Sunday, 28 April 2019

Potters Bar Town 2 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 124/18/1717 - Saturday, 27th April 2019 - Bostik Premier

Potters Bar Town (1) 2 Morgan 32 Kyei 52
Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Miles 67
Attendance: 315
New Ground: 335

Admission: £8 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 130/7,236

It was s scruffy pitch in a stadium that barely fulfilled the criteria for a Bostik Premier League club, but those would be just excuses. Tonbridge had everything in their own hands to land a Play-off Semi Final back at Longmead Stadium on Thursday evening, but they just did not turn up at Potters Bar Town and paid the price, now facing an away fixture on the green, green plastic of Haringey Borough.

A healthy contingent of Tonbridge supporters, making up more than half of the attendance of 315, were in good voice from before the kick off but fell silent as the nightmare unfolded before their eyes with results elsewhere not going their way either.

The pitch was just awful, the run of the ball bobbling along as if it had been bowled on a pebble-laden beach.

But the visitors started brightly and after Craig Stone had released Chinedu McKenzie down the right channel, his cross evaded everybody when it just needed the lightest of touches.

Marvin Morgan, who I remember being courted by Gillingham for a couple of seasons and has enjoyed a decent, journeyman career in the Football League, presented his first threat to the Angels’ defence after 16 minutes when Jonny Henly saved at his feet.

Tonbridge suffered a real setback, not just in terms of this match but the end of season playoffs, when Tom Beere was stretchered from the pitch following onfield treatment that lasted five minutes. The reshuffle brought D’Sean Theobalds into the action who promptly flashed a cross in the direction of Jared Small who could not get a touch.

Tonbridge were made to pay for not capitalising on their possession when, after 32 minutes after the ball had been lost in midfield, Morgan jinked (if that is possible for a big man) into the box to round the oncoming Henly and score.

Tonbridge mounted a response of sorts but goalkeeper Berkley Laurencin was not seriously tested despite a fumble following a Jack Parter cross.

Potters Bar opened the second half suggesting that they were the side with something to play for with Morgan heading wide before Nana Kyei put the home side two goals to the good after good work down the left from Morgan.

The momentum was now firmly with the Hertfordshire side as chances for Morgan and Kyei were saved by Henly and Josh Hutchinson shot narrowly wide.

The visitors gave themselves a lifeline after 66 minutes when a Joe Turner corner was turned in at the far post by Sonny Miles.

An impudent back heel from Morgan needed to be saved by Henly before Tonbridge were denied a grandstand final 10 minutes when a goal from McKenzie, seizing on a parry from Laurencin after a Turner free kick, was ruled out in an extremely tight offside decision.

Tonbridge chased the game until its close with further chances falling to Adem Ramadan and Theobalds but a draw was never going to change the playoff situation.

Tonbridge’s away form this season, overall better than at home, gives them a fighting chance at a stuttering Haringey but home comforts would have been a more desirable outcome.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

South East Athletic 2 Staplehurst Monarchs United 0

Match 123/18/1716 - Wednesday, 24th April 2019 - Kent Intermediate Challenge Shield Final

South East Athletic (0) 2
Staplehurst Monarchs United (0) 0

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £1
Mileage: 30/7,106

When I moved to Staplehurst six years ago, I took a trip less than a mile down the road, to Jubilee Fields to catch an end of season Kent County League game that the Monarch won at a canter but there was nothing to suggest that they had any potential to become future champions and even less to suggest that the infrastructure would be place for them to progress into the Southern Counties East.

Fast forward to 2019 and they are indeed Champions and, by 31st March of this year, the infrastructure is in place for them to take their place in SCEFL1 next season. Full hardstanding with pitch perimeter fencing is in place. Atcost stands to sit and stand the appropriate number of spectators is ready to go and floodlights, purchased from Chatham Town are ready to erect. Staplehurst is a village that is quickly outgrowing that title which does not go down particularly well with its residents, but the football club can certainly view a growing population as an opportunity.

As Champions of the Kent County League they went into this game against South East Athletic, who play their football a division lower in Division One West, as favourites but ended the evening a well beaten side as the Kidbrooke-based side thorough deserved their victory. Hopefully I caught my local side on a bad night because their performance certainly belied that of a team about to enter the SCEFL.

Staplehurst had a penalty appeal turned away after just two minutes and a couple of half-chances in the opening 20, but once the south Londoners had found their feet in the game they became the dominant party.

