Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Crystal Palace Community 3 Tonbridge Angels 5

Match 41/19/1763 - Wednesday, 30th October 2019 - National Academies' Alliance

Crystal Palace Community (1) 3 Medley 35,76,90
Tonbridge Angels (2) 5 Lewis 8,23 Copeland 48 Hudson 56 Musengeyi 83
Headcount: 13
Played at Catford Wanderers
New Ground: 338

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 84/2,910

Tonbridge Angels Academy maintained their 100% record with a 5-3 victory against Crystal Palace Community but manager Tommy Parkinson was less than impressed with his side’s last 15 minutes when the foot came off the pedal whilst 4-1 up.

Parkinson explained after the game that his side had, too often this season, played in patches and they need to learn to be consistent both as a team and individually over the full 90 minutes.

Despite this, for 75 minutes, the Angels’ youngsters dominated the game and were, ultimately, well deserving of their fourth straight win in the National Academies’ Alliance.

Tonbridge went in front after eight minutes when a ball pumped into the box brought a misjudgment from the Palace goalkeeper who called for a ball that he had no chance of collecting. Ned Lewis was first to the ball and his header was looped over the advancing Mason Whitnall and into the unguarded net.

On a narrow pitch at Catford Wanderers, Sam Babayale’s long throws into the box were causing chaos in the Palace defence with one throw managing to find its way through to striking the far post.

Harry Hudson headed wide from a Babayale throw before, after 23 minutes, an exquisitely curled shot into the top corner from Lewis doubled the Angels advantage.

With Crystal Palace barely threatening, Tonbridge had further opportunities to extend their lead. Lewis headed over from the umpteenth Babayale throw and Louis Copeland shot into the side netting before the home side surprisingly pulled a goal back after 35 minutes when their burly striker, Nathan Medley, scored with a shot into the top corner from 20 yards.

Tonbridge’s dominance was restored at the start of the second half when Saul Musengeyi’s shot-cum-pass found Copeland at the far post to net from a tight angle.

The Angels put the game virtually out of reach of their hosts after 56 minutes when a free kick lofted into the box by the excellent Ben Twist was met with a header from Hudson to make it 4-1.

Lewis narrowly shot wide and Hudson headed a Babayale free kick wide before, after 76 minutes, Medley once more showed the quality of his left foot with a shot from which Angels’ goalkeeper, Charlie Martin, might well have done better.

Any real concerns were dispelled with seven minutes remaining when Musengeyi was sent clear to finish into the bottom corner but it was the Palace striker Medley who had the last say when he completed his hat-trick with a free kick into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Whilst he bemoaned his side’s final quarter-hour, Parkinson praised his side’s earlier performance when they “had some spells with good quality, scoring some nice goals”. The Angels maintain their position at the head of the table alongside Welling United who also have four wins out of four.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Wealdstone 3 Tonbridge Angels 1

Match 40/19/1762 - Saturday, 26th October 2019 - National League South

Wealdstone (2) 3 Tiehi (o.g.) 15 Clifford 50 Noel-Williams 90+1
Tonbridge Angels (0) 1 Theobalds (pen) 59
Attendance: 866
New Ground: 337

Admission: Pass
Programme: £3
Mileage: 170/2,826

Two miracles in one day was a lot to ask and ultimately was not to be, but following England’s heroic victory in the Rugby Union World Cup, Tonbridge Angels gave their best to produce a miracle of their own at League leaders, Wealdstone.

This was a first visit to Grosvenor Vale, a decent enough ground even if it is a little bits and pieces in its construction. There is a reasonably sized seating area behind the far goal that strangely goes from a corner to the far post and then stops for a separate piece of covered terracing. Another area of seating straddles he halfway line whilst opposite there is a third seated area but much smaller. Behind the other goal is a covered terrace that once more goes from a corner to the far post and stops for an area of flat uncovered standing.

The welcome was friendly, which was almost unexpected following the reports from fellow National South clubs and, although it is easy to do when you are top of table and have ultimately won the game, the home support gave the Tonbridge side generous applause as they left the field at the end of the game.

Tonbridge were left with effectively only two named on the bench following a suspension to Khale Da Costa and unavailability. Jared Small returned to the starting 11 for Da Costa and there was a first start for Christ Tiehi.

The visitors struggled to contain Wealdstone down the flanks in the opening half but strangely accumulating a lot of corners of their own, four in the opening five minutes that came to nothing.

