Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Gillingham U18 2 Oxford City U18 0

Match 59/16/1366 - Wednesday, 30th November 2016 - FA Youth Cup 3R

Gillingham (1) 2 Conway 39, Stevenson 88
Oxford City (0) 0
Attendance: 251

Entrance: £5
Programme: Free
Mileage: 58/4,590

Gillingham progressed with relative comfort into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup and now harbour dreams of drawing a major club in Friday's draw.

The home side won the game with goals towards the end of each half through Jack Conway and Bradley Stevenson. If they had been a bit sharper in front of goal, the game would have been sewn up long before Stevenson's 88th minute clincher.

Conway opened the scoring six minutes before the break, in a move that started with a long kick from the goalkeeper. Leroy Hlabi controlled then flicked the ball over his man, and after his shot was blocked, Conway fired home the rebound from 10 yards.

With Gillingham's wastefulness always came the threat that Oxford City might pinch a goal and, after 64 minutes they had the ball in the net only to see a linesman's flag rule it out for offside, much to the disappointment of their contingent of supporters.

Noel Mbo, who has been attracting the attention of Gillingham's supporters during his successful loan spell at East Grinstead, came off the bench and immediately added a different dimension with his direct running and powerful shooting.

The Gills doubled their lead when Mbo laid the ball off to attacking midfielder Stevenson and his low, left-footed strike from 20 yards found the bottom corner.

Hlabi almost got a goal to reward a good performance, but his long-range effort hit the bar in stoppage time, but the Gills had done enough by then to progress.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Chipstead U18 0 Tonbridge Angels U18 2

Match 58/16/1365 - Monday, 28th November 2016 - Ryman U18 League Cup Third Round

Chipstead (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (0) 2 Bakare 48, Smith 90+2
Attendance: 42
New Ground: 298

Entrance: £3 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 100/4,532

Official attendances are not always given at Youth team games, so for the sake of this blog I do a headcount as, usually, the crowd are assembled in one area. On a freezing night, at half-time it appeared that everybody made their way to the bar that was serving tea and coffee, so I decided to do the headcount in there, I counted 41. On this occasion, Chipstead did actually announce an attendance figure of 42, perhaps I failed to include myself!

Tonbridge progressed to the Fourth Round of the Lucas Fettes Cup (Ryman League Cup) on a bitterly cold night at Chipstead’s High Road Football Ground.

Jay Stubberfield, the Tonbridge manager, was able to field a strong team, but one that was still missing Sid Sollis, Tommy Chapman and Ollie Baker.

Tonbridge were, for the best part, in control of the game but failed to break down a stubborn Chipstead back line who boasted three defenders whose height and build defied their 18 years!

An early chance fell Kunle Bakare’s way but he dragged his shot wide and after seven minutes there was a strong Tonbridge claim for a penalty when Liam Smith was brought down, clearly in the box, but the referee gave a free kick for the first pull on the shoulder by the Chipstead winger, who was booked for the offence.

It was fully 30 minutes before Chipstead brought a save out of Lewis Mitchell, who comfortably held a shot from outside of the box.

Smith crossed for Henry Ikejie to steer his shot wide and Jack Bray shot over before the entire crowd descended on the bar for a half-time warm.

The visitors quickly got off the mark in the second half when Bakare capitalised on some indecisive defending to put the Angels into the lead with a shot into the bottom corner.

Chipstead responded well and had a goal disallowed, clearly offside and forced a succession of corners, one of which was scrambled to safety from the line. But a strong defensive display from Callum Adonis-Taylor and Ryan Gallifant meant Mitchell was rarely called into action.

Tonbridge finally wrapped the game up, to the relief of the frozen spectators who were fearing extra time, with a spectacular curling shot into the top corner from Smith.

Stubberfield was pleased with his team’s efforts commenting: “this was our first Ryman game since playing away at Ramsgate - so we had no momentum going into the game. A lot of the lads will play on Sunday away to Margate and then away at Greenwich on Thursday. We are looking to build momentum from tonight. Apart from the one cleared off the line I felt we were comfortable despite not being at our free flowing best. The amount of corners they had second half was worrying me but in the end it was a solid but well deserved win.”

