Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Tonbridge Angels Academy 5 Eastbourne Borough Academy 2

Match 36/18/1629 - Wednesday, 26th September 2018 - National League Under-19 Alliance

Tonbridge Angels (3) 5 Snowden-Lewis 6,21,39 Bartlett 69,88 (2 pens)
Eastbourne Borough (2) 2
Headcount: 13
Played at Kings Hill FC
New Ground: 327

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 32/2,120

Tonbridge Angels Academy eased to a comfortable 5-2 win over Eastbourne Borough at a warm, sunny King’s Hill Football Club after going into the break 3-2 up and receiving a dressing down from their manager including a criticism that some of his players had stayed up too late playing the new release of FIFA!

King’s Hill might turn out to be the new home for Academy matches and on a nice day it was very pleasant but with no covered area it might be a different story in January.

Tonbridge started the game in a positive way with Ned Snowden-Lewis showing his threat in the first couple of minutes when he twice sent efforts over the bar.

But the striker was not to be denied and when he chased down a long ball forward from Regan Bowden, the visiting goalkeeper and defender dithered long enough for Snowden-Lewis to intercept and slot into an unguarded goal.

The lead was not to last and in the ninth minute a cross from the right was met by a strapping centre forward who fired into the bottom corner.

Eastbourne looked particularly vulnerable to a ball over the top and they were undone again when Snowden-Lewis fastened onto one such pass to lob the advancing goalkeeper from the edge of the box.

But, once again, the lead lasted just three minutes when the visiting centre forward was sent through to finish clinically. The Angels protests for an offside decision were waved away.

Both sides had good chances before Snowden-Lewis (pictured) completed his hat-trick after 39 minutes when he deftly turned in a cross from Sam Babayale at the near post.

With Tom Parkinson’s words stinging their ears the second half was dominated by his charges who only allowed Eastbourne a couple of efforts that were off target.

Tonbridge eventually gave themselves some breathing space when Jacob Lambert was unceremoniously brought down for Rhys Bartlett to convert from the spot.

Bartlett fired two shots over the bar in quick succession before being brought down to allow him to complete his double from the spot with a couple of minutes remaining.

A good performance but not without a reminder that games are won out on the pitch, not in front of a computer screen!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Dulwich Hamlet 3 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 35/18/1628 - Saturday, 22nd September 2018 - FA Cup 2QR

Dulwich Hamlet (2) 3 Ferguson 35 Green 44 Akinyemi 87
Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Miles 53
Attendance: 569
Played at Tooting & Mitcham FC

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 110/2,088

I felt nothing but a sense of injustice walking away from Imperial Fields after another season’s FA Cup ended in despair.

It seems a fait acompli that every season the Gods turn against Tonbridge as this competition unfolds.

National South Dulwich Hamlet, even at their adopted home, was always a poor draw but for large periods of the game, the visitors were the better side.

The game turned in the favour of Dulwich in a two minute period just prior to half-time when not only did the home double their advantage with a disputed goal but Tonbridge Angels were reduced to 10 men when the referee decided that the aggrieved James Folkes had offered a comment too far.

The Angels’ 10 men strove every sinew to rescue the game in the second period and can walk away from the game with a great amount of pride.

Tonbridge started the game with the confidence borne from their league form and were inches away from a seventh minute lead when Adem Ramadan’s pass across the face of the goal eluded Joe Turner by the said inches.

Preston Edwards in the Dulwich goal was tested by Tommy Whitnell and Turner before ex-Angel Nathan Green forced Jonny Henly into his first save, low to his left.

On the half-hour a good interchange between Alex Read and Whitnell ended with Preston deflecting the ball for a corner with his feet. From the resultant corner, Tommy Parkinson’s headed effort only found the hands of Edwards.

After 34 minutes, Dulwich carved out their best chance with Henly making a fine stop at his near post to deny another ex-Angel Jay May. But the resultant corner found Nathan Ferguson making a late, unchallenged run into the box and his powerful header gave Henly no chance.