Jonny Henly was the first goalkeeper called into action saving from Jacob Mendy Mendy (so good they named him twice) after 10 minutes and making a better stop, low to his left to deny the very impressive Dennon Lewis four minutes later.

But the problems that Wealdstone were causing in the wide area bore fruit for the home side a minute later when a cross from Michee Efete was turned into his own net from Tiehe.

After 27 minutes, Wealdstone’s central defender Connor Stevens spurned a good chance after a corner had been headed into his path by Jerome Okimo.

But in the final five minutes of the half the Angels came back into the game and forced another four corners before Jack Rudoni forced the Stones’ goalkeeper, Aston Oxborough into a fine save with the rebound being sent wide by Joe Turner.

Five minutes into the second period, a soft-looking penalty, albeit viewed from the length of the field, was awarded to the home side after Rudoni was adjudged to have brought down Lewis. Billy Clifford’s initial spot kick was well saved by Henly but the taker followed up to into the roof of the net.

But Tonbridge fought back and reduced the deficit 10 minutes later when D’Sean Theobalds scored from the spot after Tom Derry had been brought down by Okimo.

Tonbridge pressed hard for an equaliser, that could be argued they deserved, and after 66 minutes Turner headed at the goalkeeper and a shot from Rudoni was deflected wide. But the chance for some reward came with nine minutes remaining when a cross from Small found the diving head of Derry whose contact was almost too good directing the ball into the grateful hands of Oxborough when a misplaced header would probably have found the net.

With the visitors throwing bodies forward in search of a goal, it was almost inevitable that they would get caught on the break and in the first minute of added time, a breakaway led to substitute Dejon Noel-Williams firing into the bottom corner to seal the points.

So miracles only come in one’s but at least the country was rejoicing the morning’s event.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Tunbridge Wells 3 AFC Croydon 1

Match 39/19/1761 - Tuesday, 22nd October 2019 - SCEFL Premier

Tunbridge Wells (3) 3 Sahadow 14 Thompson 20 Fjord Rogers 24
AFC Croydon (1) 1 Ogun 36
Attendance: 155

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/2,656

A blistering first 25 minutes culminating with a goal that could grace any level of the game gave Tunbridge Wells a three goal lead that, although AFC Croydon improved, was comfortably enough to secure the three points.

The Culverden pitch had taken a hammering from the wet weather over the last few days but although it was visibly soft it was perfectly playable.

Tunbridge Wells started on the front foot and in those opening 25 minutes AFC Croydon barely left their half. Euan Sahadow put two efforts over the bar before supplying a cross that was headed over by Jordan Wells in the 10th minute.

AFC’s goalkeeper, ex-Wells favourite Nic Taylor, made a good save to deny Fjord Rogers but, after 14 minutes to breakthrough finally came when a shot from Josh Froggatt could only be parried by Taylor into the path of Sahadow who made no mistake from close range.

The visitor’s defence were being overrun and, from a Jake Beecroft corner, Jason Thompson had the freedom of the six yard box to bury a header for 2-0.

But the best was yet to come, a sharp three man passing move between Thompson, Wells and a lofted cross from Sahadow ended with a stunning volley from Fjord Rogers that Taylor could only watch on helplessly.

The Wells might have four or five up with some desperate defending seeing a corner to safety and Sahadow testing Taylor before, with their first real attack on goal, a cross from Kazzeem Richards was converted by Dominic Ogun into the bottom corner.

The second half was more even-handed but the Wells never really looked like giving up their advantage. Taylor saved at his near post to deny Froggatt and Thompson should have done better with a header that cleared the bar in the opening 10 minutes.

Simon Overland made his first save of the match after 67 minutes following a header by Nahum Green and it took a fine saving tackle from Chris Lawal with three minutes remaining to deny AFC a grandstand finish.

The pitch had probably sapped the energy out of the legs of both teams in the latter part of the game but Tunbridge Wells had managed to get their work done in that electric first quarter.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Tonbridge Angels 1 Chelmsford City 2

Match 38/19/1760 - Saturday, 20th October 2019 - National South

Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Da Costa 16
Chelmsford City (0) 2 Whelpdale 90+2 Jeffers 90+4
Attendance: 590

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/2,618

Football is such a cruel game. Arguments can be made that Tonbridge were the architects of their own downfall with defensive mistakes that led to two goals being scored in time-added, but the manner in which Tonbridge were left pointless was cruel in the extreme.

