells’ manager, Martin Larkin, from the sidelines to remonstrate with supporters who similarly claimed that nothing untoward had happened. It was a spicy end to a game that was perhaps initially seen only as a curtain-raiser but ends up taking some baggage into the Final.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Gillingham 1 Rochdale 0

Match 87/14/1196 - Saturday 18th April 2015 - League One

Gillingham (1) 1 Dack 14
Rochdale (0) 0
Att. 5,430

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 56/6,270

Match Report

When Andy D'Urso comes to Gillingham, you can guarantee there is only one show in town ...

It was Rochdale’s Keith Hill that left Priestfield fuming at the latest endeavours of a referee that has courted controversy throughout his career and is now into a third year of overtime. Two second half dismissals were the cause of Hill’s displeasure and a result that left Rochdale’s hopes of a play-off place hanging by the thinnest of threads.

On this occasion though, I’m inclined to think that once the Rochdale manager has reviewed the footage he might consider that Mr D’Urso actually got his decisions right for a change.

This was a strange game. Rochdale came knowing that any result other than a win would end their play-off hopes whilst Gillingham had nothing but pride to play for. This led to a sometimes scrappy but competitive game that always had a little edge to it.

That edge led to Rochdale’s Andy Cannon becoming the pantomime villain of the piece as a series of challenges left him writhing in agony one moment only to get to his feet and back into the action on three separate occasions in the first half. In fairness, I thought the first challenge from Doug Loft looked reckless, but the third time that Cannon fell to the ground was pure theatre.

Gillingham took the lead after 14 minutes when a corner from Loft was converted at the near post with a header from Bradley Dack to celebrate his 100th appearance for the club with his tenth goal of the season..

Rochdale’s best chance of the half came moments before the break when a shot from Ian Henderson came back off the inside of a post and though the rebound fell at the feet of Jamie Allen, a fine block saw the ball to safety.

Six minutes of madness saw the visitors reduced to nine men. Cody McDonald, through on goal, was brought down by goalkeeper, Jamie Jones on the edge of the box. After consulting his linesman, Mr D’Urso decided that the red card was to be brandished. Then, in the 70th minute a lunging tackle by Matthew Lund on Bradley Dack brought a straight red.

Gillingham failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage and in the final minutes of the game brought some displeasure from their own supporters as they attempted to kill the game by hitting the ball towards the corners.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Erith & Belvedere 0 Phoenix Sports 1

Match 86/14/1195 - Wednesday 15th April 2015 - Southern Counties East

Erith & Belvedere (0) 0
Phoenix Sports (1) 1 Jeffery 18
Att. 178
Played at Park View Road, Welling

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 76/6,214

Match Report

Phoenix Sports have duly won the Southern Counties East League and earned their promotion to the Ryman League. They have based their success on a strong defensive unit that has conceded just 17 goals all season and despite going to down 10 men when their goalscorer Aaron Jeffery was sent off for raising his hands towards Lewis Clark with 20 minutes remaining their resilience was there for all to see.

When I saw Phoenix earlier in the season in their single goal home win over Tunbridge Wells their defensive attributes were not severely tested and, if anything, I left their Barnehurst base not really realising how good they were. So, from this point of view, I was glad to have been at Park View Road to watch them see off their final challengers in Erith and Belvedere.

As an attacking force, Harrison Carnegie always catches the eye with his pace and quick feet and Jeffery was a threat even if his dismissal was pretty stupid.

As I have previously posted, I have no idea how a club that was playing in the Kent Invicta League two seasons ago and have an average home attendance of 98 (with a low of just 43 and 14 of their attendances have been lower than their average over 18 games), have financed their success.

Perhaps it has nothing to do with finance at all because it is clearly evident that Steve O’Boyle has a team with a fantastic team spirit to go with their resilience and ability. Their celebrations at the end of the game with their supporters that made up a fair proportion of the 178 attendance also portrayed that this is a club united on and off the pitch.

After a bright start from the visitors it was E&B that very nearly took the lead after 25 minutes when Ben Wilson headed against the crossbar. Five minutes later and the champions-elect were in front. Carnegie was sent clear down the right wing and his cross found Jeffery who drove a fine shot into the bottom corner from inside the box. The goal prompted a conga from the Phoenix fans gathered behind the goal, the party had started!

In the second half, E&B’s giant goalkeeper, George Kamurasi, began to take centre stage. After 68 minutes, he made a very good stop to thwart Chris Hill and as time was ebbing away he came up for a couple of corners to add his sizeable presence.

He was also caught off his line as Scott Whibley, an uncompromising central defender, tried his luck to do a Charlie Adam from 65 yards. As the goalkeeper scurried backwards he was relieved to see the ball drift a yard or so wide.

With a couple of minutes remaining the referee brought parity to the team numbers with the second daft sending-off of the evening. Wilson, taking exception to Yacine Gnahore standing in front of him for a throw-in, decided to throw the ball at him and a red card was the result of his action.

Phoenix saw out the remaining time and the final whistle brought great celebration with the League officials showing some clever forethought by having the trophy on-site to present to the champions whilst manager O’Boyle perhaps also saw the writing on the wall as he had booked the night off from his job at Smithfield Market, enabling him to celebrate alongside his players.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Tunbridge Wells 2 Corinthian 0

Match 85/14/1194 - Tuesday 14th April 2015 - Southern Counties East

Tunbridge Wells (1) 2 Booth 18, Parsons 89
Corinthian (0) 0
Att. 157

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 38/6,138

Match Report

I'm suffering from a bit of blog fatigue and with the remaining league games of all my clubs meaningless in terms of silverware or relegation, hopefully I can be forgiven for making some of the final postings a little on the short side. Tunbridge Wells, of course, have a League Cup Final to look forward to and they will be hoping that they can hold off their opponents of that day, Greenwich Borough, to secure a creditable fourth place in the Southern Counties East.

The fact that they put a disappointing result at Fisher behind them and produced a confident performance against Corinthian, hopefully signals that they are running into a bit of form in anticipation of the Final on 2nd May.

I felt that I had seen enough of the Wells this season to make a reasonably informed choice for Player of the Season and my choice, Lee Radford, set up on a plate an opportunity for Paul Booth to open the scoring after 18 minutes.

An injury to Dane Luchford, that leaves him a doubt for the Final, took the shine off a dominant first half performance from the Wells. But Corinthian were vastly improved in the second half and, although Steve Lawrence was untested in the Wells' goal, it took until the final minute for Ian Parsons to make the game secure from close range.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Tonbridge 3 Witham Town 0

Match 84/14/1193 - Saturday 11th April 2015 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (2) 3 Williams 14, Medlock 45, 63 (pen)
Witham Town (0) 0
Att. 486

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/6,100

Match Report

Sometimes you just have to win ugly . . . just ask Jose Mourinho.

At this stage of the season some games have great significance and others have very little, so with this in mind, I took the decision to shelve the season ticket at Gillingham to hopefully see Tonbridge across the line and out of relegation trouble and despite the ugliness of the game, it would appear that, barring a freak set of results in the coming fortnight, it is job done.

As a first season as a manager, Steve McKimm has had an awful lot to deal with. As the teams lined up today with Jon Heath and Jerome Sobers at the centre of the defence and a clinical finisher in Billy Medlock there was the clear indication that, given the players that actually started the season, this would not have been the struggle that has materialised over the past eight months.

This win against fellow relegation-threatened Witham Town, virtually ended the visitors hopes of avoiding the drop to Ryman North next season, not that it dampened the spirits of the lone Witham supporter who sang his heart out for his club and even appeared happy at the prospect that next season they will be playing their neighbours and he celebrated this with his song "only four months from Heybridge".