Tonbridge nearly benefited from May inadvertently directing the ball towards his own net but Edwards reacted well to palm the ball to safety.

The controversial, and defining, moment of the game came with a minute of the half remaining when a ball into the box was about to be cleared by Folkes when May slid in, felling the Tonbridge full back with the ball running loose to Green who had a relatively easy finish.

The visitors were naturally aggrieved with the decision not to award a free kick and, in the confusion, a red card was shown to Folkes for foul language.

Manager Steve McKimm reacted during the break by withdrawing Ramadan in favour of defender Liam Smith.

Tonbridge were not about to roll over and bow out of the FA Cup with a whimper despite their adversity and were quickly back in the game after 53 minutes when a corner from Turner fell at the feet of Sonny Miles who finished sharply into the bottom corner with the deftness of a proven striker.

With their tails up, and with little to lose, McKimm introduced Jared Small for Craig Stone for more forward momentum.

Tonbridge created chances and the Dulwich defence looked nervy as a ricochet off Turner saw the ball looping towards the goal for Edwards to save and headed chances for Smith and Parkinson were wide of the target.

Hearts went into mouths as Ifeanyi Allen went to ground in the area but as the referee appeared to point towards the spot he actually booked the Dulwich substitute for simulation.

Tonbridge continued to search for the goal to take the tie back to Longmed but were always in danger of getting caught on the break and Miles needed to be at his defensive best to clear after Henly had parried a Nyren Clunis effort.

But the inevitable was about to happen and from a Tonbridge attack the ball was swept downfield and a cross from the right was met with a tap-in for Dipo Akinyemi for seal the game for Dulwich Hamlet.

Henly made saves in added time from Gavin Tomlin and Akinyemi to prevent the scoreline from becoming even more flattering that it already was.

A sense of injustice doesn’t see Tonbridge’s name in the hat for the next round, time to file it away and return to the task of maintaining their position at the head of Bostik Premier.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Bridon Ropes 0 Tunbridge Wells 1

Match 34/18/1627 - Wednesday, 19th September 2018 - FA Vase 2QR Replay

Bridon Ropes (0) 0
Tunbridge Wells (1) 1 Powell 45+1
Attendance: 101

Admission: £3
Programme: Sold Out
Mileage: 80/1,898

Over the course of 210 minutes, Bridon Ropes might justifiably claim that they did enough to progress in the FA Vase at the expense of their senior visitors Tunbridge Wells having reportedly had the better of Saturday’s encounter at Culverden. But, this was a night when the Wells dug in, defended resiliently and clung on to their lead acquired in first half time-added.

From the outset of this replay on a windy evening, Bridon Ropes were good going forward, it was easy to see how they had managed 26 goals already this season in SCEFL1. The brothers, Cameron and Tyler Anderson-Parr, were an exciting watch, even if supporting the opposition and John Woodcock stood over each and every set-piece producing some tempting deliveries into the box.

What the south London-based team didn’t have was the quality player on show, Tunbridge Wells’ Jake Beecroft, who was at the heart of everything positive about his team’s performance.

The opening chances of the game fell to Tunbridge Wells with Josh Biddlecombe firing over and the ever-willing Danny Powell having his shot comfortably saved by Bridon’s goalkeeper Levi Rutherford.

Bridon Ropes had chances, the best of which saw Cameron Hall needing to make a smart save at the feet of Tyler Anderson-Parr who had weaved his way into the penalty area.

Tunbridge Wells had the ball in the net after 32 minutes when Drew Crush hooked the ball in from a free kick but a linesman’s flag ruled it out.

But it was the Wells who got their noses in front in first half time-added when a perfectly judged through ball from Beecroft saw Powell outpace a defender and produce a clinical finish into the bottom corner.

