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Tonbridge Angels 1
Robson (47')
2 Hastings United (1948)
Hammond (57', 70')

Injuries put the brake on Town

With their flag flying bravely in Saturday’s breeze, Tonbridge trotted out to their first Southern League game on the Angel, and received a big ovation from 5,000 fans who had been crowding the turnstiles for an hour before the kick-off.

Duffield, the Tonbridge captain, won the toss and gave his team the advantage of the wind blowing from the Vale Road end.

Hastings were soon on the defensive, Robson thrilling the crowd with a good dribble. He sent in a long, high shot from a Fleming pass, which Workman, the Hastings goalie, did well to tip over the bar for a fruitless corner.

The first Hastings break-away was held up when Fleming cleverly outwitted Skinner, who was soon in the picture again when he just failed to get hold of a forward pass from Liddell which brought Lucas into action.

Lucas brought off two good saves in quick succession, one from Liddell, and one from Milton.

After giving away a corner, Stephens, who throughout the game had been kicking strongly, cleared splendidly past the half-way line.

In a spell of Tonbridge pressure, Robson gave a beautiful pass to Dickie who had the ball under control but cleared the bar from 15 yards out.

There was no score at the end of a surprisingly quiet first half in which Hastings had been slightly quicker on the ball. The Tonbridge forward line was effective, but hampered by injury to Anderson, who changed places with Dickie.

Two minutes after the resumption, Tonbridge took the lead. Following a sweep down the left, the fast-moving Griffiths found a hole in the Hastings defence with a hard centre. Robson fastened onto the ball and gave the Hastings goalie no chance with a cannon shot.

Stephens, from the half-way line, tried a shot which only just went over the bar, but Hastings were stunned by the reverse and Hammond tested Lucas. Rogers had a go, then 55 minutes after the start, Tonbridge lost their lead when Hammond turned Rogers’ pass into the net.

At the other end, Dickie had Workman in trouble, the goalie dived and missed, and the general melee which followed ended in a foul and a free kick which cleared a nasty situation for Hastings.

Shortly afterwards came the movement that gave Hastings the lead. Rogers gave a through pass to Hammond who, well positioned on the left, sent in a high shot. Lucas, apparently unsighted, saw the ball drop gently into the net.

Two accidents hampered Tonbridge as they struggled to regain their initiative.

Richley headed the ball, then collapsed, but was able to resume after going off for about ten minutes. At the same time Lucas was receiving attention for injuries received when robbing a Hastings forward.

The visitors seized every new advantage and the Town were hard pressed until the final whistle.

Until Lucas and Richley were injured, Tonbridge’s ten men (Anderson was only able to hobble) had been a match for Hastings. Finally, however, weight of numbers told and the home team had a hard time keeping the Hastings forwards out.

Tonbridge’s half-backs were effective, Fleming proving a sound worker. Richley had a good game and Shanks was a lively centre half.

Lucas only made one mistake, but it led to the winning goal.

Hammond was outstanding in the Hastings side.

From the Tonbridge Free Press, Friday 27th August, 1948.

Hastings Utd team: Workman; Risden, Walker; Brine, Matheson, Rogers; Milton, Skinner (capt), Riddell, Hammond, Liddell.

Published Sunday 31st May 2020 (last updated Tuesday 2nd June 2020)