A warm afternoon with a stiff breeze made for a drying pitch and the surface contributed to a scrappy match. After a quiet opening, in which Tommy Wraight, who recently had a two-week trial at Ipswich Town, gave James Folkes a few worrying moments, it was the home side that opened the scoring after 14 minutes. Billy Medlock drew a save from Martyn Guest in the Witham goal but his defenders made a hash of getting the loose ball to safety and when it fell at the feet of Marvin Williams he drilled it into the gaping goal.

Jack Parter justified my vote as player of the season prior to the game with a goal-line clearance before Medlock had the ball in the net only for it to be disallowed for offside.

Just before the break, Tonbridge supporters were able to relax over their Bovril as Medlock does what Billy does best. Williams slid a pass in from the right hand side and with a couple of feet to aim at, the striker found the net between Guest and his near post.

The game continued to be a scrappy affair into the second half. Nathan Elder, fed an opening by the excellent Williams, should have done better than to bring a smothering save from Guest and send the rebound high, wide and not very handsome.

Just past the hour mark and the game was made safe, and with it, hopefully, Ryman Premier League football. Medlock was needlessly fouled in the box for a penalty. An unnecessary squabble ensued between Medlock and Mitchell Pinnock that needed a word from captain Sobers before Medlock sent the keeper the wrong way to complete the scoring.

The mathematics are not in place, but most people, it seems, are accepting that Tonbridge's final dash to safety has been successful and have sighed a big relief.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Tonbridge Reserves 1 Faversham Town U-21 3

Match 83/14/1192 - Wednesday 8th April 2015 - Kent Intermediate Cup Final

Tonbridge Reserves (0) 1 Milham 50
Faversham Town U-21 (2) 3 Cheek 9, Hurcomb 38, Webb 61
Att. 164

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: Free
Mileage: 38/6,062

Match Report

Tonbridge utilised a largely reserve team in their Ryman Cup ties this season and produced good results against Chatham Town, Ramsgate and the ill-fated thrashing of Maidstone United at the Gallagher, which falsely led me to believe that there was to be silverware for the taking in their Kent Intermediate Cup Final, that also carried the advantage of being played on home soil.

Quite how the relevant strengths of a reserve side and that of an Under-21 side stack up is difficult to ascertain, but on the night the Faversham youngsters appeared physically stronger, quicker and better organised.

Tonbridge suffered from a competition rule that left Charlie Slocombe and Royce Greenidge ineligible due to a certain level of participation for the senior team. Whether this ruling also affected Faversham’s team selection I am unable to enlighten.

With the teams listed in the, albeit free, programme bearing no resemblance to the actual teams on show, it was difficult to pick out certain players. As a for instance, I had heard good reports of James Philpott and watched with interest how the number four listed in the programme was performing until he emerged as a late second half substitute!

A decent attendance of 164 turned out and the cheer that greeted Faversham’s opening goal after nine minutes suggested that a fair number had made their way from Salter’s Lane. A free header from a corner, powerfully planted into the net by Ryan Cheek from the edge of the six yard box suggested a lack of dominance of his area by Tonbridge goalkeeper, Jack Kelly, but over the course of the game the keeper redeemed himself on several occasions and without his contribution this could have been an embarrassing defeat for the Angels.

After 38 minutes a moment of high controversy doubled the lead of the East Kent club. Michael Hurcomb bundled the ball goalwards at the near post and as Kelly clawed the ball back from the line, the referee made the decision that the ball had crossed the line without any consultation with the far-sided linesman who had offered no flag to suggest that he was in accordance with the referee’s conclusion.