After securing a second half equaliser on Saturday there was no way that the Ropes were going to lie down and they, in turn, also had the ball in the net just prior the hour mark but this time the goal was chalked off for handball.

The game took the shape of Bridon Ropes searching for an equaliser but not really forcing Cameron Hall into a save of note, with the Wells attempting to catch the home side on the break. Biddlecombe shot narrowly wide and his shot-cum-cross needed safe hands at the far post from Rutherford.

Whilst no wishing the lad injury, no one of a Tunbridge Wells persuasion were sad to see Tyler Anderson-Parr limp out of the game after 70 minutes, such was the impression he had made. His replacement was a man mountain, Mojeed Adisa and he was guilty of wasting a glorious chance as he fired over after being set up by Woodcock.

The Wells needed all the resilience they could muster to ease their way through the final 10 minutes with a goal line clearance the closest Bridon came to forcing extra time.

Tunbridge Wells go on to meet AFC Uckfield, the FA Cup’s surprise package at Culverden in the next round.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Thamesmead Town Youth 0 Tonbridge Angels Youth 1

Match 33/18/1626 - Monday, 17th September 2018 - FA Youth Cup 1QR

Thamesmead Town (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Musengey 29
Headcount: 45

Admission: £3
Programme: None
Mileage: 42/1,818

Tonbridge Angels’ Academy side character was sternly tested to the full as they were pushed from the first to the final whistle by a Thamesmead Town side that were physically imposing.

After a year’s absence, the heart has most surely grown fonder for the FA Youth Cup and following the Angels’ Preliminary Round win at Ramsgate (whilst on holiday) hopes were that they could progress to the Final Qualifying Round as their predecessors had, two years ago.

Thamesmead started well with Jerrell Watkins seeing a shot deflected wide and maintained their momentum into the first 25 minutes with efforts from Cole Gordon and Benjamin Fridd that failed to find the target. But, despite this, it was the Angels that went closest with a shot from Saul Mesungey that rattled the right hand post.

Tonbridge started to find their feet in the game following Mesungey’s effort and when the winger sent away Ned Snowdon-Lewis away it took a good save from Nathan Murray to preserve the goalless scoreline.

A clinical finish from Mesungey from 15 yards after the ball hand dropped at his feet gave Tonbridge the lead after 29 minutes.

Thamesmead certainly were not going to lie down but were wasteful with shots from Luca Phillips-Safari and Fridd sailing over the bar and into the undergrowth behind the goal.

Murray excelled in the Thamesmead goal just prior to the break denying Jacob Lambert with a great save at the near post.

The second period was light on chances, heavy on attrition as Thamesmead fought to restore parity and Tonbridge resiliently held on.

Joe Roberts made fine stops to thwart Fridd after 66 minutes and his save from Mason Burstow after 78 minutes was out of the top drawer.

A shot after 81 minutes from George Oldfield seemed destined to nestle into the corner but curled away past the post.

A monumental eight minutes of added time were played with the central defensive pairing of Harry’s Lewis and Hudson standing tall (metaphorically) as the home side threw everything, including their goalkeeper, forward but to no avail.

This was a brave, resilient effort that deserves to earn the Angels’ lads a next round tie at Longmead.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Brightlingsea Regent 0 Tonbridge Angels 2

Match 32/18/1625 - Saturday, 15th September 2018 - Bostik Premier

Brightlingsea Regent (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 Read 32 Small 89
Attendance: 198

Admission: £6 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 196/1,776

Manager-speak will say that nothing is won in September and the head knows that is true but why not enjoy it while you can. Six points clear at the head of the Bostik Premier, just a single goal conceded in seven games (none on the road), things could hardly be better for Tonbridge Angels supporters at the present time.

This away trip to the outskirts of Clacton-on-Sea, following the League restructure, is just about as far north as those supporters will go for a League match this term and they turned out in their numbers and were rewarded with a handshake from each player as they celebrated a comfortable 2-0 win.

