Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Tunbridge Wells U18 0 Sevenoaks Town U18 3

Match 141/16/1448 - Tuesday, 30th May 2017 - Kent Youth League Spring Cup Final

Tunbridge Wells (0) 0
Sevenoaks Town U18 (2) 3
Headount: 75

Entrance: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/9,697

My season was over, stranded on a goal tally of 499 when, out of the blue, I received a text from a friend, quickly followed by another text from Tunbridge Wells Football Club informing me of a fixture at Culverden. The Kent Youth League Spring Cup was a competition of which I had no knowledge of its existence despite both these finalists having played four group games.

Word had obviously spread quickly as I would say that my estimate attendance of 75 is possibly a little conservative.

My 500th goal duly arrived after 25 minutes when a cross from the left was headed on at the near post to a waiting Sevenoaks player at the far stick to touch in. It would be nice to credit somebody with the goal but with no team sheet and a twitter request to Sevenoaks for their scorers going, at present, unanswered, he will continue to be unknown.

Sevenoaks were by far the better side and increased their lead after 36 minutes when a goalkeeping error allowed a close range header to score.

The Sevenoaks number seven, who took the eye with some skilful moments on the ball took advantage of another error when he intercepted a back pass that was always going to fall short of the goalkeeper to lob home the visitors third goal with four minutes remaining.

There was enough time remaining for the number seven to draw a couple of heavy challenges when it was clear that some of the Tunbridge Wells defenders were taking exception to what they perceived as piss-taking.

This time, it was the final curtain call. Pre-season 2017 is just four weeks away.

Lifetime match total: 2,700
Number of grounds: 309

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Macclesfield Town 2 York City 3

Match 140/16/1447 - Sunday, 21st May 2017 - FA Trophy Final

Macclesfield Town (2) 2 Browne 13 Norburn 45
York City (2) 3 Parkin 8 Oliver 22 Connolly 86
Combined Attendance: 38,224
Played at Wembley Stadium

Entrance: £5
Combined Programme: £5
Mileage: 100/9,659

Match Report

Refreshed from a couple of drinks and plenty of football talk to while away the couple of hours between matches, we retook our seats fully expectant of a tight contest that would probably yield few goals, which would be shame as I needed a six goal thriller to finish my season on 500 goals.

My expectation was to rise very quickly as, by the 14th minute a goal had been scored by both sides. Macclesfield appeared to settle the quicker but went behind after eight minutes when Jon Parkin did what he has been doing for years, getting on the end of a cross from Danny Holmes to glance a header past ex-Gillingham goalkeeper, Scott Flinders.

The lead was not to last long though as the Cheshire side equalised six minutes later. An angled shot from Rhys Browne, who had an eye-catching afternoon, found its way under the body of the York goalkeeper, Kyle Letheren.

Twenty-two minutes had elapsed when Sean Newton’s cross across the face of goal allowed Vadaine Oliver a tap in at the far post.

Macclesfield responded well and should have been level long before their first half injury time equaliser. Letheren did well to turn away a shot from distance by Danny Whitaker and subsequently a close range save from the same player.

When the exciting Browne weaved his way from left and into a shooting position on the edge of the six yard box the hard work had been done but his shot sailed into the early evening sky.

But the Silkmen were not to be denied. Ollie Norburn powered in an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top corner to earn well-deserved parity at the break.

Four first half goals, two left for the 500, I now had the group on my side. The game had been so open in the first half, a couple more goals seemed almost assured.

Macclesfield did their level best to help me achieve the magic figure but York were nothing if not resilient with the best chance of the half being cleared from the line by York’s Hamza Bencherif.

Time was slipping away when York, against the run of play, got their noses in front. A long ball out of defence found the bustling Parkin who wasn’t to be shaken off before firing in a shot that took a huge deflection and looped over the despairing Flinders. Aiden Connolly made sure the ball crossed the line but the goal was all about Parkin’s dogged persistence.

There were still four minutes remaining with another four to be added and now the group were willing the ball into the net from either side just to make the 500, in truth nobody came close before the referee brought down the curtain on the 2016-17 season.

