Monday, 30 September 2019

Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 Tonbridge Angels 0

Match 29/19/1752 - Saturday, 28th September 2019 - National South

Hampton & Richmond Borough (0) 1 Deadfield 90+4
Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Attendance: 708

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 120/2,132

When the dust has settled in late April, whatever the outcome of the season, thoughts will return to perceived pivotal moments that have affected that outcome.

If, and despite the six point billing of a match that is played in September, it remains an if, Tonbridge might look back on the 17th minute of this game as one of those pivotal moments.

Steve McKimm had made the bold choice of leaving Joe Turner on the bench and with James Folkes injured, Alex Bentley was restored to full back.

The opening quarter-hour had been nothing more than a gentle feeling out of the opposition on both sides when, out of an innocuous area in midfield, Tommy Brewer recklessly clattered a challenge into Hampton’s Jake Gray leaving the referee to flourish the red card in an instant. It later proved to be his last act for the club.

There was no panic reshuffling and the game largely followed the pattern of the first quarter-hour. Indeed, after 30 minutes, Jared Small had the ball in the net but this was ruled out for offside, a hairline decision if it was right.

The better chances had fallen to the visitors as half-time approached but with a couple of minutes left on the clock they survived as a shot from Danilo Orsi-Dadomo struck the right hand post.

Turner was introduced a the start of the second period for Small, which left a few scratching their heads but the onslaught from Hampton was about to begin and an inspirational half of goalkeeping from Jonny Henly was underway.

Within a minute, Sam Deadfield had struck a shot into the side-netting when he should have done better and in a 10 minute spell, Henly denied Hampton at least seven times. A free kick from Deadfield found the head of Dean Inman, but Henly diving backwards clung on to the ball and, two minutes later, Inman thought he scored as his header was clawed away from the line by the Tonbridge goalkeeper.

Orsi-Dadomo struck a post with the rebound blocked by Henly and the chances created and wasted by the home side mounted.

But, having miraculously emerging unscathed from those frantic minutes, Tonbridge started to find chances of their own on the counter. Khale Da Costa put in a right wing cross that just evaded the head of Tom Derry and after a powerful run from Turner, Derry struck a post.

Four minutes of time added firstly brought a free kick in a dangerous position and a sigh of relief was audible as it was wastefully floated into no man’s land but the cruelest of blows was still to be inflicted on the Angels as Derry, who could (should) have run the ball into the corner lost possession, the ball was switched to the right from where Louie Soares produced a match-winning cross that left Deadfield only needing to put his head on the ball to win the game.

Hampton supporters could rightly claim they deserved the points with the chances they had, but it was the cruellest of outcomes for a brave Tonbridge rearguard action. How pivotal that 17th minute was, only time will tell.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Hugh Christie 1 St George's 4

Match 28/19/1751 - Wednesday, 25th September 2019 - Academy Championship

Hugh Christie (1) 1 Kempton 14
St George's (1) 4 Anderson 44,80 Deslandes 73 Lovell 88
Headcount: 4

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 32/2,012

A strong second half performance culminating with three goals in the last 17 minutes gave St George’s (Broadstairs) the points at King’s Hill.

The first half had been hard fought with Hugh Christie taking the lead on 14 minutes but being pegged back on the stroke of half time.

Hugh Christie’s lead had been obtained when Harry Kempton cut in from the left wing to bury a shot into the far corner from the angle of the 18 yard box.

St George’s hit straight back with a shot straight at Joe Roberts and we’re indebted to Louis Mayer who produced an acrobatic clearance from the line to preserve the Angels Academy side’s lead.

Both goalkeeper’s were employed before on the stroke of the break, a move opened up the Hugh Christie defence which allowed Jordan Anderson to fire a shot past Roberts from 12 yards.

The second half was evenly matched until the home side appeared to run out of steam in the last 20 minutes.

A superb 25 yard effort from Hugh Christie’s Angus Fife crashes against the right hand post and Harry Bray’s shot clawed out of the top corner by the St George’s goalkeeper.