An early second half goal from Cameron Milham shooting home from the angle of the six yard box offered Tonbridge some hope after 50 minutes, but that was extinquished ten minutes later when a brilliant solo goal from Bradley Webb, who ran 30 yards with the ball, before rounding Kelly to secure the Lilywhites victory.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Margate 2 Tonbridge 2

Match 82/14/1191 - Monday 6th April 2015 - Ryman Premier

Margate (1) 2 Taylor 45, Moss 50
Tonbridge (1) 2 Elder 5, Pinnock 57
Att. 747

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 108/6,024

Match Report

Margate on a Bank Holiday, a ride on the Big Dipper, fish and chips, an ice cream and a paddle, none of which readily apply to this Easter Monday fixture, although it could be said that Tonbridge’s season to date has a resonance with the Dipper.

Saturday’s win for Tonbridge over AFC Hornchurch had, at least in my mind, taken away any pressure for the trip to Margate. In the equation that is the number of points required to avoid relegation and the whereabouts of those points, Margate was not on many people’s radar for any reward.

But should we have known better? Already this season, Tonbridge have taken four points from the other big spenders, Maidstone United and victory in the reverse fixture at Longmead against Margate was only denied by a goal at the death from goalkeeper, Nikki Bull. Hendon, who at present divide M&M, took a point at Longmead and won at Earlsmead, courtesy of a goalkeeping error, when Tonbridge fully deserved something out of the game. So was it such a lost cause?

After seemingly months of cold weather, it was a toss-up whether to take the heavy coat out of the boot of the car or a lighter version. In the end, caution won and the heavy coat was donned; when the sun shone it was too hot, but when the sun disappeared behind the clouds it was the correct choice. It was also strange to see a very firm pitch that must dry very quickly with the sea breezes.

The rumoured amount of money that Bob Laslett has sunk into Margate Football Club varies wildly, but, it has to be said, that at present very little of this investment has been sunk into facilities at Hartsdown Park. It seems the club has been stuck in a time warp for the last 15 years when plans for a new stadium coupled with a hotel complex were first presented. In 2003, with Margate having left the site to groundshare, Hartsdown Park was demolished, before returning in 2005 with the Portakabins that occupy one side of the pitch gracing it ever since. With the uncovered temporary seating at the Tivoli Park end and the pair of stands straddling the half-way line, there is more than enough seating to satisfy the regulations, but as a stadium fit for purpose in Conference South it barely fits that status.

Investment though has been made in the team and Laslett must surely be disappointed that Terry Brown hasn’t been able to steer Margate into a position closer to Maidstone than they currently occupy.

Tonbridge started the game on the front foot and were rewarded with an early goal. A shot from Charlie Webster was only parried by Bull into the path of Nathan Elder who scored with a stooping header. The visitors went on to dominate the opening half-hour with the Angels’ keeper, Billy Bishop untested. Mitchell Pinnock fired narrowly wide and a Dee Okojie shot was deflected wide of the post with Bull a helpless bystander.

Having failed to increase their advantage, Tonbridge needed to get to the break with their lead intact but, with a couple of minutes remaining, Tom Parkinson conceded a disputed free kick 20 yards from goal. Sam Rents fired in the kick that Bishop fumbled and former Tonbridge favourite, Lewis Taylor was on hand to tap the ball home from close range.

The old flea in the ear trick from Brown fired up the hosts early in the second half. Freddie Ladapo struck the inside of a post from distance before a cross from the bye-line by Tambeson Eyong was converted at the far post by Ryan Moss after 52 minutes.

Any thoughts that Tonbridge were going fold were quickly dispelled when Pinnock let fly with a shot from 25 yards that flew into the top corner with Bull grasping fresh air. It was a goal to grace a weekend that had seen stunners in the Premiership from Charlie Adam, Wayne Rooney and Bobby Zamora.

With their tails up, the visitors might well have gone on to win the game. Elder was thwarted twice in quick succession by Bull and Tommy Whitnell volleyed over. But the chance of the match came with five minutes remaining, Marvin Williams crossed from the right to an unmarked Elder but the big striker’s effort was smothered by Bull, who was duly made Margate’s man of the match.

