Sunday, 29 April 2018

Tonbridge Angels Ladies 2 Thamesview Ladies 1

Match 127/17/1577 - Sunday, 29th April 2018 - Kent League Division 1

Tonbridge Angels Ladies (2) 2 Underhill 41 Gibb 43
Thamesview Ladies (0) 1
Headcount: 45

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/8,305

It was disappointing that a well-contested match between the Division’s top two sides ended with a situation in which two Thamesview players traded punches with a group on the sidelines who had made disparaging remarks in their direction. As the fight escalated other players from both sides became involved as the incident became very ugly. The two teams meet again in a Cup Final on 17th May, hopefully without the recriminations that dampened the celebrations for Tonbridge Angels Ladies who had inflicted the first defeat of the season on the champions.

Tonbridge went into the game missing a couple of players including their top scorer, and player of the year following the previous evening’s presentation night, Becky Janes.

The Angels started the game creating the opening opportunity after just 29 seconds when Megan Akehurst and Maisie Gibb set-up a chance for Becky Jarvis who drove her shot into the side netting.

Thamesview settled into their rhythm and they created a couple of openings that were fired wide before a long ball over the top was chased down by Gibb but her shot was wide of the post.

Tonbridge goalkeeper, Sam Wright, saved from the pacy visiting centre forward and dealt comfortably with a close range header from a corner.

Thamesview had a free kick that narrowly went the wrong side of the far post before Tonbridge took the lead after 41 minutes when a clearance from the goalkeeper hit Jarvis in the face with the ball falling for Akehurst to lay-off to Lauryn Underhill to fire home.

One quickly became two when Akehurst won the ball in midfield before releasing Jarvis to lob the goalkeeper. Remarks from the sideline following this goal sadly planted the seed for the later events.

Thamesview quickly reduced arrears in the second half when their centre forward stabbed the ball home to set up a second half onslaught that took resilience of the highest order to withstand with Sharon Lyons absolutely outstanding.

In truth, the second half was one-way traffic as the champions created and missed chance after chance, at times due to brave defending and others through sheer wastefulness.

The final whistle brought relief and should have brought great satisfaction to the home side but the disgraceful scenes at the end were not befitting of a pub side let alone ladies that had actually given the right-minded spectators a compelling encounter.

Award photographs: From the top: Becky Janes, Becky Jarvis and Sharon Lyons. Pictures by David Couldridge.

Tonbridge Angels 0 Leatherhead 2

Match 126/17/1576 - Saturday, 28th April 2018 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Leatherhead (1) 2 Derry 41 Gallagher 62
Attendance: 518

Admission: £6 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/8,267

Sadly this game reflected the season since the turn of the year as one that has had a few highs, far too many lows and ultimately has just fizzled out like a damp firework on 5th November.

Every season, at every club, whether successful or otherwise sees players departing at its end. Nathan Elder has been a wonderful servant to the club over the past three and a bit seasons, scoring 65 goals but his presence offering so much more. It would have been great if a role at the club could have been found but such is the financing at Tonbridge, or most non-league clubs, it was not to be. His substitution with a couple of minutes remaining brought the expected acclaim from the supporters and respect on the pitch from friend and foe alike.

The heartwarming side of the club saw Rob Chick enjoying his day as the Gaffa, a prize Kindly donated by the winner of the competition, David Brown.

There was nothing riding on the game as a midweek defeat for the visitors Leatherhead meant that, all bar mathematical miracles, they could not reach the play-off places. Because of this, manager Sammy Moore gave some of his youngsters a run out, but their football at times still suggested why they had come close to the top five.

A third minute effort from Alexander Akrofi brought a comfortable save out of Manny Agboola, a 19-year-old loanee from Oxford United, who proceeded to have a fine game for the Tanners.

Leatherhead throughout passed the ball with a style that was pleasing on the eye and, after 13 minutes, produced a fine move that ended with Nathan Wood firing narrowly wide.

It began a spell in which Leatherhead were dominant before Tonbridge hit back on the half-hour when Joe Turner and Elder brought saves out of Agboola and the goal that everybody wanted for Elder was ruled out for a push as the striker’s header found the net.

Leatherhead bounced straight back on the offensive when a strike from Sean D’Theobalds crashed against an upright.

The visitors went into a deserved lead four minutes before the break when the impressive Wood set-up Tom Derry for a close range finish.

Agboola preserved that half-time lead when he pushed away a good strike from Sam Bantick.

The second half was four minutes old when a through ball saw Derry through on goal and brought down by Tonbridge goalkeeper, Jonny Henly. However, his spot kick was saved.

Just before the hour Agboola was once more the hero brilliantly saving from Liam Smith before a splendid move involving Calum Davies and Reece Williams-Bowers ended with Dan Gallagher firing past Henly to double the Tanners’ advantage.

Elder had one final chance when a good move between Turner and Bantick opened up an opportunity, but a great block from Jerry Nnamani denied the Big Man.

