Saturday, 28 July 2018

Herne Bay 0 Tonbridge Angels 7

Match 14/18/1607 - Saturday, 28th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Herne Bay (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (5) 7 Turner 12,80 Beere 15 (pen),60 King 20,29,45 (pen)
Attendance: 131

Admission: £3 Senior
Team Sheet: Free
Mileage: 84/645

Tonbridge Angels eased to a comprehensive win on the East Kent coast at a blustery Winches Field, home of Herne Bay.

There were two absentees from Tuesday evening’s game at Faversham. Craig Stone’s son has had hospital surgery and Alex Read was unwell.

Steve McKimm replaced Read with Liam King, who has recently departed Walton Casuals, and the striker will have impressed with a first half hat trick.

The Angels opened the scoring after 12 minutes when Tom Beere pulled the ball back from the left side bye-line for Joe Turner to steer the ball home from close range.

Two minutes later, Tonbridge were awarded a penalty when Tommy Whitnall was brought down. Beere stepped up to confidently finish from the spot.

The visitors were now in total control of the game with Beere hitting a post before King opened his account with a goal from a narrow angle that was helped in by the Herne Bay goalkeeper who allowed the ball to creep in under his body.

After half-an-hour, Turner was the provider with a cross from the right that was turned into his own net by Herne Bay’s Nick Reeves, under pressure from King. One for the dubious goals panel to clear up, but as King was to put away a 45th minute penalty, no one is going to deny him his hat-trick!

On the hour, a woeful pass across the face of the Herne Bay penalty area was intercepted by Beere who beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation to add the sixth goal.

Herne Bay had a brief period when they might have salvaged some consolation but Jonny Henly was equal to a Connor Cox effort and Reeves headed wide.

The Angels wrapped up the scoring when substitute Sam Jones, from the Development squad, set up Turner to fire in the seventh of the afternoon.

With five minutes remaining, Jared Small set up Turner but his shot struck the left hand post.

This was a first visit to Herne Bay in the lifetime of this blog and, I believe, a first visit for Tonbridge since 1993. Despite Winches Field looking like it has seen little change from 25 years ago, it is a tidy ground with a sizeable main seating stand and cover at both ends of the ground.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Whyteleafe U18 9 Tonbridge Angels U18 1

Match 13/18/1606 - Wednesday, 25th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Whyteleafe U18 (2) 9 Abegbife 3, Palmer 2, Williams, Penton
Tonbridge Angels U18 (1) 1
Headcount: 23

Admission: Free
Programme: Free
Mileage: 82/561

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Faversham Town 0 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 12/18/1605 - Tuesday, 24th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Faversham Town (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Beere 2
Estimated Attendance: 150

Admission: £3 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 48/479

It was only a preseason friendly, so it was not going to exorcise any of the ghosts of last season’s visit to Salters Lane, but for 45 minutes Tonbridge’s football was good enough to file those memories into the box marked Do Not Open. The passing and movement was crisp and purposeful with an early goal to build on. The only possible complaint would have been that for almost total domination, one goal was a poor first half return.

The management conducted their team talk on the pitch after initially going to the dressing room, but what more could have been said other than, more of the same. Sadly, it didn’t happen.

Tonbridge were ahead within two minutes of the kick-off. A surging run and cross from the left from Jack Parter found Tom Beere, whose somewhat scuffed shot found the bottom corner.

Beere was excellent in the first 45 and his after match interview in which he told of his signing for a year will make for blissful listening for the Angels’ faithful.

The visitors survived a scare after nine minutes when a corner found the head of Ollie Lee but he steered it narrowly wide. From that let off the half was one-way traffic.

Joe Turner, who has been sharp as a tack preseason, tested Mark Overland on a couple of occasions; Alex Reid fired wide and Beere saw an effort deflected onto the crossbar as the Angels carved out chance after chance. The only fly in the first half ointment being a head injury to Callum Adonis-Taylor.

In fairness to Faversham, they made a better fist of the second period which probably contributed to Tonbridge losing their first half momentum.

A rash of substitutions further disrupted the game and apart from a sublime pass from Beere that almost put in Tommy Whitnell who was denied at his feet by Overland, the only occurrence of note was a worrying moment when Sonny Miles needed treatment for concussion and looked very wobbly as he left the field. But he reported that he was okay after the match.

