Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Folkestone Invicta 0 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 27/18/1620 - Monday, 27th August 2018 - Bostik Premier

Folkestone Invicta (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Miles 14
Attendance: 548

Admission: £8 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 76/1,397

A weekend by the seaside. Haven't seen the sea, had an ice cream or even, fish and chips from a seafront cafe. But oh, how we love to be beside the seaside!

Cheriton Road, for years, has had little to endear itself to Tonbridge supporters. No matter where each club sits in the table, whatever their current form, the outcome has invariably been the same.

The first 10 minutes of the game appeared to be the setting of another desperate afternoon at Folkestone. Ade Yusuff fired into the side netting and Sam Hasler shot wide. Yusuff and Johan Ter Horst are probably the best front two pairing in the Division, it looked like being a long afternoon.

But, on 14 minutes, following the cheap giveaway of a corner, Turner’s place kick found its way to the right side from where, 12 yards out, Sonny Miles shot nestled into the corner.

The momentum of the game completely changed hands with the goal and the Angels really should have been two in front when Alex Read was sent clear but failed to lift the ball over Tim Roberts sprawling at his feet.

Three minutes later, Reid was guilty of missing another gilt-edged chance when he shot narrowly wide having been put through by Adem Ramadan.

After 37 minutes, it was Ramadan’s turn on the naughty step when he shot wide when clean through.

An awful challenge from Hasler on Tom Beere brought about a 21-man melee that ended with the Folkestone man seeing a second yellow and consequently a red card. Arguments may reign that his first booking was harsh but his second should have been a straight red anyway.

Credit to Folkestone who made a better fist of the second period with 10 men than they had the first with 11, leaving Tonbridge’s supporters living on their nerves for most of the half.

Jonny Henly saved from Ter Horst after an hour and made a fabulous stop to deny Kieron McCann seven minutes later.

Roberts saved well from James Folkes to keep the game alive inside the last ten minutes.

As a last minute effort from Ronnie Dolan sailed over, a long-awaited three points from a major bogey team had been claimed and with it, a fifth consecutive clean sheet.

There was something special about this weekend, perhaps it was the sea air.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Margate 0 Tonbridge Angels 2

Match 26/18/1619 - Saturday, 25th August 2018 - Bostik Premier

Margate (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 Beere 28 Read 48
Attendance: 648

Admission: £8 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 106/1,321

Lies, damn lies and statistics is a well worn phrase, supposedly popularised by Mark Twain, but one statistic that is not a lie is worth a mention here. In the top 10 divisions of English football, only two teams have yet to concede a goal, Liverpool and little'ol Tonbridge Angels, those scousers keep good company.

Tonbridge’s start to the season has been surprising if only that there was nothing out of the ordinary in preseason to suggest the solidity that they have found. It is always said preseason form counts for nothing and the first four games bare testament to that.

The Bank Holiday fixture list has been particularly unkind to the Angels sending them on a double-header on the east Kent coast, that is not a traditionally happy hunting ground. To come out of the weekend with a couple of points would have been welcomed but having emerged from the opening game against Margate with a win leaves the Angels already in credit on my count.

Both sides produced half chances in the opening 10 minutes with Tom Parkinson heading over and Margate’s Liam Friend doing likewise.

After a good move between ex-Angel Joe Taylor and Chris Barnard ended with Tom Wynter heading over it was Tonbridge who took the lead on 28 minutes courtesy of a 30 yard strike from Tom Beere that goalkeeper Henry Newcombe got a hand too, but failed to stop it rifling into the far corner.

A riposte from Margate was expected and Jonny Henly needed to be at his best to turn a shot from Aristide Bassele onto his post. It turned out to be his only real employment of the afternoon.

Wynter put another header wide but Tonbridge largely saw the half out comfortably.

Ex-Tonbridge favourite Frannie Collin took every corner and free kick from wherever they were positioned but he spent the majority of his time deep-lying and carrying little threat.

Tonbridge effectively killed off the game three minutes into the second half when a ball sent forward was headed into the path of Alex Reid who produced a sublime finish.