No one can deny that the season, least of all the management team, has been a disappointment and it is pretty certain that there will be other departures in the close season whether that is the choice of Steve McKimm or the players themselves.

The presentation evening saw Turner pick up the three main gongs with Sonny Miles and Jonny Henly honourable runners-up.

Summer is here, even if the coldest last game of the season I can remember in a long time, made it feel otherwise.

Awards photographs from top: Joe Turner, Sonny Miles, Jonny Henly and Alexander Akrofi. Pictures by David Couldridge.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Tonbridge Angels U21 2 Corinthian Reserves 2

Match 125/17/1575 - Wednesday, 25th April 2018 - Suburban League Premier

Tonbridge Angels U21 (1) 2 Toussaint 43,76
Corinthian Reserves (1) 2 Wood 7 Smith 80
Headcount: 25

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/8,229

Tonbridge Angels' Under-21 side concluded their home Suburban League programme earning a hard-fought point against a strong Corinthian team. Chris Wye needed to reshuffle his plans on hearing that his centre half was stuck on a train and was not going to make the game. He called 16-year-old Harry Hudson, one of next season’s Academy members, into the team alongside Dominic Welsh to form one of the most diminutive central defensive partnerships you are ever likely to see. But, in the face of a formidably sized attack, they both acquitted themselves admirably, with the skipper Welsh particularly outstanding in marshalling the back line.

Tonbridge created the first chance of the game after five minutes when the visiting goalkeeper, Billy Johnson, was forced to palm to safety a free kick from Steven Panayi.

However, it was Corinthian that took the lead when a long ball through the middle saw some hesitation between debutant goalkeeper, Tom Day and a defender that allowed Lewis Wood to challenge the goalkeeper and ultimately touch the ball into an empty net. The home side were aggrieved that the ball was actually in Day’s hands but the referee was poorly placed to make the decision.

Corinthian might have gone two in front a couple of minutes later when Jacob Wright was caught in possession and a pass to Lorenzo Couzzo saw his shot come back off a post.

After a shaky start, the Angels grew into the game and Charlie Dumas saw a shot deflected wide for a corner and Sam Jones needed a touch too many when in a good shooting position.

Tonbridge were nearly undone a second time by a straight ball through the middle that sent Wood clear but the striker shot wastefully wide. Wood was further denied in the 36th minute when Day turned his effort over the bar.

Tonbridge equalised just prior to the break when the ball reached Dominic Toussaint at the left hand angle of the box from where he confidently struck the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

The first big chance of the second period fell to Corinthian when a back pass fell short but the Corinthian player only managed to send the ball into the side netting.

Tonbridge had grown into the game and they had the momentum as Toussaint forced Johnson into a save with the follow-up bravely kept out. At the other end, minutes later, Day was forced into a replica scenario.

Cuozzo placed a shot against the top of the crossbar after 74 minutes but, two minutes later, it was the Angels that took the lead. Cutting in from the right, substitute David Gharbi’s shot came back off the near post but Toussaint was alert to the rebound to tuck home.

Corinthian were forced to throw caution to the wind and after a succession of corners, their height advantage finally told as the comparatively mountainous Jack Smith rose to head home.

Following the game, Chris Wye paid tribute to his team that have grown into the season following a challenging start commending his players on their character, commitment and attitude. He believes that there are now solid foundations in place for a much stronger season next term and with four 16-year-olds already in the squad the future is looking bright.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Bearsted 1 Crowborough Athletic 0

Match 124/17/1574 - Tuesday, 24th April 2018 - SCEFL Premier

Bearsted (1) 1 Ryan Croucher 45+1
Crowborough Athletic (0) 0
Attendance: 52

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: Inclusive
Mileage: 15/8,191

Any lingering hopes of promotion harboured by Crowborough supporters were extinguished at Bearsted as the home side found a goal with a great strike and then defended resolutely through the second half.

As the fixture backlog has taken its toll there are many clubs virtually running on empty with the Crows among them.

With only a win of any use to the visitors they naturally started on the front foot and had a good opportunity after seven minutes when Henry Muggeridge jinking run ended with him firing over when a pass inside might have been a better option. Tom Phipp put a header from a corner over the top and Sam Cole shot over as Crowborough continued to take the game to their hosts.

On the half-hour the referee started preparing himself for a long night on his report with the booking of Bearsted’s Cameron Croucher, quickly followed by that of Reece Collins and Crowborough’s Phipp.

Bearsted went ahead in the first minute of time added when a cross from the right found Ryan Croucher who drove the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

The first action of the second half saw Crowborough’s goalkeeper, Ryan Burbridge, acrobatically claw away Tom Boddy’s misdirected header that was goal bound.

After 55 minutes Muggeridge’s corner directly struck the near post and a great saving tackle from Edas Vannonis denied Adrian Stone.

Crowborough’s frustration with their own efforts and the referee led to a foul by Cole that sparked a 20-man melee from which Cameron Croucher and Crows’ Jack Walder saw red.