Luke Alliband fired over and Darren Wynne rounded ex-Tunbridge Wells goalkeeper Steve Lawrence before seeing his shot deflected to safety.

Staplehurst had a chance, against the run of play on 38 minutes when a cross from Ryan Parks was fumbled by the South East goalkeeper, Andrew Cooper, but Luke Wallond spooned the chance over the bar to see the game into the break goalless.

After six minutes of the second half South East opened the scoring. A cross from the right to beyond the far post found Padraig Biggane who fired in a shot under the body of Lawrence.

South East Athletic were now fully in control of the game and Lawrence was over-employed saving from Alliband, Billy Rutherford, Biggane and Wynne whilst the Monarch only mustered a header from Josh Brown.

Eventually the game was put to bed in the 67th minute when a well-executed lob from Wynne put South East Athletic two up.

There was to be no rally from Staplehurst and South East Athletic saw out the game in relative comfort.

With their newly-acquired status I’ve no doubt that I will see a bit more of the Monarchs next season, hopefully on better days.

Tonbridge Angels Academy 3 Sutton United Academy 2

Match 122/18/1715 - Wednesday, 24th April 2019 - National League Under-19 Alliance

Tonbridge Angels Academy (0) 3 Stirman 56 Bartlett 72,75
Sutton United Academy (2) 2 #7 39, #10 45
Headcount: 10

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 36/7,076

A stunning second half comeback, courtesy of three superbly executed goals, brought to an end a highly satisfying debut season for Tonbridge Angels’ Academy in the National League Under-19 Alliance.

The 3-2 win, leaves them three points clear of their opponents Sutton United, who have two games remaining against lowly opposition that they would be expected to win comfortably and, thereby, depose the Angels from their present bronze medal position.

To quickly recap a season that started at The Crabble where, the Champions (and Champions-elect) Dover Athletic, were held to a 2-2 draw, one of just two points that they dropped all season. Perhaps, on the single occasion that they let themselves down, they were deposited out of the League Cup by Bromley but showed their resilience to return from Hayes Lane with a point in a goalless encounter a week later. A double was done over Maidstone United and there were high scoring wins over Dorking Wanderers, Whyteleafe and Burgess Hill whilst a mini-run in the FA Youth Cup was brought to an end, in an unfortunate manner, at Dulwich Hamlet.

Rhys Bartlett takes the goalscoring plaudits with an incredible 34 goals from 15 starts but this team is not a one-man band with Josh Stirman, Regan Bowden and Ned Snowden-Lewis all graduating to first team debuts whilst Harry Hudson and Harrison Mayhew have been the bedrock of a sound defence.

On a day when the early Spring sunshine was replaced with a howling wind, Sutton United enjoyed the first half playing with the prevailing conditions and, in fairness, exhibiting the quality of their National League status. They should have gone ahead after four minutes when s shot from their #10 (no names to put to numbers) crashed down from the underside of the bar, looking suspiciously like it had crossed the line but was ruled not to be the case by the linesman.

Whether it was the wind, Tonbridge barely got started in the first period and chances aplenty were created, and wasted, by their visitors. A jinking run along the bye-line from #10 ended with a shot into the side netting and Angels’ goalkeeper, Tommy Taylor excelled to tip over a shot from the #9.

So, it came as no surprise, when Sutton went in front after 39 minutes when a cross to the far post found an unmarked #7 who struck firmly into the bottom corner. Sutton doubled their lead going into the break when #10 brilliantly converted a free kick from the edge of the box, curling he shot around the wall and into the right hand corner.

The opening minutes of the second period suggested that nothing was about to change despite Tonbridge now enjoying the advantage of an ever-increasing wind. An early shot from #10 was deflected back to goalkeeper Taylor and #9 shot over when well placed.

But on 56 minutes a little bit of the Stirman magic turned the momentum of the game back towards the home team. A pass from the left inside to the midfielder saw him shift the ball a yard before curling a delightful shot into the top left.

Now the game had changed, Sutton players who had looked comfortable on the ball were being harried into mistakes and the Sutton keeper did well to save, low to his right from Stirman and dealt comfortably with an effort from Ned Snowden-Lewis.

But, after 72 minutes, a superb passing movement between Snowden-Lewis and Frank Kennedy ended with Jacob Lambert looping the ball into the air for Bartlett to volley an exocet past a despairing goalkeeper.