Margate offered surprisingly little henceforth and it was Tonbridge who might have added to their tally with many of the 648 in attendance making an early, rather disgruntled exit.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Gillingham 1 Sunderland 4

Match 25/18/1618 - Wednesday, 22nd August 2018 - League One

Gillingham (1) 3 Eaves 3
Sunderland (3) 4 Maguire 4, Honeyman 17, Power 19, Maja 59
Attendance: 8,438

Admission: £17 Senior
Programme: £3
Mileage: 56/1,215

My first trip back to Gillingham since disposing of my season ticket left me excited at the prospect but not knowing what to expect either of the team, who had made a solid start to the season, or myself. Would I be thinking that I’ve missed this, even at this early stage, or not?

The first thing that I didn’t miss was the inability to park anywhere close to the ground. One-up for the Longmead car park! The road down which I normally turn was closed for roadworks and this led to a meander around a dozen and one streets looking for a space. Admittedly there were 8,500 people in the ground, but this was just about the worst trouble I’ve encountered in about 30 years parking the car.

Eventually, my bum touched my seat just as the referee blew his whistle to start the game. I needed that perfect timing as within three minutes Gillingham were ahead when a Luke O’Neill cross was met with a towering header from Tom Eaves to give them a perfect start.

My reaction was everything I would have wanted, 44 years of loving the club doesn’t disappear overnight. Out of my seat and punching the air with all the delight of a kid at Christmas.

But, just as quickly, that turned to the head in hands that has been endured the majority of those 44 years.

Some sloppy defending allowed a header to travel to the far post from where Chris Maguire was able to convert with a close range, unchallenged header.

The despair quickly doubled and trebled as the impressive George Honeymoon was proffered the freedom of Priestfield to plant a right footed shot, albeit with a deflection, into the top corner after 18 minutes and, two minutes later, woeful defending from Bradley Garmston allowed Lyndon Gooch to set up Max Power.

Gillingham, to their credit, fought hard to recover and created chances but against a side like Sunderland, who should only have a one season sojourn in League One, you have to take them.

Another poor piece of defending, this time from O’Neill, robbed in the middle of the field saw the ball tapped home by Josh Maja to place a particularly unfair reflection on the scoreline.

In essence, I already know that I have made the right decision to switch my primary allegiance to Tonbridge. I have revelled in my involvement with the club. That is not to say that Gillingham won’t be the first club for whom their result I seek and I will be in attendance at every available game but, no, I’m not missing them.

Tonbridge Angels 3 Sittingbourne 2

Match 24/18/1617 - Tuesday, 21st August 2018 - Kent Senior Cup

Tonbridge Angels (1) 3 Read 3 (pen), 49, 58 (pen)
Sittingbourne (0) 2 Adebayu 49 Caney-Bryan 65
Attendance: 218

Admission: £7 Senior
Programme: £1
Mileage: 38/1,159

The County Cup is a relic of a previous being in football, but one that the relevant County Football Association’s strive to maintain its importance. In Kent, presumably in other counties, league games can be postponed as a County Cup game takes precedence. A quick goggle shows that the major powers in Liverpool and Manchester still enter a side, however strong that might be, but in London, none of the Premier or Football League clubs take part. In Birmingham, Wolves, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham have all competed in the Final in the last four years.

Personally, with the reduction in League fixtures this season, I think there is a case for the Kent Senior Cup. Even if the crowd, on this occasion a respectable 218, is small a few will drink or buy a burger in addition to their entrance fee, which was set at full price.

Steve McKimm seemed to be thinking along my line as he fielded a surprisingly strong eleven whilst experimenting with a different shape.

The game was an entertaining affair with visitors Sittingbourne probably going home slightly aggrieved to have exited the competition.

In the Sittingbourne ranks were five ex-Angels including Nathan Elder, who takes the blame for me missing the opening goal after just three minutes. The amiable striker was doing the rounds of shaking hands with his old friends (myself included) when the Angels were awarded and scored a penalty through Alex Read, all of which passed me by!

Some good link play between Read and Tom Beere ended with Liam Smith being brought down by the goalkeeper, Harry Brooks, but the spot kick from Read was saved.

Tonbridge totally dominated the opening half-hour and, in truth, should have put the game beyond the reach of Sittingbourne, but having spurned the chances, just before the break, the visitors equalised. Jonny Henly’s punched clearance from a long throw to the edge of the penalty area was met by Izzy Adebayu who returned with a shot that went through the mass of bodies an into the net.

