Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Chatham Town U21 2 Tunbridge Wells U21 1

Match 24/17/1474 - Wednesday, 30th August 2017 - Suburban South

Chatham Town U21 (2) 2 Palmer 33, Bearman-Dyce 43
Tunbridge Wells U21 (0) 1 Carey 50 (pen)
Headcount: 36

Entrance: £2 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 32/1,490

Bank Holiday Monday, sweltering heat and drinks breaks, Wednesday night digging out the heavy coat. Global warming anyone?

A very wet day had turned into a damp evening with a definite autumn chill but these respective under-21s played out a very competitive game in which Tunbridge Wells arguably would have gone home slightly aggrieved that they took nothing out of the game.

As usual at this level, no team sheet to give the Chatham players credit (a later edit following their team sheet appearing on Full Time at least allows the naming of their scorers) and Billy Palmer deserved at least that for an excellent solo goal after 33 minutes when he jinked his way past three Wells defender to finish clinically into the bottom corner.

Until that point, the game had been evenly contested with Matt Colman and Bayley Colbran stretching the Chats' goalkeeper in the first ten minutes.

After 14 minutes, from a free kick into the box the Chatham number six headed onto the top of the crossbar.

Following the opening goal the home side had a good period in which Caleb Bearman-Dyce was allowed to run with the ball from his own half before shooting over the bar.

A minute before the break, a long punt forward was poorly dealt with by the Tunbridge Wells defence with Bearman-Dyce capitalising and slotting the ball past Cameron Hall in the Wells goal.

Tunbridge Wells dominated the second period and when Tommy Lawrence was brought down on the right side of the box, Alex Carey reduced the deficit from the spot.

Wasted chances came aplenty from the visitors whilst the Chats did whack one against the bar after 65 minutes.

Chatham's George Acland saw red for a second bookable offence in the final minute of regular time and when substitute Joe Pickett was brought down when going through a second Chatham player, Joe Halford, might have suffered a similar fate but only saw yellow with the resultant free kick fired against the wall.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Tonbridge Angels 2 Folkestone Invicta 3

Match 23/17/1473 - Monday, 28th August 2017 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (2) 2 Turner 15, Elder 24
Folkestone Invicta (1) 3 Yussuf 21 (pen), Heard 53, Vincent 56
Attendance: 534

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,458

Folkestone struggled to avoid the drop last season but still managed to collect four points from their games with Tonbridge and on a sweltering Bank Holiday Monday they inflicted further pain on the Angels with a hard earned victory at Longmead. Are Folkestone fast becoming a bogey side or is there another factor? My wife, for family reasons, can only come to Bank Holiday games and in the last couple of seasons has only seen Folkestone, could she be the jinx! Word of warning, her next game will be Boxing Day at ... Folkestone!

After suffering their first defeat of the season at Harrow, Tonbridge needed to start on the front foot and after hitting the bar with a lob from the edge of the box by Joe Turner, the midfielder stroked the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards to put the Angels in front after 14 minutes.

Rather than set back the visitors, who had enjoyed an equal share of the possession in the opening stages, they fought back to earn a penalty after 20 minutes when the impressive Ade Yussuf tangled with George Beaven as they went down the left hand side of the box. Yusuff went down under pressure and the referee immediately pointed to the spot, for my money if not universal agreement, it was a penalty. Yusuff sent Jonny Henly the wrong way in converting.

The game continued to be all-action and the attendance of 534 didn’t have to wait long before the Angels were back in front, this time courtesy of a corner from Turner being met by Nathan Elder’s head, that from close range gave Folkestone’s Tim Roberts little chance.

After 30 minutes with the mercury not too far short of 30degC the referee called a drinks break for the players whilst the tea bar did a roaring trade in ice creams!

Folkestone continued to press hard with Yusuff denied by Chris Kinnear; Kieron McCann, who looks to have made the step-up from SCEFL side Sevenoaks Town with ease, brought a good save from Henly at his near post.

Immediately prior to the break, Turner hit the right hand post after being set up by Andre McCollin and reversed the compliment for the latter to bring a save from Roberts.

The early part of the second period was all Folkestone and they fully deserved to be level when Yusuff broke through to set up Scott Heard with a tap-in after 53 minutes.

Three minutes later and the east Kent club were in front when Josh Vincent met a left-sided corner to head home.

Tonbridge replaced Elder with Dan Thompson immediately after, but the striker who so desperately needs a goal, missed a golden opportunity when McCollin literally laid it on a plate for him at the far post but he steered it wide of the post.

With 10 minutes remaining, Turner nearly capitalised on a bad back pass but his lob over the advancing Roberts was also over the bar.

The wait to give the Press Officer a lift home was a drawn out affair as Steve McKimm kept his side in the dressing room for almost 45 minutes. He needn’t have bothered, he could have just blamed my missus!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Gillingham 3 Southend United 3

Match 22/17/1472 - Saturday, 26th August 2017 - League One

Gillingham (0) 3 Eaves 56,63,80
Southend United (1) 3 Leonard 20, Kightly 65, Cox 73
Attendance: 5,339

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3.00
Mileage: 58/1,420

Match Report

When one door closes another opens is a phrase generally used in terms of positivity. After a less than inspiring start to the season that had collected a single point but failed to register a goal, the saving grace was that Gillingham were looking reasonably secure at the back with only two conceded in three league games. So did Adrian Pennock consciously go looking for a goal, if he did he succeeded but at the cost of leaving the back door open.

After an opening ten minutes in which Gillingham looked bright, the next 35 were amongst the worst I've witnessed in many a year. Southend were downright average but a defence, that looked like a rubber dinghy in a force eight gale and a midfield that was overrun, made them look like Real Madrid.

The farcical situation with Stuart Nelson was put into perspective when Tomas Holy dropped a cross, allowing Ryan Leonard to hook the ball over his head and into the unguarded goal. People who lept to their feet in indignation that the keeper had been fouled were deluding themselves, Holy had the ball, dropped the ball, it was rubbish goalkeeping which makes the exiling of Nelson to training with the kids bewildering.

Pennock last season cited the poison in the dressing room but it seems he is still attempting to purge the remains with Nelson and, for this game, Josh Wright left out of the squad and seemingly on his way out of the club. Have Gillingham got the quality to sacrifice these players, Pennock thinks so, not many of the fans I know care to agree.

Roundly booed at half-time, credit where its due, the Gills showed a spirit in the second period that wouldn’t have been apparent six months ago.

With Tom Eaves in the side play is inevitably going to be one-dimensional, but if the service is right then the lofty striker will cause defences a problem.

After 54 minutes, Mark Byrne delivered a cross to the far post and the head of Eaves, whose looping header found its way into the bottom corner. How shit must you be, we’ve scored a goal, rang out from the Rainham End.

Glory be, nine minutes later they had two to celebrate. This time a cross from Connor Ogilvie was met with a stooping header from Eaves to nestle the ball into the same corner.

Unfortunately the back line had learnt no lessons from the first half and, almost immediately, Southend were back on terms, Michael Kightly managing to muscle his way into a shooting position to place a shot out of the reach of Holy.

Southend retook the lead after 73 minutes when a shot from the edge of the box hit the crossbar for Simon Cox to convert the rebound at the second attempt.

Once again, credit to Gillingham, heads could have gone down but they persevered and got their reward with 11 minutes remaining when they were handed a penalty when Byrne was brought down.

Eaves did his best to squander his hat-trick opportunity but the poorly struck kick was only parried by Southend goalkeeper Mark Oxley with the spin taking the ball towards the post, Eaves followed up to score.

A point, yes; but I come to the conclusion that cracks are only being papered over.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Tonbridge Angels 1 Maidstone United 2

Match 21/17/1471 - Tuesday, 22nd August 2017 - Kent Senior Cup 2R

Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Elder 57
Maidstone United (2) 2 Hines 25,39 (pen)
Attendance: 706

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: £0.50
Mileage: 38/1,362

Match Report

This was a Tale of the Unexpected. The first surprise was the need to search for a parking space in Tonbridge's spacious car park and then a queue at the turnstiles. Hold on, this is a Kent Senior Cup match, a competition that struggles to command attendances of 200. Gone, of course, are the days when Maidstone United were groundsharers at outposts such as Sittingbourne and Ashford, gone are the struggles of 300 diehards watching their Kent League days. Now they are National League, 2,000 per game at the shiny Gallagher and you might imagine that the Kent Senior Cup becomes very small beer, but credit to their support who turned up in large numbers boosting the attendance to the unforeseen 706.

The next surprise was the match itself. Dull, dull, dull usually describes a county cup game, this was nothing of the sort. A game of intensity, especially in the second half when Tonbridge did away with respecting their obviously superior neighbours. It was also a game of quality with Maidstone bringing the best out of the hosts.

Both sides rested players but this ultimately did not detract of the game. One of those fringe players, Tommy Taylor in the Maidstone goal did well to turn away an effort from Joe Turner after nine minutes. Five minutes later, at the other end, Jonny Henly made the first of many good saves, turning away a shot from Harvey Willard destined for the top corner.

Maidstone were the better side of the opening 25 minutes and, as such, deserved to go ahead when Zavon Hines shooting across the face of the goal to nestle in the net at the far post. A desperate effort to clear led to the belief that Callum Adonis-Taylor had deflected the ball into his own net, but the young defender was adamant after the game that he had not touched the ball.

The Stones continued to dominate and Henly continued to deny them saving well from Hines and Delano Sam-Yorke.

Maidstone doubled their advantage after 39 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after Joe Turner was adjudged to have brought down Sam-Yorke. My first instinct was penalty, but players and managers cast doubt on the decision afterwards. Hines successfully converted from the spot.

Tonbridge's best chance of the half came when a cross from the right found the head of Nathan Elder, but his effort cleared the bar.

The home started the second half on the front foot with Andre McCollin shooting over the bar and a well executed move between Jey Siva and Turner set up a header for Elder but it was straight at Taylor.

After 57 minutes, a cross from McCollin once more found the head of Elder but this time the big striker made no mistake as he powered a header past Taylor.

The game took on an end-to-end contest with both sides creating chances aplenty. After 64 minutes, a thunderous free kick from Chris Kinnear crashed against the bar. Kinnear took the kick quickly, catching everybody by surprise, even the referee who appeared not to have whistled for it to be taken, he allowed play to continue but one wonders what his decision might have been had the shot been inches lower.

Taylor plucked a Turner shot out of the top corner before Henly impressed with a double save to deny Willard.

Four minutes later Hines struck the bar with Henly reacting well to save the rebound from Stuart Lewis.

And so it went to the final minutes with the Angels desperately seeking an equaliser. Taylor saved from Akrofi; Stone had a header deflected for a corner; Dom Welsh and Turner both shot over but it was not to come.

It is never nice to go out of a cup competition at the first time of asking, albeit the second round with a bye. But 706 people through the gate equates to going three rounds in previous seasons and we have the satisfaction that we stretched a National League side regardless of the strength of the team it fielded.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Tonbridge Angels 2 Brightlingsea Regent 0

Match 20/17/1470 - Saturday, 19th August 2017 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (0) 2 Turner 84, McCollin 90
Brightlingsea Regent (0) 0
Attendance: 484

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,324

Two home wins and a draw at one of the title favourites with no goals conceded constitutes an impressive start to the season for Tonbridge Angels and with players returning from injury the suggestion is that there is more to come.

One strange anomaly to each of the games played is that a below par first half has been followed by a better second period. Perhaps this is a testament to levels of fitness that is outlasting their opponents, but the fear is that sometime soon these slow starts might leave a half-time deficit that cannot be recovered.

This was a first-ever meeting between the clubs. Brightlingsea Regent, a club formed out of a merger between Brightlingsea United and Regent Park Rangers in 2005, were promoted from Ryman North last season after amassing 103 points, 114 goals, winning the league by a clear 12 points.

Regent opened the game on the front foot and their small but vocal following thought they had something to celebrate after 14 minutes when they had the ball in the net but this was disallowed for a foul on Jonny Henly.

Tonbridge simply failed to get going in the first half with a Sonny Miles header being only effort forcing the visiting goalkeeper, Sam Cowler, in a meaningful save.

Tonbridge were forced into a half-time substitution with Luke Blewden feeling unwell, Tom Beere his replacement. The Hampton loanee added a dynamism in midfield that had been lacking in the first half. An early chance fell to Beere but his effort was blocked on the line.

A fine cross from Jey Siva found the head of Nathan Elder whose steered his header wide and Henly saved low to his right to deny Phil Kelly as chances for both sides continued to be short in supply.

The game was to open up after 70 minutes when the visitor’s Josh Gould was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Dan Thompson blasted narrowly over the bar after being set up by substitute Andre McCollin whilst, at the other end, Aaron Condon put a free header over the crossbar.

As Regent began to tire more chances fell, but to their credit, they were willing to put their bodies on line as goal-saving blocks were made to deny Thompson, Chris Kinnear and McCollin. When a corner was met by George Beaven who headed the ball into the ground and over the crossbar from close range, it seemed that the breakthrough was not to come.

But, with six minutes remaining, it did come. Good work led to Craig Stone producing a pinpoint cross to the far post for Turner to bury a header.

On the cusp of the game entering time added, McCollin produced a fine finish from 15 yards into the bottom corner to make the game safe for the Angels.

There remained time for Siva to see an effort cleared from the line before the referee’s final whistle confirmed the Angel’s unbeaten start to the season.

Picture: Wes Filtness

Friday, 18 August 2017

Cray Valley PM Reserves 4 Tonbridge Angels U21 0

Match 19/17/1469 - Thursday, 17th August 2017 - Suburban League Premier

Cray Valley PM Reserves (3) 4 Tumkaya 12, Mulkerinns 14, Adonis-Taylor (o.g.) 40, Skinner 54
Tonbridge Angels U21 (0) 0
Headcount: 24

Entrance: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 75/1,286

Tonbridge Angels Under-21s had a chastening opening period from which they were unable to recover in their first Suburban League game of the season at Cray Valley.

The team that took to the field at the start of the game has evolved over pre-season with many changes in personnel and is still very much in the process of gelling.

They played a diamond formation in the first half, mirroring that of the first team, but found themselves overrun in midfield and being continually exposed down the flanks by a Cray Valley side that was able to pass the ball freely through the Angels midfield.

A change in formation in the second half, stringing five across the middle, brought greater stability and an improved performance.

Two early goals set the Angels onto the back foot. After 12 minutes a corner from the left was met by a header from Cem Tumkaya who rose almost unchallenged to plant his header past Ibrahim Attiah in the Tonbridge goal.

Two minutes later it was 2-0 when Chandler Kasai fed Kieran Mulkerinns to fire across the face of goal and into the bottom corner.

Attiah saved well from Mulkerinns to save the situation from quickly getting worse.

Tonbridge created their only chance of the first half when Samuel Oyeriran drove a shot to the near post but the Cray goalkeeper, Chris Cowden, got down well to save.

Hopes were dashed of getting to half-time with just a two goal deficit when a free kick from Connor Dobson was launched into the box and with Attiah dithering, the ball skimmed off the head of Callum Adonis-Taylor into his own net.

With the change of shape, the Angels at least became competitive and had the first opportunity of the second half with Stevie Panayi firing over the bar.

But, after 54 minutes, the hosts went 4-0 up when a 20 yard free kick from Dylan Skinner was accurately placed past the despairing dive of Attiah.

A through ball from Oyeriran found Karlan Henry but a heavy touched denied him and Cowden needed to be alert to save at the feet of David Solomon as Tonbridge searched for a consolation.

Tonbridge need to take heart from their second half performance as they take on Metropolitan Police Reserves at Longmead next Saturday, 26th August.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Margate 0 Tonbridge Angels 0

Match 18/17/1468 - Tuesday, 15th August 2017 - Bostik Premier

Margate (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Attendance: 632

Entrance: £8 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 106/1,211

Match Report

A visit to Margate Football Club is always taken when they are in the midst of one of two cycles, Boom or Bust. There is no centre ground with the Thanet club, their pot is either overflowing in riches or there isn't one to piss in.

We are now in Boom. A bright, new 3G pitch looks resplendent surrounded as it is by decaying infrastructure and temporary portacabins that have long since taken root by virtue of previous unfulfilled promises of hotels, casinos and a stadium to grace their aspirations of the Football League.

It remains to be see whether this era has any more substance than the previous booms, we only have history to draw our own conclusions.

The money is here now, and as usual, is being spent on the pitch, that being the playing staff, not the 3G that obviously cost a pretty penny.

The welcome is warm at Hartsdown Park and there is none of the garish boastfulness of their partners on the Bostik Rich List at Billericay. In fact, their supporters were downright nice, wishing us a good season at the final whistle and us to them.

Steve Watt has obviously decided the route to National League South is not only copying the model at Maidstone, but by employing about three-quarters of his team-mates from the Gallagher. Add in Sonny Miles, Craig Stone and Tommy Parkinson and the bar afterwards must have been like a school reunion.

Such is the reported investment, arrival on the east coast was much in hope rather than expectation. Still shorn of five recognised first team choices, admittedly Margate were short of a couple themselves, Steve McKimm’s selection virtually picked itself, with no changes made from Saturday’s opening day victory against Hendon.

Tonbridge had the ball in the net after seven minutes but this was ruled out, contentiously, with the referee deciding that Dan Thompson was interfering with play as Stone put the ball into the net.

It was the one moment of respite in a first half that was largely dominated by the hosts. Dave Martin, a championship player with Millwall and Derby County in a previous lifetime, was a constant threat and Liam Smith, at 17-years-old, was given a testing time but stood up to the examination.

The principle scare of the first half for the visitors came after 14 minutes when following a corner, Tom Wynter crashed a header against the crossbar. Angels’ goalkeeper, Jonny Henly was called into action soon after, palming away to relative safety a shot from Martin.

A lot of the pressure that was brought on Tonbridge was almost self-inflicted as their ball retention was considerably less than satisfactory.

The second half was a different story altogether. Tonbridge kept possession better and gained momentum although in the opening 20 minutes of the half very few chances were created by either side with Martin pulling a shot wide the only threat to the goal.

After 73 minutes of absorbing, but goal-less action, Sidney Sollis (as the stadium announcer formally introduced him) was introduced into the fray and that horrible feeling of fate was upon us.

But it was the Angels that upped the tempo and the chances fell to them with Nathan Elder having a shot blocked and Chris Kinnear blasting over.

Three minutes from time the ball fell nicely for Sollis to inflict the worst possible pain but he tamely shot over the bar.

As we entered time-added, the possible disappointment of losing a well-deserved but unexpected point made the heart race faster and when Matt Bodkin drove a shot marginally wide the old ticker nearly stopped completely.

Money is not everything, let’s hope for the sake of the Isthmian League in general, that those words apply also to Billericay, and perhaps a good old fashioned team spirit might just be enough to gatecrash the party.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Gillingham 0 Bradford City 1

Match 17/17/1467 - Saturday, 12th August 2017 - League One

Gillingham (0) 0
Bradford City (1) 1 Poleon 19
Attendance: 5,267

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 58/1,105

Match Report

What are we to expect from Gillingham this coming season? My social media timelines are largely pessimistic and my personal thoughts are little different.

I'm sure Adrian Pennock's side will be more resilient with far greater endeavour than last year's dressing room rebels, but will that be enough to avoid the drop, on this display not without an injection of quality.

The reports from the opening league game at Doncaster, a goalless draw, and an honourable defeat at Championship Reading were encouraging but the fat zero following our name loomed large. The chances that went begging this afternoon highlighted that unless something changes, sooner rather than later, this could be a long, hard season.

Bradford City will probably prove to be very capable opposition and might well go one step further than last year's losing playoff finalists but Gillingham mostly matched them over the 90 minutes.

Tomas Holy was only asked to make a meaningful save in the dying embers of a game that Gillingham were chasing, but one defensive lapse was their undoing.

Bradford were the better side in the opening period and when Alex Jones was given a free ticket to cross from the bye line to a waiting Dominic Poleon with time and space to sweep the ball home from six yards.

Gillingham wasted a great chance to equalise when a cross into the box from Lee Martin found Alex Lacey who steered a free header wide.

Josh Parker brought a good save out of Colin Doyle but Bradford should have doubled their advantage when Max Ehmer was dispossessed on the edge of his box allowing Poleon to round Holy but then, unbelievably, rolling the ball past the post.

The second half saw Connor Wilkinson's claim for a penalty turned away and from a Martin corner, Josh Wright spurned another headed opportunity.

Wilkinson saw red after 74 minutes when a reckless challenge gave the referee a decision to make regardless of claims that there was no contact made.

The Gills showed their resilience with a fighting finish to the game despite their numerical disadvantage but were denied a point when their last kick equaliser from Gabriel Zakuani was ruled out for offside.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Stansfeld P Forest Hill Park P

Wednesday, 9th August 2017 - SCEFL 1

Stansfeld P
Forest Hill Park P
Match postponed due to waterlogged pitch

Wasted Mileage: 67/1,047

Never, ever, make the assumption that matches don't get postponed due to weather in August.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Tunbridge Wells 1 Beckenham Town 0

Match 16/17/1466 - Saturday, 5th August 2017 - FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Tunbridge Wells (0) 1 Potter 69
Beckenham Town (0) 0
Attendance: 271

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 26/980

Tunbridge Wells took their place in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup with £1,500 of prize money and the satisfaction of eliminating one of their supporters most disliked teams, Beckenham. In so doing, they also set up the possibility of a local derby against Rusthall, who were to play CB Hounslow at Culverden the following day.

The Wells welcomed back into their ranks their Wembley goalscoring hero Josh Stanford, who started proceedings with a good break and deliverance of a free kick that Jake Beecroft drove over.

Ex-Tunbridge Wells goalkeeper Rilwan Anababa made a risky dribble from his goal to eventually steer the ball to safety and a poor clearance on 28 minutes landed at the feet of Josh Biddlecombe who shot first time but over the bar.

The Wells dominated the first period but had to settle for parity at the break.

A heavy rainstorm, an hour into the game, had everybody on the south terrace scuttling for the sanctuary of the main stand and it was from there, eight minutes later, that we viewed Brad Potter meeting a Beecroft right-sided corner with a looping header to put the Wells deservedly ahead.

Beckenham had offered very little throughout and the Wells saw out their late rally with relative ease.

Tonbridge Angels 0 Slough Town 3

Match 15/17/1465 - Saturday, 5th August 2017 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Slough Town (1) 3 Flood 33 Williams 41 Dobson 90
Attendance: 167

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 19/954

Having fallen a bit behind, this is a cheat's post copying and pasting Jim Rowe's report on a match that I left with 20 minutes to go to get to Tunbridge Wells' FA Cup tie.

It was a disappointing and somewhat luck lustre final pre-season friendly as far as the Angels were concerned as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Slough Town who completely deserved their win. If Hendon, Angels first league opponent , had any spies at the game they may not have been too concerned at what they saw.

In fairness, Tonbridge did have some first team members missing and with Joe Turner and trialist Michael O perhaps lacking match time this was not an Angels side necessarily able to fire on all cylinders

Despite a relatively even first half with chances falling to both sides it was the visitors who found themselves two goals in front at the break.