There is not too much left of the phoney war of preseason but the general worry of the Tonbridge support is the isolation of Reid up front and whether support for him can be found, be it by a signing (is anything left in the budget) or from within the squad. For 45 minutes, it looked the last missing piece of the jigsaw.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Tonbridge Angels 3 Tunbridge Wells 0

Match 11/18/1604 - Saturday, 21st July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels (1) 3 Turner 41,71 Stone 56
Tunbridge Wells (0) 0
Attendance: 228

Admission: £3 Senior
Team Sheet: 50p
Mileage: 38/431

Tonbridge eased to a comfortable victory over their near neighbours Tunbridge Wells, who remained competitive for much of the match but were rather toothless in the final third.

Both teams, barring an odd player on either side, fielded sides that could conceivably start their respective league seasons.

As should be expected as the senior side, Tonbridge, dominated the early stages. Trialist Adem Ramadan, who after appearing in all the games so far must be exercising Steve McKimm’s mind, stretched Cameron Hall to a fine stop low to his left after just three minutes and the goalkeeper needed to be at his best to deny Joe Turner after a quarter of an hour.

It took the best part of 30 minutes for Tunbridge Wells to mount a serious attack that ended with Josh Biddlecombe shooting over.

But whilst it was largely one-way traffic, a combination of stout defending and wayward finishing kept the game goalless until the 41st minute when Alex Read slid a short pass on the edge of the penalty area to Turner who fired into the bottom corner.

Before the end of the half, Liam Smith saw a shot saved by Hall and had another effort which was deflected narrowly over his own crossbar by Jake Hampson.

Read steered a header wide early in the second half after being set up by Craig Stone and in a rare foray forward Tunbridge Wells substitute Rory Salter fired wide.

The home side doubled their advantage after 56 minutes when Stone followed up to score after Hall had parried Ramadan’s initial shot.

The closest the Wells came to scoring came on 68 minutes when Biddlecombe lobbed the advancing Jonny Henly, but the ball drifted agonisingly wide.

Turner put the game to bed for the Angels when he cut in from the left to bury a shot from around 20 yards.

On another very hot afternoon, both teams contributed to an entertaining afternoon which culminated with the presentation of the Courier Cup, which I don’t think many people knew they were playing for!

Friday, 20 July 2018

Erith & Belvedere 1 Tunbridge Wells 1

Match 10/18/1603 - Thursday, 19th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Erith and Belvedere (1) 1
Tunbridge Wells (0) 1 Jefferies 81
Headcount: 49

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 70/393

Tunbridge Wells supporters would have walked away from this preseason friendly a little underwhelmed by the performance of their first half team made up of senior players but highly encouraged by some bright youngsters in the second period.

Sadly, as I lament game after game preseason, the absence of any information regarding who was who on both sides leaves those kids largely unnamed. One name that did surface was that of Ewan Jefferies, a 17-year-old, who capped a fine display with an equalising goal for the Wells.

The first half was dominated by Erith & Belvedere to the degree that the Wells created just a single chance, a header from a corner by Ollie Cooke that was cleared from the line.

After surviving an early scare when a goalbound header was cleared by Drew Crush, the hosts went in front after eight minutes when a through ball opened up an opportunity that left Cameron Hall diving at the feet of the forward but coming off second best as the Erith man slid the ball into an empty net.

The method in which the goal was scored became a somewhat recurring theme as single passes cut through the Wells back line leading to some desperate defending to stay in the game.

Right from the outset of the second half the Wells’ youngsters attacked the game with a positive mindset with a Jefferies header from a corner bringing a save out of the rotund E&B custodian.

A curious incident on the hour saw an Erith defender sent off for spitting. An Erith official was dispatched to the dressing room for the player’s explanation which was that he had only shouted and not spat.

Jefferies tested the keeper on a couple more occasions before an E&B free kick came back off the crossbar after 76 minutes.

But, five minutes later, a cross from the right was smartly met by Jefferies at the near post to give the Wells something to take from the game.

Young Jefferies made the evening a worthwhile trip and I’m hoping that the Tunbridge Wells management saw enough to have some faith in the lad in the upcoming season.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Sevenoaks Town 1 Tonbridge Angels 2

Match 09/18/1602 - Tuesday, 17th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Sevenoaks Town (0) 1 Sawyer 46
Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 Aristride 23 Smith 90
Attendance: 157

Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Mileage: 46/323

The gentleman stood alongside me said quietly, “Oh, that’s embarrassing”. Far from embarrassing, it was positively magical, Brian Smith, whose son, Liam, had just cut in from the left, cutting a swathe through the centre of the opposition’s defence before unleashing a 25 yard shot into the top corner off the underside of the bar. If you had indulged in a bit of Dad dancing Mr Smith, now that would have been embarrassing!

