Saturday, 30 April 2016

Tunbridge Wells 3 Deal Town 0

Match 94/15/1299 - Saturday, 30th April 2016 - Southern Counties East

Tunbridge Wells (0) 3 Nwoko 46, Crandley 75, Howlett 82
Deal Town (0) 0
Attendance: 320

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 36/6,673

Tunbridge Wells finished the season with a flourish leaving their faithful support a good deal more optimistic than they might have been a month ago. Four successive clean sheets with three wins lifted the club into a respectable finishing position of 14th, however disappointing that might be from the season’s start.

There is now the foundation of a decent team based on youth with a sprinkling of experience. Jason Bourne’s major task over the summer period is keeping this squad together with many of the decisions out of his hands. Stephen Ikpeme, Tom Mackelden and Ollie Cooke return to Maidstone’s Under-21s whilst Ryan Crandley will want to see what his future holds at Gillingham.

It will be new beginnings next season with a new chairman in place and also an Under-21 team that is going to feed through the next batch of Ikpemes and Crandleys but from within their own ranks.

Considering the almost non-competitive nature of this final Southern Counties East fixture, the attendance of 320 was remarkable, once again highlighting the potential at Culverden. On the pitch, the game was to get a little spicy as well.

Tunbridge Wells started well and hit the post after eight minutes, the rebound falling to Crandley who put the ball wide of the post. Deal Town responded and it took two saving blocks to deny them a 13th minute lead. Tom Bryant saw a 14th minute free kick pushed to safety by the Deal 'keeper and two minutes later the home side was denied once more by the woodwork as a shot came back off the underside of the crossbar.

Five minutes before half time a surging run from Ikpeme was ended with a foul on the edge of the box but the free kick was wasted.

Only one minute of the second period was required for the Wells to take a deserved lead. The ball fell nicely for Joe Nwoko to angle a shot across the face of the goalkeeper, who got a hand to the shot but failed to stop it from crossing the line.

After 70 minutes, a foul led to an unseemly fracas which ended with a punch and a headbutt and Dane Moore seeing red for the Wells and the Deal Town number seven walking with him.

Five minutes later, another powerful run from Ikpeme ended with his shot being parried by the goalkeeper into the path of Crandley, who very nearly made a mess from two yards but the ball had just enough momentum to cross the line.

Steve Lawrence was asked to make a decent save one-on-one with a Deal striker before Jack Howlett ended a run with a solid shot into the bottom corner.

This signalled the fond farewell to Andy Boyle, who came off the subs bench for a final appearance before retiring from the game. The camaraderie of non-league football is such that a retirement card was passed around the south stand before the game for supporters to add their best wishes.

There was still time for a Deal substitute to pick up a second yellow and depart for the dressing room early.

All Tunbridge Wells supporters will be hoping for a finishing position a lot higher this time next year and, on this evidence, they have every reason to be cheerful.

No comments: