Saturday, 18 November 2017

Tonbridge Angels 5 Needham Market 4

Match 61/17/1511 - Saturday, 18th November 2017 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (2) 5 Turner 9 (pen) Elder 41,60 Akrofi 48 Kwayie 90+2
Needham Market (2) 4 Wright 17 Harrison 32 Morphew 71 (pen) Griffiths 85
Attendance: 383

Entrance: £6 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/3,968

Match Report

If you like your football with thud and blunder and plenty of goals, then this is the fixture to pencil into the diary for next season; on the other hand, if you are of a nervous disposition, better leave it.

In the last three seasons this fixture has yielded 22 goals, produced some remarkable comebacks, woeful defending and with a win for both sides plus a draw, a share of the spoils. In August 2015, the sides shared six goals with some controversial refereeing decisions at the heart of result. Last season saw Tonbridge leading 2-0 and 3-1 but an injury to goalkeeper Anthony Di Bernardo saw coach Stewart Copeland take over between the sticks with a disastrous outcome that saw Ugo Udoji sent off and the Suffolk side recovering to win 4-3.

And so to today; once more the game switched back and forth to be finally decided with an own goal by any other name than the one that will enter into the record books.

Suspensions to Sonny Miles and George Beaven resulted in a makeshift central defensive pairing of Craig Stone and Tom Jelley, who was making his home debut following his arrival from Tooting and Mitcham.

The game started with two early efforts from Joe Turner that did not unduly trouble the Needham Market goalkeeper, Danny Gay, but it signalled an intensity in Turner’s game that was to continue throughout the 90 minutes.

It was, though, a darting run from Alex Akrofi that brought a challenge that saw him tumble in the penalty area which the referee saw as a foul. Turner struck the spot kick straight down the middle to give the Angels a ninth minute lead.

The Suffolk side were to respond with immediate effect with a Gareth Heath corner being met at the near post by Luke Ingram but narrowly wide.

It was a warning shot across the bows for the home side though as a free kick from Heath found the head of Callum Harrison, who might have meant to direct it goalwards but it went across the face to Diaz Wright who volleyed home.

The game continued to be end-to-end with Akrofi being denied by the feet of Gay, quickly followed by the left hand post.

But it was the visitors who went in front just past the half-hour when a shot from Harrison towards the far post took a wicked deflection off Jelley to give Jonny Henly no chance.

Four minutes before the break, Tonbridge gained parity with a well struck, and well directed, shot from Nathan Elder creeping in at the far post.

The second half was barely three minutes old when good work between Jack Parter and Turner ended with the latter producing an inch perfect cross for the diminutive Akrofi to finish with a close range header.

On the hour it was game over, or so we thought, when a corner from Ryan Worrall, also making his home debut following his loan arrival from Eastbourne Borough, was met with a powerful header from Elder to make it 4-2.

Memories of last season meant nerves were beginning to jangle when Needham also were given a penalty following a foul by Stone on Jamie Griffiths which was noticed by the linesman allowing Danny Morphew to reduce the deficit from the spot.

A great save low to his left from Henly held up Needham’s charge but with five minutes remaining they got the equaliser that their contribution to this thriller deserved but it was poor defending that gave Heath time and room to fire a cross to the far post for Griffiths to be allowed a virtual tap-in.

It seemed hard to believe that Needham had produced an unlikely comeback for the second year running but on this occasion there was to be one final act. A shot from substitute Tashi-Jay Kwayie deflected off the head of Wright to loop over Gay. It was a lucky break but one which was overdue. Perhaps you make your own luck but Tonbridge were certainly due their rub of the green.

Pictures: David Couldridge

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