Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Dulwich Hamlet 2 Tonbridge 1

Match 81/15/1286 - Monday, 28th March 2016 - Ryman Premier

Dulwich Hamlet (2) 2 Akinyemi 3, 10
Tonbridge (1) 1 Allen 70
Attendance: 1,434

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 94/5,968

Match Report

Storm Katie blew its way through the south-east early on Easter Monday and wreaked an amount of havoc; by the afternooon the wind had subsided but a hipster storm blew Tonbridge away in the first 10 minutes of this clash of promotion-challenging clubs.

Dulwich Hamlet certainly opened the game like a side that had reached the point of desperation in their quest for a play-off spot, a poor run of form leaving them outside of the top five, but although their counter-attacks were swift, Tonbridge were very much the architects of their own downfall.

This was a must win for Dulwich, whilst a point would be welcome for their visitors, and a big crowd (but not quite as large as expected) assembled with high expectation with a very healthy, boisterous contingent from Tonbridge ready to go verse for verse with their south London counterparts.

Just three minutes had elapsed when a Tonbridge attack broke down with a poor Luke Emblem pass that left James Folkes stranded upfield. Jordan Hibbert ran into the space offered by Folkes' absence before crossing into the path of Dipo Akinyemi, who only needed a tap-in to open the scoring.

After ten minutes, Tonbridge gave themselves the proverbial mountain to climb when they once again cheaply conceded possession. Jack Dixon sent Nyren Clunis away down the right, the midfielder stood up the perfect cross for Akinyemi, whose header was brilliantly saved by Anthony Di Bernardo but the 18-year-old loanee from Stevenage had another tap-in to double Hamlet's advantage.

It was very frustrating, Tonbridge had as much of the opening exchanges, but really poor retention of the ball had cost them dear.

Tonbridge's luck worsened after 20 minutes when captain Jeromme Sobers went down with a strain and was unable to continue, being replaced by Laurence Ball.

It took Tonbridge almost to the half-hour mark to have a meaningful shot on target, a Luke Allen free kick that was comfortably caught by Preston Edwards.

The visitors desperately needed to get a foothold in the game before half-time and right on the stroke of 45 minutes, Nathan Elder steered a header wide and in the time-added Tom Parkinson's header was touched over by Edwards.

Tonbridge survived a scare after 10 minutes of the second half when some great tracking back from Blewden denied Akinyemi after Di Bernardo had made a good parrying save.

The Kent side's tale of woe in their central defensive position was compounded after the hour when Sonny Miles' shoulder once again dislocated and after a long time on the ground behind the goal he was eventually stretchered away and onwards to hospital.

The route back into the game was so nearly found after 66 minutes when Jack Parter stood up a cross for Elder to bury but the striker's header struck a post and Miles' replacement, Charlie Webster, saw his follow-up shot saved on the line from Edwards.

Hope was restored after 70 minutes when a Folkes pass allowed Webster to pull the ball back from the bye-line to Allen who buried his chance from 10 yards.

Di Bernardo kept the game alive for the Angels when he made two great saves, a plunging save low to his right and another from Clunis.

Into the last ten minutes and two chances went begging, if it hadn't been previously confirmed, proved it wasn't Elder's day. He had a tough ride from Ethan Pinnock all afternoon. He steered another good heading chance wide and a couple of minutes later a shooting opportunity also failed to find the target.

Dulwich successfully saw out time, in fact they had the final opportunities.

So it was that the hipsters returned to the Village with hope renewed and their tummy's full of gourmet burgers and sausages washed down with cask conditioned ale. Good luck to them, they are a friendly bunch who we might just lock horns with once more in April.

Picture courtesy of David Couldridge

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Tonbridge 2 Canvey Island 0

Match 80/15/1285 - Saturday, 26th March 2016 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (2) 2 Miles 23, Sobers 40
Canvey Island (0) 0
Attendance: 659

Entrance: £10
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 36/5,874

Match Report

Easter and dire weather pretty much go cap in hand and, as the south-east of England awaits Storm Katie, its little sister blew a gale and ultimately prevailed over two teams who struggled to overcome the conditions.

The Canvey goalkeeper, the mountainous Connor Gough, despaired during a first half in which his goal kicks either came back towards him in the wind or sailed into touch on his left hand side, much to the amusement of the Tonbridge supporters stationed behind his goal.

