Monday, 20 May 2019

AFC Fylde 1 Leyton Orient 0

Match 131/18/1724 - Sunday, 19th May 2019 - FA Trophy Final

AFC Fylde (0) 1 Rowe 60
Leyton Orient (0) 0
Combined Attendance: 42,962

Admission: £5 Senior (both matches)
Programme: £5
Mileage: 100/7,682

Match Report

Part Two of timmy tabby's report:

.....Thankfully, the fact that we had extra time shortened the period of time between the matches and not wanting to indulge in the overpriced Wembley fodder, it was a mere overpriced cup of PG and a chance to catch up with those whose paths seen to converge virtually every game of late (Hello again Alan B) and those not seen since much earlier in the season as was the case with SUFC Phil

And so to the final contest of the season to conclude this seasons Trophy meanderings which IMHO had a surprising outcome with AFC Fylde 1 v 0 Leyton Orient.

Surprising that in the context, mistakenly thought that Fylde's seemingly pitiful performance against Salford 8 days prior would carry over. However, what was much more noticeable in the first half was the fact that many of the Orient players gave the collective impression that the winning of the Conference title was the pinnacle of their season and that the mere Trophy is the footnote of the season. After a bright opening, Orient 'lost their way' during a first period where increasingly Fylde looked the more impressive.

Orient would be grateful to Brill for making important saves from the likes of Rowe, Reid et al but in the closing minutes of the half came the miss of the day when Bond sliced wide from close range for Fylde. In contrast Orient only made periodic inroads in the opposite direction with many of the players minds seemingly fixed on summer hols rather than a Trophy Final.

The second half was a tale of two free kicks both taken approximately 22 yards out. For Orient a perfectly flighted effort from Maguire-Drew over the wall struck the base of the post with Lynch in the Fylde goal rooted. For Fylde it was the turn of Rowe with an equally perfectly flighted effort over the wall that was in contrast to the earlier attempt just inside the post and Brill in the Orient goal was equally rooted to the ground. You had to have a smidgeon of sympathy for Orient as their holiday plans were temporarily dispensed with as Ekpiteta's header came back off the post and to conclude a trilogy of strikes against the woodwork, a penetrating run from Widdowson ended with an angled drive against the base of the far post. Fylde equally had the opportunities to enhance their advantage but Reid had a wasteful afternoon skying chances wide and high over but given Orient's first half disengagement from proceedings, I was content that Fylde lifted the Trophy and unlike Chertsey have the opportunity to defend their win next season, though of course the next instalment of Project 2022 and the push towards the holy grail of League 2 will no doubt prevail.

Fourth Finals Day attended and there is a realisation of what to expect with the bag restrictions, searches, inabilities to transfer between sections (though I should add that one of our party did manage it in pursuit of ale and seemingly caused a diplomatic incident) and the whole ethos of the day. The difficulty lies with the fact that the vast majority of the games seen do not entail such difficulties but the FA appear to be happy with the fact that both finals are on the same day and I doubt that anything will even remotely change for the 19-20 episode.

And so I say goodbye to season 2018/19 and what a momentous season it has been. I have become a director of my boyhood club, I role I absolutely love and cherish and that joy has been embellished by Tonbridge Angels' promotion and return to National South. Many games, many miles but it is the people that make it worthwhile and I look forward to renewing those acquaintances when preseason resumes on 29th June, not that long away but wishing the time away!

Lifetime match total: 2,974
Number of grounds: 335

Chertsey Town 3 Cray Valley (PM) 1

Match 130/18/1723 - Sunday, 19th May 2019 - FA Vase Final

Chertsey Town (1) 3 Flegg 39 Baxter 105 Rowe 117
Cray Valley (PM) (1) 1 Tomlin 36
After extra time, score at 90 minutes: 1-1
Combined Attendance: 42,962

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £5
Mileage: 100/7,682

Match Report

As is my tradition with Non-League Finals Day, which in terms of matches was the best so far, I hang up my notebook and pen and pinch timmy tabby's report from the Non-League Matters forum.