Cleethorpes 0 South Shields 4

Match 139/16/1446 - Sunday, 21st May 2017 - FA Vase Final

Cleethorpes (0) 0
South Shields (1) 4 Finnigan 43 (pen) Morse 80 Foley 86,89
Combined Attendance: 38,224
Played at Wembley Stadium

Entrance: £5
Combined Programme: £5
Mileage: 100/9,659

Match Report

This year’s Non-League Finals Day took very much the same route as last year's with the Vase Final ending with, as a bare statistic, a one-sided scoreline and the Trophy Final going the way of a club newly relegated from the National League. But the day produced two very watchable matches; the Vase game was not as one-sided as the score suggests and a quite thrilling, surprisingly open, Trophy Final.

This year my ticket was bought within a group which added to the day greatly and also produced the ridiculously cheap ticket of just a fiver. For two games at Wembley? Don’t mind if I do!

Although South Shields didn’t quite bring as many down as Hereford last season but their 12,000-plus following dwarfed their opponents, Cleethorpes and was almost as many as York and Macclesfield combined for the senior final.

There was the thorny issue of whether the Northern League side had a right to be at Wembley at all after their Fourth Round tie at home to last season’s winners Morpeth Town was abandoned with just eight minutes remaining and South Shields losing 4-2 following a floodlight failure. There will always be a conspiracy theory that somebody pulled the plug. They went on to win the replayed game 4-0.

Right from the outset it became clear that Cleethorpes had an uphill battle of their hands as South Shields and were left to rely on their rather diminutive goalkeeper, Liam Higton, to keep the scoreline goalless.

Just as Cleethorpes were growing into the game, South Shields opened the scoring from the spot after Tim Lowe had clumsily brought down Gavin Cogdon, who will be remembered by Tunbridge Wells supporters as a scorer for Spennymoor in their Vase Final of 2013. Carl Finnigan calmly disposed of the penalty kick to give the Mariners a half-time lead but not before Higton produced a magnificent save to turn a shot from Cogdon onto the crossbar.

Higton repeated his heroics five minutes into the second period this time touching a fierce shot from David Foley onto the woodwork.

From about the hour mark, the Wembley pitch and quite possibly the occasion started to drain the energy from the legs of the Cleethorpes side with one or another player needing attention for cramp.

To their credit, the Lincolnshire side battled on and it was not until the final ten minutes that South Shields made the game safe and perhaps put a scoreline on the board that reflected their superiority but, if no-one else, Liam Higton didn’t deserve.

A free kick from Robert Briggs expertly detected the head of Dillon Morse at the far post after 81 minutes and with five minutes remaining an exquisite through ball, from ex-Gillingham favourite (as we were told by Jim Case), Michael Richardson sent Foley clear for a good finish.

Foley wrapped up proceedings with a shot from outside of the area into the top corner as Cleethorpes were begging for the final whistle.

So, once more (the eighth in nine Vase Finals), it is a Northern League side that have prevailed.

Pictures below courtesy of Wesley Filtness, who, from pitchside, was able to get front on shots!

Monday, 22 May 2017

AEI Sports 4 Staplehurst Monarchs Reserves 1

Match 138/16/1445 - Friday, 19th May 2017 - Maidstone District Charity Cup Final

AEI Sports (1) 4 Kamara 30,51 Minors 65,71
Staplehurst Monarchs Reserves (1) 1 Lambert 26
Estimated Attendance: 200
Played at Maidstone United

Entrance: £5
Programme: Included
Mileage: 18/9,559

As the season rushes towards its close, this was an unashamed bit of number ticking, although with my home town team, Staplehurst Monarchs, competing there was a certain amount of justification.

I have been unable to ascertain the actual line-ups, so have taken the programme listing as gospel, which I doubt is correct, so if you are Mo Kamsra or Brendan Minors and seeing yourself credited with a brace apiece and perhaps didn't even strike a shot in anger, then take the praise with a wry smile.

A very healthy crowd which I estimated to be in excess of 200 saw a game that for Step Seven proved to be very watchable with a couple of talented players who probably could be performing at a higher level.