Bearsted had the ball in the net going into the final 10 minutes after Reece Collins' shot had been saved by Burbridge’s feet with the follow-up deemed offside.

Another melee ensued after Zak Attwood had kicked out but he amazingly avoided a caution after the referee had gone into overdrive booking three in quick succession.

The door is now absolutely wide open for Whitstable Town to join Sevenoaks in Bostik South next season needing just one more win from their last three games including a visit to already relegated Rochester on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Rusthall 2 Lordwood 2

Match 123/17/1573 - Monday, 23rd April 2018 - SCEFL Premier

Rusthall (0) 2 Mitchell 65 Powell 66
Lordswood (2) 2 Wells 17 Huggins 24
Attendance: 85

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 38/8,176

Despite a stirring fight back it seems Rusthall’s destiny is in the hands of the Football Association’s reshuffling. Over the last month I’ve asked the same question 50 times of different people, some of whom could be considered in the know, how many are going down? But nobody either knows or are not prepared to disclose the answer.

A couple of weeks ago at Jockey Farm the mood seemed downcast as opinion was that two would be relegated with Rusthall occupying 19th place. Tonight, optimism was higher, on what grounds I do not know, that only Rochester United would lose their place in the SCEFL Premier.

The going at Jockey Farm has gone from soft to hard in a matter of a fortnight following the recent spell of dry, hot weather with the player’s studs sounding like that of galloping horses.

Lordswood, ensconced in the higher end of mid-table, have had a hectic period of catch-up with this their fifth game in 10 days but they raced out of the traps like a team desperate for the points.

Rusthall made the early chances with Ryan Waterman having a shot deflected wide and Stephan Harper, somewhat disappointingly, driving a shot into the side netting. But it was Lordswood that opened the scoring after 19 minutes when Adam Hooper’s pass opened up the Rustics defence for Jordan Wells to fire across the goalkeeper from around 12 yards.

The visitors doubled their advantage on 25 minutes with a well worked free kick that saw Hooper finding Wells, who held the ball up before laying it back to James Huggins who shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Rusthall responded well with Matt Hathway firing at the goalkeeper and also heading wide before Paul Butler saw his header touched over by Ryan Chandler. Their closest first half effort saw the lively Yannick Tchoendjin narrowly shooting over.

Whether it was Lordswood’s schedule catching up with them, Rusthall themselves have had four games in 10 days, but the home side dominated the second period and were well deserving of their comeback around the hour mark.

Harper went close after 61 minutes and, four minutes later, a fine run and cross from Tchoendjin found Dan Mitchell whose close range shot could only be helped into the goal by Chandler.

Within a minute Rusthall were level when the ball fell to Danny Powell after a shot from Waterman had been blocked. Just three minutes later the home side’s recovery could have been complete when a wickedly dipping shot from Tchoendijn was narrowly over.

Rusthall have two games remaining, away to AFC Croydon and at home to Croydon whilst Hollands & Blair, three points to the good over Rusthall, have a single away game at Beckenham to play. Whoever, finishes in that second last place has an agonising wait for the Football Association’s wheels to slowly turn.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Tunbridge Wells 2 Hollands & Blair 1

Match 122/17/1572 - Wednesday, 18th April 2018 - SCEFL Premier

Tunbridge Wells (1) 2 Skinner 35 Spackman 85
Hollands & Blair (0) 1 Capel 90+3
Attendance: 117

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2.00
Mileage: 38/8,138

Tunbridge Wells are the only one of my clubs that can salvage something from this season and largely, given a backlog of fixtures, their build-up to the SCEFL Challenge Cup Final is going well. Jason Bourne is necessarily rotating his squad without results suffering, winning three and losing just the once in the six games since their semi-final success.

Whilst this result against a still relegation threatened Hollands & Blair might not have been as eye-catching as Monday’s win at Lordswood, it brought positives with the return of Perry Spackman who alongside Jake Hampson negated the threat of James McDonald and a performance up top from Ian Parsons that at least gives Bourne another option. Spackman, I feel, will be important in the Final as somebody that will not be bullied by Shaun Welford whose physical presence in turn opens up opportunities for Ricky Freeman.

The game started slowly with neither side registering an opening until Ryan Nicholls saved at the feet of Jon Pilbeam after 18 minutes with Justin Ascheri firing just wide of the right hand post on the half hour for the visitors.

Tunbridge Wells had a good spell leading to their opening goal after 35 minutes. A free kick lifted into the box was headed on with the ball eventually falling at the far post for Greg Skinner to touch home.

Cameron Hall was brought into action in the time-added before the break with a fine parrying save to deny Ascheri with his defenders clearing away the rebound.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Harrison Pont and Ascheri stretched Hall whilst Nicholls saved well from Parsons.

The Wells had a strong appeal for a penalty turned away when substitute Josh Biddlecombe was floored by what appeared to be a blatant push in the back and on 70 minutes Hall excelled with a great save.

Pont hit the bar for the visitors before Spackman sealed the points for the Wells heading in at the far post from a Biddlecombe corner.