Firstly, with reference to Chertsey Town 3 v 1 Cray Valley PM. Also seated in the Cray Valley portion almost on the half way line courtesy of a £12.50 'block booking' ticket ordered through the club. Hardly surprising at the lack of atmosphere present as most of the support was either on loan from other Kentish clubs or those that had (hopefully) been swayed by the billboard that announced to the populace of Eltham that they a local team had reached Wembley and had an exceptional season winning the SCEFL Prem. You have to take into account that Cray Valley are one of the poorest supported teams in that division in an area where there simply too many clubs trying to attract too few few supporters. Given my fondness for the club, (I have seen them on 14 occasions this season a total more that any other club this season), this is a shame as the way that the club conducts itself does impress. One of the few disappointments of the day was that the club Twittermeister was not updating, though given that he is the chairman (and also one of the most inconspicuous money man of any club in any division, I thought that he was just a very enthusiastic official), and he was going 'to enjoy the day'.

It was a shame that watching Cray Valley for the 15th time during 18-19 did not bring the prize of a Wembley Vase win, but Chertsey were the better team over extra time of which there was a certain inevitability from the early exchanges which showed that there were virtually no difference in quality between the champions of two South East Level 5 divisions.

Extremely tight first half where both teams had the obligatory opportunities with the Cray Valley keeper Walker (one of the many aged's in both teams) pulling off a spectacular push over to deny a curling shot that was heading towards the top corner from Guentchev and at the opposite end Jupp between he posts for Chertsey managing to block a downward header from Lisbie.

Cray Valley in front just after half hour mark with Hickey's long ball down the left finding Tomlin who was able to cut in from the left and beat Jupp who had left his near post uncharacteristically unguarded. Given the closeness between the teams, the lead was very short lived with Guentchev's corner being met by a powerful downward header from Flegg which came back off the post and the same player reacted quickest to plant the rebound into the gaping net to level.

The second half was equally as closely contested, but from a possession perspective, Chertsey were slightly more efficient in utilising their share. For Cray Valley it was often a frustration of a slow build up leading to one touch too many or a cross from the other wise impressive Gayle not reaching it's intended target. The frustration though was met also by the likes of Binns and Guentchev whose mutual approach play for Chertsey promised more than what was delivered during the second period.

Chertsey would have been frustrated by the fact that a free header from Driver, which was one of the only genuine chances of the second half over the bar in the opening minutes of the half. The frustration though was replicated towards the end with Jupp pushing over a heading towards the top corner from Sains. The announcement of 5 minutes stoppage time saw a flurry of chances where the inevitable period of extra time looked as if it was going to be avoided, but Peacock sliced wide from close range. The period culminating with Edgar's shot from just inside the penalty area that rebounded back off the bar, with literally the last kick of the opening 90. On the balance of the two halves, it would have been desperately unfortunate for there have been a winner.

Overall it was extra time that was the determinant of the Vase travelling in a Surrey direction and the decisive moment being when Tunkaya mistimed a challenge on Guentchev on the left. from our angle it looked as if the offence took place fractionally outside the the area, the man in black who of course was much better positioned decided other wise awarding a penalty which Baxter converted to put Chertsey in front. It was from thereon that the collective tiredness of the Cray Valley players overwhelmed then and it was a virtual procession for Chertsey for the remaining minutes. They managed one more goal, an excellent crisply struck drive from Rowe but the margin of victory could have been greater if not for Walker pushing a Guentchev shot against the inside of the post. Little doubt that over the entire duration of the contest that Chertsey deserved their win.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Metropolitan Police 2 Tonbridge Angels 3

Match 129/18/1722 - Saturday, 11th May 2019 - FA Super Play-off Final

Metropolitan Police (1) 2 Chislett 18 Robinson 57
Tonbridge Angels (0) 3 Lee 52 Theobalds 85 Derry 97
After extra time, score at 90 minutes: 2-2
Attendance: 1,268

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 120/7,582

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! The last three weeks have been stressful, each game has had its challenges and one-by-one they have been ticked off. Nobody wanted the Super Play-off format that could have been so easily avoided and whilst celebrating Tonbridge Angels’ success it is at the same time commiserating with Metropolitan Police who over the course of a season had finished third in their League, won through a difficult Play-off process but remain an Evo-Stick Premier South club next season. The process was unfair from the outset and remained so, whether as the winner or otherwise.