AEI Sports, from Aylesford, were for the majority of the game superior to their opposition who had gone through their league season in the Kent County League Division Three Central and East managing just one victory whilst AEI finished sixth out of nine competing clubs.

AEI had the ball in the net after 12 minutes but this was ruled out for offside before Callum Wilkins, in the Monarchs goal, saved well from Alex Oni, one of the stand-out players of the evening.

Staplehurst were struggling to gain a foothold in the game but gave warning after 20 minutes when they had two shots blocked before Dan Ashton blasted over.

But, against the run of play, it was indeed the Monarchs that took the lead after 26 minutes when Callum Lambert was sent clear to touch the ball past the advancing Dan Ball with Sean Stanton unable to sort his feet out to clear before the ball crossed the line.

The lead was not to last long as a punch clear from Wilkins fell at the feet of Kamara who rifled a shot into the roof of the net.

The rest of the half was mostly one-way traffic in AEI's favour but Staplehurst survived to the break with parity.

AEI Sports got their noses in front early in the second period when Kamara turned in a corner having been given time and space on the edge of the six yard box to leave Staplehurst with an uphill battle.

AEI's Dan Ball was forced into activity a couple of times before they went 3-1 up sfter 65 minutes. Wilkins headed clear just outside his box but the ball was returned with a lob from 25 yards by Brendan Minors.

Six minutes later, Wilkins suffered an unfortunate moment that his performance didn't deserve when he received a back pass and tried to take the ball around Minors only to be tackled, leaving an empty net to score.

As said, the game was better than a mere number and well worth the time and effort.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Punjab United 2 Stansfeld Oxford & Bermondsey Club 5

Match 137/16/1444 - Saturday, 13th May 2017 - Kent County League

Punjab United (0) 2 Adams (pen) 51 Goodwin 90
Stansfeld Oxford & Bermondsey Club (2) 5 Flaher 6,62,81 Slater 22 Hook 47
Headcount: 45
New Ground: 309

Entrance: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 46/9,541

A little under four miles down the B261 an all-ticket attendance of over 3,000 were assembled to watch Ebbsfleet’s latest attempt to escape Conference South via the play-offs.

After last year’s interrogation by their quizmaster, Jim Case and myself decided to give this season’s bunfight a miss and opt instead for a groundhop to the Kent County League champions Punjab United. We were rewarded in a rather unexpected fashion.

The Gravesend-based club have won the league at their first attempt, almost at a canter and, with the addition of floodlights donated to them by Salford City, will next season compete in the Southern Counties East Division One.

Entrance to the game was free and I took my place alongside Jim in the 50-seater Atcost stand after taking photographs of the celebrating squad and supporters with their haul of trophies. It was unexpected when a tray of ham and salad rolls were handed around and, having had no lunch, I wasn’t about to refuse. This was quickly followed by a tray of sandwiches and then, the best samosa that I’ve tasted. There was even a chocolate donut on offer as a sweet but by now I felt that I was over-indulging the hospitality!

Unfortunately for Punjab, their hospitality off the pitch was matched on the lush green field as they produced a performance that failed to justify their champions title. Perhaps, their players diving into the samosas had a bearing!

Stansfeld went ahead after six minutes when the Punjab goalkeeper, Kelvin Arterton dropped a cross from the left at the feet of Nathan Flaher to touch in from close range.

After 22 minutes the visitors doubled their advantage Joe Slater was sent through to shoot past the advancing keeper.

Punjab showed glimpses of the form that has made them the champions and a good move saw Regan Payne in front of goal but he was unable to get the ball out from under his feet.

During the first half, Stansfeld showed more desire whereas Punjab looked to be suffering from a hangover but with a couple of minutes remaining in the half they brought two saves in a matter of seconds out of Joe Bannon that would have graced a game several steps higher.

The game was quickly out of Punjab’s reach in the second half when the Stansfield's George Hook picked out the top corner from 20 yards.

A converted penalty after 51 minutes from Luke Adams offered Punjab a route back into the game but a beautifully worked goal on the hour finished by Flaher snuffed out that hope.

Nine minutes from time, Flaher was sent through to complete his hat trick and make it 5-1 before a consolation headed effort from Ryan Goodwin gave a little respectability to the scoreline.