Tonbridge went back in front within five minutes of the restart when a a shot from Read appeared to have been cleared from the line but a follow-up header from Joe Turner was also clawed away by Brooks, this time seemingly from behind the line. A goal was given, but it was not until later that it was confirmed that it had been Read’s effort that had counted.

The referee awarded the Angels a third penalty when Reiss Crimmen who clumsily brought down Read. The striker dusted himself down to complete his hat-trick, a rather curious one in as much it contained three penalty attempts and a goal which nobody, at the time, was sure was his!

With nothing to lose, Sittingbourne threw bodies forward and were quickly rewarded when substitute Ira Jackson, for whom I had my card marked by a Sittingbourne supporter prior to the game, produced a dazzling run before setting up Johan Caney-Brian with a close range finish.

Sittingbourne tried to desperately to retrieve the tie with Jackson continually catching the eye, but Tonbridge saw the game out. The visitors can certainly take heart and expect to have a good season in Bostik South.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels 1 Burgess Hill Town 0

Match 23/18/1616 - Saturday, 18th August 2018 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Turner 26
Burgess Hill Town (0) 0
Attendance: 409

Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,121

Before Sky invented football in 1992, I don’t remember people using the word momentum in the context of football matches, now it is used in the jibber-jabber of punditry as often as goal.

There is something about the act of momentum though in as much as you can lose it as fast as you acquired it and such was the case with Tonbridge in this game against last year’s relegation Houdini act Burgess Hill.

For 38 minutes, Tonbridge played some sparkling stuff, went a deserved goal to the good and were looking a safe bet to go on and win the game with plenty to spare. But Tommy Parkinson went down with a head injury and a 10 minute delay ensued following which, despite the midfielder returning to the action, that momentum was lost and never recovered.

Tonbridge were still good value for their win but a comfortable three points turned into a bit of a slog.

The home side opened well with Tom Beere and Jack Parter combining well before the ball was deflected away for a corner and Craig Stone firing at shot at the Josh James in the Burgess Hill goal.

After seven minutes a free kick from Joe Turner was met with a header from Arthur Lee that struck the bar with the rebound being cleared from the line.

Tonbridge finally broke through after 26 minutes when a superb through ball from James Folkes allowed Turner to cut in from the left and bury his shot past the advancing James.

After 31 minutes, Parkinson challenged for a header from a corner and was left prostrate on the ground. After a long break, the skipper was back on his feet, head bandaged Terry Butcher fashion and able to continue.

But with that delay the momentum seemed to drain away. The game continued to be largely one-way traffic but the sparkling stuff of the opening period had somewhat disappeared.

Burgess Hill created their one real chance of the game after 51 minutes when a clever free kick by Connor Tighe opened up an opportunity for Ben Pope but he shot wide.

With a slim squad at Steve McKimm’s disposal it was worrying to see Turner limp out of the game with a dead leg with 20 minutes to go.

Eight minutes remained when a corner from the left was headed back across the face of goal by Sonny Miles for substitute Liam King to plant a header onto the top of the crossbar.

Three games in, seven points on the board and no goals conceded whilst sitting fourth in the embryonic table is a very good start with or without momentum.

Picture: Wes Filtness

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels 0 Lewes 0

Match 22/18/1615 - Tuesday, 14th August 2018 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Lewes (0) 0
Attendance: 552

Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,083

Glass half-full? Unbeaten, no goals conceded. Half-empty? Points dropped at home, momentum from Saturday’s opener stalled.

Chances throughout this game were at a premium and the choice of Jonny Henly in the Tonbridge goal as man of the match illustrates that the best of the clear cut chances fell to Lewes.

The first half had almost passed by when Ronnie Conlon was sent through but Henly saved well with the ball rebounding from his face.

In first half time added, ex-Angel’s goalkeeper, Lewis Carey made his first save when he pushed aside an effort from Tom Beere.

After losing Jared Small in the first half to injury, Tonbridge were forced into a second substitution during the break with Arthur Lee, who had taken a knock to the heel, being replaced by Tommy Whitnell.

The half began with a bit more promise with Craig Stone firing narrowly wide and Small’s replacement, Adem Ramadan seeing a shot comfortably saved.