At the beginning of this month, a single point from the three games looked unlikely but the confidence building demolition of Braintree, and Chelmsford’s own indifferent form, had left room for a modicum of optimism. Despite this, the visitors still had the look of an expensively assembled squad with Sam Higgins, the spearhead of our play-off defeat at East Thurrock in 2016, ex-Gillingham favourites in Chris Whelpdale and Billy Knott and, in the centre of defence, the formidable Dave Winfield.

After a quiet opening in which a double save from Henly was the only item of note, Tonbridge went ahead after 16 minutes when a crossfield pass from Jack Rudoni was collected by Khale Da Costa who cut in from the right to fire a shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner for his first goal for the club.

Chelmsford responded immediately and Henly was needed to touch over an effort from Jonny Giles.

The visitors enjoyed the best of the possession throughout the rest of the first half, but for that Henly was only tested in the time-added when he saved from a Knott free kick.

The second half continued in much the same vein with Chelmsford enjoying the majority of the possession and Tonbridge relying on the breaks but neither goalkeeper having much too do until the 70th minute when a Da Costa free kick into the area ending with the ball hitting the bar and, three minutes later, the Chelmsford goalkeeper, Carl Pentney turned away an effort from Tommie Hession-Harris for a corner.

As the game entered its final throes of regular time, there was nothing to lose for the visitors and Henly saved as the game entered its added time of six minutes.

A long punt forward from Pentney saw a misplaced header from Sonny Miles find Shaun Jeffers whose cross from the right gave Whelpdale an easy opportunity to convert and retrieve a point, or so it seemed for the Essex side.

But, in a final cruel twist, another long punt into the Tonbridge box this time from the goalkeeper that was initially headed on and another misjudged header from Miles allowed Jeffers to win a challenge from James Folkes and place a shot under the advancing Henly for the winner.

It was a savage blow but of a type that has become a irritating habit this season with Chelmsford’s goals being the eighth and ninth that have been conceded in the last five minutes of either half, in turn costing five points which could have steered them into the relatively calm waters of lower mid-table.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Tonbridge Angels 2 Dulwich Hamlet 1

Match 37/19/1759 - Wednesday, 16th October 2019 - National Academies Alliance

Tonbridge Angels (0) 2 Copeland 85,87
Dulwich Hamlet (0) 1
Attendance: 17

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 32/2,580

Two goals from substitute Louie Copeland in the last five minutes gave the Academy a hugely exciting comeback win against a Dulwich Hamlet side that would have returned home feeling a little robbed.

Dulwich showed from the outset that they would prove to be a stern test for the Angels who had entered the game with a 100% record.

In a first half of very few chances, Dulwich just about shaded it with goalkeeper, Charlie Martin saving from Leon Thomas on a couple of occasions whilst Saul Musengeyi stretched the Dulwich keeper, Luke Godwin on just the one occasion.

As the grey skies turned to heavy rain, the game found an extra zip in the second half. Dulwich had two great opportunities to open the scoring in the opening five minutes with a substitute heading over and after a defensive mistake, Martin came to the rescue to deny Darragh Okie-Tutu.

Further chances were to fall Dulwich’s way and it was no surprise when they took the lead on 64 minutes through Yaya Aly, who picked his spot in the bottom corner having found plenty of time and space on the right sided angle of the box.

It did, however, spark a response from the Angels and when Exause Bizima sent Copeland clear the substitute’s shot came back off the crossbar.

With 10 minutes remaining a free kick from Ben Twist was turned away for a corner, from which Harry Hudson’s header was brilliantly touched over the bar by Godwin.

Five minutes remained when a ball was won on the right side and the ricochet sent Copeland clear to cut in and from just inside the box he directed a shot into the far corner giving the goalkeeper no chance.

Copeland’s pace was destroying the Hamlet back line and he was involved as a cross begged a touch but eluded everyone.

But, with two minutes remaining, Copeland produced a magical moment when he curled a shot into the top corner from around 25 yards before being engulfed by joyous team mates.

Tom Parkinson admitted after the game that Dulwich were much the better side for long periods in the game. “We were not at our best today, but have shown great character and resilience to come from behind to win the game.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Tunbridge Wells 1 Southall 3

Match 36/19/1758 - Tuesday, 15th October 2019 - FA Vase First Round Replay

Tunbridge Wells (0) 1 Froggatt 78
Southall (2) 3 Dean 30 McLeish 45 Dosho 80
Attendance: 130

Admission: £4
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/2,548

It’s a good job I’m not a betting man. Despite the disappointment the of the last kick equaliser at Southall on Sunday, I was convinced that Tunbridge Wells would prevail in the replay with relative ease. Just shows what I know!