If Punjab are looking for patronage in SCEFL1 then free samosas are going to do it for me! Meanwhile, down the road, Ebbsfleet finally made it in the National League without a samosa in sight.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Metropolitan Police U18 2 Tonbridge Angels U18 1

Match 136/16/1443 - Wednesday, 10th May 2017 - Ryman Youth Champion of Champions Final

Metropolitan Police U18 (0) 2 Eze 65 Mitchell 81
Tonbridge Angels U18 (0) 1 Sollis 53
Attendance: 120
Played at Tooting and Mitcham
New Ground: 308

Entrance: £3 Senior
Programme: Included
Mileage: 106/9,495

The final hurrah for Tonbridge’s Under-18 side didn’t quite end as we hoped as the Metropolitan Police Under-18s hit back from a goal down to win the game with nine minutes remaining.

Tonbridge Angels Under-18 side will now break-up in its present format, some will leave for pastures new, some will stay to be within the newly-formed 17-21 year old age group which will be competing in the senior Suburban League next season.

That they fell short at the final hurdle should diminish the efforts of this talented group of players, not only from this season but also through the age groups for the last four years. Callum Adonis-Taylor, Sid Sollis and Liam Smith have all progressed to first team appearances whilst Tommy Chapman and Jack Fenton have been involved in senior squads.

The Champion of Champions Final was played at Tooting and Mitcham’s Imperial Fields on a bone hard, threadbare pitch that made any decent football difficult for both sides who spent the majority of the first half trying, and largely failing, to come to terms with the conditions.

Tonbridge carved out the first chance of the game when Chapman had a shot deflected for a corner and this was quickly followed by a five minute period in which the Angels were reduced to 10 men whilst Oliver Baker was treated for a bloody nose.

A cagey first half was to ensue, as said the pitch causing problems and neither side wanting to concede the first goal.

Metropolitan Police were forced into a substitution after 20 minutes when George Smethurst was replaced by Prince Eze, who went on to produce a performance that begged the question as to why he was on the bench in the first place.

What few chances that evolved were created from set pieces, Tonbridge’s from Chapman free kicks whilst the Met relied on the long throws from Luke Mitchell.

Lewis Mitchell made two smart saves at the end of the half to allow Tonbridge to go into the break on level terms. Firstly, a fine save low to his left to deny John Gilbert and an even better save acrobatically parrying away an effort from Jamie Autorino.

The Angels were forced into a half-time substitution when Chapman was replaced by Ziyad Ghali.

Mitchell was called into action again early in the second period brilliantly touching a shot from Eze.

Tonbridge finally opened the scoring after 53 minutes. A long ball forward was overhit but Sollis willingly chased it down. The goalkeeper got there first but cannoned his clearance into the body of Sollis for the ball the rebound into the net.

The Police responded with an equaliser after 65 minutes when a shot from outside of the box came back off the chest of Mitchell into the path of Eze who gratefully accepted the opportunity.

The game became stretched with half chances at both ends before the Met grabbed a goal which was ultimately to be their winner. A cross from the left was punched clear by the goalkeeper to a waiting Luke Mitchell who drove the ball back into the net.

The Angels made a concerted effort to rescue the game, including sending goalkeeper Mitchell forward for a corner, but without creating any clear opportunities.

After the final whistle, we talked to the new manager of the Suburban League group, Chris Wye about the game and his plans for the future. About the game, Chris agreed with our opinion that, overall, the Met Police probably just about deserved their win but he was disappointed that the goals had come from set pieces that could have been better defended.

For the future, he was asked about the possibility of having a blank piece of paper from which to assemble a side for next year. He said that he is expecting around 50% of the side to still be around and he would be supplementing those with players that would come from organised trial days.

Of his own coaching career, he says that he draws on the disappointment of a playing career that showed great potential at Basingstoke only to find that he and other youngsters were released when Eddie Howe became the manager. He felt that he suffered from some poor advice and now uses those experiences to, hopefully, point youngsters in the right direction and he added that he finds it satisfying when he sees a player that he has nurtured featuring in reports for all the right reasons.