Time-added became a little nervous when Eliot Capel was afforded space at the far post to leather a shot into the roof of the net but the final, somewhat excessive three minutes, were successfully negotiated.

Tonbridge Angels 0 Harlow Town 0

Match 121/17/1571 - Tuesday, 17th April 2018 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Harlow Town (0) 0
Attendance: 235

Admission: £6 Senior
Programme: £1.00
Mileage: 38/8,100

A few games back I disregarded Gillingham’s goalless draw as the worst game of the season with a single line blog entry. Sadly, another game similarly lacking in entertainment came along all too soon.

I won’t treat Tonbridge with a one line entry but can assure you that I will not be taking too much of my readers’ time.

The season’s end cannot come quickly enough for the Angels as Steve McKimm is having to send out patched up teams with, on this occasion, five Under-19s featuring.

Luciano Osbourne, making his first start, filled in at left back despite spending his season with the Development team as a number 10. But, until his substitution after 79 minutes, acquitted himself well in the circumstances.

The game was one of very few chances the best of which fell to Harlow’s Thomas Page whose downward header after 57 minutes bounced up and over the bar. The damp pitches of a couple of weeks ago might well have meant it not bouncing so high.

Tonbridge supporters had to wait until the 85th minute for a meaningful effort on goal when Dominic Welsh’s cross found Nathan Elder but his header was comfortably saved by David Hughes.

To draw on the positives it was a pleasantly warm evening given the winter we have endured and the returning Tom Parkinson got another half-hour on the pitch. Small mercies indeed.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Lordswood 1 Tunbridge Wells 2

Match 120/17/1570 - Monday, 16th April 2018 - SCEFL Premier

Lordswood (1) 1 Mahon 9
Tunbridge Wells (1) 2 Pilbeam 41 Mici 75
Attendance: 60

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £0.50
Mileage: 35/8,062

Lordswood paid the price for first half indiscipline after dominating the opening 35 minutes and taking an early lead. But following the sending-off of Grant McIlheron after a moment of madness, Tunbridge Wells worked their way back into the game and emerged victorious from an evenly contested encounter.

Lordswood started the brighter with Jordan Wells shooting wide and Jack Mahon doing the visitors a favour deflecting a header over from a shot that might have been goalbound. But the Lords got the goal that their opening spell deserved when Wells outpaced Ollie Cooke down the right before pulling back a cross to give Mahon a tap-in.

When the Wells started to find their feet midway through the half, Lordswood’s indiscipline surfaced with McIlheron’s first booking quickly followed by a yellow for Tom Wooldridge.

After 36 minutes the Wells managed their first shot on goal from Tom Lawrence, who fired over but three minutes before the break they were level when a free kick from Jon Shea that was misjudged by Lordswood goalkeeper Ryan Chandler came back off the bar for Jon Pilbeam to head home.

Lordswood had become disgruntled by the referee’s decisions and when Josh Biddlecombe went down under a challenge, McIlheron leant over and pushed the Tunbridge Wells man as he rose to his feet. It was a completely unnecessary second yellow with the red that followed.

Despite their man disadvantage, the second period was evenly contested with Tunbridge Wells’ goalkeeper, Cameron Hall saving well from Mahon after Drew Crush had been caught in possession and, low to his left, to deny Wells.

Gianfranco Mici produced the magic moment of the game with 15 minutes remaining curling a shot into the top corner from the left hand angle of the penalty area. Mici had enjoyed a good evening, tracking back and always busy in midfield and the strike was a worthy reward for his efforts.

A time added free kick on the edge of the box saw Chandler thrown forward but the place kick was floated harmlessly into Hall’s hands for Tunbridge Wells to claim the points.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Tonbridge Angels 1 Enfield Town 4

Match 119/17/1569 - Saturday, 14th April 2018 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Akrofi 15
Enfield Town (1) 4 Wadkins 6,80 Greene 54 Youngs 58
Attendance: 474

Admission: £6 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/8,027

Tonbridge’s season has been encapsulated in the last week when a fine win on Tuesday against Dulwich was followed by a poor home performance and defeat against a Enfield side that is similarly marooned in mid-table.

Enfield went ahead on six minutes when poor marking from a corner allowed Dernell Wynter a header on goal which was parried by Jonny Henly with the rebound falling to Brad Wadkins to stab home.

Tonbridge responded with Joe Turner and Alex Akrofi going close before the latter equalised after 15 minutes. Turner’s corner was headed at goal by Akrofi whose first effort was saved by Joe Wright with the rebound returning to the striker who curled the ball into the net.

The rest of the first half was evenly contested with Nathan Elder having a header cleared from the line whilst Wadkins had the ball in the net but this was ruled out for offside.

After Turner had seen an early second half effort denied by Wright, low to his left, the half was dominated by the visitors with Aaron Greene giving Enfield the lead after 54 minutes when he latched on to a flick on from Wadkins to fire into the bottom corner with Henly stranded.