Tonbridge Angels supporters turned Imber Court into a home game with an estimate that they made up two-thirds of the 1,268 attendance and the scenes at the end of a game that had gone into extra time will not be forgotten by any of them for a very long time.

Sonny Miles’ appeal against his sending-off in the Isthmian Play-off Final was turned down and his place in the centre of the back four went to Michael Kamara, who has been on dual registration with Woking.

The visitors started the game strongly with Joe Turner being brought down on the edge of the box after five minutes Turner’s free kick evaded the wall but was met with a De Gea-type save from Berti Schotteri’s leading foot.

Two minutes later, Turner left-sided free kick was headed away for a corner from which Kamara saw his header cleared from the line. Turner then saw his shot turned away for a corner by Schotteri at his near post before the Police went in front after 18 minutes with their first real attack of the game.

John Gilbert pulled the ball back from the left to Ethan Chislett who, from 20 yards, curled a shot into the top corner giving Jonny Henly no chance.

The Met, now with their tails up, gained momentum and Henly saved well, low to his left, to turn aside a shot from outside of the box by Max Blackmore and, after 25 minutes, from a corner Ollie Robinson headed over.

Tonbridge should have drawn level three minutes later when Craig Stone pulled the ball across the face of goal to an unmarked McKenzie who, inexplicably, ballooned the ball over from six yards.

Half-time arrived with Tonbridge a goal behind in 45 minutes that they had largely dominated.

But within five minutes of the restart they were back on level terms. A free-kick needlessly given away for hand ball by Gilbert. Arthur Lee stood over the ball and the expectant group of defenders and attackers assembled at the far post for the cross, but Lee whipped in a shot to the near post catching Schotteri unawares and only able to help the ball on its way into the corner.

The delight of the massed Tonbridge ranks lasted barely two minutes and it came after a series of saves from Schotteri that denied the visitors taking the lead. He first palmed away a 25 yard shot from Turner; recovered to turn away the rebound from Jack Parter before two efforts from Adem Ramadan were blocked by desperate defending.

From the clearance, the Metropolitan Police counter attacked and forced a corner that was cleared to Gilbert who fired a low cross that was met by Robinson whose touch rebounded off the legs Henly back to him to run the ball home.

It felt like a shattering blow but Tonbridge continued to take the game to their hosts but were finding a goalkeeper at the peak of his form. Stone saw his 70th minute shot tipped over the bar by Schotteri followed by a header from the midfielder.

There were five minutes left on the clock when Theobalds picked up the ball in the centre circle, he left two defenders in his wake before committing another on the edge of the box and as a fourth stood off from making a challenge he rifled a shot under Schotteri for a magnificent equaliser.

Tonbridge should have avoided extra time when a cross from Turner found Derry at the far post whose header across the face of goal seemingly bounced off the shin of McKenzie with the ball agonisingly drifting wide.

Into extra-time and Henly was needed to tip over the bar an effort from Jack Mazzone, the Met’s leading goalscorer who had been well marshalled all afternoon but Tonbridge maintained the momentum as substitute Jared Small started making an impact down the right. Firstly his cross was deflected away for a corner and then, in the seventh minute of extra time, he produced an inch perfect cross to the far post and the head of Derry who nodded it home with ease.

The Met had to respond and Chislett tested Henly twice before Blackmore drove a shot marginally wide.

Three minutes of the second period of extra time remained when Turner fired over after being set up by Theobalds and Tonbridge needed to survive one more corner that was successfully hacked to safety before the final whistle that brought the now obligatory crowd invasion and a wild celebrations that included the chairman body surfed by supporters.

It was the game that nobody wanted, but what a game was produced. This has been a season of epic peaks and troughs, I don’t think there was a supporter out there who would have predicted this outcome after the defeat at Carshalton, but the turnaround is complete and National South awaits.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Tonbridge Angels 2 Merstham 0

Match 128/18/1721 - Monday, 6th May 2019 - Bostik Premier Play-off Final

Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 McKenzie 34 Turner 90 (pen)
Merstham (0) 0
Attendance: 2,268

Admission: £7 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/7,462

The crowd were on the pitch, they thought it was all over and any other season it would have been. But in this time of reshuffles, one more hurdle is between Tonbridge Angels and the finishing line, a visit to Metropolitan Police, winners of the Evo-Stick Southern Premier South.