One era closes and another begins, we finished our interview with Chris feeling a lot more optimistic than we had at the final whistle.

This squad have been the delight of my season. I became aware of their talent towards the end of last season and saw a couple of matches and quickly became hooked, so it is with great disappointment that they are now to break up. The Suburban League is going to be difficult to follow in the same way with it being a Saturday league but any opportunity that I can get to see them, I'll take. And, without doubt, I'll take an opportunity to see how those that have chosen to follow Jay Stubberfield to Margate are faring.

This was my first visit to Tooting and Mitcham's Imperial Fields. Certainly from the outside it looks very impressive. Inside, perhaps a little disappointing but the main grandstand is imposing and the cover behind each goal an interesting design concept. Just how dry you would remain on a day of driving rain, actually, I don't want to find out.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Sheppey United 0 Sevenoaks Town 2

Match 135/16/1442 - Saturday, 6th May 2017 - SCEFL Challenge Cup Final

Sheppey United (0) 0
Sevenoaks Town (1) 2 Carnegie 3 Bennett 78
Attendance: 744
Played at Tonbridge Angels FC

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: £1
Mileage: 38/9,389

Match Report

This SCEFL Challenge Cup Final ran to form as Sevenoaks Town won more comfortably than the 2-0 scoreline suggests. An early goal from Harrison Carnegie set them on their way and it was something of a surprise that they took until 12 minutes from time to finally put the game to bed.

An impressive attendance of 744 was boosted by a big following from the Island who gave boisterous support from behind the goal, whilst the Sevenoaks contingent appeared to spread themselves out around the stadium.

The two teams took to the pitch in warm sunshine with the immediate question as to why Sheppey needed to change from their normal strip of red and white stripes to blue and white when their opponents were wearing blue and black.

Despite conceding three early corners to the Islanders it was Sevenoaks who went ahead when a mishit shot from Carnegie into the ground deceived goalkeeper, Dean Warford, who allowed the ball to travel underneath his body.

Warford saved well from Tom Ripley to see Sheppey into the break just the goal behind, they had made the odd foray into their opponents territory but had barely stretched the Sevenoaks goalkeeper, Rob French.

French became a virtual spectator during the second half in which Ripley struck the bar whilst Bryron Walker and Yacine Gnahore wastefully shot over.

Billy Bennett sealed the trophy for Micky Collins' side when he took a through ball from Joe Bingham into the penalty area, riding a challenge and stumbling before firing a shot past Warford.

Sevenoaks' performance suggested that they can make a serious challenge for the league title next season and with exciting plans on the table for Greatness Park, the future looks bright for a club perennially in the basement before the arrival of Collins.

Picture: Dave Couldridge

Friday, 5 May 2017

Tonbridge Angels Ladies 2 Burgess Hill Ladies 5

Match 134/16/1441 - Thursday, 4th May 2017 - Friendly

Tonbridge Angels Ladies (1) 2 Akehurst 34 Kemp (pen) 62
Burgess Hill Town Ladies (4) 5
Attendance: 135

Entrance: £1 Senior
Programme: £1
Mileage: 38/9,351

This was an interesting exercise as I watched my first Ladies match since my wife played for the original Tonbridge Angels team over 40 years ago. At the very top, the Women's Super League is lights years in advance of its predecessors, but below that just how much has the game changed?

In my opinion, admittedly with a fading memory of all those years ago, overall today's ladies are technically better as a team with certain skill sets decidedly better. Forty years ago, girls really did not want to head the ball, in this game there were defenders not only making good clearances with solid headers but also putting their heads in where it can hurt.

One area where I think there has been little change is the variance of ability, not only between the top and bottom clubs but also within the teams. In league games one team was beating another by a ridiculous scoreline and that is still happening today. The 1975 team relied on a couple of outstanding players, today Tonbridge have some gifted girls intermingled with some girls that are experiencing their first year of playing football.

Never mind the result, an impressive attendance of 135 embraced the occasion and doubtless went home satisfied with their evening’s entertainment as Tonbridge Angels Ladies produced a spirited performance against their visitors, Burgess Hill Town, who play their football at a step higher and have won a League Cup this season.

Tonbridge Angels Ladies have enjoyed a good first season, finishing fourth in the SECWFL Kent Division One and earned a cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur, a result of which we will gloss over!

A little nervousness of the occasion, perhaps a little rustiness from a month without a game for the home side, led to a opening half in which Burgess Hill took the game to their hosts leaving the Angels defending deeply and relying on Tracy Edwards in goal making several good saves.

Neither side were used to playing on a pitch as large as Longmead, which is around a third bigger than their normal home at Tonbridge Farm. In fact, even the Burgess Hill contingent were mentioning that their team was struggling to adapt to the vastness of space.

Burgess Hill created two chances in the opening five minutes, a shot and a header that Edwards was the equal of before Tonbridge had their first opportunity but leading goalscorer Abigail Skilton was unable to get the ball out from under her feet to get away a meaningful shot.

Burgess Hill continued to press, but Edwards continued to keep them at bay with a series of saves.

A superb through ball from skipper Bethany Kemp sent Rebecca Janes clear but the visiting goalkeeper saved at her feet.

Eventually, after 26 minutes, the Hillians pressure finally bore fruit as a poor clearance from Edwards fell at the feet of the Burgess Hill number 11 who did very well to lob the ball back into the unguarded goal from around 20 yards on an angle from the right hand side.

Unfortunately, the Tonbridge goalkeeper suffered an asthma attack soon after the goal was scored and needed to be replaced for the rest of the first half by Jodie Coombes, who has never played between the sticks before.

The game was played with rotating substitutions and Burgess Hill used this to regularly change their players and, after 32 minutes one of the subs was sent clear to bury a shot into the bottom corner to double their advantage.

Within two minutes, Tonbridge were back in the game when Megan Akehurst rounded the goalkeeper to finish into an empty net to delight the majority of the watching support.

The game half ended with a scoreline that reflected the visitors overall dominance but not the Angels’ effort when Burgess Hill scored twice in the space of two minutes right at the end of the 45 minutes. The Burgess Hill number 21 benefited from a fumble by the rookie goalkeeper and their number 2 was also sent through to finish well giving them a half-time score of 4-1.

In keeping with the spirited nature of the game, Edwards recovered sufficiently to retake her position as custodian of the Tonbridge goal for the second half.

The early period might have seen the game completely out of sight of the Angels as Burgess Hill had a period in which they produced some very good football. They hit the bar and in one attack cut the Tonbridge defence apart with a slick interchange of passes. But, to their credit, the girls hung on and just past the hour reduced the deficit when they were awarded a penalty after Lauryn Underhill was brought down. In a competitive fixture the Burgess Hill girl would have seen a red card but the referee acted charitably and failed to show her a card of any colour.

Beth Kemp fired in the spot kick and, albeit briefly, hopes were harboured of a comeback but, after 68 minutes, a shot from the left found the bottom corner to register the Sussex side’s fifth goal.

For an hour, Tonbridge’s Courtney Smith had produced the eye-catching performance in a blue shirt but the introduction of 16-year-old Maisie Gibb, who has only been training with the club a month, lit up the evening with her direct, very quick approach taking on defenders with an assured confidence and linking well with Janes to threaten the Hillians goal on a couple of occasions. If this fixture is replayed in a year’s time it is going to be fascinating to see the progression of young Maisie under the tutelage of Dan Couldridge and Rob Mardell.

As said at the beginning, never mind the result, on the night the Angels Ladies have done their town, their club and, most importantly, themselves proud and, hopefully, some of the attendance will consider returning for their League fixtures next season.

Pictures: Wes Filtness and Dave Couldridge

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Tonbridge Angels U18 2 Whitehawk U18 1

Match 133/16/1440 - Tuesday, 2nd May 2017 - Ryman Champions Play-off SF

Tonbridge Angels U18 (0) 2 Sollis 76 Smith 84
Whitehawk U18 (0) 1 Keith 56
Attendance: 70

Entrance: £1 Senior
Team Sheet: Free
Mileage: 38/9,313

Tonbridge Angels came from behind to exact revenge on Whitehawk for their Cup Final defeat of a fortnight ago and progress to the Final of the Ryman Youth Champion of Champions Play-offs.