About the only foot put wrong all night by the Combined Counties side was to misjudge the M25, causing a delayed kick-off of a quarter hour but from the first whistle they bossed the game and were good value to earn not only the prize money of £825 but an eminently winnable game at home to Seaford in the next round.

Just like Sunday’s encounter the game took a while to get going with a shot from Southall’s Darreon Hark to only one to employ a goalkeeper.

So, out of context with the pattern of the game, the visitors went in front after half-an-hour when a Southall corner was only cleared to the edge of the box from where Peter Dean drove a unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Tunbridge Wells failed to bring their wingers Josh Froggatt and Euan Sahadow into the game and chances were few and far between as a consequence.

On the stroke of half-time, an excellent three man move opened up the Wells back line and Aaron McLeish finished well past the advancing Nicholls to make it 2-0.

Andre Da Costa should have put the game beyond the Wells in first half time added when he shot wide of the post after being sent clear.

One was left to think, expect even, that the Wells could only improve in the second half, wrong! If anything it got worse.

After 68 minutes, Southall’s goalkeeper made probably is only mistake of the night when he spilt a shot but Jason Thompson shot wide of the gaping goal.

Similarly, at the other end after 76 minutes, a weak punch from Nicholls landed at the feet of Jack Mills but he also wasted the opportunity.

Tunbridge Wells were given a lifeline when Froggatt seized on a weak back pass to fire home with 12 minutes remaining.

But four minutes later another defensive mistake allowed Emanuel Dosho a run on goal which he finished with a shot that went in off the far post.

Ultimately, Tunbridge Wells will curse those added minutes at Ashford but can have no complaints on this particular night.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Southall 4 Tunbridge Wells 4

Match 35/19/1757 - Sunday, 13th October 2019 - FA Vase First Round

Southall (1) 4 Mills 34 Austin 52 Mark 75 Pitt 90+7
Tunbridge Wells (3) 4 Thompson 17,43,90 Lawal 27
Attendance: 95
After extra time
Played at Ashford Town (Middlesex)

Admission: £4
Programme: £1
Mileage: 142/2,510

My recently acquired magnetism for a last minute, last kick even, goal means that Southall and Tunbridge Wells need to try again at Culverden on Tuesday night. Whilst the home side will consider it a triumph to still be in the competition, Tunbridge Wells will be kicking themselves that having led 3-1 they have allowed the tie to go to a second game.

Southall ground share at Ashford Town (Middlesex) hence the Sunday afternoon fixture and the game being played to the constant rumble of a plane taking off from Heathrow and climbing into the sky every 45 seconds. For any football fan that doubles as a plane spotter it has to be a heavenly venue.

The game took an age to get going and the plane spotting was actually a welcome distraction until, after 18 minutes, a fine right wing run and cross from Josh Froggatt saw the Southall goalkeeper only push the ball into the path of Jason Thompson who crashed the ball into the roof of the net.

With the goal the game sprang to life and another cross from Froggatt to Thompson saw the striker hit into the side netting whilst the Wells goalkeeper Ryan Nicholls had to save well from Jack Mills.

After 29 minutes a well worked short free kick routine saw Jake Beecroft slide a through ball to Christian Lawal to shoot between the goalkeeper and his near post.

After 32 minutes Southall’s Ben Long picked up a booking that was to prove costly later in the game.

But, four minutes later, a fine shot from just outside the box by Mills gave Nicholls no chance and offered the home side a route back into the game which Southall grasped with Mills firing just over a couple of minutes later.

The Wells though restored their two goal advantage just before the break when a free kick from Euan Sahadow was turned into his own net by a defender under pressure from Thompson, who I admit thought had scored.

Southall, with nothing much to lose in the second period, placed their visitors under pressure from the outset and the Wells were the architects of their own downfall in this period as they continually gave the ball away.

Seven minutes into the half, Nicholls had to make a desperate save at his near post but, a minute later, a corner from Mills was met with a powerful header from close range by the home captain, Gavin Austin.

Southall continued to press, Mills saw a shot saved by Nicholls feet and substitute David Pitt tried an audacious lob from about 40 yards. In between Tunbridge Wells had a free kick awarded for a back pass 10 yards from goal that ended with a Thompson shot rattling the underside of the bar.