An attendance of 2,268 had packed Longmead Stadium courtesy not only of Tonbridge’s thrilling win at Haringey but also Merstham’s unexpected success at Carshalton leaving Tonbridge as the hosts virtue of their higher league position. The length of the queue outside of the ground led to the decision to delay kick-off by 15 minutes.

Once the game got underway, Tonbridge were on the front foot forcing a couple of corners and having a half-hearted appeal for a penalty turned down when Sonny Miles was wrestled to the ground following a corner.

Merstham though showed they carried a threat of their own in their leading scorer Walter Figueira who only found the side netting after a surging run and some clever footwork carried him to the bye-line.

The hosts took the lead after 34 minutes when a run through the centre from D’Sean Theobalds led to a pass to the left for Joe Turner to fizz in a cross to the near post that was directed towards Tom Derry but an interception half-cleared the ball into the path of Chinedu McKenzie who gleefully gobbled up the chance.

Both sides were reduced to 10 men after 42 minutes when Tonbridge’s Sonny Miles and Merstham’s Ollie Cook were dismissed after an altercation that saw Cook push Miles to the ground with the Tonbridge captain seeing red for an alleged kicking-out.

Craig Stone moved into the back four to fill the hole left by the skipper’s departure.

A relatively quiet start to the second period saw a couple of Merstham corners that came to nothing and Tonbridge bolstered their midfield with the introduction of Joe Healy for his first appearance for the club replacing Derry.

On 65 minutes a good move involving Theobalds and McKenzie opened up an opportunity for Turner, but the Tonbridge Player of the Year missed narrowly at the far post.

Tonbridge now held the momentum with Adem Ramadan shooting over before, with five minutes remaining, a driving run from the left by Jack Parter saw him through the gap between two defenders but his attempted chip over Amadou Tangara was saved by the giant Merstham keeper’s legs.

Despite Tonbridge’s overall control of the game, the single goal advantage was still a nervous one until the pressure was finally relieved with two minutes to go when Theobalds was tripped inside the box by Figueira with referee Michael Ryan pointing to the spot.

Turner kept his nerve to power the ball straight down the middle with Tangara committing to his right to bring a Longmead roar of delight, or was it relief.

The final whistle brought the crowd onto the pitch in wild celebration with manager Steve McKimm hoisted onto the shoulders of his charges with the Isthmian Premier play-off trophy. A cup had been won, but the ultimate reward remains one game away.

Chatham Town 3 Corinthian 2

Match 127/18/1720 - Saturday, 4th May 2019 - SCEFL Challenge Cup Final

Chatham Town (1) 3 Vines 45 Hagan 56 Avery 73
Corinthian (2) 2 Jamie Billings 23 Johnson 39
Attendance: 345
Played at Tonbridge Angels

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/7,424

Match Report

Rusthall Reserves 3 Southborough 0

Match 126/18/1719 - Friday, 3rd May 2019 - Tunbridge Wells Charity Cup Final

Rusthall Reserves (1) 3 James 29 Ramsell 33 Ndouga 66
Southborough (0) 0
Estimated Attendance: 150

Admission: £1 Senior
Programme: £1
Mileage: 38/7,386

Haringey Borough 1 Tonbridge Angels 2

Match 125/18/1718 - Thursday, 2nd May 2019 - Bostik Premier Play-off Semi Final

Haringey Borough (0) 1 Oyenuga 52 (pen)
Tonbridge Angels (2) 2 Ramadan 35 McKenzie 43
Attendance: 810

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 112/7,348

These are the nights for which you live in hope in the freezing cold of January; or when form is at its lowest ebb and the next positive result seems as far away as the summer sunshine. The despair of the massed ranks of Tonbridge supporters that had seen, at Potters Bar, their hopes of a home play-off tie replaced by a daunting midweek journey to Haringey Borough was transformed into ecstasy as two first half goals and a magnificent second half rearguard action brought home a Play-off Final appearance.