This was a preseason game that was somewhat strange in its course of events. A first look at the Tonbridge team sheet that started with only Sonny Miles as a senior professional suggested a tough watch for the Tonbridge support who made up a decent proportion of the overall attendance. But it was nothing of the sort as the collection of trialists had a good opening 45 minutes. An old friend, Tom Beere, stepped into central midfield and owned the place. Everyone was making the point that he was the answer to our prayers in the creative midfield role, but with the player seeking full-time football, it seems unlikely those prayers will be answered. Further forward was Baselle Aristride, who was at Margate last season, with a big physical presence and is surely worth another look. Six other trialists made the starting eleven, each of which we have seen before and might, or might not, have caught Steve McKimm’s eye with a view to a further opportunity.

With no team sheet available for the Sevenoaks side, references to them will be a little vague although the well travelled nature of Zak Attwood and Frankie Sawyer’s careers made them instantly recognisable.

After an opening 20 minutes when both sides brought saves out of the respective goalkeepers, it was the visitors that opened the scoring after 23 minutes. A quality through ball from Beere found Aristride shrugging off a challenge before firing in a shot that was parried back to him to tuck home at the second attempt.

With Beere controlling the centre of the park, Miles and Callum Adonis-Taylor easily containing any threat it was a comfortable half for the Angels who only probably regretted not going into the break further in front. So it was unexpected when Sevenoaks equalised in the first minute of the second period. A cross from the right was collected by Sawyer who shifted his feet into a clear shooting position on the edge of the box to clinically finish past Tommy Taylor.

On the hour, there was a rash of substitutions that left the Angels looking more like the first eleven most would expect and given what we had seen you had to believe that to win from here was just a matter of time. But it never really happened with the home side equally as threatening.

But cometh the hour, cometh the 18-year-old and Liam Smith’s magical moment. Don’t be embarrassed Mr Smith, take a bow on behalf of your lad!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Tonbridge Angels 1 Gillingham 5

Match 08/18/1601 - Saturday, 14th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Read 72
Gillingham (1) 5 Hanlon 18,60 Reilly 52 Mbo 78 Moussa 79
Attendance: 224

Admission: £3 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/277

Gillingham paid Tonbridge Angels a huge compliment by bringing a strong team to Longmead on a day when they were simultaneously playing at Margate. Manager Steve Lovell took charge whilst sitting in the stand was chairman Paul Scally who would have enjoyed watching his side win by the convincing margin of 5-1, a scoreline that was a little harsh on their hosts.

On another very hot day, I once again took cover under the main stand to find respite from the sun. The players were also treated to mid-half water breaks.

The first chance of the game fell to Brandon Hanlon who saw his header from a David Nasseri cross go wide, but it was the new signing from Charlton that gave Gillingham the lead after 18 minutes when he shrugged off the challenge of Sonny Miles to get onto a long punt forward and fire into the bottom right hand corner.

Soon after the water break a cross from Luke O’Neill was met with a glancing header from Josh Parker that went narrowly wide.

Tonbridge’s new signing Jared Small took a heavy knock after 40 minutes and needed to be replaced by trialist Adem Ramadam, whose performance caught the eye and is deserving of further opportunities to impress the Tonbridge management.

The home side ended the first half stretching Tomas Holy with a save at his near post from Arthur Lee and after flapping at a cross he needed a defender to make a saving block.

Gillingham opened the second half with Parker heading wide and Nasseri sending successive shots over the bar before they doubled their advantage on 52 minutes. Callum Reilly cut in from the left before shooting from 20 yards to score with a shot that went in off the post.

On the hour the Gills went three clear following a surging run from Hanlon that ended with a thumping shot that left substitute goalkeeper Tom Day’s first touch of the afternoon that of picking the ball out of his net.

Tonbridge pulled a goal back after 70 minutes when Alex Read got on the end of a Liam Smith ball over the top to complete the no mean feat of lobbing the 6’7” Holy.

