Cray Valley too strong for Angels
Dom Welsh commented after the game: “I said to the boys tonight , I don’t actually come away from that game feeling like we’ve played badly. For parts of the game we were pretty dominant and created lots of good chances. The difference between the two teams is they took their chances and we didn’t. We made a few mistakes and were punished.”
Certainly for 45 minutes, that was the case. On a night when league leaders, Sutton Common Rovers lost at Sheppey, Cray Valley PM closed the gap at the top to four points with two games in hand with a second half performance in which they were absolutely clinical in front of goal to run out slightly flattering 5-1 winners at Longmead.
On a chilly, at times fog-bound, evening Cray Valley started well and were ahead in six minutes in disputable circumstances. A throw-in that clearly should have been awarded to the home side was quickly taken allowing Jonathan Lawson to run into the penalty area and shoot past Matt Larkin.
Tonbridge responded well in what became a competitive first half with chances falling to both sides. Angels’ new signing Reuben Etherington showed up well and had a couple of good efforts that brought saves whilst Cray Valley were always dangerous going forward with full back Victor Damyoun consistently supplying Lawson, whose threat was only being contained by a superb defensive performance from skipper Will Puffette.
Puffette provided a magic moment just past the half-hour when a 60 yard surge out of defence through the centre of the field ended with his shot charged down.
The Angels ended the first half very much in the ascendancy forcing a series of corners that brought a header from Cameron Honavar that was narrowly wide and an effort from Sam Firman that was cleared from the line.
Cray Valley emerged for the second half with a far greater intensity and after Larkin had saved well and Oliver Knight pulled a shot wide they went 2-0 up on the hour when a looping header from Malachy Turner found the net.
When Leo Vowles picked up a poor clearance and was through one-on-one with the goalkeeper there was a route back into the game but Aidan Wilks saved well at his feet and Cray effectively put the game to bed when Mikael Krasniqi profited from a poor clearance to tuck the ball into the far corner.
With seven minutes remaining Lawson was sent clear to make it four and although the Angels found a consolation goal in the 90th minute when Vowles set up Fin McLeod, there was still time for the Valley to add a fifth when Lawson was sent through, Larkin saved his initial effort but was helpless with the rebound as the striker completed his hat-trick.
Dom Welsh praised his opponents saying: “Cray were good value for the three points but certainly not by that margin; we have lost too a very good side who for me will go onto win the league.”