I’ve never been one that lays much stock at the door of superstition, I don’t have lucky underpants (although I think I might have now) but a new superstition was born on the journey to Haringey Borough. The approach to the Dartford Tunnel, the bottleneck that always means an extra half-hour is allowed in the journey time, had been plain sailing and as the carriageway began to widen to send the traffic to its East and West bores, I remembered that on Saturday en-route to Potters Bar I had unusually taken the eastern bore. The little voice in my head said change lanes and go west, this I did. As we reached about the half-way point in the tunnel, the traffic slowed and there was a broken down vehicle just a few cars in front and navigating around it was relatively easy. Another five minutes and that would have been a serious delay, I was already thanking my lucky stars.

The traffic to White Hart Lane was not light but always moving and you can ask little more of the North Circular than that. So arrival at Coles Park was made in good time, well over an hour before kick-off, and there was already a fair complement of Tonbridge supporters in evidence.

Memories of the last visit and the infamous 26 attempts on goal from Tonbridge and a 4-0 defeat was at the route of the apprehension, but also was the fitness of Joe Turner and Craig Stone, but both were warming up and looked ready to take their places in the starting eleven which thankfully they did.

First goalkeeper to make a save of any note was Jonny Henly who dived low to his left to comfortably field a shot from Kudus Oyenuga after four minutes. Two minutes later, D’Sean Theobalds won a midfield tussle and strode on a couple of paces before firing in a shot that brought a decent save out of Valery Pajetat, turning the ball away for a corner.

Michael O’Donoghue flashed a cross across the face of goal and ex-Haringey striker Chinedu McKenzie tested Pajetat with a low shot as both sides started to open up the game.

After 15 minutes Tonbridge saw their opening goal disallowed, when a Hollywood cross field pass from Jack Parter send Adem Ramadan away down the right. The winger cut inside his marker before firing in a shot that rebounded off the far post to the waiting Tom Derry who had his tap-in at the right hand post chalked off for a very tight offside decision.

Haringey’s Lyle Della-Verde’s shot was saved by Henly with his feet at this near post and Joel Nouble fired over before, in the 34th minute, Tonbridge opened the scoring with a spectacular goal from Adem Ramadan.

A Tonbridge corner from the left was quickly taken by Theobalds short to Ramadan, who from the angle of the 18 yard box curled an exquisite shot into the far top corner, over the head of a defender on the post. If Ramadan had walked up and placed the ball into position he could not have done it with more precision.

As the break approached, it got even better for Tonbridge as Tom Derry broke clear down the right, his intended cross was half-cleared into the path of McKenzie, who, from 20 yards lashed a shot past Pajetat and into the bottom corner.

Any misguided hopes of a quiet run-down of the second half clock were quickly dispelled as Haringey raced out of the blocks with an early shot over from Joe Staunton and a free kick from Della-Verde that sailed in the same direction. But, on 55 minutes, Lionel Stone was brought down just inside the right side of the box by Joe Turner and, after a convoluted run-up, Oyenuga sent Henly the wrong way to set up was to become Custer’s Last Stand for the visitors.

After 62 minutes, Oyenuga missed the chance of the match firing high over the bar from around eight yards after being set by Nouble.

The pressure was relentless with Tonbridge unable to offer much of a threat on the counter but Ramadan did force Pajetat into a comfortable save at his near post.

Thirteen minutes remained when Nouble was one-on-one with Henly but the goalkeeper got something on the shot and took the pace off the ball as it looped behind him with Jack Parter able to clear.

Hearts were now beating outside of the chests as Haringey seemingly had an endless succession of corners that were admirably dealt with. Then, as the clock entered into added time, I think most Tonbridge supporters decided this was to be our night. A cross into the box from Karl Akinwande was met with a shot on the turn from Coby Rowe with ball cannoning down from the underside of the crossbar before being heaved to safety. The time-added lasted a lifetime, but was safely negotiated to spark scenes of celebration among the travelling support that has not been seen for several years.

Better news was to follow on the final whistle with the news that Merstham had won at Carshalton and that the Isthmian League Play-off Final would be at Longmead. A night to live long, in fact forever, in the memory.