With the Angels, and Bartlett’s in particular, tails up, three minutes later the goal machine strode through challenges before rifling a shot into the net to give Tonbridge the lead.

Now it was about managing the game out to a conclusion and, bar one effort from #9 that was saved by Taylor, it was done with ease.

Sadly, with Academy age limits, we will be saying goodbye to Sam Slipper, Rhys Bartlett, Regan Bowden, Joe Roberts, Tommy Taylor, Jacob Lambert and Harrison Mayhew. We wish them well with their future careers whether that be within the Angels family or pastures new. But they can look back on this first Academy season with a great deal of pride.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Tonbridge Angels 1 Carshalton Athletic 0

Match 121/18/1714 - Monday, 22nd April 2019 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Stone 79
Carshalton Athletic (0) 0
Attendance: 861

Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/7,040

It was tense and tension will never produce a great game of football, especially as at least one of the sides top priority was not to lose the game and as the game progressed in deadlock the other became just as nervous of a negative result.

Ultimately, a goal from an unexpected source saw Tonbridge over the line with a guaranteed place in the playoffs, whether that be as the home club will for the final weekend’s results to decide.

What the game desperately needed was an early goal from the home side that would have drawn Carshalton out of their shell. This might have come after nine minutes when firstly a long throw from Arthur Lee found the head of Sonny Miles whose effort was deflected wide. The resultant corner once more fell to this time the feet of Miles whose shot was blocked.

With that chance passed the game became ultra cagey with neither side threatening to break the deadlock.

The early part of the second period continued in much the same vein. Both sides had set piece opportunities but crosses into the box foundered on two strong defences.

After 79 minutes the breakthrough came following a Carshalton attack that saw James Folkes lay a pass, that was a little short, back to his goalkeeper, Jonny Henly, who under pressure launched a huge clearance that ended with the opposing central defender misheading the ball for a corner at the other end. Turner’s corner from the right, found the head of Miles who directed back across to the face to Craig Stone whose leap and strain of the neck was just enough to direct the ball into the corner of the net.

Now, we were set for a grandstand finish, but in truth it never came and when Tom Derry was sent clear with four minutes remaining he just never had enough gas left in the tank to get himself clear of the retreating Ricky Korboa and sent his shot well wide.

One final hold of the breath saw a free kick cleared and the returned shot ballooned over by Harry Ottaway to spark the celebrations of the clinching of that play-off position.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Tunbridge Wells 0 Lordswood 1

Match 120/18/1713 - Saturday, 20th April 2019 - SCEFL Premier

Tunbridge Wells (0) 0
Lordswood (0) 1 Kane 29
Attendance: 139

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/7,002

Worthing 1 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 119/18/1712 - Friday, 19th April 2019 - Bostik Premier

Worthing (0) 1 Ajiboye 80
Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Turner 63
Attendance: 1,322

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 103/6,964

When you are Tonbridge Angels and when you desperately need a point out of game, where is the place you least want to be? Worthing, something always happens at Worthing and it is always bad. So when you are pegged back with 10 minutes left on the clock, you fear the worst and as those minutes tick by, the heart starts beating just a little heavier until it is nearly jumping out of your chest.

The relief at the final whistle, although a point was richly deserved, meant that slowly my heartbeat returned to normal but a full 15 minute before I stopped shaking. Play-off tussles do little for your health!

On a hot Good Friday down on the South Coast with temperatures reaching 26degC, Worthing, who regularly draw attendances of over four figures, assembled an impressive turnout of 1,322 with a sizeable following from Kent.

Chinedu McKenzie, restored to the starting line-up, signalled the Angels’ early intent with a shot that drifted wide after just 23 seconds.

Memories of some awful refereeing decisions soon previous visits began to haunt the Angels’ support as James Folkes found his way into the book after just five minutes and goalkeeper Jonny Henly suffered a similar fate after a coming together with Callum Kealy outside of the right hand angle of his penalty area.

A free kick directed to the far post produced Tonbridge’s best chance of the opening period when Sonny Miles headed it back across the face of goal but McKenzie was unable to keep his header down and the opportunity sailed over the bar.

David Ajiboye, in particular, was giving Jack Parter a difficult afternoon and the Angels were thankful when Parter’s interception took the sting out of Ajiboye’s effort after he had scampered clear down the right.

