Angels lose to strong Stars Academy side
Tonbridge Angels slipped to defeat in their last preseason game before facing Punjab United in the FA Youth Cup on Monday, conceding a winner to Stars Academy two minutes from time.
Stars are based in Hastings and draw their students internationally with today’s team, managed by ex-Crowborough Athletic boss Simon Colbran, being principally from the Solomon Islands but also featuring African and Japanese lads.
They were a very different side to those that the Angels youngsters will face in the regular season. Stars were both older and physically stronger and sometimes the lessons learnt were quite painful!
But, as Tommy Parkinson later commented, the game had given him an insight into which players were physically able to cope, should they be moved into men’s football.
Right from the outset the tackles were mostly fair but robust as the visitors imposed themselves on the game and that is not to ignore the fact that they were also technically very good.
Striker Cam Wotton was the first to feel the weight of a challenge and was already limping when a clash with the goalkeeper ended his involvement in the game after just eight minutes.
The Angels enjoyed their best period of the game in the early stages and took the lead after 11 minutes when a fine pass from Ben Twist found Saul Musengeyi down the left hand side from where his pinpoint cross to the far post gave Louis Copeland a relatively easy finish.
But Tonbridge failed to gain any real momentum from the goal and Stars opened up their defence several times with goalkeeper Charlie Martin being called into action making several good saves including an exceptional one after 22 minutes saving from point blank range.
Eventually the equaliser, which was no more than Stars deserved, came on 32 minutes when a corner was met with a firm header at the far post.
The early part of the second half saw the Angels regain some sort of ascendancy with substitute Ned Lewis stretching the Stars goalkeeper; Aiden Murphy firing wide and Harry Hudson seeing his effort saved.
But, once again, having negotiated the opening 15 minutes, Stars regained the initiative and Angels substitute goalkeeper, Nat Gibb, made a fine save turning a shot destined for the top corner over the bar after 70 minutes. Gibb excelled again with another good save, low to his left, with four minutes remaining but this proved to be a short lived reprieve for the Angels as a fine strike, curled from the left side of the box into the far corner, gave the visitors their victory.
Tommy Parkinson reflected that it had been a really good test highlighting Stars physicality. He felt there had been positives and negatives to take out of the game which needed to be worked on especially when defending.