Tonbridge had to settle for an, albeit unexpected, point when all three might not have been undeserved in their quest to avoid the drop. Meanwhile at the other end of the table, Hendon are ominously eyeing the top spot which would mean that one, or both, of Kent’s big spenders are going to fall foul of the play-offs.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Tonbridge 4 AFC Hornchurch 0

Match 81/14/1190 - Saturday 4th April 2015 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (2) 4 Sobers 13, Parkinson 45, Medlock 67, Greenidge 90
AFC Hornchurch (0) 0 Evans 18
Att. 464

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 36/5,916

Match Report

At this point in the season, call it the business end or twitchy-bum time, performances matter far less than the result. With the clubs presently 21st and 22nd beginning to snap at the heels of Tonbridge, any manner of victory would have sufficed but to achieve it with a quality performance lends itself to confidence that they will emerge from this mess with their Ryman Premier League status intact.

The pieces might have fallen into place at just the right time for Steve McKimm. The disappointment of the return to their parent clubs of Mitchell Pinnock and Tom Hadler has diminished as McKimm has managed to convince Bromley to allow Pinnock to return to Longmead for the rest of the season and the signing of Billy Bishop from AFC Wimbledon brought an assured performance from the goalkeeper. Nathan Elder showed all the experience that a seasoned striker can bring and Billy Medlock did what Medlock does ... score goals.

Tonbridge's three remaining home games were key to their survival, two of which were against teams below them in the table. Hornchurch's situation was altogether worse than the home team and they arrived in Kent knowing that a draw wasn't going to help matters too greatly and with their attacking intentions a very good game was to ensue.

Leading the line for the Essex club was George Purcell, ex-Tonbridge favourite, and when he shot across the face of goal early in the game that virtually ended up at the corner flag, it was the beginning of a frustrating afternoon that saw him booked and miss a variety of chances.

Marvin Williams and Pinnock were terrorising the Hornchurch back line with their pace and after Sam Mott had made turned away a Williams effort, the resultant corner, poorly cleared, fell at the feet of Jerome Sobers, who drove home like a seasoned striker.

Chances came and went for both sides, Tommy Whitnell, having his best game in ages, crashed a shot against the crossbar and Elder was thwarted by a fine stop from Mott. Hornchurch were giving as good as they got with Purcell wasteful and Bishop making a save and also thankful to see a header drift wide of the post.

Just before the break, Tom Parkinson drove into the bottom corner to double the advantage leaving McKimm's half-time talk along the lines of more of the same and, in general, that is what ensued.

Hornchurch produced some very uncomfortable moments before a Medlock shot took a savage deflection to put the game out of the visitor's reach with 20 minutes to go.

Elder, whose hold-up play in particular was top drawer and deserved a goal for his efforts, unselfishly set up substitute Royce Greenidge for a fourth goal that added the gloss to a fine team performance as the game entered added time.

More of the same can also be said of next week's home game with Witham Town, achieve that and I'm confident that Ryman Premier football will be gracing again Longmead next season.

Gillingham 0 Fleetwood Town 1

Match 80/14/1189 - Friday 3rd April 2015 - League One

Gillingham (0) 0
Fleetwood Town (1) 1 Evans 18
Att. 7,961

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 56/5,880

Match Report

Gillingham's season is set to drift towards its end as this disappointing performance in front of a big crowd effectively signalled the end of any lingering play-off hopes. Kids for a Quid is always a successful initiative by the club in attracting the next generation of supporters to Priestfield, but on the pitch, it does appear to be a jinx.

Justin Edinburgh continued with his experiment of rotating his main strikers to enable a longer viewing of Luke Norris and it is this particular piece of tinkering that has infuriated supporters, not least today when a lack of a cutting edge has cost Gillingham dear. Norris has had three games and, despite last Saturday's win at Crawley when he didn't do too bad, overall he has failed to impress.

Gillingham enjoyed, if that is the right word, the lion's share of the possession but were frustrated by a resilient Fleetwood side that employed all the tricks in the book as they began running down the clock from the moment they took an 18th minute lead.