Four minutes later a superb curling shot into the top corner from 30 yards by substitute Sam Youngs made it 3-1 to the visitors.

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the afternoon for the home side was reserved for the introduction of Tommy Parkinson who has suffered a season long injury. He slotted into the middle of the defence alongside Sonny Miles, who graciously handed over the captain’s arm band to the club skipper.

Enfield continued to make most of the running with Henly saving from Ryan Blake and Youngs whilst Miles had a header comfortably saved by Wright.

Any lingering doubts to the final result were extinguished on 80 minutes when Wadkins fired into the bottom corner to end a disappointing afternoon for the Angels.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Hollands & Blair 2 Corinthian 1

Match 118/17/1568 - Wednesday, 11th April 2018 - SCEFL Premier

Hollands & Blair (1) 2 McDonald 41 Campbell 56
Corinthian (0) 1 Bewick 72
Attendance: 92

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: Included
Mileage: 54/7,989

The season of postponements that keeps on giving delivered another very late call-off at Lordswood. I arrived ten minutes to find people walking away from the ground with the news that the referee wasn’t happy with certain areas of a wet pitch and had called the game off. Information that Holland’s game was still on led to a 13 minute dash to Gillingham arriving, along with several others, just in time for kick-off. The weight of clubs in the Medway towns has its advantages.

Hollands and Blair have been staging a late recovery and look to have assured their safety with this fourth win in a row in a sometimes ill-tempered game.

First chance of the game fell to the home side as Justin Ascheri set up James McDonald but his shot was narrowly wide. McDonald saw an effort just past the quarter-hour brilliantly tipped over by Corinthian goalkeeper Aidan Prall.

The first rather comical moment, but a pretext to the ill-feeling that was going to surface later came in the 36th minute when the Corinthian’s Jamie Billings went down in front of the benches as if he had been shot. This caused much amusement, but a great deal of anger from the home bench.

Hollands had been the dominant side in the first half and when they finally scored in the 41st minute it was no more than they deserved. A cleverly taken free kick from Jack Simon set up McDonald to drill a shot into the far corner.

Early in the second half Prall made another a good save, low to his right to deny Lewis Taylor at his near post before Corinthian produced their best moment of the match when a free kick from Jamie Billings was headed wide by Michael Hurcomb.

After 56 minutes, a cross from Louis Valencia found the head of Kush Campbell who steered it into the net at the near post.

As the gathering mist was turning into full blown fog the far side of the pitch disappeared from sight. However, Corinthian awoke to their task and it took a fine save from Ryan Nicholls to touch onto the bar an effort from Jamie Billings.

With 18 minutes remaining the visitors set up an exciting finish when a cross from Billings was met with an acrobatic scissor kick from Sam Bewick to half the deficit.

As the time ticked away and Corinthian desperate to get the ball forward a 22-man brawl ensued when Prall and Campbell tussled for the ball in a dead ball situation.

But Holland’s held out for the vital points as the fog closed in even further.

Dulwich Hamlet 1 Tonbridge Angels 2

Match 117/17/1567 - Tuesday, 10th April 2018 - Bostik Premier

Dulwich Hamlet (0) 1 Green 90+5
Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 Akrofi 42 Bantick 45+3
Attendance: 581
Played at Tooting and Mitcham

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 104/7,935

In a glorious example of Tonbridge’s ability to be consistently inconsistent they placed one of Glenn Tamplin’s loathsome hands on the Bostik title with a surprise, but well-deserved, win at Imperial Fields, home of Tooting and Mitcham and the temporary residence of Dulwich Hamlet.

Whilst Dulwich, with a heavy schedule to complete, had a bench that included Ashley Carew, Ricky Hayles and Gavin Tomlin, Tonbridge had to make do with a couple of Under-21s and a name slightly older than that, the Gaffer, Steve McKimm.

Tonbridge started brightly with Nathan Elder’s first minute header comfortably saved by a nervous-looking goalkeeper, Amadou Tangara.

Dulwich had their opening opportunity after 10 minutes when Nathan Ferguson fired narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

Jonny Henly made the first of a series of great stops through the evening after 16 minutes, saving at the feet of Nyren Clunis. Tonbridge supporters, who had made a second journey to Tooting in three days, breathed a sigh of relief when Dipo Akinyemi rounded Henly but saw his shot cleared from the line by Sonny Miles.

Henly was once needed to thwart Akinyemi before Tonbridge ended the half not only on the front foot but in control of the game. Joe Turner whistled a shot narrowly past the left-hand post before, after 42 minutes, Alex Akrofi received a pass inside his own half and went on a 45 yard run that took him to the left side of the box from where he curled a shot into the top corner giving Tangara no chance.

The Angels went into the break two goals up when, after three minutes of time added, Akrofi’s initial cross was retrieved by Elder who crossed for Turner to plant a diving header against the post with the rebound falling to Sam Bantick to finish.

If a second half onslaught was to be expected from a Dulwich side that could afford no slip-ups in their challenge to Billericay, then it really did not happen. Henly was asked to make a super save after 66 minutes from substitute Tomlin but overall their shooting was wayward in the extreme.