The half came to a close with Tonbridge having created the clearer of the chances, but with little to choose between the teams.

A header from Arthur Lee was straight at goalkeeper Lucas Colovan and Joe Turner acrobatically fired a Tom Derry cross over the bar as the visitors opened the second half on the front foot.

A cross from D’Sean Theobalds was fumbled by Colovan but the ball was scrambled away under pressure from Turner.

Tonbridge were well worth their lead by the time that it arrived on 63 minutes. McKenzie played a superb pass into the channel for Derry to chase down and his inch perfect cross found the arriving Turner to shoot past Colovan

This was a purple period for the Angels and had one of the chances that came in the following 10 minutes been taken they surely would have gone on to win the game. McKenzie shot over and Adem Ramadan only managed to draw a comfortable save out of Colovan, but the golden opportunity fell to Ramadan on 71 minutes when Colovan saved with his feet.

Wothing’s quest for a play-off place desperately needed something out of the game, if not a win and it wasn’t unexpected that they threw bodies forward in the last quarter-hour in search of a reward. Henly saved well, pushing aside a shot from Ollie Pearce after 78 minutes but two minutes later Ajiboye was allowed to cut in from the right and surge into the box unchallenged before producing a superb finish.

A misdirected cross was touched onto the top of the crossbar by Henly as nerves began to jangle but Tonbridge safely negotiated the closing stages for a point that everybody of a blue persuasion would have accepted before the start.

The result sets up Easter Monday’s encounter with Carshalton, who overtook Tonbridge into third place, for another afternoon that will test the heart.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Tonbridge Angels Academy 2 Maidstone United Academy 0

Match 118/18/1711 - Wednesday, 17th April 2019 - National League U19 Alliance

Tonbridge Angels Academy (0) 2 Barton 78 Stirman 80
Maidstone United Academy (0) 0
Headcount: 34

Admission: Free
Team Sheet: Free
Mileage: 38/6,861

The Academy’s first Longmead appearance of the season ended with a victory that ensures that they will finish no lower than fourth in their debut season in the National League Under-19 Alliance. A win in their final game against Sutton United would leave their opponents needing a big win against Burgess Hill to relieve the Angels of third place.

On a warm Wednesday lunchtime, with Longmead barely showing the scars of a long season, Tonbridge and Maidstone served up a competitive encounter that was ultimately won with two second half goals in the space of three minutes.

After a season spent mainly on 3G surfaces, it appeared that both sides needed time to adapt to the grass surface and despite much endeavour the opening 20 minutes passed without anything in the way of goalmouth incident.

Eventually, the Angels at least produced some attempts on goal but efforts from Josh Stirman and Rhys Bartlett failed to test the Stones goalkeeper, Ethan Collen. After 26 minutes a surging run from Bartlett ended with a shot that took a deflection to see it go wide of the post.

Both sides had now warmed to their task and Maidstone’s Matt Weller brought a comfortable save for Tommy Taylor before Ned Snowden-Lewis turned deftly in the box before firing a shot into the side netting.

After being largely dominated during the first half, the visitors had a spell towards the end of the half in which a fine run from Jayden Yusuf was brought to a timely end and a header from Jamie Sherlock was narrowly wide. But the closest either side came to breaking the first half deadlock was after 40 minutes when Maidstone’s Charlie Deininger’s free kick was clawed out of the top corner by Taylor to preserve the half-time parity.

The game was just over an hour old when Bartlett collected a pass from Leo Deere to crash a shot against the crossbar.

The breakthrough for the Angels finally came on 78 minutes when the ball was fed to Tom Barton whose firmly struck shot from 25 yards crept under the body of Collen.

One quickly became two when firstly a shot from Barton was charged down with the rebound picked up by Stirman whose initial shot was blocked but fastening onto the second rebound, showing good feet, he skipped past a challenge before burying the ball past Collen.

The game was comfortably managed through to the final whistle by the Angels with Collen saving well to deny Bartlett in time added.

Manager Tom Parkinson was naturally delighted to have done the double this season over a well-established Academy set-up and a team that was physically strong and containing second and third year students.