Tonbridge await the draw for their opponents in the next round.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Gillingham 3 Rochdale 0

Match 57/16/1364 - Saturday, 26th November 2016 - League One

Gillingham (0) 3 Nouble 53, Emmanuel-Thomas 89, Byrne 90
Rochdale (0) 0
Attendance: 5,409

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 58/4,432

Match Report

This is a cut-and-paste from Kent Online, the blog is now up-to-date and hopefully I'll keep in that state:

Gillingham have their first clean sheet in 27 League 1 games after beating Rochdale 3-0 at Priestfield on Saturday.

Frank Nouble’s deflected strike gave Gills the lead, with late goals from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Mark Byrne making sure of victory.

Rochdale were the better side in a goalless first half, without looking like scoring.

They looked dangerous out wide and in Callum Camps they had the brightest midfielder on show.

Gills were hit by the loss of Billy Knott to injury after only 14 minutes - maybe he’d have been the one to really get about Dale in the middle of the park - but it wasn’t to be.

It took Gills 25 minutes to muster a shot, Emmanuel-Thomas starting the move by intercepting a pass in midfield and combining with Cody McDonald before dragging the ball wide.

Justin Edinburgh’s side had the ball in the net on 37 minutes but Baily Cargill’s header from Bradley Dack’s free-kick was ruled out for offside.

For Dale, Joe Thompson’s control let him down in front of the Rainham End when found by Mendez-Laing, who then fired tamely at Stuart Nelson after space opened up on the edge of the box.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Tonbridge 2 Merstham 2

Match 56/16/1363 - Tuesday, 22nd November 2016 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (2) 2 Akrofi 21, Phipp 38
Merstham (0) 2 Hector 54, Azeez 90
Attendance: 303

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/4,374

In an effort to get this blog up-to-date, the following is a cut-and-paste from the Tonbridge Angels official site:

This was the classic 'game of two halves'. Tonbridge dominated the first period but Merstham fought back valiantly to obtain a share of the points in what must have seemed almost like a defeat to the home side given the lateness of the equalising goal.

Angels boss Steve McKimm went with the same starting eleven that took to the field at Needham Market and came back with a 2-0 win. That meant no place for Luke Allen or new loan signing Nelson Mitchell who both had to be content with a seat on the bench.

His selection seemed completely justified as right from the start Tonbridge took the game to their visitors with a brand of pressing play that saw them dominate proceedings throughout the first half. Chances fell to Nathan Elder, Nick Wheeler and Tom Phipp but it was Alex Akrofi making his home debut who struck first for the Angels in the 21st minute. Phipp's free kick was directed wide to Wheeler whose perfect cross was met by Akrofi at the near post.

On 34 minutes Elder was through on goal after a misjudgement of the flight of the ball by a Merstham defender, but his volley was wide of Phil Wilson's right hand post. Tonbridge however did go further ahead four minutes later when Tom Phipp's header was directed into his own goal by Mersham's skipper Tom Kavanagh.

If the first half had belonged to Tonbridge then the second half saw a significant improvement in the visitors play. They managed to keep possession in more advanced areas and were starting to put some pressure on the Tonbridge defence. That said the visitors first goal did come as something of a surprise. There seemed to be relatively little danger to the Tonbridge goal when Dan Hector took up possession 25 yds out. His shot however was fierce and accurate and Anthony Di Bernardo was never going to get anywhere near it.

The goal encouraged Merstham who now had belief that they could get something out of the game. There were some chances for the hosts namely Elder on 71 minutes James Folkes four minutes later and Luke Blewden a further four minutes after that. However, around the 75 minute mark the Moatsiders started to impose themselves on the game and there was a sense that the Angels were going to have to work very hard to maintain their lead.

It seemed they might just about get over the finishing line but in the 90th minute Merstham grabbed their deserved equaliser. It was hardly goal of the season but after keeping their possession alive in the Tonbridge area and pulling the home defence in different directions substitute Lanre Azeez managed to get the final say as his scuffed shot skidded across the wet turf and into the net with Di Bernardo possibly unsighted.

