Maidstone take A26 honours
The Angels Under-18’s opened their 2023 account with a disappointing 3-0 defeat to their A26 rivals, Maidstone United, who were much improved from the opening game of the season and dominated from the first whistle through to the last.
From the moment, 20 seconds into the match, that William Barber was sent clear to put his effort into the side netting, the visitors were quicker to the ball, passed it better and won the challenges that mattered and in Riley Court, had the best player on the pitch.
It was a difficult evening, one that Dom Welsh called as "indifferent and not at the races" whilst complimenting Maidstone on their excellent performance.
What might have been, had a 10th minute goal for the Angels not been ruled out, who knows but from that moment, Maidstone took control of the game and it took some solid defending from the Angels to maintain the goalless status until just past the half-hour mark when Court converted from the penalty spot after a foul in the box.
Chances came and went for the Stones with Barber and Elliot Wenham missing the target and Matt Larkin saving well from Court, but at just the single goal, the home side were still in the game at the break as a fair proportion of the attendance headed for the warmth of the bar on a cold evening.
Tonbridge had an early second half opportunity when Felix Waring’s effort was deflected for a corner from which Will Puffette steered a header wide.
On 49 minutes, a swift counterattack from the visitors led to their second goal when an Angels attack broke down the ball was swept out to the left and, in the blink of an eye, a run and cross saw Barber touching in from close range.
Maidstone reasserted their control on the game with Tyler Jackson-Hunt heading wide from a corner and Larkin saving well to deny Joe Terry.
The game was effectively was put to bed in somewhat controversial circumstances just past the hour when Larkin appeared to be fouled when dealing with a cross before the ball was stabbed home by Tyler Hatton from a couple of yards.
Substitutions revitalised the Angels and they did make a spirited end to the game but Maidstone defended steadfastly with blocks from a shot from Waring and a cross from Joe Newman that begged a touch.
Larkin excelled in the final moments turning over a Terry free kick as the visitors took home the points.