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Tonbridge Angels 1
Theobalds (8' pen)
2 Eastbourne Borough
Wheeler (60'), Romain (81')

Timid Angels pay the price in F.A. Cup

Angels departed this season’s Emirates FA Cup at the first time of asking with barely a whimper.  Having held the advantage at half time through a 7th minute D’Sean Theobalds penalty they allowed themselves to be out manoeuvred by an average Eastbourne Borough side.  Lapses of concentration and complete inability to create goal chances led to the downfall of the home side.  

It had all started so well for Tonbridge when AFC Wimbledon loanee Jack Rudoni, one of the few in a blue shirt to emerge with any credit, produced a cross from the left which managed to reach Khale Da Costa on the right flank.  The wideman beat his marker but was then brought down in the box.  Up stepped Theobalds, presumably given responsibility over Joe Turner, to dispatch the ball past Tom Hadler to put the home side one up. 

Half chances came for the hardworking and skilful Rudoni in the 12th, 17th and 41st minutes while Chinedu McKenzie might have done better with a lay off from Da Costa on 35 minutes.  Eastbourne Borough were very poor and seemed to have forgotten they were playing in the world’s oldest knockout football competition.  Surely the Angels had to increase their advantage as it seemed unlikely that the Sports would play so badly for the second period.  

But Tonbridge failed to score and were to pay a heavy price as Eastbourne were to raise their game slightly in the second half, and it was to prove just enough to ensure they would be in the hat come Monday.  When Nick Wheeler took to the field in the 53rd minute it was perhaps written in the stars that the ex darling of the Longmead Terraces would make a decisive contribution. It took just seven minutes when following a decent Eastbourne attack the ball was fed out to the left where Wheeler had made an untracked run and was able to place a shot past Jonny Henly to restore parity.

Tonbridge’s misery was complete when in the 80th minute they failed to deal properly with an Eastbourne raid and Eliot Romain was left with the relatively easy task of putting his side ahead.  The painful fact for Angels supporters was that throughout that second period they had seen their team fail to create any realistic chances.  There were the occasional long range efforts but they were hit in hope rather any real expectation that they would find the target.  

A furious Steve McKimm said his team lacked concentration at critical times and had played without putting their bodies on the line.  “This is the F.A. Cup for goodness sake and there were 4 or 5 players out there who in my opinion were simply not putting in enough effort.  There will need to be changes.”

Published Saturday 21st September 2019