On 77 minutes Southall got parity that their second half endeavours had deserved when full back Jack Roper had time and space to pick a shot into the far corner.

After 81 minutes, Long’s second yellow was converted into a red card and with a man advantage Tunbridge Wells pressed on for a winner that appeared to have come when Beecroft passed for Thompson to fire home in the 90th minute.

Tunbridge Wells attempted to manage the game out with the ball held in the corner for long periods but it appeared that the referee was going to add every second that ball remained there, whether it was in play or otherwise. Three minutes became seven when a final free kick taken by the goalkeeper found substitute Pitt, who waltzed a couple of tackles before sending the game into extra time with the last kick of regular time.

Neither side could find a winner despite close calls for both teams, so on to Tuesday night.

Admission: £4
Programme: £1
Mileage: 142/2,510

Tonbridge Angels 5 Braintree Town 1

Match 34/19/1757 - Saturday, 12th October 2019 - National South

Tonbridge Angels (3) 5 Derry 21 Theobalds 26 (pen) Hession-Harris 28,62 Bray 80
Braintree Town (0) 1 Mills 74
Attendance: 612

Admission: Pass
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 38/2,368

Among those that had been sheltering from the rain in the main stand walking back towards the exit gates, my eyes met with those of Lisa McKimm, the Tonbridge manager’s wife. She said: “Where did that come from?”, it was to be an expression that I wasn’t too hear for the last time in the next hour. Some charitable souls said: “It’s been coming”, a win has been coming, but five goals? No, that scenario might have been on a wish list but not with any expectation.

Why should it? Braintree arrived sitting fifth in the National South table having gone unbeaten in six games, winning five in the process. Notable scalps in that run included Havant & Waterlooville on their own patch and Dulwich Hamlet. The one glimmer of optimism pre-match was their goals against column showed plenty.

A said it was a filthy afternoon, one that had obviously deterred a lot of people from taking advantage of the Non-League Day offer of virtually half-price before 2pm.

Since the defeat at Hampton, Tom Brewer, Rhyle Ovenden and Alex Read have departed which allowed for the return after sickness to the starting 11 for Tommie Hession-Harris.

The opening salvoes were balanced with Jonny Henly saving from Braintree’s leading scorers Tom Richardson and Femi Akinwande whilst Hession-Harris brought Michael Johnson into action. Khale Da Costa saw yellow for a tackle that incensed the visitors and a couple of minutes later Adeyinka Cole also found his way into the book.

Tonbridge went ahead on 21 minutes when a surging run from deep from full back Jack Parter ended with his cross being turned in at the near post by Tom Derry. It was the start of a magical seven minutes that had both sets of supporters looking on almost in disbelief.

After 26 minutes, the excellent Jack Rudoni weaved his way into the box before a mistimed tackle had the referee pointing to the spot, from which D’Sean Theobalds sent Johnson the wrong way. Two minutes later it was three when Hession-Harris fastened on to some dithering defence work to shoot past the bewildered Johnson.

The aim was to get to the break with the lead intact and it took a touch over from Henly and header clear from Rudoni from successive corners to achieve this.

Braintree’s Cole was a relieved man when he received a last warning rather than a second yellow card after 50 minutes and Johnson also breathed heavily after spilling a shot from Rudoni but managing to smother Joe Turner’s attempt.

Just past the hour and Tonbridge went four up when Hession-Harris made the most of some woeful defending to convert substitute Chinedu McKenzie’s cross.

Greed had started to set in and thoughts turned to a clean sheet being the icing on the cake when a Byron Lawrence free kick was headed home by an unmarked Andy Mills.

But there was to be no bigger smile around Longmead when centre half and skipper Sonny Miles recycled a corner to produce a pinpoint cross for his defensive partner, Rhian Bray, to head home for Tonbridge’s fifth, the first time they had gone nap in a National South game since January 2012.

Johnson saved well to deny Rudoni a well deserved mention on the score sheet and Bray might have added to his first goal for the club but Johnson saved again as the home side finished the game with almost a swagger. Who’d have thought it!