Leon Redwood, who wore Lewes’ number three shirt but caused problems throughout coming from deep positions, brought Henly into action and might have tested the goalkeeper again immediately if not for a saving tackle from Sonny Miles.

Chance of the evening fell to Conlon who was sent clear after 58 minutes but fired wide with only Henly to beat.

Tonbridge had a good period from the hour mark with Alex Read seeing a header deflected over; Tommy Parkinson steering a header wide and a fine move after 78 minutes saw substitute Liam King set up Beere whose shot was blocked with the rebound falling to Ramadan who fired over.

Henly made sure he would be the man taking home the champagne with a fine save to deny Omarr Lawson in the final significant action.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Rusthall 3 Wick 0

Match 21/18/1614 - Sunday, 12th August 2018 - FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Rusthall (1) 3 Cameron 14 Carey 52 Strachan 90
Wick (0) 0
Attendance: 185
Played at Tunbridge Wells

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 36/1,045

Rusthall comfortably eased their way into the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and in so doing earned themselves the enhanced prize money of £2,250. A further £960 will be won even if they were to lose at Bostik South Cray Wanderers in the next round. Proof indeed on how important financially even a short cup run can be to non-league clubs. Visitors Wick banked £750 for not making it past the Extra Preliminary Round!

This tie had to be moved to neighbouring Tunbridge Wells because of ongoing drainage work on the pitch at Jockey Farm. But, on the positive side, the Sunday afternoon fixture attracted 185 people, a good turn out.

After an early scare in which Rusthall’s goalkeeper, Callum Christie saved well from Wick’s David Crouch, Rusthall took the lead after 13 minutes. Tom Cameron was superbly put through on goal by Alex Carey to clinically finish with the aplomb of a proven striker rather than a wing back.

Rusthall should have put the game to bed in the first half as they created, and wasted, a bevy of chances with Carey at centre of everything. They ended the half with a 30 yard drive from Cameron that came back from the bar.

Six minutes into the second half, Rusthall finally converted one of their chances to double their advantage. Jordan Anderson retrieved a cross on the left, cut the ball back to Carey who found the top corner from the edge of the box.

Wick offered very little and the only surprise was that it took until the last minute for Rusthall to add a third. Regan Corke, who had put in a string of crosses from the right, finally found a man on the end of one giving substitute Callum Strachan a tap in.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Merstham 0 Tonbridge Angels 3

Match 20/18/1613 - Saturday, 11th August 2018 - Bostik Premier

Merstham (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (2) 3 Small 15 Jones (o.g.) 37 Reid 49
Attendance: 209

Admission: £6 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 84/1,009

New season, fresh optimism and a revised set of priorities. With my Gillingham season ticket no more (they seem to have adjusted well to my defection with maximum points from their opening two games) I’m ready to immerse myself into Tonbridge Angels.

I wouldn’t like to say that the summer brought a wave of optimism from the Tonbridge support but with each signing that was made, people started to raise their expectations as the makings of a good squad were realised.

Unfortunately the dreaded B-word (budget) has limited Steve McKimm to a 16 man squad and we wait until the darker days of November onwards when the odd suspension or injury kicks in to see if this is going to be a telling factor in the long-term. Perhaps some more money might find its way into the pot before this comes to pass.

The first 15 minutes of the new season passed uneventfully with neither goalkeeper seeing action.

Merstham’s goalkeeper, Chris Haigh, would have hoped that situation had lasted longer as he got hopelessly underneath a long cross from Joe Turner for Jared Small to loop a header into the net for his first goal for the club following his transfer from Harlow Town.

Jack Parter, who enjoyed an impressive afternoon, surging forward on countless occasions, sent a cross fizzing across the face of the goal begging a touch that was not forthcoming after 24 minutes.

The second goal that the first half performance from the Angels justly merited came after 37 minutes when a ball pulled back by Small was inadvertently bundled into his own net by Merstham’s Jelan Jones.

Tonbridge ended a total dominant first period with a shot from Turner that was narrowly over the bar.

It only took five minutes of second half play for the Angels to effectively put the game beyond their hosts with a finely crafted third goal. James Folkes, getting forward from full back, linked well with Tom Beere who found Alex Read to curl an outside of the foot shot into the far corner for his first competitive goal for the club.