Two thumping efforts in the last 15 minutes added gloss to the Gills' afternoon but also gave Tonbridge a scoreline they didn’t deserve. A 25 yard drive from Noel Mbo made it 4-1 and, a minute later, a sharp turn and hit from Frank Moussa made it five.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Staplehurst Monarchs 3 Snodland Town 2

Match 07/18/1600 - Thursday, 12th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Staplehurst Monarchs (2) 3 Brown 20,57 Bertram 40
Snodland Town (0) 2 #6 53 Sherwood 78
Headcount: 12

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 1/239

It’s a little bit of a shame that I don’t get down to my local club, Staplehurst Monarchs, more often. Just twice in the last couple of years have I ventured the half-mile from home to Jubilee Fields and, on both occasions, I have been pleasantly surprised by the standard of football.

Twenty-four hours have past since the bitter disappointment of England’s exit from the World Cup at the semi-final stage in Russia. Everybody is rightly proud of the performance of the national team and they come home with their heads held high. But football moves on and, like falling off a bike, it was good to get back to grassroots at the first opportunity.

Staplehurst Monarchs are a club that appears to have on-field ambition with the appearance of ex-Tunbridge Wells goalkeeper, Steve Lawrence between the sticks and leading the line, they have pulled off a major coup with the signing of Josh Brown, a striker from K Sports. Unfortunately, however good their season might turn out to be, significant progress needs to made in terms of infrastructure for promotion to be sought.

Both goalkeepers were in early action making good saves before the home side took the lead after 20 minutes. A fine through ball from the number eight saw Brown brush aside a challenge to fire into the bottom corner from 10 yards at the right hand angle of the box.

The game was a feisty encounter for a pre-season “friendly” and the referee needed to remind a couple of players of the meaning of the word.

After 40 minutes, Staplehurst deservedly doubled their advantage when a cross from the right fell to their central defender Nathan Bertram who swept the ball home.

Snodland Town, of SCEFL 1, a step higher than their hosts, were offered a way back into the game when their lively number 15 was brought down but the evergreen Dave Sherwood blasted the spot kick over the bar.

Snodland began the second half with a great deal more purpose and reduced the arrears after 53 minutes when their number 6 took a pass to score from close range.

The Monarch’s two goal advantage was quickly restored when Brown executed a fine finish from the edge of the box.

Snodland’s 15 was further agitated when he saw his header come back off the crossbar and with 12 minutes to go, Sherwood got his customary goal when he intercepted a poor back pass to tuck the ball home.

Staplehurst’s Brown was denied his hat-trick with a good double save from the visiting goalkeeper and from the resultant corner a header was directed wide.

Good luck to my local club, I will be watching closely their results and will not miss an, albeit limited, opportunity to see them.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Erith Town 5 Tonbridge Angels U21 0

Match 06/18/1599 - Monday, 9th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Erith Town (2) 5
Tonbridge Angels U21 (0) 0
Headcount: 45
New Ground: 324

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 76/238

Tonbridge Angels Under-21 side were well beaten against Southern Counties East side Erith Town, who were celebrating their return to Erith Athletics Stadium which they left to groundshare at Thamesmead and VCD five years ago.

The Erith manager, Adam Woodward, has recruited well during the summer and his team, which included ex-Angels Adrian Stone and Scott Whibley, is expected to be challenging around the higher reaches of the SCEFL Premier.

The Angels side featured Stuart Copeland in goal in a team that was made-up entirely of players under the age of 20.

Unfortunately, no team sheet was available from Erith Town so reference to their players can only be made by number, although I am pretty sure the scorer of a second half hat-trick was Stone.

Neither side fashioned much in terms of chances before the Dockers went in front after 19 minutes when a cross from the right found their number seven unmarked to fire into the bottom corner.

Tonbridge worked their way back into the game and Dominic Toussaint and Ristel Benz tested the home goalkeeper.

Copeland saved well to his left and Erith hit a post before the number 10 opened up a tap-in for the number 9 to make it 2-0.

Into the second half, Tonbridge forced ex-Angels Under-18 goalkeeper, Lewis Mitchell Into a couple of saves but conceded to Stone, who scored with a tap-in on 59 minutes, a goal after 74 minutes that appeals for offside went unheard and a 76th minute penalty.