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Tunbridge Wells 1 Beckenham 2

Match 33/19/1756 - Saturday, 5th October 2019 - SCEFL Premier

Tunbridge Wells (1) 1 Fjord Rogers
Beckenham (0) 2 Ramsamy 48 Hall 90 (pen)
Attendance: 304

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 38/2,330

A decent game of football and another last minute winner were somewhat overshadowed by distasteful scenes after the final whistle when Beckenham players vaulted the perimeter fence to confront Tunbridge Wells supporters whom they had accused of racially abusing a woman. I was only witness to the early moments of the incident but understand that it escalated to a point of police involvement. It is far from the first time that this sort of disturbance has involved Beckenham including their players doing the same thing after a Cup Final at Tonbridge two years ago.

It was a shame as a bumper SCEFL attendance of 304 had watched highly competitive game that, apart from the last minute winner from the penalty spot, saw 10 yellow cards including a sin bin.

Beckenham, sitting second in the table, started the game on the front foot and whilst the Wells goalkeeper Ryan Nicholls wasn’t unduly troubled there was almost half-an-hour in the clock before the home side registered a shot on goal with Jake Beecroft firing high over the bar.

Beckenham’s Steffan Cox, who wasn’t endearing himself to the Wells support found his way into the referee’s book after 37 minutes and was lucky to stay on the pitch when another tackle brought only a final warning from the official.

In the fourth minute of first half added time a free kick from Beecroft was met with a goal bound header from Freeman Rogers that was helped over the line by his brother Fjord to give Tunbridge Wells an unexpected lead at the break.

Cox was to silence his detractors three minutes into the second half when he wriggled clear of James Nurden to lay on a plate a tap in for Damien Ramsamy.

The second half was bitty, broken up with considerable fouls and yellow cards aplenty.

The Beckenham goalkeeper made a good save to deny substitute Josh Froggatt whilst the visitors were wasteful on several occasions.

With five minutes remaining the Wells were reduced to 10 men when Jack Hope limped out of the game with all substitutions made and after three minutes of time added they went down to nine when Fjord Rogers was sin binned.

A minute later a desperate challenge in the box took down a Beckenham attack with the referee immediately pointing to the spot. Ryan Hall duly converted to earn the three points and take the visitors to the top of the table.

What was to follow, I’m afraid, detracts completely from that achievement and does the non league game and football in general a disservice. We await the authorities judgement with interest and no little scepticism.

Tonbridge Angels 2 Romford 1

Match 32/19/1755 - Saturday, 5th October 2019 - Friendly

Tonbridge Angels (0) 2 McKenzie 78,88
Romford (1) 1 Nash 32
Attendance: Est. 100

Admission: Free
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/2,292

Match Report

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Dover Athletic 2 Tonbridge Angels 2

Match 31/19/1754 - Wednesday, 2nd October 2019 - FA Youth Cup 2QR

Dover Athletic (1) 2 Walker 26 Pont 90+5
Tonbridge Angels (1) 2 Hudson 22 Lewis 68 (pen)
After Extra Time, Dover win 4-2 on penalties
Attendance: Est. 200

Admission: Pass
Programme: £0.50
Mileage: 90/2,254

HEARTBREAKING. There is no other word to describe the emotion of our FA Youth Cup exit.

As the game entered what was supposed to be three added minutes, the Angels deservedly led 2-1 with a first half goal from Harry Hudson and a 67th penalty from Ned Lewis, but as the clock edged towards the fifth minute a cross from the right found Dover’s Harrison Pont who placed a controlled volley just inside the far post to take the game into extra time.

Both sides had opportunities to win the game in extra time but neither could find a winner and the tie was settled on penalties with Dover winning 4-2.

A full report will be here tomorrow when the emotion of the moment has passed!

Dover Athletic are a National League Academy club and the visit to Crabble in which the Tonbridge lads were the outsiders was seen as an occasion that might have daunted the youngsters but from the outset they took the game to their hosts.

Zak Wolvey fired over within the first couple of minutes and, after nine, Harry Hudson saw the Dover goalkeeper, Magnus Lewis, make a sprawling save at his near post gathering the ball on the line.

Charlie Martin, in the Tonbridge goal, was tested just the once in the opening 20 minutes before the visitors took the lead when a Ben Twist corner was headed home by Hudson despite the desperate attempt of a defender to save the ball at his post with his hands.

Unfortunately, for the Angels, the lead was to last just four minutes when a break down the left produced a superb cross which left Aaron Walker with a close range finish.

Dover had a period of control which included a well constructed move that was only denied by a wonderful clearance from Leo Deere.

The final effort of an entertaining first half fell to Ned Snowden-Lewis who put a header narrowly over the bar.