But that is not to say that the Broadstair’s side were without chances of their own with the Angels’ defence stretched on more than one occasion.

The home side’s resistance was finally broken on 73 minutes by a moment of pure class from Leon Deslandes who deftly curled a shot over the keeper and into the top corner.

St George’s totally dominated the final 10 minutes scoring on 80 minutes through Anderson and with two minutes remaining Brandon Lovell wrapped up proceedings.

It was a harsh lesson for the Hugh Christie boys that a game lasts 90 minutes and they need the fitness to be competitive for every one of them.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Tunbridge Wells 7 K Sports 0

Match 27/19/1750 - Tuesday, 24th September 2019 - SCEFL Premier

Tunbridge Wells (2) 7 Froggatt 1,75 Powell 11 Blewden 63 Blake 77,85 Fjord Rogers 85
K Sports (0) 0
Attendance: 157

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/1,980

Tunbridge Wells turned in another impressive performance building on the feel-good factor that surrounds Culverden at the present time.

I didn’t have much feel-good factor, arriving at the ground five or so minutes after kick-off due to traffic problems and road closures (when does this not happen in Tunbridge Wells? By my arrival, the Wells were already a goal to the good, after two minutes, scored by Josh Froggatt.

No sooner I had settled into place, Danny Powell converted at the near post to put the Wells firmly in control.

After 14 minutes, Jason Thompson hit a post as the Wells movement was cutting through K Sports threadbare defence At will.

That Tunbridge Wells went through the first half without adding to the score line is something of a mystery. K’s goalkeeper, Jack Howard, made a decent save to deny Froggatt but the mystery is largely explained as wastefulness.

K Sports did have a brief period just prior to the break including an effort that bounced off the top of the bar.

The early period of the second half saw Regan Corke narrowly miss for the visitors and Thompson put a header wide.

The introduction of Luke Blewden brought an immediate dividend as he turned in a right wing cross at the near post.

The goal broke K Sports paper-thin resistance and as the heads dropped the Wells ran riot in the final 15 minute.

A long ball forward found George Blake with the freedom of Culverden and he duly converted to make it 4-0.

A cracking effort from 25 yards from Froggatt into the top corner gave Howard no chance a minute later.

Blewden set up Blake to make it six and the evening’s entertainment was ended with a run and finish from Fjord Rogers.

Complimentary remarks heard as leaving Culverden used words such as entertainment, something that had been in short supply over the past couple of seasons.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Tonbridge Angels 1 Eastbourne Borough 2

Match 26/19/1749 - Saturday, 21st September 2019 - FA Cup 2QR

Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Theobalds 8 (pen)
Eastbourne Borough (0) 2 Wheeler 60 Romain 81
Attendance: 538

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,942

This was supposed to have been a weekend of celebration, the visit of Eastbourne Borough in the FA Cup marking my 3,000th game. The fact that Tonbridge Angels made their traditional first hurdle exit from the competition was later in pale into insignificance when, in a matter of hours on Sunday, two Angels supporters lost their battles with cancer.

Rosemary Stubberfield, who had accompanied her husband George and sons Kevin and Glen to matches over the course of 50-plus years, was a cheery lady known to everyone that regularly attended games on Longmead Stadium. At the opening game of the season against Dulwich Hamlet, she was able to enact one of her final wishes to lead the team onto the pitch aided by skipper Jack Parter.

Simon Balsdon is the son of Tim, whom I have had the pleasure of watching the Angels alongside for 20 years. Simon was the Joint Manager of the Reserve Team with Julian Leigh from 2005 and in November 2007 when Tony Dolby left his post as Manager at the club, the duo were put in charge of the First Team while the club sought a permanent replacement. When Tommy Warrilow was given the job after Simon and Julian had been in charge for a couple of games, Simon was returned to the Reserve side but was later made a First Team Coach under Warrilow alongside Alex O’Brien. Simon was also a well-respected coach at the Kent FA and in 2009 took the County to the FA County Youth Cup Final where they were beaten by Birmingham at Gillingham but, a year later, they went one better by winning the trophy beating Sheffield and Hallamshire 1-0, once again at Priestfield Stadium. This remains the only time that Kent have won the national competition. Simon teamed up again with Tony Dolby at Hastings United as Assistant Manager in 2010.

The outpouring of tributes on social media paid testament to the high esteem with which both people were held. Simon’s picture appeared on this blog, striding out alongside Tommy and Alex before a game. He said to me, having been an avid follower, joyfully that he had made it onto the blog. You’ve made it again Simon, I so wish the circumstances could have been different.

On Saturday, the emotions were one of anger as Tonbridge, given the boost of an early lead via a penalty, produced a woeful second half performance to go down 2-1 to Eastbourne Borough, losing the club £10,000 plus in prize money in the process. But that anger subsided into sadness within the next 24 hours.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Tonbridge Angels 2 Sittingbourne 1

Match 25/19/1748 - Wednesday, 18th September 2019 - FA Youth Cup 1QR

Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 Masungeyi 45 Copeland 90
Sittingbourne (1) 1 White 17
Attendance: 162

Admission: £3 Senior
Programme: With Entry
Mileage: 38/1,904

A last gasp winner from substitute Louis Copeland sent Tonbridge Angels through to a FA Youth Cup Second Qualifying Round tie at Dover on a date to be confirmed. The winner was joyously received by a passionate support that had created a great atmosphere throughout the evening.

Sittingbourne proved to be gutsy opponents and though they heavily conceded the majority of the possession in the second half they defended heroically and would have gone home bitterly disappointed to have lost the game so late.

In fact, in the opening 10 minutes it was the visitors who forced the Angels on to the back foot. A header employed Angels’ keeper Charlie Martin in the first minute and Tay White fired narrowly over after eight minutes as the home side took time to settle into the game.

Tonbridge appeared to have wrestled control of the game back in their favour when Sittingbourne went in front after 17 minutes. A huge throw into the box was mishandled by Martin, who was only able to help the ball into the net.

It was a wake-up call for the home side and they pressed forward to repair the damage done by their relatively slow start. Ned Lewis, who proved a constant threat to the Brickies, tested Reece Heaseman; Alex Thompson sent a header over and with their best chance a Ben Twist corner was headed over by Harry Hudson.

On the stroke of half-time the Angels finally found an equaliser that had been a long time coming. Sam Babayale lofted a free kick into the box and Saul Musengeyi was on hand to bundle home a header at the far post.

The second period was almost entirely dominated by the Angels but Sittingbourne were steadfast and the Angels wasteful.

Sittingbourne persistently gave away free kicks in dangerous areas around their box but a mixture of deliveries that were not quite right and finishes that missed by inches failed to punish the visitors misdemeanours.

Tonbridge went close to going in front when a through ball by Zak Wolvey sent Lewis clear but his shot past the advancing keeper struck the left hand post.

The chances continued to come and go whilst the opposition were restricted to a single second half effort from White that was comfortably saved by Martin.

As the clock ticked towards extra-time, Lewis produced a defence splitting pass for the pacy Copeland to draw the goalkeeper and clinically finish into the bottom corner for a desperately late, but so deserved winner.

Manager Tom Parkinson was naturally delighted with the result whilst being disappointed that given the chances created the game wasn’t settled earlier. But he was fulsome in his praise for the party atmosphere that was generated in support of his team.

Ravens Wood 2 Hugh Christie 1

Match 24/19/1748 - Wednesday, 18th September 2019 - Kent Academies League

Ravens Wood (1) 2 2,52
Hugh Christie (0) 1 Barden 57
Headcount: 5

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 78/1,866

Dominic Welsh, aided by Academy boss Tommy Parkinson, wrestled with a problem throughout Hugh Christie’s Kent Academies League game at Bromley’s Ravens Wood. Several times during the course of the game they changed formation in an effort to get one of their senior players, Jacob Lambert, on the ball thereby finding a cutting edge that was seriously lacking. But no matter what they tried, it was that failing that led to a defeat which, in terms of possession, should not have happened.

Hugh Christie fell behind within the opening two minutes when a cross from the left was helped on to a lanky forward who was able to tuck the ball home from close range.

The early setback stirred the Tonbridge side and three chances in the space of five minutes, all fired over, probably signalled the way this game was likely go. The best of these chances came after nine minutes when Riley Morris set up Lambert but the shot was narrowly over.

The first half was mainly one-way traffic but clear cut chances for the Angels’ side were hard come-by and the team entered the break with Ravens Wood continuing to lead with their early goal.

After three minutes of the second half, from a Dan Vitler corner, Lambert put a header against the bar but, after 52 minutes, it was the home side that doubled their lead when a pass opened up the Tonbridge defence for a shot to be buried.

With that deficit, another reshuffle in the Hugh Christie ranks saw Adam Barden thrown forward and this initiative brought a reward when following a free kick that was not cleared, Barden managed to stab the ball home.

The game then followed the same pathway as the first with Hugh Christie dominating possession but lacking any sort of potency in the final third that was going to salvage the goal. The Ravens Wood goalkeeper made a couple of decent saves and Barden managed to hit the bar but the equaliser just wasn’t going to come.

In fact, the last real act of the game was a Ravens Wood effort that hit the crossbar.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Tonbridge Angels 0 Hemel Hempstead Town 2

Match 23/19/1747 - Saturday, 14th September 2019 - National League South

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
Hemel Hempstead Town (0) 2 Nash 48,51
Attendance: 576

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,788

The witching hour unfortunately was not removed, just positioned 10 minutes further on.

Tonbridge enjoyed the best of the first half against their high-flying visitors, Hemel Hempstead Town, but came across a goalkeeper in Danny Boness at the top of his game and when they conceded two early second half goals they were left chasing the game.

Hemel Hempstead arrived with no less than four ex-Gillingham players in their side and it was one of these, Liam Nash, that executed the coup-de-grace that delivered the points back to Hertfordshire.

Tonbridge got their first warning that they had picked a bad day to come up against Boness when, after 11 minutes, he made a fine save to deny Joe Turner.

After 16 minutes, Tonbridge survived a scare when ex-Gill Connor Essam planted a header against the crossbar following a corner.

A minute later, Boness turned away an effort from Ade Yusuff as the Angels started to to dominate the game and rack up the chances. Khale Da Costa fired narrowly wide a free kick; Yusuff fired at the keeper and Boness produced a top class save, clawing the ball out of the top corner to foil the unlucky striker, all in the space of little more than five minutes.

But those infuriating lapses of concentration (or whatever it is) struck soon after half-time when a corner was helped on to the far post where Nash was waiting to nod home.

Three minutes later, a free kick conceded 20 yards from goal was beautifully curled beyond Jonny Henly and into the top corner by Nash, a great strike from a player who never got a real chance at Gillingham.

Tonbridge were offered a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty after D’Sean Theobalds was brought down. Unfortunately, Turner’s recent record from the spot was not improved as his penalty sailed over the bar.

Tonbridge huffed and puffed their way to the final whistle but despite throwing on substitutes Chinedu McKenzie and Tom Derry to go three-up top, the chances dried up and the visitors comfortably saw out the game.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Chippenham Town 2 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 22/19/1746 - Saturday, 7th September 2019 - National League South

Chippenham Town (1) 2 Ossai 43 Zebrowski 70
Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Derry 87 (pen)
Attendance: 578
New Ground: 336

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 296/1,750

A single fine performance shouldn’t really raise expectations but following the Dartford victory and in light of a visit to one of the smaller clubs in National South, they probably were.

Sadly, it is away days and performances like these that will see Tonbridge relegated. Only one point has been garnered from the opening five away games and, if that is going to be continued, then enormous pressure will placed on the home form, probably needing to win 11 or 12 games, and frankly I don’t think that will happen.

There was mitigation, Joe Turner was returned home with a stomach upset that seemingly affected others in the squad but Chippenham were poor and Tonbridge have lost, so that speaks volumes.

The pitch at Hardenhuish Park has a slope, not quite Quarry Hill as I exaggerated, but pronounced nonetheless. Chippenham have been at this ground for close to 100 years and you can see how enclosures here and there have been added over the years giving it a “bitty” feel about the place. In the Southern Premier it was probably seen as reasonably decent but a this level it is somewhat lacking,

In Turner’s absence, Rhyle Ovenden came into the side in the only change.

Controversy surrounded Chippenham’s goalkeeper Will Puddy from the first five minutes when he was accused of throwing a punch into the stomach of Ade Yusuff that was missed by the officials. Video evidence has subsequently shown that in the aftermath of some wrestling, the punch was definitely planted.

Neither side had the craft to open up the other in the opening half-hour with D’Sean Theobalds bringing a save from Puddy and the home side’s Karnell Chambers and Luke Haines having shots blocked in a rare Chippenham foray.

After 38 minutes, Chippenham had the best chance thus far when Chambers rounded Angels’ keeper Jonny Henly but failing to get a shot away and, four minutes later, Luke Hopper shot into the side netting, so the warnings of Tonbridge’s witching hour were there and, sure enough, on the stroke of half-time, Chris Zebroski crossed from the left for Tariq Ossai to turn and convert from close range.

Five times in nine games goals have been conceded in the last five minutes of the first half, it has to be a mental thing.

Playing down the slope in the second half, Yusuff fired over the the first minute but it was Chippenham’s Chambers that went closest with an effort narrowly wide of the left hand post.

Steve Mckimm rang the changes early, replacing Yusuff (one of the player’s suffering from the bug) with Tom Derry and Ovenden with Chinedu McKenzie.

It was Tonbridge who had the momentum at that point with Small and Theobalds employing Puddy and, after 63 minutes, Derry’s shot hit the base of the post.

But, after 70 minutes, the home side doubled their lead when Zebrowski and Chamber combined before the former thundered a shot between Henly and his post.

Chambers had an effort cleared from the line and substitute Nat Jarvis dragged a shot wide as the home side looked to put the game beyond the Angels’ reach. But a helping hand, or should it be said forehead, was to be offered to the visitors.

A corner was safely gathered by Puddy under no real pressure from Sonny Miles, but as the red mist descended, the goalkeeper inexplicably planted a headbutt on the Angels’ central defender earning a red card and conceding a penalty. It was pure madness.

Derry converted past stand-in goalkeeper Luke Haines and with seven minutes including time added to play it was game on, but the home side managed the time well and, indeed, might have added to their scoreline when the impressive Chambers had the ball in the net once more, but this was ruled out for offside.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Phoenix Sports 0 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 21/19/1745 - Wednesday, 4th September 2019 - FA Youth Cup Preliminary Round

Phoenix Sports (0) 0
Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Snowden-Lewis 27
Attendance: 101

Admission: £3
Programme: £1
Mileage: 75/1,454

Eleven long minutes that took an eternity to pass was seen out by the Angels youngsters at Phoenix Sports as they progressed to the Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup where they will meet Sittingbourne at Longmead on a date yet to be decided.

Two very evenly matched teams went toe-to-toe and slugged it out with no quarter asked or given for over a 100 minutes. When the referee shouted to the benches that there would be nine minutes added everyone thought he was joking, he obviously wasn’t as he played a couple more on top of that!

Tonbridge had the first scare of the evening when Leo Deere sliced a clearance over his crossbar, followed two minutes later when Sam Babayale set up Saul Musengeyi to fire into the side netting.

Both teams were guilty of giving the ball away in the opening 20 minutes as they struggled to settle down in what was a big occasion in front of an attendance that might well have exceeded three figures.

The Angels took the lead on 27 minutes when Deere sent Luke Taylor into a shooting position; his shot turned into an assist as he found Ned Snowden-Lewis at the far post to touch it home.

Phoenix responded positively with a shot at goalkeeper Charlie Martin and a free kick that drifted safely wide.

The Angels had the ball in the net again a couple of minutes before the break but Snowden-Lewis’ effort was ruled out for offside.

Musengeyi had an effort saved but it was the home side that had the momentum in the early part of the second half with Martin brought into action twice, saving from Dan Westray and the livewire Ryan Solan.

After 72 minutes, the Angels breathed a huge sigh of relief when a shot from James Ryan was millimetres wide of the left hand post.

The near miss sparked an intense 10 minutes of corners and free kicks that were pumped into the Angels box but with skipper Harry Hudson marshalling his back line magnificently the spell came to nothing.

Indeed, with five minutes of normal time remaining, it was Hudson who planted a header from a free kick against the crossbar.

As the clock entered in the prolonged time added and with Phoenix throwing bodies forward, Tonbridge substitute Louis Copeland twice went close to sealing the game and in the final minute a 25 yard effort from Ben Twist brought a superb save out of Alex Warren.

A highly entertaining encounter that perhaps the referee enjoyed so much he wanted it to go on, and on!

Tom Parkinson said after the game that he was proud of his team that had stood up to the battle in a scrappy game.

Tonbridge Angels 3 Dartford 2

Match 20/19/1744 - Tuesday, 3rd September 2019 - National South

Tonbridge Angels (2) 3 Turner 28 (pen),45 Derry 85
Dartford (1) 2 Hill 43 Sherington 76
Attendance: 816

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,379

Dartford were truly terrible; worst Dartford team I’ve ever seen; a poor looking Dartford side. Words from social media, but in the words of the legendary Barry Davies “frankly, who cares”.

Dartford were poor and the departure of their joint management team of Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan probably emphasises the fact but, just to say that, diminishes the performance of Tonbridge Angels, who were truly superb.

For 45 minutes, Jared Small ran Alex Flisher absolutely ragged; Ade Yusuff terrorised a central defence with the turning circle of the QE2 whilst Tonbridge’s midfield ruled the roost like no other time this season. But with two minutes of the half remaining, the tale of the opening month of the season came back to haunt the Angels as an individual mistake allowed the visitors back into the game. But this game was different.

Tonbridge started as they were to go on, taking the game to their Kent neighbours. Three corners were forced in the opening eight minutes; after 13, Yusuff brought a save out of Dartford goalkeeper Mark Smith, who proceeded to make a brilliant low to his left save to deny a Yusuff header a minute later.

It took Dartford 20 minutes to mount a serious attack that came to nothing and, in 26 minutes, the Angels finally got the breakthrough they deserved when Yusuff was brought down in the box. Turner stepped up to drive his spot kick down the middle.

This did stir some life out of the visitors and Jonny Henly was pressed into action to turn away a Flisher shot for a corner.

As half-time approached, the witching minutes for this side, Dartford won a corner from which Jack Parter sliced a clearance and Josh Hill stabbed the ball home between Henly and his post.

The disappointment, this time, was not too last as Small was sent on his way leaving Flisher for dead before delivering a cross that only required a touch home from the arriving Turner. As the scorer commented afterwards, the difficult part of the goal was keeping up with the fleet footed winger.

Dartford emerged from the dressing room with virtually half of the break remaining, one would guess with more than a flea in their ear. But Tonbridge maintained their first half momentum with Khale D’Costa putting his shot wide after being set up by D’Sean Theobalds.

Dartford responded in a small measure with efforts from Norman Wabo saved and high before Thebalds forced Smith into another fine save.

But with 15 minutes to play, and completely against the run of play, Dartford equalised. A free kick was lofted to the far post in the direction of Ronnie Vint who failed to make a connection but the ball fell to Charlie Sherington who nodded home from close range.

It appeared that another frustrating game was on the cards for the Angels and for a five minute spell it seemed like it might get even worse as the Darts pressed on for a winner.

But Tonbridge regained their composure and Yusuff produced a tired shot at Smith, his last act of the game being substituted by Tom Derry.

Four minutes from time, inspired substitution springs to mind as a weaving run from Theobalds ended with a pass across the face of goal and there was Derry, sliding in to steer the ball home at the far post.

A final assault might have been expected from Dartford to salvage something but it never came and Turner went the closest bringing a flying save from Smith.

The magnificent support acclaimed the final whistle with a noise reminiscent of the play-off game of last season to celebrate a match that will live long in the memory.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Tonbridge Angels 1 Weymouth 1

Match 19/19/1743 - Saturday, 31st August 2019 - National South

Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Yusuff 84 (pen)
Weymouth (0) 1 Williams 49
Attendance: 629

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,341

The Angels faithful may have had to wait 21 years to see the side from Dorset take on their heroes but a much better performance ensued compared with that game in April 1998 when a 2-4 home defeat was suffered. It may only have been a modest 1-1 draw today but the performance at times gritty, at other times skilful will have given hope for the future in what is turning out to be a highly competitive National South season.

Angels manager Steve McKimm chose to move Joe Turner into a central midfield role starting both his other side players Jared Small and Khale Da Costa. The latter returned the compliment to his manager by having probably his best game so far this season although to be fair he has been carrying a niggling injury. Another player who perhaps has come of age in an Angels shirt was Rian Bray who had a very steady game at the back partnered by his mentor, Sonny Miles.

It was a very even first half and with both sides coming off the back of successive defeats and perhaps a safety first approach was the order of the day for both managers.

There was plenty of decent possession play in midfield areas and some speculative shots but arguably only two moments when either side was opened up. In the 18th minute Yemi Odubade for Weymouth escaped his marker and was able to cut in from the right with a clear sight of goal. Angels stopper Jon Henly however was equal to the task pushing away the effort.

The 44th minute saw Angels playmaker D’Sean Theobalds run from deep in his own half and then slipping the ball wide to Joe Turner whose curler was just clear of the angle of post and bar.

The second period was just three minutes old when Weymouth’s Odubade crossed from the right with a perfect cross for Brett Williams to put the Terras in front.

There followed an immediate response from Tonbridge with efforts from Rian Bray and Joe Turner before Angels were awarded a hotly disputed penalty in the 59th minute. The referee had taken a while to deal with the Weymouth complaints and there was a significant delay to the taking of the penalty. There was also a debate around who should take the penalty with both Turner and Ade Yusuff seeking to claim the ball. The bench ruled that Turner as the regular penalty taker should continue as normal. Turner’s kick was brilliantly saved by Callum Ward but the arguments continued in front of the dugouts with order eventually restored following a couple of bookings.

Angels were awarded a second penalty in the 85th minute when D’Sean Theobalds shot was handled but this time it was to be Ade Yusuff to have the chance. His effort hit the back of the net but the referee ruled there had been some encroachment and he had to take the spot kick again. Once again his effort hit the back of the net and Angels were deservedly Level. There were chances for both sides to grab the winner but Tonbridge looked the more dangerous.

Afterwards, McKimm said: “I’m very pleased with the performance, we passed the ball much better today, and cut out the errors. Perhaps I’m a little disappointed we didnt take all the points but all the players did really well and once again have shown we can compete at this level.

Tonbridge Angels 1 Havant & Waterlooville 3

Match 18/19/1742 - Saturday, 24th August 2019 - National South

Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Hession-Harris 4
Havant & Waterlooville (3) 3 Ayunga 8 Bailey 18 Drury 45
Attendance: 640

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/1,303

This fixture was always going to be a severe test of the Angels credentials with Havant & Waterlooville one of the favourites for promotion. Add in the fact that their newly installed manager, Paul Doswell comes with a fine reputation following what he achieved at his previous club Sutton Utd where he gave Steve McKimm his first coaching position and you have the ingredients for an enticing encounter.