In stoppage time the Angels had three successive corners but Merstham were in no mood to concede having fought so valiantly to get something out of the game.

Afterwards, Mckimm said: "We lost some impetus when Alex went off, but with three central midfield players our ball retention should have been better. That said we've had chances and if one of those had gone in its probably game over. But they didn't and credit Merstham they've come back and got something from the game. Supporters will be disappointed but we haven't lost and players are all the time coming back into contention for a place with some big games coming up."

Pictures courtesy of Wes Filtness

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Chatham Town 1 Faversham Town 1

Match 55/16/1362 - Monday, 21st November 2016 - Ryman South

Chatham Town (1) 1 Rogers 8
Faversham Town (1) 1 Harvey 6
Match abandoned, waterlogged pitch, after 27 minutes
Attendance: 128

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 40/4,336

Match Report

This was a Kent derby that may have only lasted 27 minutes but nobody could say it was a damp squib!

After 20 minutes of heavy rain the puddles around the centre circle were becoming very apparent although the ball continued to travel reasonably well across the surface. As the rain became harder, referee Stephen Brown approached both benches and allowed play to continue but within seconds the rain became the proverbial stair rods and a couple of minutes later he had little alternative but to call a halt. A few minutes wait ended with the announcement that the evening's entertainment had been brought to a close.

Chatham began the evening with Steve Binks caretaking after the dismissal of Darren Anslow following a humiliating 7-0 reverse at home to Hastings United on Saturday. This was a sense of deja vu for the Maidstone Road club who also lost the services of Tony Beckingham, who resigned following a 7-1 rout by this evening's opponents Faversham Town. It was speculated that the man that the Chats have struggled to replace, Kevin Watson, would be asked to once more take the helm, but by the end of the evening it was apparent that the next incumbent would be the ex-Hollands and Blair manager, Paul Piggott.

The rain was falling steadily as Mr Brown got the game underway and within six minutes, we were left wondering whether another mauling by Faversham was coming the Chats way.

Luke Harvey was sent through the centre of midfield, powering past some ineffectual challenges before shooting past Alex Hyde to open the scoring.

But, due credit to the home side who were on level terms within a couple of minutes. Having won a corner when Thomas Benham turned an effort around the post, the resultant place kick was powerfully headed home from six yards by Freeman Rogers.

A couple of half chances came Faversham's way before the referee called a halt. As my feet plunged into a puddle above my ankles on the way out, I knew the referee had made the right decision.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Needham Market 0 Tonbridge 2

Match 54/16/1361 - Saturday, 19th November 2016 - Ryman Premier

Needham Market (0) 0
Tonbridge (2) 2 Blewden 2, Elder 23
Attendance: 258

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 225/4,296

We can argue until we are blue in the face about the rights or wrongs of Steve McKimm's post-match interview following the FA Trophy defeat to Kingstonian, but we cannot deny that it engendered the response he was looking for.

A great run up to Suffolk had us arriving in plenty of time to make acquaintance with the friendly folk of Needham Market, although we were slightly disappointed that the most enthusiastic tea lady on the Ryman League circuit was not, this year, wearing her yellow Doctor Martens! She was as bubbly as ever though and is a great asset to the club.

Standing with us in the burger queue, if Steve McKimm is reading this, they were drinking tea, was Luke Allen who was suspended and Tommy Whitnall who had taken a knock to the knee. This left a strange looking starting line-up with Damian Scannell in the midfield holding role and Luke Blewden playing wide right with new signing, Alex Akrofi, alongside Nathan Elder.

Since last year's visit to Bloomfields there has been a new covered terrace behind one of the goals erected. The pitch looked better than last season, although it was heavily leaf-strewn.

Tonbridge could not have got off to a better start. After two minutes, a short corner routine, straight off the training ground, saw Tom Phipp deliver an inch-perfect cross the the far post where Blewden met it with a firm header to open the scoring.

Scannell and Phipp quickly found a good understanding in the middle of the field and the visitors created chances with Elder heading wide; a speculative shot from Phipp going over and Sonny Miles directing a header wide from a Wheeler corner. We had reached the 18th minute before Needham's Luke Ingram shot straight at Anthony Di Bernardo.

After the 22 minutes, the referee took a substantially hit cross field pass from Phipp on the side of the head, knocking him out. Sadly, and I'm guilty as charged, when the referee takes a hit, the natural inclincation is to laugh, but it quickly became evident that the poor guy was in trouble. A 15 minute delay ensued before he was stretchered away and taken to hospital.

As with the opening of the game, Tonbridge roared into action on the restart. A Wheeler free kick was sent into the box where it was met by the head of George Beaven, who nodded it down for Elder to shoot into the bottom corner to double their advantage.

Akrofi enjoyed a lively debut with three efforts either side of the break only marginally wide but after 68 minutes was guilty of a glaring miss when set up by Elder his shot was badly mishit.

The game sadly ended with an unseemly fracas that began with an flailing arm into the face of a Tonbridge defender and spilt over to the respective benches.

After Tuesday's exit from the FA Trophy this was a return, perhaps not to the early season form, but nevertheless a thoroughly good professional performance against a side well-placed in the division.

Pictures below courtesy of David Couldridge

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Tonbridge 1 Kingstonian 2

Match 53/16/1360 - Tuesday, 15th November 2016 - FA Trophy 2QR Replay

Tonbridge (0) 1 Elder 54
Kingstonian (0) 2 Pico-Gomez 66, Turner 74
Attendance: 286

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/4,071

Match Report

The groundhopper in me got just a little excited about a trip to Evo-Stick Southern League North Leigh (evidently pronounced Nor'lye by the locals), but apart from a 15 minutes spell, the Oxfordshire club seemed as far away as Wembley itself.

The clubs were meeting for a third time in 10 days and Kingstonian, as was said in conversation following the game, "each time, have done a job on us."

Kingstonian are a decent side without being particularly eye-catching, but they do the basics well. At the back, in the shape of Bruce Hogg and Alan Inns, they have a strong, consistent central defence that just heads or whacks the ball to safety and should that rearguard be breached, there is probably the best goalkeeper in the league, Rob Tolfrey. Spearheading the attack is Ryan Moss, a recognised goalscorer whilst on the flanks, Youssef Bamba and Joe Turner actually do catch the eye. The K's had a poor start to the season but are now hitting the straps and, personally, I would be surprised if they are not in the mix come April.

I have the benefit of writing this knowing the content of Steve McKimm's post-match interview which was as forthright as any in his time at the club. In the past, when he has criticised he has rarely named players, on this occasion he held back very little, some of which I felt might be better left in the dressing room.

The first half had all the hallmarks of a game in which the two sides knew each well as chances were few and far between. Tonbridge started slightly the brighter with Damian Scannell and Luke Blewden having shots blocked before Bamba announced his presence with at shot that was well saved by Anthony Di Bernardo at his near post.

After 27 minutes, Di Bernardo made a fine save from Turner, but still needed a goal-line clearance from James Folkes to retain parity.

Tonbridge's best effort of the half came with five minutes remaining when a Nick Wheeler cross somehow evaded the head of Nathan Elder.

The aforementioned 15 minute spell came at the beginning of the second half. The Luke's, Allen and Blewden, combined well to force a low save from Tolfrey and a corner from the left resulted in Sonny Miles heading wide. After 54 minutes, the Angels got their noses in front when Wheeler crossed from the left for Elder to direct a downward header inside the right hand post.

Further chances came when Allen just failed to get a touch to convert in front of goal and Wheeler curled a shot over the angle of right hand post and bar.

Perhaps it is synonymous with this season that an injury turned the game in favour of the visitors. Where previously it could be said that there was very little, the moment George Beavan left the field, the momentum changed hands, coincidence, maybe, but I don't think so.

Within five minutes Kingstonian were level. McKimm picked out Di Bernardo's short throw out to Scannell was the root of the goal. Yes, but a lot of football was played after. After Scannell lost possession, Di Bernardo actually made a good save low to his left following a shot from Turner. From the resultant corner, Tonbridge had several attempts to clear their lines without achieving it before a long cross into the box was headed on by Moss into the path of Pelayo Pico-Gomez, who hooked it into the net from six yards.

Eight minutes later the visitors were in front. A shot from Luke Blewden from the right side of the box was blocked, the clearance falling to Turner, fully 70 yards from goal. Blewden gave chase, and perhaps as McKimm bemoaned later, should have brought him down and taken a booking, but Turner raced on, ghosted past Jerrome Sobers as if he wasn't there and shot from the edge of the box past Di Bernardo. It was a quality goal, avoidable yes, but some run, some finish.

Tonbridge huffed and puffed for an equaliser without really looking like getting it with a final minute clearance from the line by Sobers and a disallowed Kingstonian goal keeping the game alive to the finish.

So North Leigh will have to wait for another day and so will Wembley.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Gillingham 2 Northampton Town 1

Match 52/16/1359 - Saturday, 12th November 2016 - League One

Gillingham (0) 2 Ehmer 48, Emmanuel-Thomas 90
Northampton Town (1) 1 O'Toole 36
Attendance: 5,790

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3.00
Mileage: 58/4,033

Match Report

At 16.48, all the misery, the belly-aching that had gone on for the last hour was brought to an end. One waft of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas's left foot and everything was right in the world.

Prior to 16.48 it had been a typical Gillingham performance of late. Good first half-hour without getting a breakthrough; confidence starts to drain; sloppy goal given away and once more chasing the game.

In all fairness to Justin Edinburgh, the second half was a whole lot better. Gillingham got back on level terms and, principally, dictated the second half but it looked as though it was going to be another day of what might have beens.

The afternoon began with a beautifully presented tribute for Remembrance Day beginning with the laying of wreathes by the respective captains followed by The Last Post and ending with a moment's perfectly observed silence.

When the game got underway it was Gillingham that were fastest out of the traps. Three efforts from Billy Knott, three more from Emmanuel-Thomas and a bizarre moment when the visitors right back, Brendan Maloney, headed past his own advancing goalkeeper, but managing to get back and clear from his line, before Northampton won a corner after nearly 20 minutes. This was quickly followed by Stuart Nelson making a good blocking save to thwart Sam Hoskins.

Does confidence evaporate? After such a positive opening, slowly the visitors were allowed back into the game and although it could be said that Northampton's opening goal was against the run of play, you could sense it coming. A corner on the right hand side to the centre of the six yard box was headed back to the near post by Zander Diamond to John-Joe O'Toole who steered his header past Nelson.

Gillingham did respond with a smart corner routine that opened up a shooting chance for Max Ehmer, but his well struck shot was wide of the right hand post.

On the stroke of half-time, Justin Edinburgh's team talk might have had to be very different had a shot from JJ Hooper gone in rather than strike the post.

That Edinburgh team talk had the desired effect three minutes into the second period when Jake Hessenthaler's corner was nodded back across goal by Emmanuel-Thomas for Ehmer to lash the ball home.

As both sides pressed for a winner, the introduction of Bradley Dack as a 64th minute substitute added impetus. But, as the second period drifted on, the crowd quietened and were becoming increasingly frustrated.

As the clock ticked into time-added, Ryan Jackson took a pass from Josh Wright and, from the bye-line, pulled back a cross into the danger area that was just behind Dack. The ball fell at the feet of Paul Anderson, but his scuffed clearance only found Emmanuel-Thomas who, from 20 yards, struck sweetly into the bottom corner.

No matter that, officially, the win-less, clean sheet-less run had been broken midweek in the tin-pot trophy at The Hawthorns, this was the true end to that sorry sequence.

If hope has been restored at Priestfield, let us pray that it can survive Brackley on Wednesday.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Tonbridge 0 Bromley 1

Match 51/16/1358 - Tuesday, 8th November 2016 - Kent Senior Cup 2R

Tonbridge (0) 0
Bromley (1) 1 Sho-Silva 41
Attendance: 190

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £0.50
Mileage: 38/3,975

Match Report

They don't come around very often, but just occasionally there is a game where valid reasons can be made that it is a good one to lose and this was one of them. Nobody was going to shout it from the rooftops, everybody tries to make positive noises, but with injuries, suspensions and a two-game a week schedule until well into the New Year, this competition was expendable.

It was a shame that the opponents, Bromley, came from the National League and, following a blank weekend, turned up with a very strong side. If the visitors had come from Ryman South, for instance, our young side proved on the night that they would be good enough to progress another round.

So, whilst Bromley fielded eight players with National League experience, Tonbridge started with four players from either the Reserves or Youth team and ended with seven such like on the pitch.

The Tonbridge supporters leaving Longmead after the match would, at least should, have been encouraged by the performance of this young team, whilst admitting that if Bromley had been a touch sharper in front of goal then the margin of defeat might have been a lot heavier.

The first chance of the evening fell to the hosts after seven minutes when a cross from Tommy Whitnell found the head of the returning Nathan Elder, but the striker steered his header into the welcoming arms of Alan Julian.

Anthony Di Bernardo was called into action after 13 minutes with an excellent save, low right, from Tobi Sho-Silva.

Damian Scannell brought an equally fine save from Julian after 18 minutes with the keeper pushing the shot, that took a deflection, away from the top corner.

Bromley asserted their control of the game in the second quarter, but shot after shot missed the target, until they finally took the lead with four minutes remaining of the half. The right back, Daniel Johnson, on the overlap fired in a shot from the edge of the box that was parried by Di Bernardo into the path of Sho-Silva who tucked it in from eight yards.

Tonbridge's young striker, Tashi-Jay Kwayie was involved three times in the opening eight minutes of the second half. First, a good run and cross from Jack Parter, begged a touch from Kwayie but he was narrowly short of making it; then a fine run and cross saw Elder's header go wide before a run and shot that narrowly went wide right.

The home side got younger and younger as Callum Adonis-Taylor, Richard Frimpong and Corey Watts were introduced.

Bromley saw the game out on the front foot, but a mixture of decent defending from the hosts and poor finishing left the scoreline unaltered.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Tonbridge 0 Kingstonian 1

Match 50/16/1357 - Saturday, 5th November 2016 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (0) 0
Kingstonian (1) 1 Inns 7
Attendance: 481

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/3,937

Guy Fawkes Day turned into a damp squib for Tonbridge as an early goal from Alan Inns was enough to consign the Angels' unbeaten home record to the bin.

Tonbridge's injury woes (crisis even) shows little sign of abatting with George Beaven returning to the treatment table and James Folkes on the bench in name only. Nathan Elder's continued absence brought the recall of Tashi-Jay Kwayie from his loan spell at East Grinstead and into the side for his senior debut. It was a difficult ask of the youngster playing as a lone striker against the experienced pairing of Bruce Hogg and Alan Inns, but he stuck to his task and put an audacious overhead kick just wide of the post after 10 minutes.

Tonbridge had an early chance when a shot from Jerrome Sobers was saved at the near post by Rob Tolfrey.

Sobers was brought into action at his own end a minute later when he deflected a cross past his own goal. From the resultant corner, Inns powered in an unchallenged header to put the Ks in front.

Tonbridge huffed and puffed a response but without the strength and hold-up play of Elder it was difficult for them to make an impression on a well-drilled Kingstonian defence. They came closest after 35 minutes when a run and cross from Kwayie was just behind Luke Allen but Luke Blewden arriving from the right hand side struck a shot that hit the outside of a post.

Early in the second period, a shot from outside of the penalty area from Sean Bennett-Johnson was tipped over by Di Bernardo as Tonbridge continued to control possession but failing to create anything of note.

Just past the hour, Kwayie was unlucky when a shot following a cross from Ugo Udoji was deflected wide for a corner, quickly followed by a Nick Wheeler free kick that suffered the same fate.

As the minutes ticked away, Kwayie failed to find the target with a header after some good work from Wheeler, whilst with three minutes to go, a splendid move involving Tommy Whitnell and Jack Parter ended with the latter running on to a pass but Tolfrey was out to smother at his feet.

It is said form is temporary, class is permanent, so I'm optimistic that the early season form will return in the not-too-distant future. I believe I know exactly when that will be, the day Tommy Parkinson is fit and ready to return to action.