As with the Lucas Fettes Cup Final, two evenly matched sides produced a competitive match that could have swung either way. Whitehawk had the better of the first half with Tonbridge finishing the game the stronger after falling behind on 56 minutes.

The first period was a very cagey affair with both defences keeping goalscoring opportunities down to a few. For the home side, Sid Sollis, returning from suspension brought two good saves out of the Whitehawk goalkeeper, Jordan Hawkins whilst the influential visiting skipper, Luke Emberson tested Lewis Mitchell on a couple of occasions and also sent clear Jordan Pryor to shoot straight at Mitchell, wasting the best chance of the half.

As the rain began fall from a previously leaden sky, the game became a lot more open in the second period.

Tommy Chapman’s superb deliveries from right-sided free kicks found Jack Bray who steered his header wide after 49 minutes and from a second cross, Whitehawk managed to clear under pressure.

Chapman went even closer after 52 minutes when a corner from the left saw a header cleared from the line.

Against the run of play of the second half, it was the Sussex side that took the lead after 56 minutes. A free kick hit long into the box from Billy Barker found the head of central defender Robbie Keith who glanced it past Mitchell.

Sollis, who had been expertly marshalled by Emberson and Keith, started to exact pressure on, what had been, a well organised Whitehawk back line. He had a shot over, and a header that was deflected away for a corner as he began to receive a better service.

After 76 minutes, Sollis capitalised on a defensive error that sent him clear and as a defender desperately tried to block his shot, the ball looped up and over Hawkins for a well-deserved equaliser.

Now it was the Angels with their tails up and, after 84 minutes, they were ahead when a Chapman corner was only cleared to the feet of Liam Smith, who buried his opportunity from close range.

Tonbridge managed the game well in the remaining minutes with only a shot well off target from Barker causing alarm.

They qualify for the final which will be played at Tooting and Mitcham next Wednesday against the winner of the other semi-final between Metropolitan Police and Hampton and Richmond scheduled for Imber Court this Thursday.

I was delighted to receive this framed picture of the Championship winning squad from Jay Stubberfield, reporting for this talented group has barely been a hardship this season. Thank-you to everybody involved.

Pictures: Lisa Fenton

Monday, 1 May 2017

Dover Athletic 2 Welling United 0

Match 132/16/1439 - Monday, 1st May 2017 - Kent Senior Cup Final

Dover Athletic (0) 2
Welling United (0) 0
Attendance: 939
Played at Maidstone United

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 20/9,275

Match Report

As a neutral observer this game was best described as dull. Dover deserved to win whilst Welling put in a decent enough effort.

I haven't been to the Gallagher since the new terrace was built and this Kent Senior Cup Final offered a good opportunity to have a look. It really is impressive and as Jim Case said for the £750,000 it took to build it, would be the perfect solution for Gillingham's Town End. My only complaint was that for supposedly a Spring Day in May, it was pretty cold standing up at the back making a Tuesday night in January a not very inviting thought.

As we are approaching the end of the season, I am starting to suffer a little from blogger's fatigue, so if you want a match report, please click on the link above.

Northampton Town 0 Gillingham 0

Match 131/16/1438 - Sunday, 30th April 2017 - League One

Northampton Town (0) 0
Gillingham (0) 0
Attendance: 7,034

Entrance: £18 Senior
Programme: £3
Mileage: 270/9,255

Match Report

Following the final whistle there was seven minutes of my life that I'm not going to get back, seven minutes that I don't want back if I have to serve them in the same manner.

Ultimately, a draw was enough but if Adrian Pennock have not proved to be a football genius, he has certainly proved to be a football psychic because why would you want to defend a goal-less draw in the last 15 minutes unless you know that the one goal that could have been scored by Port Vale at Fleetwood is not going to happen.

Pennock's heartfelt interview following the game told stories of poison in the dressing room and the unfit squad he inherited from Justin Edinburgh.

He wants the job, but will he get it? Why was Kenny Jackett in the stands? And how many of this squad will be around next season? Only Mr Scally knows the answers and he has decided that a holiday was in order before revealing all.