Playing with the wind in the first half, Tonbridge profited with two goals from central defenders Sonny Miles and Jeromme Sobers and contained their visitors in the second half with relative ease, although it took a magnificent double save from Anthony Di Bernardo, five minutes from time, to preserve their clean sheet.

This was, nonetheless, an important three points for the Angels. Another couple of wins might well be enough to secure their play-off position and, if they can win their home matches against the teams from the middle of the table with little to play for, it takes some of the pressure away from the (on paper) more difficult fixtures at Dulwich Hamlet and Hendon.

It was obvious that full advantage of the wind needed to be taken in the opening 45 minutes and Tonbridge created early chances. A Luke Allen effort was deflected wide and Sobers headed over within the first 10 minutes and a James Folkes cross after 15 begged a finish.

The home side took the lead with a golden goal after 23 minutes. Jack Parter hit a cross to the far post that might have been sailing out on the breeze but for a wonderful retrieval header from Tom Parkinson that was directed into the path of Miles who cracked home the sweetest of volleys. It certainly was a Golden Goal, one that netted me £75 for the first-ever time!

Canvey Island had little idea, perhaps even inclination, on how to play against the wind and the play continued to be one-way traffic. Nathan Elder had a low header deflected wide for a corner before the advantage was doubled after 40 minutes. Another Parter cross found Elder's head, but the big striker's effort came back off a post to be converted on the rebound by a Sobers header.

During the second period the wind continued to blow heavy offering the visitors a way back into the game, but in truth, they made a very poor fist of it.

Yet another Parter cross, probably reason by the sponsor's choice of man of the match, resulted in a weak shot from Elder.

The much-travelled Chris Akurang came off the bench to offer Canvey some sort of target upfront and in the space of three minutes, three chances eluded him. A missed header, a shot deflected wide and a cross that he failed to get a touch on all brought exasperated gestures from the management team.

Fifteen minutes remained when Sobers had a chance at the far post to wrap up proceedings but his shot sailed some distance over the bar.

We have seen quite a few games this season that have been a great advertisement for the Ryman League, sadly this wasn't one of them. We await the arrival of Katie and hope that it doesn't postpone our visit to the Hipsters of Dulwich, for what should be a really decent spectacle.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Rochester United 1 Sevenoaks Town 2

Match 79/15/1284 - Tuesday, 22nd March 2016 - SCEFL

Rochester United (0) 1 Carr 59
Sevenoaks Town (1) 2 McKenzie 41, Edwards 78
Attendance: 66

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 39/5,838

Match Report

An empty Tuesday evening for my clubs allowed me a visit to Rochester United, a ground I haven't been to since a Pre-Season Friendly in 2008, and their change of name from Bly Spartans on entering the Southern Counties East League. The ground, obviously needed upgrading to enter into the SCEL is now fully enclosed with a turnstile, a small seated stand and floodlights that were in their embryonic stage eight years ago.

The match itself was, well, eventful with three well taken goals, three sent off and a bit of fisticuffs.

Sevenoaks came into the game in a rich vein of form, unbeaten in their last eight games and started very much on the front foot and the Rochester goalkeeper, Roddy Hayward, made early saves. After 10 minutes, Hayward was injured and was still unsteady on one leg when he produced an excellent save from Adam Marsh.

The visitors had the better of the first half and it was somewhat surprising that it took until five minutes before half-time to open the scoring. Chinedu McKenzie started and finished the move with a shot into the bottom corner following a cross from the influential Kieron McCann. An unseemly melee ensured following the goal and the red card was shown, at the time mysteriously, to Sevenoaks' Marsh who had a difference of opinion with the Rochester central defender, Rikki Holmes. Marsh had to be restrained as he made his way to the dressing rooms, with the claim made after the game that he had taken a kick to head whilst on the ground.

On the hour, Rochester equalised with a goal very similar to Sevenoaks' opener. Steve Rothery and Vince Collis combined down the left hand side with the latter crossing into the box for Tom Carr to score.

Twelve minutes remained when Sevenoaks retook the lead with a free kick from Chris Edwards that deflected off the wall and looped over the goalkeeper.

The referee, a very young official, then took centre stage for the remaining minutes. He evened up the teams to 10-a-side, when he sent off Carr for a second yellow after the Rochester midfielder had made a challenge on the right hand touchline.

