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Tonbridge Angels U18 1
2 Three Bridges
Three Bridges

Angels U18 slip out of the League Cup

Despite a spirited second half from the Angels Under-18’s, they slipped out of the Isthmian Youth League Cup following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of an excellent Three Bridges side that have a 100% league record and made it through the qualifying rounds to earn a FA Youth Cup First Round visit to Portsmouth.

On a blustery night at the Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium, Three Bridges were much the better side in the first half and the Angels were thankful to goalkeeper, Matt Larkin, that they were still in the game at the break. But, as the coaching staff of Dom Welsh and Joe Roberts made half-time changes to their formation, they made a real fist of the second period and came oh so close to taking the tie to penalties.

From the outset, the East Sussex club were dominant with striker Alex Kaye proving a real handful with successive efforts on 25 minutes seeing a shot deflected wide and Larkin excelling to deny him moments later.

So it came as no surprise, just past the half-hour, when Kaye surged from deep to break clear and shoot past Larkin.

The visitors lead was doubled three minutes before the break when fine work down the left from McKenzie Mortimer ended with his cross being turned in from close range by Reegan Jeffrey.

Dom Welsh said of the first half “They played their shape so well, and we had to adapt our to combat it, but took us a little too long to do that.”

Finlay McLeod came on for Max Cormack early in the second period and immediately the Angels front line carried a bit more threat and after 67 minutes, a superb through ball from McLeod sent Max Lambert through to score with a clinical finish.

The need to search for the equaliser did leave the Angels exposed at times and Larkin was needed to be at his brilliant best to keep the dream of the quarter finals alive.

But the defining moment of the game came in the last minute of the game when a dream of a pass from Zak Garcia send Lambert clear but on the edge of the box, the Three Bridges’ Jellen Bedar cynically hacked him down to earn himself a red card but also, as the free kick from Garcia sailed over, and win the game in regulation time for his team.

Welsh said after the game: “Undoubtedly our toughest game of the season. Came up against a very good Three Bridges team. A real game of two halves, which in the end we come away thinking we may have done enough to force penalties, but the better team on the night prevailed. Best of luck to them in the quarter finals.”

Published Tuesday 8th November 2022