Unfortunately for Merstham, the situation went from bad to worse when, having made a treble substitution, Calum Davies suffered a blow to the head and suffering from concussion was unable to continue leaving the Moatsiders a man short for the remainder of the game that was delayed 10 minutes by the injury.

If one was to be hyper-critical of the Tonbridge performance it might be that they didn’t put their hosts to the sword given their dominance and man advantage. Sonny Miles planted a header against the crossbar as did Folkes but no further additions were made to the score sheet.

But nobody should be churlish about a result and a team performance that saw goalkeeper Jonny Henly not asked to make a single save in the entire game.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels Academy 4 Ebbsfleet United Academy 1

Match 19/18/1612 - Wednesday, 8th August 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels Academy (3) 4 Stirman 23 (pen),44 Lambert 34 Babayele 52
Ebbsfleet United Academy (0) 1 No. 8 85
Headcount: 44

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/925

Academy manager Tommy Parkinson said on his after match interview that he didn’t know what to expect as his side played their first game against Ebbsfleet’s academy. But what he saw delighted him as his talented youngsters took apart a far more established set-up.

In the opening stages it took a while for the Angels’ lads to find their rhythm and Ebbsfleet dominated including an effort that hit a post and another that forced Angels goalkeeper, Joe Roberts into a save low to his right.

Tonbridge’s first attempt came on 13 minutes when Jacob Lambert brought a good save out of the visiting goalkeeper.

Ebbsfleet continued to dominate so it was against the run of play that the Angels went ahead after 23 minutes when Josh Stirman was brought down in the box. The Angels skipper dusted himself down to send the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot. Josh admitted after the game that he hadn’t taken a penalty for about two years and didn’t particularly enjoy the experience!

The goal bred confidence into the Tonbridge side and they were good value when they doubled their advantage after 34 minutes. A cross from the right was spilt by the goalkeeper under pressure from the Harrison Mayhew leaving Lambert with a tap in.

Tonbridge went into the break three goals to the good when a ball pumped forward was head on by Tom Hylton into the path of Stirman who ran on to finish clinically.

There remained time for Roberts to excel denying an Ebbsfleet effort with a fine save at his near post.

Tonbridge showed no signs of taking their foot off the pedal as they added a fourth early into the second period when Sam Babayele hooked the ball into the far corner after being set up by Stirman.

Ebbsfleet worked hard to salvage some consolation and thought they had one when their centre lobbed Roberts but were denied by a fantastic saving clearance from the line by Harry Hudson.

However, the Angels were denied their clean sheet when the visitors scored with a shot into the bottom corner with five minutes remaining.

Tommy Parkinson paid testament to his player’s work ethic and attitude not only during this match but also in training since their induction into the Academy.

On this performance, individually and collectively, the future is bright for this talented team.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Tunbridge Wellls 1 Corinthian 2

Match 18/18/1611 - Tuesday, 7th August 2018 - SCEFL Premier

Tunbridge Wells (0) 1 Lawrence 74
Corinthian (0) 2 Hurcomb 82 Housego 86
Attendance: 151

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/887

Finally, what has been an interminable pre-season (of my own making by starting in June), I finally have competitive football and with it comes change.

The long, baking summer was replaced by a soaking as the Culverden pitch, an absolute credit to the work of Brian Sampson and his team, enjoyed the liquid refreshment from the sky. And for a long period during the game it appeared that the veritable goalfest of pre-season was about to be replaced by a goalless draw.

Both Tunbridge Wells and Corinthian opened up their season with defeats on Saturday, the Wells going down at Glebe whilst their visitors were brushed aside by a Chatham side who are among the favourites for the SCEFL Premier this season.

The opening half-hour was, I’ll use my term absorbing when nothing really happens. Josh Biddlecombe and Jeremy Tudor-Pole had efforts saved with ease by Corinthian goalkeeper, Aiden Prall whilst at the other end, ex-Wells man Bradley Large had a shot cleared from the line.

And that was really the story of the first period with Biddlecombe stretching Prall into a good low save the only real action to employ a goalkeeper.

It took 65 minutes for the game to come to life as Prall dropped a cross but the resultant stab at goal by Tudor-Pole was wide.