Sevenoaks returned to a man disadvantage with five minutes remaining when McCann was sent off for his second yellow but successfully saw the game out.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Southend United 1 Gillingham 1

Match 78/15/1283 - Saturday, 19th March 2016 - League One

Southend United (1) 1 Wordsworth 21
Gillingham (0) 1 Norris 53
Attendance: 9,135

Entrance: £15 Senior
Programme: £3.00
Mileage: 132/5,799

Match Report

Time will tell how valuable this point will be in the next few weeks. Truth is, I would have taken it on the way in at Roots Hall and at the final whistle was delighted with the result until I heard from elsewhere and with everybody winning it became slightly devalued.

The business end of the season was fully recognised by the Gillingham travelling support who took up all, but 82 of their 2,000 allocation for this relative derby encounter. Those supporters were treated to an early surprise at Gillingham announced the return of Andrew Crofts, now 31, on loan from Brighton for the rest of the season. With the Euros approaching and Crofts continuing to be on the radar of Wales' manager Chris Coleman, the midfielder returning from injury needs playing time in a final push for a place in the squad.

Gillingham opened the game with a flourish and a Brennan Dickenson cross led to a close range header that Daniel Bentley did well to push clear but only to Jake Hessenthaler, whose shot was blocked before the ball was cleared to safety.

Deji Oshilaja, also returning to Gillingham for a second loan spell from Cardiff, failed at the far post to turn in a corner from the right as the visitors continued to make all the early running.

Southend slowly inched their way into the game, Tyrone Bennett tested Stuart Nelson who saved comfortably before after 21 minutes the hosts took a lead just about against the run of play. Glen Kamara played a ball into the left channel, but Jermaine McGlashan, although under some pressure, appeared to be shepherding the ball out for a goal kick, but he turned to clear and only played the ball into the path of Anthony Wordsworth who shot home from around eight yards.

With their tails up, Southend pressed forward in search of a second goal, the diminutive, but influential Jack Payne smashed a shot into the rippled the side netting with some areas of the Southend support thinking it had found the net.

The opening period of the second half saw the visitors picking up the momentum once more. Crofts shot from outside of the box but over the top before Gillingham found an equaliser eight minutes into the half. Dominic Samuel and Josh Wright combined to send Dickenson away once more down the left hand side. The full back's low cross was measured for the onrushing Luke Norris to turn in from inside the six yard box to spark mass celebration behind the goal.

With the mass ranks spurring them on, Gillingham searched hard for a winner. Samuel brought a fine diving save from Bentley and from the resulting corner, Samuel once again tested the custodian who this time needed the help of Wordsworth who cleared his parry from in front of the line.

Southend had the best of the final minutes but Gillingham held firm without too much alarm. A draw was probably a fair result, but it might be one that does neither side any favours.

We are at the business end, just a couple of games away from squeeky-bum time!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Tonbridge 0 Metropolitan Police 1

Match 77/15/1282 - Tuesday, 15th March 2016 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (0) 0
Metropolitan Police (1) 1 Smith 26
Attendance: 343

Entrance: £10
Programme: £1.00
Mileage: 36/5,667

Match Report

Message to oneself and suffering a painful side strain throwing a ball for the dog; you are not 16 throwing a cricket ball in from the boundary anymore (not that you ever reached). Reason given for the lateness of this post.

After the Lord Mayor's Show ...

Tonbridge entered into this match on a wave of exhilaration after their stunning fightback from three down to beat Wingate and Finchley 4-3 at the weekend. But, as it turned out perhaps the adrenaline rush from that performance acted as a drain both emotionally and physically as they produced a weary performance that ended with a surprise defeat against mid-table Metropolitan Police.

The home side started well, created a couple of early chances, but when the goal failed to materialise they run out of ideas and once Leon Smith perfected executed a shot into the far corner after 26 minutes, the Plod didn't so much mount a Thin Blue Line, more like a solid Red Brick Wall.

After three minutes a corner saw a Tom Parkinson header parried by the Met's goalkeeper, Oliver Pain, and follow-up efforts were also blocked before the final shot from Laurence Ball sailed well over the bar.

Tonbridge suffered a set back after a quarter hour when influential midfielder and skipper, Parkinson, took a knock and had to be to replaced by Luke Allen.

Allen was quickly to the fore, breaking clear from midfield, he brought a parrying save from the advancing Pain only to put the rebound over the bar.

After 26 minutes the Police took the lead. A pass found Smith, who advanced to the angle of the penalty area and curled a shot around Anthony Di Bernardo and into the net, to the delight of the one supporter stationed behind that goal. Respect to you, sir for being the Plod's away following.