The Angels defence had to be alert in the 4th minute when a fine Slough cross from the right was expertly headed away by Sonny Miles. From the resultant corner it needed a block clearance to keep the home goal intact.

Four minutes later Alex Akrofi pulled a cross back for the advancing Nathan Elder but it was the Rebels' Nathan Smart who put in a great defensive tackle to keep the game goalless.

Chances fell to Chris Kinnear in the 12th minute and Akrofi on 25 minutes while at the other end Slough's Alan Inns who had stayed up after a set piece and with the Angels defence unable to clear their lines properly saw his snap shot go straight to home keeper Anthony di Bernardo.

The deadlock was broken in the 32nd minute when the Angels appealing in vain for foul on Akrofi lost concentration and with the defence nowhere Chris Flood was able to run through and took his chance excellently. Slough doubled their lead on 42 minutes with the Angels defence unable to clear and Manny Williams shooting home from close in.

On resumption the home side did start to move the ball around with more accuracy and had some decent possession in the final third but too often there was no end product.

On 53 minutes there was a chance for Turner after he was put in by a Nathan Elder knock down but Jack Turner in the Slough goal dealt with the effort. Joe Turner turned provider on 69 minutes after good progress down the left wing, the cross was hit into the right area but no Tonbridge forward could take advantage.

As the game entered its final stages Andre McCollin had two great chances the first ended by a superb save from Jack Turner , the second he was muscled off the ball perhaps illegally by a Slough defender.

Slough with their two goal advantage were largely comfortable through the half but always looked as if they might have another goal in their locker. It duly arrived in the 90th minute through James Dobson who outwitted a tiring Angels defence.

Afterwards Angels boss Steve McKimm seemed to be breathing a sigh of relief that pre-season was finally over. "Is it too long? Perhaps, but you have to do it as preparation. Obviously supporters will be disappointed with the results at Chipstead and today against Slough but these results mean nothing in terms of competition and we can now start the business of playing for points. The players have fitness and training this week will concentrate on things like set pieces and the systems we will employ."

Punjab United 2 FC Elmstead 2

Match 14/17/1464 - Friday, 4th August 2017 - SCEFL 1

Punjab United (1) 2 Adam Cuthbert 4,72
FC Elmstead (1) 2 Bakare 42,52 (pen)
Attendance: 300

Entrance: £2 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 46/935

Having been at Punjab's final game in the Kent County League (and enjoying the free chapatis), I was glad of the opportunity that a Friday evening gave me to see their first game in the SCEFL. The game was played under their newly-installed floodlights which they acquired from Salford City.

The compact seating enclosure was a grand reunion for the hopperati who bagged most of the seats.

Those that bought a programme would have been pretty disappointed with a couple of sheets, poorly folded for £2. One can only hope that they realise that as a first effort, hoppers especially, they would be given a bit of slack but this was not acceptable, especially at £2.

The home side got off to a great start when Adam Cuthbert headed home from a corner.

After being on the back foot for much of the first period, Elmstead went into the break on level terms when Lekan Bakare converted at the far post following a right wing cross.

Elmstead got their noses in front early in the second half when Bakare converted from the spot after their number 9 had been brought down.

Although Punjab struggled to find their rhythm of the first half they earned a well-deserved point with a fine 25 yard free kick from Cuthbert, who curled it into the top corner.

I avoided the difficult exit from the car park by sitting in the car and watching Mo Farah's successful defence of his 10,000 metres world championship crown, capping a decent evening.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Aveley 0 Dulwich Hamlet 5

Match 13/17/1463 - Wednesday, 2nd August 2017 - Pre-Season Friendly

Aveley (0) 0
Dulwich Hamlet (2) 5 Dumaka 21,44,51 (pen), Tomlin 53 (pen), Yiadom 88
Estimated attendance: 300
New Ground: 314

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £1
Mileage: 68/889

Match Report

The opening of Aveley's new Parkside Stadium might have been gate-crashed by an impressive Dulwich Hamlet, but most of the attendance would have gone home hugely impressed by the stadium.

