Angels edged out in seven goal thriller
On a freezing evening and a pitch that was getting visibly whiter as the game progressed, both sides worked hard to produce an entertaining match that might just have warmed the extremities of the hardy spectators. Might, but not quite, as nobody could feel their toes by full time!
League leaders Maidstone United got off to a blistering start taking the lead after just 40 seconds when a powerful shot from Nathan Jeche, a one-time Angels Under-16 player, beat the Tonbridge keeper Matt Larkin.
Jeche was proving a real handful, following his goal, he put a chance into the side netting and forced Larkin into a save in the opening four minutes.
But Tonbridge recovered from that torrid opening to fashion a terrific equaliser after five minutes. A great through ball from Shea Brennan put Rockie Burke in the clear; his shot was parried by the Maidstone goalkeeper but only into the path of Will Saunders who scored with a composed finish.
After such a hectic start the game settled down with Maidstone dominating, fashioning a couple of good chances before they restored their lead after 29 minutes when Joseph Terry scored from 18 yards with a shot into the bottom corner.
A terrible defensive mix-up between goalkeeper and defender after 41 minutes gifted Maidstone a third goal when Jeche capitalised on the miscommunication to set up Jack Vine for an easy finish into an unguarded goal.
The Angels youngsters showed a great deal of resilience to stretch Maidstone all the way in the second half and if they had been clinical in front of goal they might well have come away with a point.
They were right back in the game within three minutes of the restart when Saunders combined with Harry London, who finished well into the bottom corner.
The Angels searched hard for an equaliser and saw an effort from Fin Wolvey cleared from the line on the hour and London failing to find the target from a good opportunity.
Jeche made the Angels pay for their wastefulness when he cut in from the left to fire home from around 12 yards.
Tonbridge were not going to go down without a fight and when substitute George Theis was bundled over inside the box, Fin Wolvey converted from the spot to set up a last five minutes effort to rescue a point. One opportunity fell the way of London but the goalkeeper was equal to it and Maidstone survived to take home the points.
Dom Welsh was pleased with his side’s efforts commenting: “Excellent game tonight against a very good Maidstone side, too many errors made to win the game but possibly good value for a point! Huge progress being made.”
Meanwhile, many a car heater was on full blast on the way home!