Tonbridge created chances during the remainder of the half but failed to really trouble the Met's goalkeeper.

The big chance of the second half fell to the Police after 67 minutes when a shot from Ryan James was touched onto the inside of the post by Di Bernardo, who was able to collect the rebound.

At this stage of the season, all the other club's managers would have seen the influence that Nicky Wheeler has on Tonbridge's performances. If you can stop Wheeler, you are blunting the threat and this the Met did to great effect. Tommy Whitnell was a 63rd minute substitute, and as has been the case during his spell on the bench, provided a creativity that Tonbridge had lacked for the best part of the first hour. But, ultimately, the ideas ran out.

Because of the lateness of this posting, it is pleasing to report that Tonbridge bounced straight back with a fine 2-1 win at Leiston to maintain their promotion push.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Gillingham 3 Crewe Alexandra 0

Match 76/15/1281 - Saturday, 12th March 2016 - League One

Gillingham (1) 3 Samuel 12, Guthrie (o.g.) 61, Wright 90+2
Crewe Alexandra (0) 0
Attendance: 5,656

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3.00
Mileage: 56/5,631

Match Report

On the back of a poor run of form, a single point from four games against teams from the lower half of the table, Gillingham needed a convincing victory against another relegation threatened side, Crewe Alexandra, to give some momentum to their promotion challenge.

Fortunately, the Crewe side that turned up at Priestfield, looked every inch one destined to find itself in League Two next season.

The afternoon began positively with the news that Bradley Dack and John Egan had taken part in the early warm-up with some sprints, raising hopes of an earlier than expected return to action.

This was one of those games where Gillingham, as the home side, needed an early breakthrough before frustration set in and it duly arrived after 12 minutes. Jermaine McGlashan, making a rare start, sent in a cross from the right that looked wildly overhit but, from beyond the far post, Luke Norris kept the ball alive with a header back across the face of goal to Dominic Samuel who nodded in from close range.

The game meandered its way through a relatively dull first half with George Williams, Max Ehmer and Samuel bringing saves out of Ben Garratt, but with Crewe offering absolutely nothing in reply until on the stroke of half-time, a 25-yard volley from Zoumana Bakayogo thumped against the right hand upright to the surprise of Stuart Nelson and everybody else in Priestfield.

Early in the second half, Williams had another good effort well saved by Garrett low to his left before another shot from distance, from Crewe's George Cooper needed a fine low save from Nelson.

Crewe were posing a greater threat in the early stages of the second half and Tom Hitchcock, a thorn in Gillingham's side in the past, should have done better than pull a shot wide after 59 minutes.

Two minutes later and the home supporters breathed a little easier as they doubled their advantage. A cross from the left from Josh Wright should have been dealt with by either of two defenders but it found its way to Samuel, whose driven shot struck the inside of the near post only for the rebound to strike Jon Guthrie and into the net. It was the type of misfortune that always befalls those teams at the bottom.

From the build-up to the goal, Doug Loft sustained an injury that looked like a recurrence of his recent achilles problem and it was reported that he later left the ground on crutches.

We are approaching, if not arrived at, the business end of the season and the desire to be in two places at the same time. Tonbridge and Gillingham have had very similar seasons with both maintaining play-off spots and harbouring ambitions for automatic promotion. My attention had been drawn to an astonishing fight back underway at Longmead; Tonbridge three goals down had managed to draw level and then with eight minutes remaining had gone ahead.

Gillingham wrapped the game up in time added on when McGlashan made his way, from the corner flag along the bye-line and pulled the ball back for Wright to side-foot home his first-ever goal for Gillingham.

There will not be an easier win in the run in than this one, but it could be the catalyst to a timely return to form.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Tonbridge 3 Enfield Town 1

Match 75/15/1280 - Tuesday, 9th March 2016 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (1) 3 Miles 26, Blewden 56,64
Enfield Town (1) 1 Whitely 34
Attendance: 307

Entrance: £10
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 36/5,575

Match Report

We, as football supporters, can be a contradictory bunch, and I personally fall into this category as much as the next fan. A few days previously, I poured scorn on Ryman leaders, East Thurrock United, as the ball disappeared over the main stand for the umpteenth time. But, faced with a good footballing side in Enfield Town, two goals fashioned in route one secures three valuable points and I, and everybody else, goes home happy.

Enfield Town arrived at Longmead in a good vein of form, unbeaten in their last five and their confidence was apparent in the early stages as they moved the ball around with a good tempo. Corey Whitely brought a good save out of Anthony Di Bernardo, who tipped the ball away from the top corner after 15 minutes.

It was somewhat against the run of play when Tonbridge opened the scoring after 26 minutes. The Enfield goalkeeper, Nathan McDonald, made a hash of a punched clearance with the ball ending at the feet of Sonny Miles who stabbed it home from close range.

The lead wasn't to last long following another goalkeeping error. A long ball forward saw Di Bernardo advancing from his goal and caught in no-man's land as Whitely rolled it past him. The visitors pressed on for the remainder of the first half and Tonbridge would have been glad of the sanctuary of the dressing room with the scoreline remaining level.

A different Tonbridge side emerged for the second half, one that quickly got on top. But, it was from a good move from Enfield that ended with a cross from Harry Ottoway just failing to find a touch in the penalty area that a swift counter-attack led to the second goal after 56 minutes. An inch perfect long ball out of defence from Tom Parkinson sent Luke Blewden clear, but with a lot to do, but he clinically finished into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Only eight minutes elapsed for a repeat performance. This time the ball over the top was delivered by Bradley Woods-Garness for Blewden to outpace his marker and plant an emphatic finish past McDonald.

Perhaps we can get a little too snooty about East Thurrock's style. If it leads to a goal, why should one pass instead of thirty undervalue the goal; it counts for just the same. Message to oneself!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

East Thurrock United 3 Tonbridge 0

Match 74/15/1279 - Saturday, 5th March 2016 - Ryman Premier

East Thurrock United (2) 3 Higgins 12, Walker 32, Ruel 76
Tonbridge (0) 0
Attendance: 331

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: £2.00
Mileage: 87/5,539

Match Report

I have come to the conclusion that if I'm going to watch my club lose a football match, I want them to lose to a team that I can appreciate. Walking away, very disappointed, from the recent home defeat against Bognor Regis Town, that mood had changed before the car had even exited the car park. I quickly realised that I had watched a quality team and my club would have had to been on the top of their game to have won on that night. Sour grapes it might sound like, but, despite the presence of the league's leading goalscorer in Sam Higgins, East Thurrock are a difficult team to admire. In this game, Tonbridge enjoyed (definitely the wrong word) a lot of possession but this foundered on their own wastefulness and a central defensive pairing of Joe Ellul and Rickie Hayles that snuffed out every opportunity, whilst a long punt forward was the root of their creativity. But then, if you have a striker with 38 goals to his credit, why wouldn't you lump it forward to him every time?

Sitting six points adrift of the home side, but with two games in hand, nobody under-estimated the importance of this top-of-the-table clash, least of all the contingent of supporters from Tonbridge who turned out in great numbers. Sadly, their team just didn't turn up.

Corringham isn't one of Essex's beauty spots, in fact the word bleak springs instantly to mind. After 12 minutes, the outlook for the visitors was, indeed, bleak as a long punt forward (not even the first of many) found its way between the two central defenders to Higgins, who slotted the ball past the advancing Anthony Di Bernardo for a cool finish.

Tonbridge responded, but an inability to string together a couple of passes, found possession being lost with the ball disappearing over the roof of the stand each time it found its way to the feet of a defender. The pitch was far from easy, but if the ball doesn't spend any time on the ground, it doesn't really matter.

East Thurrock had really done their homework. They restricted the supply from Nick Wheeler, whilst on the other flank, Charlie Webster had a very poor afternoon. When the wingers managed to get in a cross it was headed away by Ellul or Hayles, time and time again.

After 32 minutes, the league leaders doubled their advantage. Luke Allen gave away the ball for the umpteenth time and when it was dispatched to Tom Wraight, a class act, the winger fired in a shot that Di Bernardo failed to hold and as the ball squirmed from his grasp, James Walker squeezed it in at the near post.

The second half produced more of the same, Tonbridge with bucket loads of possession but doing absolutely nothing with it. After 50 minutes, from a Luke Blewden throw-in, the clearance fell to Allen, who blazed over and, just after the hour, a good Tonbridge move set up Wheeler, for their best chance, who shot wastefully over. After 72 minutes, substitutes Tommy Whitnell and Bradley Woods-Garness combined but the latter put a very good heading opportunity wide.