Punjab United 1 Canterbury City 1

Match 117/18/1710 - Tuesday, 16th April 2019 - SCEFL Premier

Punjab United (1) 1 Hamici 26
Canterbury City (1) 1 Lightfoot 41
Attendance: 83

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 48/6,823

Monday, 15 April 2019

Beckenham Town 0 Chatham Town 2

Match 116/18/1709 - Sunday, 14th April 2019 - Kent Senior Trophy Final

Beckenham Town (0) 0
Chatham Town (0) 1 Hagan 100
After extra time
Attendance: 1,128
Played at Maidstone United

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £2 donation
Mileage: 20/6,775

Now entering the time of the season when I become a little jaded when it comes to blogging, so I took the opportunity of putting down the notebook and pen and left the posting to the esteemed Timmy_Tabby who reported the day as thus:

Having last attended the Gallagher Stadium for the Kent Senior Trophy final in 2016 and seeing and (unfortunately remembering) a frustrating goalless draw with Sheppey United and Ashford United being the offenders, there was the vain hope that the 2019 final would yield a goal laden classic. Needless to say that the hopes were misguided....

Becckenham Town 0 v 1 Chatham Town - Kent Senior Trophy Final
Prog 12 pages* - Admission £8.00 - Att nothing official seen thus far but approx 550

*Typical final prog but at least given away though in accordance with the KCFA request a donation to a charity was given and in the interests of financial transparency it can be disclosed that a pound was donated.

.....Rarely an entertaining spectacle, two well matched teams huffed and puffed to little effect for most of the duration of the contest. Numerous half chances but few that were of any danger, plenty of routine catches for either keeper to make and far too many moves created through midfield that evaporated on the edge of the area.

Expectations probably set too high by what was an entertaining opening few minutes, where Chatham should have taken the lead from the likes of Walker, Vines & Bodkin but opportunities were spurned as McEntaggart made saves that he was not expected to make if the shots had been in the intended direction or if possession had been taken one step too far.

Chatham had the better of the first half but could not find the net with McEntaggart making a crucial save from a Bodkin free kick and seeing a Fitzgerald header from virtually off the line. However, it was clear as the first half neared its conclusion that the Beckenham defence was not being prised open as easily as it was earlier.

Much the same in the early minutes of the second period and shortly after the restart a clumsy challenge by Wilson that felled Pilbeam on the right gave us a penalty, which if it had been converted would have given us the goal that this contest craved. Problem was Vines' posture in running up for the penalty was laboured and his attempt cleared the bar by some distance. McEntaggart made an excellent double save to Walker and then Butler as the Beckenham keeper had to change direction quickly.

Gradually though Beckenham were much more in contention over the final half hour, few chances but in keeping with what went on at the other end before as a dangerous loose cross from Healey eluded a close range touch. Slight upturn as the 4th official indicated four additional minutes but Ellis managed to block a header from Medina and extra time (which was not a feature on 2016 final, which went straight to penalties) could not be avoided.

Early on during the additional thirty, Wright had a goal chalked off for straying offside for Beckenham and at this stage, conclusion by penalties looked a certainty, this outcome was avoided by a low cross from Bodkin a touch from Hagan almost certainly not what was intended but gave him the required space and he place past McEntaggart to put Chatham in front. Positive response from Beckenham and they were unfortunate to have a second goal disallowed for what was a much more marginal offside, however on the basis of a first half performance when they had very much the better of play they just about deserved to lift the Trophy.

Did not stay for the presentation, as after a laborious journey down where engineering work shutting part of the c2c route and also the Medway Valley line meant a longer than journey down, there was a need to return to the abode as soon as possible. Thanks to Geoff of this parish for the lift back to Upminster and a timely connection meaning return was facilitated at 18.55.

The time in Maidstome was not entirely in vain as there was sufficient time for a trip to the excellent Flower Pot which is mere minutes from the ground but unlike the Gallagher Stadium rooted in a bygone age. Mein host was particularly generous with the two halves ordered pouring them unusually into pint glasses. Excellent selection including those sampled from Musket and McCanns (AKA Angels & Demons) and an array of others. The gift of hindsight would surely have meant that the afternoon could have been put to a more profitable use.

Tonbridge Angels 0 Dorking Wanderers 2

Match 115/18/1708 - Saturday, 13th April 2019 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Dorking Wanderers (0) 2 Prior 17 Hall 44
Attendance: 825

Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/6,755

The #Project800 social media post read: Nothing in life, let alone football, is won without a challenge and the challenges don’t come any bigger than when the Champions come to town. We need a #12thMan and you are that 12thMan. #Project800 through the gate and noise that will push the #Angels to the playoffs. And so it transpired, 800-plus people did come through the gate but the challenge of the Champions, Dorking Wanderers, was too great. They showed exactly why they are the Champions, controlling the game from almost every inch of the pitch.