Tonbridge line-up was: 1. Stuart Copeland, 2. Ciaran Nadison-Singh, 3. Tim Oledeju, 4. Dominic Welsh, 5. Lekan Ejiwumni, .6. Ollie Harrison, 7. Jacob Wright, 8. Charlie Dumas, 9. Dominic Toussaint, 10. Chris Lambert, 11. Ristel Benz, 12. Jacob Lambert, 13. Gareth Austin, 14. Chris Bright, 15. Harry Hudson, 16. Nick Ithier, 17. Alfie Barclay, 18. Zak Wolvey.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Tonbridge Angels U18 3 Whyteleafe U18 6

Match 05/18/1598 - Sunday, 8th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels U18 (2) 3 Brooks 30 Bowles 43 Freeman 88
Whyteleafe U18 (2) 6 Palmer 9,54 Adejbite 47,50 Wiliiams 32 Penton 90
Headcount: 28
Played at Mascalls, Paddock Wood

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 20/162

Tonbridge Angels return to action after a year’s absence at Under-18 level brought much encouragement despite a 6-3 defeat to Whyteleafe on an oppressively hot Sunday morning at Mascalls School, Paddock Wood.

Manager Jamie Wolvey was satisfied that at periods in the game his side, who had fielded two Under-16s in Charlie Bowles and Ollie Harrison, had matched a Whyteleafe side that were physically bigger and stronger.

With concerns about the heat to the forefront the game was split into three periods of 30 minutes.

With this being Tonbridge’s first game together as a team they struggled in the opening stages against their visitors who had a great deal of understanding of their roles in the team. They took the lead after nine minutes when Nathan Palmer converted a cross from the right.

The goal sparked a period of dominance for the Surrey side with chances coming at regular intervals but the score was not added to by a combination of wastefulness and some stout defending including a fine double save from the Tonbridge goalkeeper, Tommy Sceal.

So it was somewhat against the run of play that Tonbridge equalised at the end of the first period. The ball was pulled the ball back from the bye-line for David Brooks to fire into the bottom corner.

Whyteleafe resumed their overall command of the game and regained their lead after 32 minutes when Bradley Williams shot into the bottom corner from the left hand angle of the penalty area.

Sceal did well to turn a shot onto the underside of the bar before the home side equalised with a good move that saw the ball passed along the 18 yard line before reaching Bowles who curled a shot into the far corner.

Unfortunately parity did not last long and three goals in seven minutes from Ibrahim Adejbite (2) and Palmer saw Whyteleafe into the second break with a 5-2 lead.

The heat told on both sides in the final period and it was two minutes before the end when Jake Freeman collected a good pass to give the scoreline respectability at 5-3. However, it was not to be the last act with Ryan Penton completing the scoring for the visitors.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Tonbridge Angels 0 Whyteleafe 2

Match 04/18/1597 - Saturday, 7th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Whyteleafe (2) 2 Robinson 35 Chin 43
Estimated attendance: 150

Admission: Free
Team sheet: Free
Mileage: 38/142

It is fair to say that focus was not completely on the pitch at Longmead today, not that Barry Moore was using that as an excuse for this pre-season defeat at the hands of Whyteleafe. Moore said after the game that the visitors had had a lot of the ball which he had not expected. The trickle of people heading for the Marquee and the Fan Park in the first half became a constant procession as excitement built for England’s World Cup Quarter Final.

There was a sombre start to the afternoon as the passing of Junior Dian three years ago at the home of the visitors was marked by the laying of flowers by his great friend James Folkes and a minute’s applause.

Tonbridge fielded different teams in each half with a mixture of squad players and triallists in each eleven. In the first half team were new signings Alex Read, Jared Small and Arthur Lee. A very hot afternoon with the mercury reaching 30degC made for a difficult time for the triallists to impress but Adem Ramadan, who also trialled pre-season a couple of years ago was the pick of the bunch. In goal, Johnny Henly stood aside to allow Tommy Taylor and an Under-18 goalkeeper the opportunity.

The opening half-hour was an even affair with very few opportunities for either side. Bentley Graham shot narrowly wide for Whyteleafe whilst Small showed a great turn of pace before being brought down and the best move of the 30 minutes saw Small firing over. The best chance fell to Lauris Chin who fired wide before, after 35 minutes, Ashley Robinson was allowed too much time and space to fire past Taylor and into the bottom corner from around 20 yards.

Sam Freeman in the Whyteleafe goal was brought into action by triallist Bolo Dawado before further slack defending allowed Chin an unchallenged shot to make it 2-0 at the break for the visitors.

The second half brought another mix for Tonbridge with the direct running of Joe Turner presenting the Leafe with a different set of problems. Turner immediately forcing a good save out of Freeman.

Chin should have put the game to bed when he latched onto a through ball from Robinson to round Taylor but the goalkeeper forced him wide enough to recover and save at the near post.