A minute later came the sucker punch and a nightmare moment for Sonny Miles. Tonbridge's central defender dallied on the ball and was robbed by Kye Ruel who went one-on-one with the goalkeeper and produced a composed finish.

Tonbridge created a couple of chances for a consolation goal but asked nothing more than comfortable saves from Lukas Lidakevicius (a valiant effort made by the announcer reading out the teams!).

At the end of the match, East Thurrock's huddle showed a team spirit to admire. There you go, I've found something admirable!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Ashford United 2 Tunbridge Wells 1

Match 73/15/1278 - Tuesday, 1st March 2016 - SCEL

Ashford United (0) 2 Pilbeam 70, Welford 74
Tunbridge Wells (0) 1 Nwoko 82
Attendance: 204

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: £2.00
Mileage: 36/5,452

Match Report

Today was the meteorological first day of Spring, not that the numbness of my extremities would attest to the fact. With this coming, there are green shoots of a revival in fortunes for Tunbridge Wells Football Club. Although, defeat in a tightly contested match was suffered, there was enough to convince that, finally, Jason Bourne has his troops marching in the right direction and offer hope for a seriously better season next term.

The fixture schedulers at SCEL were unsympathetic to the large followings of both clubs as a Tuesday date for this re-arranged match probably cost a hundred people through the gate (the reverse fixture brought an attendance of 293). There was the usual substantial contingent from Tunbridge Wells, but smaller than it would have been on a Saturday. Ashford Town, who have suffered financial instability this season, would have liked to have seen those extra bodies through the turnstiles and into the bar.

As has become the norm in this season of transition there was a new player in the Tunbridge Wells ranks that I hadn't seen previously, this time the bespectacled Charlie Cornford.

Ashford, who when I saw them at Hollands & Blair, were probably the worst Ashford team I have ever seen, were vastly improved on that performance. In fairness, on that night they had an upcoming Vase game which they won, but lost out in the quarter-finals at Salisbury. As an aside, my opinion is that reformed clubs like Salisbury and Hereford, who meet in the semi-finals, should not be allowed to compete in the Vase in their first season after reforming. They are Step 3 clubs that through mis-management find themselves in a Step 6 competition and are too strong.

The first half was combative with the sides cancelling each other out and few chances emerging. Ryan Crandley, the Gillingham youngster on loan at Tunbridge Wells, worked hard alongside Chris Seenan and brought an early save from the Ashford keeper, George Kamurasi with the home side working Steve Lawrence on a couple of occasions.

There continued to be a reasonable ebb and flow to the game in the second half with Ashford slightly the dominant side.

Ex-Tunbridge Wells' Paul Booth entered the fray as a substitute on the hour and it was his presence that had a hand in both of Ashford's goals in a four minute spell.

Booth's persistence won a corner and from it a header from another ex-Wells player Jon Pilbeam somehow eluded Lawrence and a man on the post to nestle in the bottom corner.

A long punt out of defence was headed on by Booth into the path of Shaun Welford who took no second asking to fire a rasping shot past the goalkeeper to double the home side's advantage.

Six minutes from the end, substitute Joe Nwoko hit a shot of equal venom past Kamurasi to offer the Wells' travelling support some optimism but the home side saw out the game with little alarm.

There was plenty to admire in Tunbridge Wells' performance against a team, unlikely to challenge Hollands or Greenwich Borough for the title, but probably not going too fall far short. The vision has to be next season and if this team can be kept together significant progress should be made, but whether the loan players will be available, leaves a big question mark. Bourne appears to have developed a good relationship with Maidstone United and if Crandley returns to Gillingham happy with his stay, who's to say there might not be more youngsters following in his wake. Gillingham will have no development squad next season in league action, so the players have to play somewhere.

This was my first trip to Homelands since they laid their 3G pitch. Having heard a few horror stories, I was reasonably impressed. It didn't appear to play much differently to Maidstone, although there are some visible ridges, which I would think need ironing out (forgive the pun) in the close season.

A borrowed programme, coincidentally Ashford v Tunbridge Wells, offered an insight into non-league football in 1951. One passage amused me concerning a practice match that had been played a week previously. Two wingers could not appear, one was sick and the other was prevented by unforeseen circumstances, but he did send a telegram to say he couldn't make it!

The tidying-up of the dressing rooms had not gone exactly to plan during the summer as somebody had managed to paint the stove in the visitor's dressing room and it was impossible to light the fire without smoking the place out!