Those supporters will only complain that it took until the 90th minute to finally put the game to bed after dominating for long periods.

It was a lovely, warm early autumn day in north Essex and the pitch sounded like horses galloping on concrete, looking like it had not seen water in a very long time.

A relatively quiet opening period saw Brightlingsea have the ball in the net after 14 minutes but Matthew Baxter had strayed offside.

Tonbridge picked up the pace and, three minutes later, James Bradbrook, in the Regent goal, made the first of several good saves, diving low to his left to deny Tommy Whitnell.

After 25 minutes, the Essex-side broke through the offside trap with Baxter sent clear but Jonny Henly made a fine stop when it seemed that the hosts were destined to open the scoring.

That was almost the last that was seen of Regent in the first period going forward as Tonbridge dominated the remainder of the half.

Joe Turner tested Bradbrook; Whitnell, Jack Parter and Adem Ramadan had shots on goal before, after 32 minutes, Turner slid a pass into Alex Read who fired in a powerful shot that nestled in the corner of the net between Bradbrook and his near post.

If the Regent ‘keeper needed to redeem himself he did it in spades as he single-handedly kept his side in the game before the break making good saves to thwart Ramadan twice, Read and an Arthur Lee header from a corner.

Brightlingsea forced Henly into a good save from Baxter, five minutes into the second half and three minutes later Lee needed to make a goal-saving header from the line as the hosts stepped up their efforts.

Following the scare, Tonbridge regained their dominance and, once more, it was Bradbrook emerging as Regent’s hero, brilliantly tipping over a Turner effort destined for the top corner and within a minute a shot from Read from close range brought a save reminiscent of Jim Montgomery’s Cup Final save of 1973.

All the time the game remained a 1-0 there was that worry as the visitors continued to spurn the chance to wrap it up, but in the final minute, substitute Jared Small cut in from the left hand side and from the edge of the box unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot from which Bradbrook could only feel the draught as the ball whistled past.

One Tonbridge supporter said to me, following the game, “this is dreamland”. No Dave, that was Margate, but I know what he meant!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Rusthall 1 Tunbridge Wells 3

Match 31/18/1624 - Wednesday, 12th September 2018 - SCEFL

Rusthall (1) 1 Bissett 40
Tunbridge Wells (0) 3 Stratford (o.g.) 42,81 Tudor-Pole 85
Attendance: 325

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 38/1,580

It was the Tunbridge Wells support that went home happy for the first time this season as they triumphed in a hard fought Rocks derby.

Times-are-a-changing at Culverden Stadium. A new board with joint-chairman was put in place at the AGM with, among others, Martin Larkin returning to the fold. The new hierarchy will be as relieved as any of those supporters as the first points of the new season were put on the board.

The game got off to a controversial start when Rusthall’s goalkeeper, Jake Cornish, cleaning out Danny Powell outside of the penalty area. There were calls for a red card, but in truth, the position of the offence on the field, the first minute, a goalkeeper involved was always going to lead to a yellow.

Rusthall made the majority of the early running with a shot that was deflected for a corner and a free kick from Robbie Bissett that was turned away, low to his left, for a corner by Cameron Hall.

After 20 minutes the Wells started to get a foothold in the game with Josh Biddlecombe sending a pass across the face of the goal that begged a touch and a header from Ollie Cook that was cleared from the line.

A robust challenge saw Tommy Lawrence stretchered away from the game to be replaced by Alfie Hall after 25 minutes.

The game had become evenly balanced when Rusthall took the lead after 37 minutes when Cameron Hall came for a cross that was only cleared to the edge of the box from where Bissett drove into the bottom corner.

The lead was only to last three minutes when a Tunbridge Wells free kick into the box was inexplicably headed past his corner by Luke Stratford under no real pressure.

The early part of the second period once more saw the home side in the ascendancy. Regan Corke shot wide, Joe Fuller saw his shot deflected safely into Cameron Hall’s hands and Stratford saw his effort to make amends sail over.