On the break, Tonbridge looked just as likely to add a third with Turner firing just wide.

Dulwich finally got their goal that denied Henly a well-earned clean sheet with virtually the last kick of the game when ex-Angel Green stabbed home after a goalmouth scramble.

With the handing of the title initiative back to Billericay, it might have been a case of not knowing whether to laugh or cry at the final whistle but ultimately this was a performance that deserved greater reward than a rise in the table to ninth, but that is where the season's inconsistency has left Tonbridge.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Tunbridge Wells 0 Cray Valley PM 2

Match 116/17/1566 - Monday, 9th April 2018 - SCEFL

Tunbridge Wells (0) 0 White 24 James 84
Cray Valley PM (1) 2
Attendance: 122

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/7,831

Match Report

Three games in five days justifies the rotation exercised by Jason Bourne but the sight of Alfie Hall hobbling away also showed that fate is no respecter of manager’s decisions of whom plays where or when.

The Tunbridge Wells line-up showed five graduates from the Development and Youth set-up and credit can be taken that they produced a competitive performance whilst accepting that Cray Valley, whom themselves made changes for an identical schedule, were worthy winners.

It was a miserably wet evening leaving one to reminisce of recent season’s when these end-of-season games have been played on warm Spring evenings with pitches rock hard. This evening’s game didn’t need a pitch inspection to start but would have probably failed one at the finish.

After an opening quarter hour in which the main source of interest was the rain falling harder, the first opportunity fell to the visitor’s star turn, Kevin Lisbie, who outpaced Jack Hampson but his shot cleared the bar.

Tunbridge Wells responded immediately with Cray’s goalkeeper, Andy Walker, saving from Franco Mici with his feet.

Cray Valley made the breakthrough on 23 minutes when Jack White’s header from a corner was adjudged to have crossed the line despite the best efforts of Tommy Lawrence.

The visitors went on to dominate the rest of the half making and spurning several chances with Callum Hampson making a trio of good saves.

The Wells opened the second half with a positive attitude and Walker needed a smart save to deny Jon Pilbeam. Callum Hampson proved his worth as an able deputy for first choice Cameron Hall with two brave blocks to thwart Sam Bailey.

Josh Stanford brought a good save, low to his left, out of Walker just before the hour mark whilst Hampson saved similarly from a Bailey free kick. Within a minute, Hampson was once more the hero brilliantly turning aside a Lisbie header.

Cray Valley finally put the game to bed with six minutes remaining when Denzil Gayle, free of the shackles imposed by Alfie Hall, crossed into Lisbie who, in turn, set up a shooting chance for Josh James to finish.

Once this week is over, a more reasonable schedule should allow Bourne to settle his side for the opportunity to salvage some silverware from a disappointing season in the SCEFL Challenge Cup Final.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Tonbridge Angels Ladies 7 Diamond United Ladies 3

Match 115/17/1565 - Sunday, 8th April 2018 - Kent Divisional Cup SF

Tonbridge Angels Ladies (6) 7 Janes 1,9,11,45+3 Akehurst 30 Moran 45+1 (pen) Coombes 61
Diamond United Ladies (1) 3 Metland 6 Langstone 65,78
Attendance: 131

Donation: £2
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/7,793

Four first half goals from Becky Janes including an opening goal after just 15 seconds paved the way for Tonbridge Angels Ladies to reach their first ever cup final next month.

Ashford-based Diamond United were blown away in a devastating opening half-hour from the home side who flourished in the wide open spaces of Longmead Stadium.

Direct from the kick-off, Megan Akehurst sped clear down the right wing to deliver an inch perfect cross for Janes to glance a header past the visiting goalkeeper, Terri Bryant, who had remained rooted to her line.

Pictures: Dave Couldridge

To their credit, Diamond, who ply their trade in the division below the Angels, fought back to equalise after six minutes when Amy Metland fired a shot past Sam Wright with the referee allowing the crosser of the ball to play on despite the raising of a flag by the linesman.

Janes went close on eight minutes firing just wide of the post but, a minute later, curled an absolute beauty into the top corner from 20 yards to restore the Angels’ lead.

A fourth goal in the first 11 minutes came when a corner delivered by Alex Weston was headed home by Janes to complete a quick-fire hat-trick.

The Diamonds, backed by a noisy contingent in an impressive attendance of 131, were not lying down and stemmed the tide for a period before Janes turned provider sending Megan Akehurst clear to cooly convert past Bryant on the half-hour.

Diamond were very unlucky three minutes later when Jordan Langstone drove a shot across the face of goal and, after the ball was recycled, Olivia Macdonald smacked a shot against a post.

Chances fell to the Angels’ Akehurst and Janes before two goals in time-added effectively killed off the Diamond’s challenge. Becky Jarvis was bundled over in the box for Kelly Moran to convert from the spot and this was followed by Janes outpacing her markers to fire under the keeper for her fourth and Tonbridge’s sixth of the half.