Tonbridge pressed hard for some consolation but efforts from triallist Josh Greenleaf and the returning Tom Pearson failed to put a goal onto the scoreboard.

The afternoon had a happy ending come 5 o’clock when those who had packed the Fan Park had something to cheer as England progressed to the semi-finals for the first time since 1990.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

K Sports 2 Oakland Leopards 1

Match 03/18/1596 - Thursday, 5th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

K Sports (0) 2 Morgan 87 Gethin 89
Oakland Leopards (1) 1 De Loa 3
Headcount: 62

Admission: £3
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 27/104

The days of the novelty pre-season friendly are that of yesteryear. Those of us with longer memories can remember Tonbridge playing a team from Kuwait at the old Angel Ground or Gillingham v the Japanese National team. Unfortunately, for a SCEFL team, a home fixture against lofty opposition from the National League will, in general, mean a visit from a team made up of youngsters and trialists with perhaps a couple of first teamers seeking fitness.

So it was that a visit from Oakland Leopards, from the west coast of America to K Sports, a club who themselves are mapping a path through the English pyramid, made for one of the more appetising fixtures on the pre-season list.

In the matchday programme, something of a novelty in itself for K Sports, who met with criticism from groundhoppers last season for the various excuses for not producing one, there was a message from Edward Stephen, coach of the Leopards that told of the challenges that the young players of his club faced as residents of Oakland, a city that when I visited in the early 1980s, we were told in the hotel not to venture out after dark, seemingly not a lot has changed.

Stephen wrote that his Under-19 boys were all local Latino kids from low income families and lived in parts of Oakland known for drugs, violence and shootings. It is not uncommon to hear gunshots in the background during training sessions. Despite all the negativity of Oakland’s environment and reputation and the hostility directed towards minorities it is inspiring to see their strength and determination to overcome challenges that kids should not have to face.

The Oakland side have crowdfunded $9,000 to make-up a total of $45,000 needed to fund the trip which will also include fixtures at Redbridge and Biggleswade.

The Under-19 game ended with a 3-2 win for K Sports before the senior game.

For those that might end up reading this in the United States, and Oakland in particular, we are “enjoying” a heatwave in Britain and the south-east in particular, so the teams took to Cobdown’s 3G surface on a very warm, muggy evening.

The Leopards got their evening, and their tour, off to the best possible start when they took the lead after just two minutes. A wonderful through ball from Prince Bere sent Eduardo De Loa through on goal to shake off a couple of challenges and slot the ball past the K Sports goalkeeper Adam Highstead (without a K Sports team sheet, I’m hoping their programme team was near to correct).

As an attacking force for Oakland, it was as good as it was going to get for the majority of the first half that became a rearguard action with the Leopards keeper, Thomas Soto excelling.

Soto pushed an effort over the bar after nine minutes whilst a minute later, Connor Morgan crashed a header against the bar.

The Oakland goal led a somewhat charmed life and coupled with some resolute defending they managed to see their lead through to half-time intact.

As is the norm of pre-season, a plethora of substitutions actually saw K Sports lose the momentum that they had from the first period. After four minutes of the second half, it took a great saving tackle to deny Jesus Hernandez and the goalkeeper made a good save from Armando Castro.

On the hour, a shot from Bere brought a fine save low to his right from Highstead and the custodian was brought into action again soon after by Diego Garcia.

As pre-season games go, this one was really compelling and into the last ten minutes, K Sports threw themselves forward to salvage something out of the game but continued to find Soto a human barrier. In the midst of a World Cup in which goalkeeper's punching of the ball has been brought into question, Soto acrobatically punched the ball to safety on numerous occasions.

Oakland’s resistance was finally broken with three minutes remaining, after Soto had brilliantly tipped over, the resultant corner was met with a towering header from Morgan to level the scores.

K Sports found a winner within 60 seconds as a cross found the glancing head of Matt Gethin to pinch the spoils.

The Leopards had one final effort that was deflected over the bar before the referee brought the curtain down on a very worthwhile evening.

One can only wish Oakland Leopards the very best of luck for the rest of their tour and hope they make many friends along the way, their football ethic deserves no less.

Punjab United 5 Phoenix Sports 0

Match 02/18/1595 - Wednesday, 4th July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Punjab United (5) 5
Phoenix Sports (0) 0
Headcount: 42

Admission: £5
Programme: None
Mileage: 47/77