But it was the Wells that got their noses in front when a cross to the far post was turned back into the danger area from where Jeremy Tudor-Pole, or a defender, got the final touch that saw the ball crawl across the line through a mass of bodies.

There was no doubt whose goal it was when the game was sealed. Tudor-Pole picked up a loose ball 40 yards from goal and slalomed his way through the Rusthall defence before drawing the goalkeeper and slotting it home. In truth, it was a moment of quality that was out of keeping with the game.

This was a good night for the Royalists who have suffered much in the opening weeks, perhaps the times they are a changing.

Dover Athletic Academy 2 Tonbridge Angels Academy 2

Match 30/18/1623 - Wednesday, 12th September 2018 - National U19 Youth Alliance

Dover Athletic (1) 2 Kingsford 12 (pen) Kattch 60
Tonbridge Angels (0) 2 Babayale 54 (pen) Bartlett 75
Headcount: 21

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 90/1,542

Tonbridge Angels Academy, playing their first competitive match since their reformation, survived a first half onslaught to regroup during the break and come away from Dover Athletic’s Crabble with a hard-earned point.

Dover, last season’s champions and fielding Marshall Wratton and Felix Mesquila, both of whom have appeared for Margate from the bench in the Bostik Premier this season, started on the front foot and continued their pressure throughout a one-sided first half that the Angels’ youngsters did well to keep the scoreline down to a single goal with some stout defending, good goalkeeping, and, in truth, some woeful finishing from the hosts.

Dover set the tone in the eighth minute when Ryan Kingsford struck the right hand post and two minutes later Joe Roberts made his first stop of the afternoon denying Mesquila with a diving save low to his left.

Wratton was especially influential down the left and Tyler Richardson had the most difficult job on the pitch in trying to contain him.

Dover’s Jack Smith, joining the attack from full back saw Roberts tip his shot over the bar and Kingsford fired wastefully over before the pressure finally told on the Angels’ back line.

Wratton teased Richardson once too often and, although the contact was minimal, the winger was brought down for the referee to point to the spot. Kingsford safely converted from the spot.

Dover’s dominance was almost total and it took the Angels 35 minutes to register their first meaningful attack with goalkeeper Harry Earls saving at the feet of Samuel Babayale.

The Angels got through to the break just the goal down thanks to the agility of Roberts and the bravery of his defenders.

Richardson had to give way to injury and Regan Bowden slotted into the unenviable task of containing Wratton with Joel Banks entering the fray.

Tonbridge emerged from their dressing room break a different side with more confidence going forward. Ned Lewis started to run the giant central defensive pairing and when, after 54 minutes, he slid a pass through to Babayale, a clumsy challenge brought a penalty which Sam Slipper planted into the top corner to level the score.

The visitor’s joy was short-lived though and, on the hour, Dwayne Kattch made himself a yard of space on the edge of the box before curling a shot into the far corner to restore Dover’s lead.

Manager Tom Parkinson introduced Zac Wolvey and Rhys Bartlett and this was to bring a dividend 15 minutes from time when a corner was headed against the bar by Harry Hudson with the rebound struck home by Bartlett.

A nerve-wracking final 15 minutes ensued as Dover threw everything forward in search of a winner. Roberts saved well and a goalmouth scramble from three yards in front of the line somehow saw the ball to safety.

One final chance, in five minutes of added time, saw a snatched shot go wide before we all breathed a sigh of relief at the final whistle.

The Academy side should take great heart and no little credit for this gutsy, hard-working performance against a side that will undoubtedly be challenging for the title yet again.