The rolling substitutions took some of the momentum away from Tonbridge in the second half but they created chances with Janes being twice denied by the Diamond’s goalkeeper, who had played outfield in the first half.

The Angels went 7-1 in front just past the hour when Jody Coombes curled a free kick into the top corner.

With a six goal deficit it would be almost understandable if the visitor’s heads had gone down, but they should be given great credit for a stirring fightback that saw Langstone outpace the Angels’ defence to fire into the bottom corner after 65 minutes and then to repeat the act with 12 minutes remaining.

However, that was as good as it got for Diamond as the Angels closed out the game on the front foot with a couple of chances falling to Nancy Syrett and Coombes.

The final will be played at Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium on Thursday, 17th May against the winners of the other semi-final between Thamesview and Petts Wood.

Gillingham 0 Doncaster Rovers 0

Match 114/17/1564 - Saturday, 7th April 2018 - League One

Gillingham (0) 0
Doncaster Rovers (0) 0
Attendance: 4,870

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 58/7,755

At some stage of every season you have to endure the worst game, this was it.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Rusthall 3 Rochester United 2

Match 113/17/1563 - Wednesday, 4th April 2018 - SCEFL

Rusthall (1) 3 Powell 16 Hanshaw 60 Butler 86
Rochester United (2) 2 Healey 5 Simms 29
Attendance: 118

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £1
Mileage: 38/7,697

Another postponement, another change of direction led me to Jockey Farm for a relegation tussle that, almost certainly, assured Rusthall’s place in the SCEFL Premier for another season.

The Rustics have had a difficult second half of the season that couldn’t have been helped by a series of postponements of home matches.

Rusthall could not have got off to a worse start going behind after just six minutes when a free kick deceived goalkeeper Steve Lawrence but rebounded off the bar for Rochester’s Jack Healey to tap-in.

Credit to bottom-of-the-table Rochester who had roared out of the blocks and created further chances with Luke Saggers and Paul Gross both having a couple of efforts each on goal before the game reached the 10 minute mark.

Gross, an ex-manager at Cray Valley, was a big presence both in terms of his playing contribution and vocal encouragement or admonishment depending on the situation.

Rusthall finally got themselves started and equalised with virtually their first attack when a surging run down the right and cross from Michael Tubb found Dan Powell, whose shot took a helpful deflection past goalkeeper Tony Coxall.

Callum Gallie’s header came back off the crossbar for Rusthall and Gross almost benefitted from a poor clearance by Lawrence but sent his shot wide.

The visitor’s re-took the lead after 30 minutes when a shot from Merrick Simms went through Lawrence and into the net. Rochester could have gone into the break in a more commanding situation but Gross saw an effort cleared from the line by Kaylan Patel and Dan Nash had a 20 yard curler come back of the right hand post.

Into the second half. Rusthall showed a greater sense of urgency with Dan Mitchell’s header saved by Coxall, but just past the hour, a free kick delivered by Nathan Moseley was converted with a header from Dan Hanshaw.

Rusthall looked the most likely winner but might have gone behind again when Patel deflected substitute Jordan Adelekon’s effort over his own bar.

Rusthall got their noses in front for the first time in the game with five minutes remaining when a cross from the left was met with a header from Paul Butler that looped over Coxall to secure the three vital points.

As it seems most likely that only one team will be relegated from the SCEFL Premier this season, this result probably consigns Rochester to that fate.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Billericay Town 2 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 112/17/1562 - Tuesday, 3rd April 2018 - Bostik Premier

Billericay Town (0) 2 Deering 53 Hughes 68
Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Smith 67
Attendance: 505
Played at Aveley

Entrance: £8 Senior
Programme: £3
Mileage: 70/7,659

Once we were allowed to get past the Greatest Ringmaster on Earth’s It’s All About Me welcome to the circus a decent, competitive game of football was allowed to break out. For some reason, I know not why or care, Tamplin didn’t take his place in the dug-out but still wanted his share of the limelight so took to the microphone, not as the stadium announcer, but as a “compere”. Even the microphone had tired of his voice and gave up the ghost as he continually mispronounced the Tonbridge player’s names. Tashi-Jay Kwayie is not difficult, it is said as it is read but at least it gave some humour to his fawning entourage.

It cannot be any surprise that Billericay have returned to form in the absence of The Ego and nobody was disputing last night that they were the better side but those from Kent were rightly proud of their side’s efforts.

The Tonbridge support, who had made their way through the Tunnel to Aveley’s spanking new Parkside Stadium, showed their appreciation for a great effort in the face of a Billericay side with far more creation with the inclusion of Sam Deering and Ricky Modeste, both of whom were missing from the reverse fixture a fortnight ago.

The opening 15 minutes were fairly cagey with Xavier Vidal shooting wide for the Angels and Jake Robinson bringing a comfortable save after Jonny Henly’s headed clearance only found the prolific striker.