Pictures courtesy of David Couldridge

Saturday, 5 November 2016

K Sports 4 FC Elmstead 1

Match 49/16/1356 - Friday, 4th November 2016 - SCEFL Division 1

K Sports (3) 4 Smith 4,40 Barratt (o.g.) 8 Norman 74
FC Elmstead (1) 1 Babalola 45
Attendance: 341

Entrance: £5
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 40/3,899
New Ground: 297

Match Report

The grand opening of K Sports new ground (the same Cobdown location as their old ground) brought a bumper attendance of 341, an amazing number given that the eight games in SCEFL Division One on Saturday amounted to just 275 with the largest being Glebe's at 52. I cannot admit to knowing too much about the standard at this level, but it was very watchable with the home side giving people every reason to return for the next home game. Whether they will, is open to question.

The new venue has a 3G pitch which played well and didn't look particularly inferior to their senior neighbours, Maidstone United. There is a small stand straddling the half-way line that, guessing, would hold around 120 people. The high perimeter open mesh perimeter fencing does give a feel of a cage which doesn't offer a lot of character. But at this level, it does what it says on the tin, and doubtless, will be good for the club's coffers as it gets rented at any time during the week.

K Sports (if anybody knows why they are called that, please leave a message) are a club that has had many guises. Aylesford Paper Mills became APM to become APM Contrast before their present name.

They celebrated the opening with a goal after just four minutes. Jason Perry, who caught the eye on the evening, deceived the Elmstead defence from a free kick, slipping it straight through to Caine Smith, who drove his shot past the goalkeeper.

One quickly became two, after eight minutes, when a long throw caused confusion that ended with Reece Barratt poking it past his own keeper.

Five minutes before the break, Smith was played through with a superb pass over the top from Gabriel Luckhurst, he rounded the goalkeeper and scored from a tight angle close to the bye-line to make it 3-0 to K Sports.

Elmstead gave themselves a lifeline with a goal on the stroke of half-time when Dexter Babalola latched onto a pass from Jack Jeffreys to round the keeper and score.

A fine drive from 25 yards by Norman after a corner was cleared to him was the highlight of the second half.

The Elmstead goalkeeper did well to deny Smith a hat-trick saving with his feet and his 85th minute save from Ashley Cooper was a class above this division.

K Sports have played all their games away from home whilst waiting for their ground to be completed and presently sit in mid-table. It is going to be interesting to see where they are going to finish with the run of home games they will now have and, even more so, how many people they are going to attract on a week-to-week basis.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Ashford Town (Middlesex) 1 Tonbridge 4

Match 48/16/1356 - Tuesday, 1st November 2016 - FA Trophy 1QRR

Ashford Town (Middlesex) (0) 1 Webb 48
Tonbridge (2) 4 Allen 2 Blewden 32,90 Sobers 84
Attendance: 227

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 152/3,859

Tonbridge overcame a massive square pegs in round holes situation to earn a Second Qualifying Round tie at Kingstonian although the 4-1 scoreline could only be described as flattering.

It was eight years to the day (so my Facebook - You have a Memory tells me) that my first visit to Shorts Lane saw Tonbridge triumph emphatically 7-1. Little has changed at the little stadium with the rumblings of Heathrow Airport as its backdrop excepting the Government's announcement that the airport has won the bidding for the south-east's third runway. Louder rumblings, the air heavier with aviation fuel is their prospect.

On entry, the white board listing the teams, showed a Tonbridge side that looked plainly odd, so odd it was difficult to pinpoint exactly who would be playing where. Added to the wounded for recent weeks was Nathan Elder, sadly having to return to the Caribbean for a family funeral. George Beaven returned, but with question marks regarding his full fitness whilst James Folkes, also with fitness doubts, employed on the right side of midfield. Up front, Luke Blewden would be asked to plough a lone furrow.

After the shock of Saturday, Tonbridge's makeshift looking side enjoyed the perfect start with a goal after 70 seconds; Luke Allen's shot from the edge of the box taking a wicked deflection leaving the goalkeeper no chance.