There was an air of resignation that neither side had the fire power to break the deadlock when Tunbridge Wells were awarded a free kick wide on the left about 20 yards out after 76 minutes. Tommy Lawrence’s free kick, whether it was a cross or not only he knows, found its way through the crowded penalty area to nestle in the far corner.

It was a wake-up call for Corinthian and eight minutes later they were level. A cross from the right was deflected upwards and an acrobatic overhead kick from Large looped the ball back across the face of goal for Michael Hurcomb to bury a header.

At this point a draw was definitely a fair result but Corinthian found a winner with three minutes remaining. A cross was only cleared to the edge of the box from where Oscar Housego struck a controlled, low shot back into the net.

Certainly, for Tunbridge Well, a cutting edge in front of goal is needed for this season to show any real improvement on the last one, but everyone with a Wells allegiance knows that.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels 1 Nottingham Forest Under-23 1

Match 17/18/1610 - Saturday, 4th August 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Folkes 51
Nottingham Forest Under-23 (1) 1 Sodeinde 26
Attendance: 303

Admission: £3 Senior
Team Sheet: 50p
Mileage: 38/849

Tonbridge Angels emerged from their last pre-season friendly against Nottingham Forest Under-23s with a creditable draw after staging a rousing second half performance.

On another very hot afternoon, both teams took advantage of a pristine surface to pass and move to great effect in a thoroughly enjoyable encounter.

Gary Brazil’s charges included Greek international Apostolos Vellios, formerly of Everton, who has made 40 first team appearances for Forest and Victor Sodeinde, a striker signed from Maidstone United earlier this year.

After an even opening period in which Joe Turner saw an early effort deflected for a corner and Jonny Henly save with his feet from Vellios, Nottingham Forest took the lead after 26 minutes when a cross from a Forest trialist evaded both Jack Parter and Sonny Miles to find its way to Sodeinde, who shot into the far corner.

Tonbridge had the ball in the net on the half-hour when a free kick from Tom Beere was headed home but ruled out for offside.

The hosts ended the half strongly with Alex Read firing over; Tom Parkinson’s effort was blocked before Turner went closest with a shot that was denied by a fine low stop by Jordan Wright.

The Angels started the second half as they had ended the first, on the front foot, with a far post header by Arthur Lee that was pushed to safety at the foot of his post by Wright and a superb move that ended with Reid testing the keeper.

The much-deserved equaliser came after 51 minutes when a move involving Jared Small, Parter and Parkinson ended with a cross to the far post by Turner who found the head of James Folkes who headed across goal into the far corner.

Both teams made multiple substitutions around the hour mark and Henly needed to be alert to deny Anel Ahmedhodzic and Arvin Appiah.

Tonbridge had a strong penalty claim turned away when Smith was brought down and a rasping drive from 25 yards by Tommy Whitnell was tipped over by Wright as the hosts ended the game strongly.

Steve McKimm, speaking after the game, was pleased with his side’s fitness, passing and movement and delighted with the outcome. Of his new signings he said that they had bought into what he was trying to implement. For the start of the season he expects tough games against a Merstham side that has been strengthened by manager Haydn Bird and a young, energetic Lewes team that visit Longmead on Tuesday, 14th August.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Tonbridge Angels Ladies 3 Crystal Palace Development 10

Match 16/18/1609 - Wednesday, 1st August 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels Ladies (0) 3 Janes 60 Mackley 62 Moran 85
Crystal Palace Development (7) 10 Sinden 18,25,31,40 Iton 32 Collett 36 Lock 44 Robinson 79,87 Spriggs 82
Estimated attendance: 100

Admission: £2 donation
Team Sheet: Free
Mileage: 38/811

Tonbridge Angels Ladies suffered a heavy defeat at Longmead against Crystal Palace Ladies Development, but the result didn’t reflect the nature of the game.

The Angels, who this season will play in Division One East following their promotion have strengthened their squad with the recruitment of Samantha Burton, previously with Palace, Karli Povey (Bexhill) and Becky Mackley (Gillingham).

Crystal Palace fielded a side that have had success through their various age groups and from the outset showed the quality of passing and movement that comes from being a part of a club from the higher reaches of women’s football.

But, for 20 minutes, Tonbridge held their own. Palace made several chances but found the Angels’ goalkeeper, Keila Tucker, who was loaned for the game, in fine form making several good saves but also doing well clearing her lines.