Glenn Morris, retaining his place in goal in front of Stuart Nelson, busted a gut to save the ball going out for a corner. There was a short delay as Fleetwood thought a corner had been awarded, whether this broke the concentration of the Gills defence, one wonders. When the throw was eventually taken, Aaron Morris had an opportunity to send the ball to safety but his control only fell at the feet of David Ball whose shot was parried by goalkeeper Morris to the waiting Gareth Evans who stabbed it home from close range.

Gillingham failed to exert Chris Maxwell into a meaningful save in a depressingly poor first half.

At least the home side, sent out early after the break, set about their task with a raised tempo and a driven shot from Norris was deflected wide of the post by Steven Schumacher with a touch that could have ended anywhere.

Cody McDonald was welcomed into the fray on the hour replacing Norris, but it summed up Gillingham's day when his on-target shot inadvertently struck fellow substitute Brennan Dickenson.

Gillingham huffed and puffed their way through the remaining time but Maxwell was comfortably equal to the few half-chances that were offered.

Looking to next season, Amar'i Bell had a really decent game at left back and he could be one that Edinburgh will be looking to bring in on a season-long loan should the opportunity arise. Seven of the youngsters were shown the door this week, some senior players are definitely set for the same exit in the coming weeks as the manager starts to surround himself with his own players.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Tunbridge Wells 7 Lordswood 0

Match 79/14/1188 - Tuesday 31st March 2015 - Southern Counties East

Tunbridge Wells (5) 7 Luchford 6, 50, Radford 9, 42, Booth 27, 51, Bryant 25
Lordswood (0) 0
Att. 133

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/5,824

Match Report

Whilst hopes of promotion might have disappeared over the hill some little while ago, there is still some silverware for Tunbridge Wells to play for and with their League Cup Final against Greenwich Borough approaching, they are running into a rich vein of form at just the right time.

Lordswood are going through a torrid time following the departure of Jason Lillis and James Colllins must be wondering what he has taken on even if it is only until the end of the season. They shipped six against Lingfield, five against Corinthian, but, bizarrely took a point off Erith and Belvedere. But none of this could detract from a wonderful first half performance that saw the Wells four goals up in the first 27 minutes and threatening to run up a cricket score that certainly England would have been proud of in the recent World Cup. Those of us against public floggings were relieved that when the seventh went in with 40 minutes still to play, the Wells declared.

Tunbridge Wells not only scored goals aplenty, but they were quality goals as well. Hardly a cross was wasted as Lordswood struggled and failed to stem the tide. Two minutes was all that was required to set the scoreboard ticking. Jake Beecroft, who had a great night, put a pin-point cross onto the head of Dane Luchford, who with the freedom of the six yard box, buried an easy header past a goalkeeper whose night was about to go from bad to worse.

Lee Radford, who would have been challenging Beecroft for my man of the match, cut in from the left and drilled a shot into the far corner to double the score with less than 10 minutes on the clock. Lordswood defended valiantly for a quarter of an hour until two goals in two minutes left you fearing for their outcome. A corner was woefully defended and full back Tom Bryant stabbed the ball home after 25 minutes before Paul Booth took the ball past a couple of hapless challenges to rifle a shot into the net from the edge of the box.

Three minutes before the break, Beecroft and Radford once more teamed-up to give the winger a tap-in from inside the six yard box for a first half nap hand.

Within seven minutes of the second half, the score had also risen to seven and thoughts of double figures were quite realistic. After 50 minutes, Luchford’s header came down off the underside of the crossbar with the linesman deeming that it had crossed the line and sixty seconds later a Booth volley completed the scoring.

A third consecutive game without conceding would have brought Martin Larkin as much satisfaction as the goalfest and with outstanding performances all over the pitch, 2nd April and the Cup Final at Welling cannot come soon enough.