The first quarter hour was largely one of each time finding the other out, Jason Prior had an air shot from a good position and, for the home side, Tom Derry didn’t have the pace to get clear of Isaac Philpot when he burst clear from inside of his own half.

But, on 17 minutes, Dorking opened up Tonbridge with ex-Angel spraying a pass to the right wing from where Matthew Briggs cut in to strike a fine shot, low to Jonny Henly’s left, who could only parry the ball into the path of Prior, who gratefully tucked the ball in the unguarded net from the angle of the six yard box.

Three minutes later, Reece Hall cut inside of James Folkes to fire in a low shot that Henly did well to save with Arthur Lee completing the clearance.

Tonbridge’s first real opportunity came on 21 minutes when Jack Parter brought a save out of Slavomir Huk at his near post, turning the shot aside for a corner.

The game settled into a stalemate in terms of chances before Huk turned over a Joe Turner drive on 36 minutes.

The wish on behalf of Tonbridge supporters at this stage would have been to have gotten to the break with only the single goal deficit but these hopes were dashed in the final minute of the half when a cross from the right by James McShane found an unmarked Hall at the far post for a tap-in to give Dorking a commanding position at half-time.

Tonbridge pressed forward in the second period but, to be fair, Dorking never looked like relinquishing their overall control of the game. A Turner free kick into the area was scuffed clear to the feet of Derry but the striker’s effort sailed over was the closest they came in first 20 minutes of the half.

Chinedu McKenzie and Adem Ramadan were introduced just past the hour for Alex Read and Jared Small but the chances that fell were nothing more than little nibbles. Lee’s header from a corner was cleared from in front of the line and Turner’s tempting to the cross was deflected to safety at the far post by Dorking’s Chris Boulter as the visitor’s intentions became little more than to preserve their lead.

A free kick driven at, and turned over, by Henly was just about Dorking’s only real foray in the second period, but that is not to say they were not in control of affairs.

A final minute header from Sonny Miles drifted frustratingly wide and with the final whistle, the Easter holiday period and matches against fellow play-off challengers Worthing and Carshalton Athletic carried even greater importance.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Leatherhead 1 Tonbridge Angels 0

Match 114/18/1707 - Saturday, 6th April 2019 - Bostik Premier

Leatherhead (0) 1 Gallagher 73
Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Attendance: 505

Admission: £7 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 110/6,717

The business end of a season becomes a time when results mean everything and performances count for nothing which rarely contributes to games of any quality. Coming into the match, Leatherhead, sitting just outside the play-off positions, needed the result marginally more than Tonbridge and their celebrations at the end of a hard fought game emphasised its importance.

Chances throughout the 90 minutes were thin on the ground, the fact that any of the four central defenders could have been awarded the man-of-the-match is testament to the lack of quality in the final third from both sides.

Leatherhead’s winner, in the 73rd minute, was shrouded with controversy as the visitors claimed both hand ball and offside but, in a game that became obvious would be won by a single goal, the referee brushed aside the protests.

On a drying, bobbly pitch that did very few favours, Tonbridge opened the game with a couple of half chances following Arthur Lee long throws, the first of which saw Joe Turner test Zaki Oualah, quickly followed by Adem Ramadan’s effort having a identical result.

Ramadan, who enjoyed a lively first period, burst into the penalty area, but fired his shot over before Leatherhead’s opening attempt on goal after 22 minutes saw a free kick headed at Jonny Henly by Jerry Nmamani.

The closest either side got to scoring in the first half was when Leatherhead’s Shaun Okojie, a 29th minute substitute for Craig McGee, hit the bar with the follow-up from Travis Gregory being blocked.

Okojie was to go close again after seven minutes of the second half as Leatherhead picked up the momentum.

The game continued to be one of little goalmouth action until the pivotal moment in the match. A Leatherhead free kick was sent to the far post by Charlie Hester-Cook where two home side players were positioned, the furthest played the ball against the hand of his team mate before the ball was half-cleared and then recycled down the right for Ibrahim Olutade to cross for Daniel Gregory to force the ball home from close range.