On arrival a place in a 195-place car park was easily found, a vast improvement on the narrow lane leading to the old Mill Field ground, with a huge illuminated Aveley FC sign leaving no doubt as to where you have parked.

Once inside, the place is so newly finished that you can still feel the crunch of builder's sand underfoot, but your eyes are immediately drawn to the main stand that houses a large bar with an upstairs ,viewing area that is easy to imagine its earning potential from local community. If I was picky, I would be inclined to say that for a large structure the amount of actual seating is on the low side.

The purists, I guess, will point to the stand of the opposite side of the ground that looked to hold more spectators than the main and the two covered terrace enclosures that are strangely positioned either side of the goal, as Atcost structures. Quite why the enclosures behind the goal could not be joined up is hard to understand.

The 3G pitch played very well, to the point where an elderly lady seated a couple of seats away mistook the rubber pellets lifting from the surface as the pitch "cutting up" until she was informed by her son that the pitch was not grass!

Dulwich spoilt the party but gave the Bostik Premier hope that Billericay might be given a chasing after all.

Dumebi Dumaka opened the scoring after 21 minutes with a tap-in at the far post following a cross by Nathan Green. The striker doubled his and Dulwich's tally with a strike into the bottom corner from the left hand angle of the 18 yard box. He went on to complete his hat-trick five minutes into the second period when he converted from the penalty spot after the referee gave the award for a push on him.

Two minutes later Dulwich were awarded another penalty, this time for a trip on Nyren Clunis. Dumaka stepped to one side, to allow Gavin Tomlin to strike from the spot.

Dulwich completed their nap hand when Nana Boakye-Yiadom drove the ball high into the net from close range a couple of minutes from the end.

A good night was completed with an easy retreat from the car park, after fearing that the single gate entrance might be a bit of a bottleneck. Barring the result, Aveley can be rightly proud of their opening night.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Chipstead 3 Tonbridge Angels 2

Match 12/17/1462 - Saturday, 1st August 2017 - Pre-Season Friendly

Chipstead (0) 3 McLean 70 (pen) Echo 77, Henry
Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 McCollin 21 (pen) Thompson 48
Headcount: 62

Entrance: Free
Team Sheet: None
Mileage: 94/821

Pre-season took a worrying turn for Tonbridge Angels, not with the result of this game but the lengthening list of injuries that left them playing with 10 men before manager Steve McKimm left the touchline to bolster his troops for the final eight minutes.

Chipstead look half-decent but Tonbridge were in reasonable control of the game until they ran out of players early in the second period.

The Angels took the lead 21 minutes into the half when Nathan Elder was hauled to the ground. Andre McCollin stepped up to safely dispatch the spot kick to the diving keeper's right.

Seven minutes before the break, Liam Smith pulled up with a hamstring strain to be replaced by an Under-21s player, Ebs, who had been called upon late in the afternoon, along with his fellow substitute, Fernando.

Callum Adonis-Taylor failed to appear for the second period following a recurrence of an ankle injury giving Fernando his opportunity.

Andre McCollin's free kick after three minutes of the second half was knocked back by Elder into the path of Dan Thompson who rifled a shot through a crowded box and into the net.

The free kick proved to be McCollin's last piece of action, having taken a stamp on the foot, it was not worth the risk of him continuing and with no further substitutes available, the Angels were down to 10 men.

Chipstead got back into the game when they were awarded a penalty following a foul by trialist known only as Michael. Anthony Di Bernardo saved Callum McLean's first effort but the rebound fell back at his feet for him to lash home.

Leon Echo's season might just as well end now on a high as a perfectly executed scissor-kick from the edge of the box found the bottom corner brought the Chips level after 77 minutes.

Seven minutes remained, and one minute after McKimm entered the fray(!), Henry was sent clear to drive a shot between Di Bernardo and his near post to give the home side a fine comeback win.