Crystal Palace finally made their breakthrough after 18 minutes when Alsaa Jabi set up Amy Sinden to strike into the bottom corner. Tucker did well to successively save at the feet of Sinden and Karesha Iton whilst Megan Akehurst saw an opportunity denied by the Palace goalkeeper, Charlotte Greenwood.

On 25 minutes the south London side doubled their advantage, once again through Sinden. This, unfortunately for the home side, signalled the start of a period of total dominance from the visitors in which they scored a further five goals before the break. Sinden completed her hat-trick from 20 yards; Iton’s shot went in off the underside of the bar; Hannah Collett added a fifth and Sinden took her tally to four before a 25 yard free kick from Tayla Lock made the half-time score a demoralising 7-0.

But the spirit of the Angels side shone through and demoralised they were not. After containing their visitors in the first quarter hour of the second period, they put their name on the scoreboard as a fine move saw Becky Janes race clear to slot the ball past Greenwood.

Within two minutes they found a second goal, this time Mackley and Akehurst combining well to end with Mackley finishing clinically.

Mackley might have reduced the arrears further barring some stout defending but two quick goals from Palace extended the lead again.

Perhaps the most joyous moment of the evening came when a 30 yard free kick from Kelly Moran went straight in but the delight was short-lived as Palace reached double figures with the final goal of the evening.

To concede 10 goals on the evening is far from a fair reflection of the game to which the Angels contributed greatly and, whilst they are expecting stiffer opposition than last season, it is unlikely they will face such a talented side in their league campaign.

On Friday, the Angels will find out who their first opponents will be in the FA Cup, we will bring you the details as soon as we know the outcome of the draw.

NB: For this report, I have taken the team sheet provided as gospel with reference to the Palace side.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Colliers Wood United 5 Tonbridge Angels U21 1

Match 15/18/1608 - Tuesday, 31st July 2018 - Pre-Season Friendly

Colliers Wood United (1) 5
Tonbridge Angels Under-21 (1) 1 Jones 38
Headcount: 31

Admission: Free
Team Sheet: None
Mileage: 128/773
New ground: 325

One of those nights when anything destined to go wrong did. I always knew that my departure time was going to leave it tight to make the kick-off but as it was a new ground I decided to give it a go. In fact, the traffic on the M25 dissipated as the journey progressed and a made good time and was on schedule to arrive in time. But now the tale of woe ...

For the information of groundhoppers that have yet to tick Colliers Wood United bear in mind the following. When your satnav tells you that the ground is 800 yards on your left, slow to a crawl. Despite there being a sign 50 yards or so from the turning, the entrance is concealed and once you have drifted just a few yards past such is the nature of the A3 there is no turning back and a 15 minute travel to turn yourself around ensues. I finally arrived at least 10 minutes into the game with Colliers Wood already a goal to the good.

On a warm evening at the Wibbandune Sports Ground the parched pitch adjacent bore testament to the hot summer but in contrast the playing area was a beautiful, lush green surface that almost defied reason.

After conceding the early goal that I missed, the Angels worked their way back into the game with chances falling to Dominic Touissant and Sam Jones before Jones followed up to tuck away an equaliser after the goalkeeper had parried an initial shot.

If anything, the Under-21s finished the half in the ascendancy and should have sensed their opportunity to press on in the second period. But they were quickly set back on their heels as a Colliers Wood player (no team sheet for identification) was allowed to travel across the face of the goal before shooting past Stuart Copeland.

Tonbridge produced a decent move that ended with Touissaint bringing a save out of the goalkeeper before, on the hour, a cross to the far post found a man, hopelessly unmarked, to slot home Colliers’ third.

Things might have got worse still but Copeland produced a fine save to deny the home team from the penalty spot, but goals in the 77th and a 87th minute effort that gave the Colliers man a hat trick left a Tonbridge Angels defence with some soul searching.

Chris Wye’s preseason has been made difficult by player unavailability through the holiday period as he has for the coming season implemented a policy of limiting the use of over age 21 players to an absolute minimum, of which at the present time he has just the one.

To complete my tale of woe, the parking space in which I hurried dumped the car proved to be a total block-in and it took a 30 minute wait to extricate the car from the Wibbandune.