Henly kept the game alive for the Angels with ten minutes remaining with an excellent touch over the bar of a shot from Mnamani and whilst Tonbridge attempted to mount a grandstand finish there was no be no late reprieve.

An honest appraisal from Steve McKimm said afterwards that Leatherhead deserved their win because they did the ugly things better. Ugly was a good word to describe the whole event.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Tonbridge Angels Academy 10 Burgess Hill Town Academy 1

Match 113/18/1706 - Wednesday, 3rd April 2019 - National Academies

Tonbridge Angels Academy (2) 10 Stirman 18,66 Bartlett 45+2,57,73,80,85 Snowden-Lewis 46,48
Burgess Hill Town Academy (1) 1 #8 17
Headcount: 7

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 31/6,607

Tonbridge Angels Academy have gone goal crazy in the last fortnight as two of the bottom three teams have been put to the sword to the tune of double figures, whilst Rhys Bartlett has helped himself to 14 goals in the last three games taking his season’s total to a remarkable 32 in just 13 games.

Unlike the game at Whyteleafe where an injury to the goalkeeper had a significant impact on the game and the result, this double-figured rout did not look on the cards in a first half in which Burgess Hill acquitted themselves well, took the lead and played their full part in a competitive 45 minutes.

The first 10 minutes saw the Tonbridge lads lethargically out of the blocks and from a corner after four minutes the visitors saw an effort on goal turned wide and an effort that was comfortably saved by Joe Roberts.

The Academy’s first real chance came after 14 minutes when good work from Leo Deere set up Ned Snowden-Lewis but his miskick in front of goal saw the opportunity pass.

Burgess Hill continued to offer a threat and it was no great surprise when they went ahead after 17 minutes when a corner was only cleared to the edge of the box from where an unchallenged strike on goal found the bottom corner.

The goal had the desired effect on the Angels and they were level within a minute when Bartlett sent Josh Stirman clear to round the goalkeeper and slot into an empty net.

Having responded to the shock of going behind, the home side now picked up the momentum and the chances started to come, but were also missed, with regular abandon.

The goalkeeper did well to save with his feet twice in a minute from Snowden-Lewis and Deere whilst a Bartlett header from a corner that was headed on by Deere was directed at the goalkeeper.

As the goalkeeper excelled and chances were wasted it took until the second minute of added time before Tonbridge finally got a lead to take into the break after Snowden-Lewis had first set-up Bartlett to have a shot blocked, which fell to Deere whose effort was also blocked before Bartlett was able to stab it home.

During the half-time break the green 3G carpet turned white as a heavy hailstorm engulfed King’s Hill leaving the spectators glad of the Sports Bar and a warming cuppa.

It was not only the colour of the carpet that had changed but the tempo of the match as Tonbridge scored twice in the opening three minutes of the half to set in motion the deluge that was about to follow.

Within a minute of the restart an inch-perfect cross from the right to the far post from Regan Bowden allowed Snowden-Lewis a tap-in and a couple of minutes later it was a carbon copy as this time the striker converted with a header.

Bartlett, set-up by Deere, notched number five after 57 minutes and after the goalkeeper had done well to deny Stirman and Bartlett, substitute Saul Masungeyi gave a very good assist to allow Stirman the sixth.

A fine move between Snowden-Lewis and Bartlett gave Masungeyi number seven two minutes later.

Credit should be given to Burgess Hill who did not allow their heads to drop but the goals continued to flow with a curling shot into the top corner from the edge of the box giving Bartlett his hat-trick.

Bartlett was to add two more for his second nap hand in three games with a shot into the bottom corner after 80 minutes and after a well-crafted move including the excellent Charlie Owen and substitute Sam Babayale, a tap-in to make it 10-1.

As at Whyteleafe last week, this was a ruthless second half performance that produced some great goals, the result of excellent team play.

Tunbridge Wells 1 Glebe 3

Match 112/18/1705 - Tuesday, 2nd April 2019 - SCEFL Premier

Tunbridge Wells (1) 1 Humphris 33 (pen)
Glebe (1) 3 Edwards 10 Harris 43 Adeniran 68
Attendance: 127

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/6,576

It was more than the weather that sent home Tunbridge Wells supporters miserable after yet another home defeat. The weather was lousy, an incessant drizzle became a full drenching; the onfield fare was a whole lot worse. Those that have watched the Wells away from home, at least since Christmas, must be wondering if it is the same team that turns up at Culverden.

