League Cup exit is harsh
The width of a crossbar denied the Angels’ Academy at least the opportunity of League Cup progression via penalties as Harrison Mayhew’s spectacular volley crashed back from the woodwork in the final minutes of the game against Luton Town Cedars.
The Angels had recovered well from a poor start, conceding after just two minutes when several chances to clear a cross from the right were passed up before the ball eventually fell to Luton’s Ben Summers who made no mistake from six yards.
Once they settled into their game, the Angels showed they would be a stern test for their Football League opponents and a slick move after 11 minutes between Ned Lewis and Jacob Lambert ended with Leo Deere shooting into the side netting.
Summers was proving a handful, as was winger Jack Percy, and when a cross from the latter was poorly dealt with in a manner similar to the opening goal, full back Daniel Ball was on hand to score from close range and double the home side's advantage.
The game entered a phase following the second goal when the home side enjoyed a period of dominance with the Angels’ goalkeeper, Charlie Martin making regulation saves from Sam Scott and Joseph Sellers-West.
But the visitors were handed a foothold in the game in the final minute of the half when a cross from Sam Babayale found Lewis, who was clumsily brought down. The striker dusted himself down to score from the spot.
The second half began with Tonbridge showing a renewed sense of determination and after Lambert had a shot blocked and Gabriel Ogunseri had fired over, they found a leveller after 55 minutes when a free kick into the box from Babayale was headed home by Mayhew.
The game which had been a good contest for an hour became a thriller as both sides strived to earn their place in the next round draw.
Percy’s cross across the face of goal begged a touch for the home side whilst free kicks from Regan Bowden and Ben Twist brought efforts from Lewis and substitute Louis Copeland that tested the home goalkeeper whose was small in stature in comparison to the physicality of the rest of his team, certainly the biggest that the Academy have met this season.
After 72 minutes, a wonderful through ball sent Summers clear to finish in the bottom corner to restore the Hatters’ advantage.
It was a long way to travel to go down without a fight and the Angels were not about to do that.
There were four minutes remaining when a free kick into the box was only half-cleared to the edge of the box from where Mayhew’s stunning volley deserved so much better than the hitting of the woodwork.
Babayale’s header only found the side netting and a final free kick from the full back drifted harmlessly over as time ran out for the Angels, who can nevertheless be proud of their performance against a Football League team with an unbeaten record this season.