Angels got off to the best possible start with a goal after just four minutes when Tommie Hession-Harris took advantage of a slip in the Havant defence scoring from close range. Ironically perhaps the goal came too early for the home side as it seemed to galvanise the visitors and they started to go through the gears and 14 minutes later they were in front.

On 8 minutes the potent Havant attack cut through the Tonbridge defence with Jonah Aylinga getting the decisive touch and then on 18 minutes a wonderful free kick from Nicky Bailey that no goalkeeper was ever going to save left Tonbridge reeling. To their credit the Angels steadied the ship and created chances for themselves with Tom Derry unlucky a couple of times and Alex Bentley hitting the base of the post with a 30yd drive in the 23rd minute.

Just when it looked as if the home side would get to half time just the one goal in arrears, Havant stepped up and following a passage of play during which the home side couldn’t clear their lines, Andy Drury on 45 minutes applied the finishing touch to a strike which was to give the Angels a mountain to climb.

The home side enjoyed more possession than their opponents in the second half and it seemed that Havant were largely content to sit on their lead and just play on the break. Man of the Match for Tonbridge, D’Sean Theobalds on 71 minutes went on a run through the Havant defence and forced a fine save out of Ville keeper Ross Worner while two minutes later at the other end Havant’s Man of the Match Andy Drury brought Roberts into action diverting an effort round the post.

On 82 minutes a Sonny Miles header drifted just wide of the right hand post and on 87 minutes Joe Turner’s fine shot looked goalbound but somehow clipped the inside of a post and ricocheted along the goal line and to eventual safety. It was that kind of afternoon for Tonbridge.

Afterwards Steve McKimm Angels Boss said: “I’m very proud of the effort my players put in today against a very good Havant side. We’ve created chances and our heads have never gone down. We just need to convert some of those chances.”

Welling Town 1 Tunbridge Wells 2

Match 17/19/1741 - Wednesday, 21st August 2019 - SCEFL Premier

Welling Town (0) 1 O'Neill 69
Tunbridge Wells (0) 2 Sahdadow 57 Froggatt 67
Attendance: 81

Admission: £4
Programme: £2
Mileage: 80/1,265

There is a strange smell following Tunbridge Wells at present. It has been a while so it’s difficult to identify but it is a whiff of optimism.

New management, a major shakeup of the playing staff has brought immediate, albeit early season, dividends.

This hard-fought win over newly-promoted Welling Town at Bayliss Avenue was a third in the spin elevating them to the top of the table.

Richard Styles has built a team with a solid spine, the two central defenders, captain Freeman Rogers and Chris Lawal were outstanding with old favourite Jake Beecroft bossing the midfield and Jason Thompson continues to be a handful up top.

Between the sticks, young goalkeeper, Tommy Taylor, who it was reported had a stunning game in the weekend win over Fisher, was left with a far more comfortable evening.

The hosts, who came into the game following a fine win at Bearsted, had the early momentum with Adam O’Neill and Nwitua firing over but once the got into their stride the Wells held the upper hand with Jordan Wells seeing a header deflected away for a corner and good work from James Nurden, Danny Powell steered a header wide.

After Welling had a bit of a purple period, Powell was narrowly wide after being set up by Wells.

The opening minutes of the second half saw Jason Thompson head wide and Welling’s Oliver Milton test Taylor before, after 57 minutes, Euan Sahadow’s cross-cum-shot deceived Jack Moore to find the far corner. Shot or cross, only the scorer will know.

Tunbridge Wells took full control of the game with the encouragement of the goal and Sahadow, and Chris Lawal might have added to the score before Josh Froggatt came off the bench to score into the bottom corner with his first touch of the ball after 67 minutes.

Thoughts that the game had been put to bed were quickly dispelled when O’Neill was sent clear to fire past the advancing Taylor.

Both sides had a couple of chances to add to the scoring but the Wells held out to make it three in a row. There’s a long way to go but it’s a great start towards turning that whiff of optimism into the sweet smell of success.