Tonbridge suffered a setback after just 13 minutes when Craig Stone needed to be replaced following a recurrence of his thigh injury. Luke Blewden slotted into the right back position with the onerous task of defending against the lightning pace of Modeste.

A superb move involving Deering, Billy Bricknell ended with Modeste’s shot hitting the right hand post.

Tonbridge responded immediately with Joe Turner’s effort going narrowly wide.

The Angels were forced into a second substitution before the break when Tashi-Jay Kwayie was unable to continue after treatment and was replaced by Nathan Elder.

The home side were denied a half-time lead when Liam Smith cleared from the line following a corner.

Billericay made the breakthrough in the 53rd minute when some clever play down the right from Robbie Evans opened up the Angels and set up Deering to score from close range.

Billericay had a spell when they were in full flow and only the crossbar saved the Angels from going two down following Robinson’s effort.

From being under the cosh, Tonbridge found an equaliser on 67 minutes when a corner was poorly dealt with by Alan Julian leading to a scramble in which Elder had two attempts blocked before Smith poked the ball home.

The Angels’ delight lasted just a minute when Modeste’s cross found the head of substitute Liam Hughes to restore the Essex side’s lead.

Henly made good saves from Modeste, Hughes and Inman to keep ‘Riccay sweating into the last five minutes when Tonbridge threw bodies forward in search of an equaliser and it so very nearly came when Sam Bantick was sent clear but he took a heavy touch and Julian was able to smother at his feet.

Steve McKimm graciously accepted that his side had been beaten by the better side whose quality players, Deering, Modeste and Jamie O’Hara benefitted from the 3G surface but was rightly proud of his team’s effort.

“It wasn’t a disgrace but you can’t tell the players that, they are devastated. I’m proud of the boys, as I have been for the past 8-10 weeks ... with just a bare 14 (with the reshuffling following the injuries). We did the best we could and the boys gave everything they had.”

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Croydon 2 Tunbridge Wells 3

Match 111/17/1561 - Easter Monday, 2nd April 2018 - SCEFL

Croydon (0) 2 Paul-Robinson 55 Chin 76
Tunbridge Wells (2) 3 Lawrence 7 Trespaderne 15 Harris 63
Headcount: 80

Entrance: £3.50 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 92/7,589

Momentum as much as the points gained will be key for Tunbridge Wells through the last month of the season leading to their SCEFL Cup Final appearance on 5th May. Following Saturday’s postponement, this hard-earned win at Croydon, who sat fifth in the table at start of play, maintains the feel-good factor following the Crowborough semi-final.

The threatened deluge that was supposed to see Noah sailing down high streets did not materialise although a spell of heavy rain en-route caused some concern as to the match going ahead.

But thankfully, on arrival at the Croydon Arena, the weather was dry and the players were warming up. On my previous visit three years ago, I remember slopping through the mud of a building site to the entrance, but now there is a smart new entrance and car park. Inside though, seemingly very little has changed.

After Croydon had seen the first chance of the game, a shot from Nathan Campbell that cleared the bar, Tunbridge Wells took the lead when a free kick from Tommy Lawrence deflected off the wall and looped over a desperately back-pedalling goalkeeper who could only help it over the line.

In an exciting start to the game, the home side were unlucky not to get back on terms a minute later when Campbell struck a post.

The Wells went two-up after 15 minutes when a mix-up between the goalkeeper, Alex Hewitt, and a defender presented Jared Trespaderne with an opportunity to drive the ball into the roof of the net from around 12 yards.

The Croydon defence looked unsettled by a poor start that had been of their own making and they looked likely to concede again every time the Wells attacked.

But they worked their way into the game in the closing five minutes of the half and Cameron Hall bravely saved at the feet of Martin Sontan and, following a mistake from Ollie Cook, similarly at the feet of Lauris Chin.

Hall was grateful in time-added when the ball escaped his grasp after collecting a high cross but, as it ran loose, Chin fired over.

Croydon started the second half brightly with Hall saving at his near post a header from Campbell but it was the introduction of the portly Ashley Paul-Johnson that changed the direction of the game. There is no kind way of saying that Johnson doesn’t look a typical footballer, portly is a very kind description. But, he looked like a player that has played above this level at some time in the past. After a free kick was given away cheaply just outside of the box, Johnson drove the free kick into the bottom corner.

Tunbridge Wells restored their two goal advantage five minutes later when a ball over the top reached Jack Harris who powered through a couple of challenges to fire home.

Johnson continued to direct all the attacking intentions of Croydon, heading against the bar after 63 minutes and seeing another free kick deflected over by the wall whilst Chin wasted another of his pin-point crosses by heading over.

Croydon were reduced to ten men when Bryan Akongo picked up a second yellow for a foul, however they reduced the deficit once more when Chin’s header crept in at the far post following a free kick delivered from the left.

Tunbridge Wells had to withstand a good deal of pressure in the closing stages with Daniel Hector on the right wing getting a lot more joy once Alfie Hall had needed to be substituted but the chances that were created were wasted and the points returned to the royal town.