New York City 1 DC United 1

Match 29/18/1622 - Saturday, 8th September 2018 - MLS

New York City (0) 1 Villa 86
DC United (0) 1 Birnbaum 58
Attendance: 28,632

Admission: $80
Programme: None
Mileage: 17/1,452
New ground: 326 (40th abroad)

The purpose for our trips to New York over the last four years has always been tennis and the US Open, but that has not stopped us from taking in some soccer. Our adopted team, the Red Bulls, were unemployed on this trip so it was a date into the Bronx to see New York City at the Yankee Stadium.

The Yankee Stadium is a fantastic home to baseball, but as a football stadium it is no surprise that Sheikh Mansour is looking to relocate his New York City football club to a purpose-built stadium elsewhere in the Bronx, in fact just around the corner from its present base.

A rectangular football pitch just doesn’t fit comfortably into the shape of a baseball diamond and along one touchline, the one in which we were sitting, you are either within touching distance of the player taking a corner or in need of binoculars.

That said, given that it is a relative new-build (2009), it feels like a stadium with a substantial history and, even though my baseball loyalties lie with the Mets, it is one in which, one day, I must see a ball game.

There was, of course, another attraction to this game, that of the appearance of Wayne Rooney in a DC United shirt and a spectacular third minute overhead kick that went narrowly wide announced his quality.

But he, and David Villa in the New York City side, cut frustrated figures as their thought process were two yards in front of their respective team mates. For an hour, far too many passes were misplaced, overhit or just long punts forward into no man’s land.

The respective number 10’s, Maxi Moralez for NYC and Luciano Acosta for DC attempted to pull a few strings from midfield but largely flattered to deceive.

Previous MLS games seen had left me with a judgement that the League represented middle-Championship but for an hour this fare would have made for a mundane League One encounter.

New York, as a team sitting third in the table (and at home) against a DC team whose league position has improved greatly since the arrival of Rooney, were probably the most threatening but their muted attacks were thwarted by some stout defending and a decent goalkeeper in Bill Hamid.

Rooney, as said cutting a frustrated figure isolated up top, is not being utilised to his best. If he was dropped behind the main striker rather than being the lone man, I think he would be more effective.

Inevitably, after the dull first period, it was a Rooney free-kick delivered inch-perfect into the box that found the head of Steve Birnbaum to deflect the ball into the net that had been vacated by the New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson who had come for a ball he had no hope of claiming.

The goal finally sparked the game into the life as New York City searched for an equaliser. DC’s goal led a charmed life until four minutes from time when NYC were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box from where Villa picked his spot over the wall and into the bottom corner.

New York deserved their point; the tiny knot of DC supporters deserved their’s and Rooney looked a happy enough man as he left the field, leaving smiles all round despite the rain that had fallen throughout the match.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Tonbridge Angels 2 Wingate and Finchley 1

Match 28/18/1621 - Saturday, 1st September 2018 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (2) 2 Parkinson 33 Miles 38
Wingate & Finchley (1) 1 Tejan-Sie 45+3
Attendance: 632

Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,435

At 13:51, 146 miles away at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium, Rachid Ghezzal (hands up if you’ve ever heard of him) scored against Liverpool leaving Tonbridge Angels as the last team in the top seven tiers, ten divisions to concede a goal. Wingate and Finchley were to end that record two hours later but the Angels recorded a somewhat unnecessarily narrow victory to maintain their position at the head of the Bostik Premier League.

The result was blighted by a serious looking injury to Tom Beere, who required on-field treatment for six minutes before being stretchered off but later reports thankfully suggested that the lay-off might not be too long.

Following the delay, Tonbridge went ahead after 33 minutes when a long cross from the left by Jack Parter that was met with a header from Tom Parkinson.

Six minutes later, another cross to which Wingate seemed particularly vulnerable, another header and the home side were two to the good.

This time it came from a corner by Joe Turner that was met by a header from Sonny Miles, for his second goal in consecutive games, a goal machine!

Four minutes into first half time added, Tonbridge’s defence was finally breached when Tommy Tejan-Sie’s shot took a heavy deflection to wrong foot Jonny Henly.

This is a short report due to holiday.