Ashford came right back into the game with a couple of half chances before Damian Scannell brought a good low save from Kavanagh Keedall.

After a bright start the game settled into a stalemate until, just past the half-hour mark, a cross from the left was met with a deft header from Blewden, who steered it into the bottom corner.

The start of the second period brought more reshuffling for Steve McKimm with Wheeler being withdrawn through injury and replaced by Parter, surprisingly named on the bench. Before the visitors could get truly organised, Ashford had pulled a goal back, bundled home by Max Webb, following a cross from the right.

With their tail up, Ashford poured forward in search of an equaliser leaving Tonbridge to defend in numbers. There were near misses, last ditch punts to safety, but Anthony Di Bernardo was not seriously tested.

Tonbridge were forced into another change after 77 minutes when Beaven left the field injured having gone much further into the game than expected. This time the reshuffle worked in their favour. Cameron Milham came on and immediately took hold of the centre of the field with the added bonus of Parter moving to his more natural left back position.

With eight minutes to go, the tie was effectively sealed when a cross into the box was met by the head of Jerrome Sobers, steering the ball into the bottom corner.

In the third minute of time added, with Ashford desperately throwing bodies forward, the ball was played to Blewden who ran from 15 yards inside his own half, unopposed, before burying a good finish past Keedall.

The £2,700 prize money is far more rewarding than an away tie at Kingstonian in the next round, but hopefully by that time, some of the those square pegs might be in square holes.

Tonbridge Angels U18 6 Raynes Park Vale U18 1

Match 47/16/1355 - Monday, 31st October 2016 - Ryman Youth League

Tonbridge Angels U18 (6) 6 Welsh 7 Ghali 16,26 Jardell 28 Cussen 32 (Pen) Gallifant 45
Raynes Park Vale U18 (0) 1 Martin 86
Headcount: 45

Entrance: £1 Senior
Team Sheet: Free
Mileage: 38/3,707

Visitors Raynes Park Vale suffered a Halloween nightmare of a first half as Tonbridge’s scintillating display tore the south London side to shreds, entering the break 6-0 up.

But, all credit to Vale, whose management adjusted their shape at half-time, played a very high line and restricted the space that they had afforded the Angels during the first period.

The first half was a very satisfying performance and manager Jay Stubberfield said after the game that: “We played them off the park first half and deserved to go in 6-0. Raynes Park adopted a high defensive line and pressed us really high to stop us playing in the second half and it worked. We lacked intelligence and game understanding to change our approach. We kept trying to play out from the back even though there was no room; the room was in behind but we failed to get the ball there quickly enough. It's a learning curve of when to play and build or when to turn defences to get in behind which will eventually give our midfield more room to operate in.”

Tonbridge got themselves in front after seven minutes with a goal from Dominic Welsh after a cross from Richard Frimpong and from that moment they oozed confidence. Everybody looked comfortable on the ball as they played a short passing game that cut swathes through a mesmerised visiting defence.

After 17 minutes, another cross from Frimpong, this time operating from the left side, found Ziyad Ghali at the far post who hit a low shot into the far corner to make it 2-0.

Ghali doubled his tally after 26 minutes converting a through ball from Welsh and this became 4-0 two minutes later when Jardell Conteh fired in a free kick from the right hand side of the box.

A third goal in the space of six minutes came when Frimpong was felled in the box and Jack Cussen sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.

Raynes Park Vale had their first real attempt on goal after 38 minutes when Oska Henderson brought a good save out of Lewis Mitchell, who touched the ball over the bar.

Tonbridge wrapped up their first half display with a goal from debutant, Ryan Gallifant, who has arrived after playing for Brighton & Hove Albion through their age groups.

During the second half, as said, Vale tightened up and deserved their 86th minute consolation goal when a shot from all of 35 yards fairly rocketed over the head of Mitchell.

Tonbridge Under 18s are back in action at Longmead next Monday when they welcome back Maidstone United, a game everybody should be looking forward to after their epic 5-5 FA Youth Cup encounter. Looking forward, Jay commented: “Maidstone will not give us the time or space that Raynes Park afforded us in the first half, so we need to learn quickly from our second half performance.