Dover came out of the dressing room, obviously with a few stinging words in their ears and looking to impose their credentials on the game and within a minute it needed a touch from Martin to turn a shot onto, and over, the crossbar.

But Tonbridge worked their way back into the game and, after 55 minutes, it was the home side that touched wood for luck as Saul Musengeyi’s lob over Lewis rebounded from the bar.

The game, highly entertaining, was end to end with both sides having opportunities before the Angels regained the lead from the penalty spot after 68 minutes when Snowden-Lewis converted after Aiden Murphy had been brought down.

From that moment, it looked like only one side was going to win the game as Tonbridge dominated the game with substitute Louis Copeland’s pace posing massive problems.

Musengeyi pulled a shot wide, Snowden-Lewis had a shot and a header deflected past posts and, with four minutes remaining, a fantastic run and shot from full back Sam Babayale was only denied by a brilliant save from the Dover stopper.

As the game entered into time added, Dover threw everything forward leaving the Angels defence stretched but bravely hanging on. With the support of their Academy compatriots in the stands willing them forward one last cross was sent to the far post and there was Harrison Pont to cushion a volley back across the goal to nestle just inside the post, sparking manic celebration in the stand.

There were tired limbs to drag through extra-time with Dover enjoying (certainly not the right word) the best of the first half but with the Angels finishing much the stronger as twice Copeland raced clear only to see his efforts smothered by the advancing keeper with the final minute attempt followed up by Snowden-Lewis who fired into the side netting.

Penalties were to follow, and as the student force decamped the stand to take position behind the goal, the pressure of the FA Youth Cup finally got to the Angels and an opening spot kick from Hudson was saved and a final kick from Musengeyi was dragged wide whilst Dover’s four attempts gave Martin no chance.

It was a brave effort for which we can bemoan the suspect time-keeping of the official whilst recognising that with a little more composure a couple of chances towards the end would have rendered the spot kicks unnecessary. Tom Parkinson said after the game that he was both gutted and proud but that it was a harsh lesson from which his students would come back stronger.

Chatham Town 2 Punjab United 1

Match 30/19/1753 - Tuesday, 1st October 2019 - SCEFL Premier

Chatham Town (2) 2 Geddes 4 Evans 32 (pen)
Punjab United (1) 1 Johnson-Cole 26
Attendance: 189

Admission: £5 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 32/2,164

My first trip of the season to Chatham’s Bauvill Stadium and also my first look at the transformation made whilst going to a 4G pitch and, you have to say it is pretty impressive.

The old turnstiles, a welcome nod to a bygone age, remain but once through, your eyes are immediately drawn to the bar area which has been completely revamped merging two rooms into one with large picture windows facing out to the pitch. Inside the bar is bright with screens dotted around so that lunchtime football can be watched while helping the club’s coffers with a few beers.

The old stand remains, but with rumours that it will be no more come next summer. The 4G surface has been pushed as far across from the main stand as possible leaving a very wide, newly laid tarmac walkaway. This has left the stand sitting rather a long way back but, as I was informed, the pitch has been lowered significantly so the sightlines haven’t been greatly diminished.

To finish the job, new perimeter fencing has been added.

On the pitch the Southern Counties East favourites will be under new management following the shock resignation of manager James Collins and on this form they will need to improve to justify their championship credentials as lowly Punjab United pushed them all the way and deserved something out of the game come the final whistle.

There was nothing to suggest that Chatham were going to be stretched in the early stages as they took a 4th minute lead when Pat Geddes headed home a corner. The visiting goalkeeper, Lee Kidman made good saves to deny Reece Butler, Geddes and Matt Bodkin. Paul Vines rounded the keeper, but a Punjab defender got back to retrieve the situation and Kidman saved well again to thwart Jack Evans.

So it was some surprise when Punjab levelled the score after 24 minutes when a free taken by William Johnson-Cole rebounded from the wall to the taker who drove a shot home into the bottom corner.

Chatham retook the lead with a 32nd minute penalty from Evans that Kidman couldn’t prevent despite getting both hands to the shot.

In the second half I saw my first-ever sin bin as Chatham’s Leon Smith sat out 10 minutes for a second yellow but returned in injury time to bolster the defence as Punjab mounted a grandstand finish that didn’t quite produce the goal that their performance deserved.

So the times they are a’changing at Maidstone Road but can the same progress on the field as they have off it?