Log in or Register
Ashford United 1
2 Tonbridge Angels U18

Under-18 win at rainswept Homelands

Tonbridge Angels Under-18’s dug deep in the second half to preserve the points at a wild, rainswept Homelands.

Dom Welsh has needed to utilise his squad to the full with games on successive days. Four players were also in the starting XI against Phoenix Sports in the Kent Cup on Sunday, whilst all five substitutes were starters on Monday evening.

The game was a well contested contest throughout with the Angels moving into a 2-0 half-time lead before Ashford United fought back strongly in the second period.

The Ashford goalkeeper was gainfully employed in the early stages turning over a header from Max Lambert from a Johnny Walker cross after three minutes and then saving from Cameron Honavar.

Ashford fought back and this time it was Matt Larkin’s time to excel with a save but also had fortune on his side as a header rattled his crossbar.

After 23 minutes, a surging run from midfield by Felix Waring set up Lambert, but once again the Ashford goalkeeper saved brilliantly.

The game was end to end before the Angels took the lead on 37 minutes when the ball fell to central defender Will Puffette on the edge of the box to drive in an unstoppable shot that any striker would have been proud of.

A minute later, the Angels might have gone two up but Waring saw his shot saved but a minute before the break a well struck shot after winning possession by Sam Firman doubled the visitors advantage.

Half-time brought a huge deterioration in the weather with monsoon-type conditions, driven by a howling gale, sweeping across Homelands. If the weather changed, so did the home side and they took the game to their visitors from the outset.

An early corner was headed over and a shot from 20 years cleared the bar before, just past the hour, following a corner, the referee pointed to the spot for holding. Whilst it looked a soft decision from a distance, the 16-year-old official had an outstanding game and there was no reason for dispute.

Stanley Oldfield sent Larkin the wrong way and the home side were back in the game.

A rare mishandle from Ashford’s goalkeeper, who was superb, nearly saw the ball creep in at the near post, but for the last 20 minutes it was all Ashford as they sought an equaliser but Larkin and basically his whole outfield team defended bravely, limiting their opponents to a couple of half chances.

Dom Welsh proudly said of his team after the game: “Not pretty but very much job done, played the pitch and the conditions well, dealt with every bomb thrown at us! A really important three points against an Ashford side that were much better than when we played them in the FA Youth Cup, with a lot of different players. They were very direct and I thought we dealt with it well. We had an excellent 15 minutes before half time which ultimately won us the game.”

Published Tuesday 1st November 2022