Angels U18s back to winning ways
Tonbridge Angels Under-18 manager has always maintained that this first season back in Isthmian League football would be one of transition with his squad full of first years and supplemented by Under-16’s coming up against teams made up of players two, perhaps even three, years older and stronger. It is no secret that those two years can involve a lot of growing.
In the first half of this game, with seven first years and three Under-16’s in the starting 11, we were treated to a sneaky peak into what next season might bring and what we saw was very exciting.
The pace of Hayden Velvick and Isaac Barden was electric and the visiting East Grinstead side struggled to cope and when Velvick and George Rayner linked, a desperate challenge felled the latter for a eighth minute penalty that was duly converted by Harry London.
A mazy run from Velvick that ended with his shot being deflected wide and an effort from Rayner that was narrowly wide emphasised the problems that East Grinstead were having containing the threat from the left hand side.
That said, East Grinstead thought they had levelled the score after 15 minutes but the goal was disallowed for offside after the referee consulted his assistant and gave notice that they were here for a contest when they struck the bar with a header.
On 24 minutes Tonbridge went two goals up when a stunning volley from Zach Garcia found the top corner after being set up by Barden.
The goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of the visitors and the Angels took complete control of the rest of the half with Garcia striking the bar and Barden seeing his 20 yard effort hit the right hand post.
In the second half East Grinstead broke up play better and consequently Tonbridge’s fluid play of the first half wasn’t so much in evidence and there had been a couple of warnings before a pass put an East Grinstead forward through on goal to clinically slide the ball past Matt Larkin on 68 minutes.
The game had a real ebb and flow as the visitors searched for an equaliser with the Angels attempting to exploit the space as East Grinstead threw bodies forward in an exciting final 20 minutes.
Both goalkeepers needed to make saves and East Grinstead had two great chances, one of which was wastefully put over the bar from three yards.
Tonbridge made the game safe as the clock ticked into time added with a goal of beauty with virtually half the team involved. It started from the goalkeeper who rolled it out for Rory Kavanagh to pump it forward into the path of Garcia who made ground before pulling the ball back to London who fed Luca Bradley. His cross was received by Velvick, laid into the man over, Max Lambert who buried into the bottom corner. Phew, I think everyone got a mention!
East Grinstead fashioned another chance and they should also take some credit for their part in an exciting game with a very solid second half performance.
Dom Welsh commented after the match: “This was probably our best passing performance of the season in the first half, could have been three or four up and were denied two stonewall penalties. Second half was more about digging in, two games in two days (some played in Sunday’s Kent Cup match) took its toll a little, but we still had some good moments and missed some great chances.”