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Cray Valley PM 1
1 Tonbridge Angels U18
Cray Valley PM

Brave U18's hold league leaders

The Under-18’s produced a brave performance to come away from Cray Valley, potentially the eventual champions, with a hard earned and well deserved point.

The point lifted the hosts to league’s summit and set up an intriguing clash next week against the reigning champions Sutton Common Rovers, that could well decide the destination of the title.

On a miserably wet evening, manager Dom Welsh drafted in 16 year-old Noah Mills at left back and 15 year-old Fin McLeod up top with another 15 year-old in Harry Johns on the bench.

Kicking up the slope in the first half on a pitch that had held up remarkably well given the conditions of the last couple of days, the Angels started brightly and were ahead in the 10th minute when a free kick from 20 yards was drilled into the bottom corner by Max Lambert.

Sadly for the Angels the lead didn’t last too long and Cray were on level terms after 17 minutes when Oliver Knight drove a shot home from 12 yards after goalkeeper Matt Larkin had saved well an initial effort from Alex Jones.

It was a measure of the defensive performances of Will Puffette and Tom Green that Larkin was not asked to make another save of note during the first 45 minutes. At the other end of the field, Cray goalkeeper, Aidan Wicks saved from McLeod whilst Cameron Honavar shot over.

Defences ruled the evening as neither goalkeeper was seriously tested during a hard fought second period. Cray Valley’s best chance came after just three minutes when Sinayomi Abiola met a corner with a powerful header that cleared the bar.

After 53 minutes, Felix Waring brought a good save out of Wicks and the keeper was brought in action again saving from Sam Firman with a follow-up effort from Honavar blocked.

The last half-hour was a midfield battle in which the Angels youngsters stood up well to the task with no great alarms or Larkin needing to make a single save.

Dom Welsh felt that his side’s performance was “up there with the best of the season” whilst highlighting the youthfulness of his team against, we will find out next week, possibly the best team in the league.

Published Friday 24th March 2023