It is true that Glebe came with a superb run of form and, from a personal point of view, it was good to see Scott Kinch still strutting his stuff at the grand old age of 37 and there were not many better out there on the night.

Glebe took control of the game from the 10th minute when a left-sided corner was headed down for Sam Edwards to tuck in from close range.

The game was hardly captivating which was a shame as it needed to be a distraction from the elements. Tunbridge Wells first shot on goal came from the penalty spot after Luke Miller was adjudged to have handled. Jamie Humphris sent Alex Catana the wrong way to equalise.

It did fire a little life into the home side, and the game in general, with Humphris flashing a pass across the face of goal that deserved a touch. But the Wells momentum was quickly stopped in its stride when ex-Wells striker Jack Harris was allowed to squeeze the ball home when given too much time in the six yard box.

Tunbridge Wells threatened early in the second period with Josh Biddlecombe testing Catana and then turning a free kick wide but Glebe put the game to bed with 20 minutes remaining when substitute Henry Adeniran firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the box after the visitors had been allowed to pass the ball from the left side of the penalty area to the right without so much as an interest from the Wells defenders.

A dismal night when the final whistle was the only saving grace.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Tonbridge Angels 3 Harlow Town 1

Match 110/18/1703 - Saturday, 30th March 2019 - Bostik Premier

Tonbridge Angels (1) 3 McKenzie 12,54,79
Harlow Town (0) 1 Foy 86
Attendance: 632

Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/6,538

Project650, a social media flood designed to push the attendance to 650 as Tonbridge Angels entered their final three home games, narrowly failed to reach its target, something that Chinedu McKenze duly managed as his hat-trick maintained the challenge for a play-off place.

Relegation-threatened Harlow Town barely provided stiff opposition but with a record of being a bogey team to Tonbridge, it was an accident waiting to happen.

An early goal, and a brilliant one at that, settled the nerves and put the 632 attendance into full voice.

The goal might well have come in the opening minute when an Adem Ramadan cross into the box found the head of Tom Derry but he failed to get a clean connection to the ball and the opportunity was cleared to safety.

But, after 12 minutes, the opening goal came the way of the home side. A lob forward by Chinedu McKenzie saw Harlow goalkeeper, Marcin Brzozowski, advance beyond his 18 yard box to head the ball clear as Derry closed in. The ball landed back at the feet of McKenzie who produced a magnificent lob from all of 35 yards to not only clear the very tall Brzozowski but also ex-Angel Ugo Udoji on the line and nestle in the net.

Tonbridge were now in full flow with McKenzie deny by the goalkeeper’s feet at the near post and following a right sided cross from James Folkes, an audacious back heel from McKenzie was narrowly wide.

Harlow had barely mustered a threat but, on the half-hour, a cross from Reece Price-Placid led to an acrobatic overhead kick from Tom Hitchcock that sailed harmlessly high and wide.

It did offer some encouragement for the visitors though and three minutes later, a speculative effort was easily fielded by Jonny Henly.

Into the second half and Tonbridge were awarded a penalty after 53 minutes when Brzozowski’s clearance from his hands was blocked by McKenzie and deflected into the path of Derry who was brought down as the rounded the forlorn goalkeeper whose luck was not about to change. Joe Turner’s spot kick was well saved but his parry was followed-up by McKenzie to make it 2-0.

The excellent Ramadan, who took a heavy first half knock, made way for Liam Smith on the hour and this was followed five minutes later with Alex Read replacing Derry.

After 69 minutes McKenzie was denied his hat-trick when Harlow’s Rob Howard cleared from the line following Folkes cross from the bye-line.

Whilst Harlow carried little or no threat, a third goal to put the game to bed was a while coming with Arthur Lee’s header from a corner going close. The comfort of the three goal lead was finally attained after 79 minutes when Read’s cross appeared to be tapped home for his hat-trick goal by McKenzie but perhaps it was Howard’s touch that saw it home. No matter, Tonbridge were home and hosed and McKenzie was credited with his hat-trick.

The Academy’s Josh Stirman entered the fray to make his Bostik Premier debutant showed some nice touches. Turner sent Read clear to narrowly shoot wide before the only blot on the afternoon, when after 587 minutes without conceding a league goal, a Sonny Miles loss of footing allowed Matt Foy a run on goal which he clinically finished.

On an afternoon when the sun shone it was just a passing cloud.