Angels gain precious point at Worthing
It may have only been a point won but it could prove vital in the Angels quest for a playoff place even through they saw the possibility of three snatched away from them by a Worthing equaliser equaliser late on. In fact the visitors had to work very hard to prevent a home winner in the closing stages but they would have left the field the slightly happier as it kept their hosts a crucial three points distant.
This was always going to be an important fixture as with just three games remaining for clubs to stake their claims, the outcome of 3rd against 5th was likely to be pivotal. The importance of the afternoon was confirmed by the huge attendance of 1,322 which included Bostik League’s Chairman, Nick Robinson. Sometimes these affairs can flatter to deceive but it turned out to be a highly entertaining game in which both sides went for the win with separate periods of ascendancy.
The contrasting styles of the two teams made for a fascinating encounter. Worthing play a passing game from the back with its inherent risks but when the opportunity arises use the long diagonal ball out wide. The Angels on the other hand were content to use the long ball although were equally capable of passing through the Rebels midfield.
The first half was probably edged by Worthing with in particular Ollie Pearce on the left and David Ajiboye on the right giving James Folkes and Jack Parter a testing 45 minutes. If the Worthing delivery of crosses had been more accurate then the Angels could have been in real trouble but they also provided some moments of their own. On 19 minutes a free kick to the visitors saw Sonny Miles win the header but Chinedu McKenzie although well placed couldn’t take advantage. Ten minutes later Joe Turner supplied an accurate cross with McKenzie running in on goal but Worthing’s No 1 Lucas Covolan was able to smother the ball.
The 38th minute saw Tom Derry and Sonny Miles combine in front of Worthing’s goal but somehow the defence managed to smuggle the ball away. It’s probably fair to say that Tonbridge would have been the happier to hear the half time whistle.
The break seemingly gave the visitors a tonic. The second period saw McKenzie and Derry able to create more space for themselves and start to ask questions of the home defence. With the ever dangerous Turner and Adem Ramadan on the flanks the Angels started to look a potent force. Chances fell to Arthur Lee, Derry , Turner and perhaps the best opportunity so far in the 52nd minute when Ramadan’s cross caused confusion in the Rebels defence and for a moment with the ball loose and Turner closing he couldn’t quite force the ball over the line.
Eventually in the 63rd minute the inevitable goal came for the visitors. Tom Derry was through but unselfishly he passed to the totally unmarked Turner who had the relatively straightforward task of drilling the ball into the Worthing net with Covolan stranded.
Worthing periodically threatened with their mixture of youth and experience and Angels man of the match Lee together with skipper Miles were frequently called into action to maintain their side’s lead. At this point in the game it looked like all the points might belong to the Angels and on 71 minutes it should really have been all over when Ramadan was through but Covolan saved his side with a brave stop at the feet of the winger.
Ten minutes later Worthing came up with their goal and from their perspective it was a good one. David Ajiboye managed to jink his way past three Angels defenders and unleashed a shot from around 10yards which beat Tonbridge keeper Jonny Henly and it was very much game on particularly for the home side backed by their vociferous support.
During that last 10 minutes the Angels defence showed their true qualities dealing with everything that the Rebels could throw at them. The teams could not be separated and in the final analysis most would surely agree that a draw was a fair result over the 90 minutes.
Afterwards Angels Boss Steve McKimm said : “I’m proud of what my players achieved this afternoon. We don’t have a particularly good record here but apart from the goal itself we stood up to all that’s been thrown at us and with a bit more luck in front of goal could have won the game. It’s a precious point to take back and everything is still very much in our own hands.”