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Tonbridge Angels 1
Wagstaff (85')
1 Ebbsfleet United
Wright (42')
Scott Wagstaff celebrates after scoring the late equaliser against Ebbsfleet Utd 11.03.23.

Ebbsfleet title charge checked back by Angels

Few would bet against Ebbsfleet winning the National South title but perhaps they may have to wait a just a little longer before breaking the bubbly open after dropping points against a resilient Tonbridge Angels side who refused to lie down and eventually got their just rewards with an 85th minute equaliser.

Ebbsfleet arrived at Longmead unbeaten in 14 matches as they continued their almost inevitable progress towards the National League South title.  Angels however would have not considered themselves taking part simply to make up the numbers as they started the match only tasting defeat twice in 14 and lying just two points off the play off zone. Added to that the hosts are one of only three clubs so far  to have inflicted league defeat on the Fleet at their Stonebridge Road HQ so those fans of a Tonbridge persuasion will have travelled to the game in reasonably optimistic mood. 

It was a somewhat cagey first half with Ebbsfleet having the majority of play but few genuine chances for either side.   Angels keeper Jonny Henly was called into action after 10 minutes dealing with a Sterling- James effort.  On 26 minutes Fleet skipper Bingham was through but was caught offside for the return pass. 

A minute later perhaps the best moment in the half for Angels came when Hinds had a shot towards Fleet keeper Cousins’s near post but he was alive to the danger pushing the ball round the post for a corner. 

The 34th minute saw Henly go down to cut out a cross colliding at the same time with an Ebbsfleet player and needing some treatment but fortunately able to continue.

The goal that Ebbsfleet deserved on the balance of play came in the 42nd minute with a breakaway and although Angels initially appeared to clear the ball, it subsequently fell to the unmarked Josh Wright whose effort found the left hand corner. 

The second half saw Angels play a much more assertive role in the game and the 1770 crowd were treated to a more open affair. Immediately Tonbridge substitute Aransibia was causing problems for the Fleet defence but at the other end Cundle for the visitors forced a decent save from Henly and that was followed by Ebbsfleet’s Poleon who created a good chance.

Jack Wood for the hosts was always a threat on the right flank with the danger man for Ebbsfleet, Poleon again creating a good chance. 

Around the 75 minute mark Tonbridge were really starting to create some good possession and playing most of their football in the Ebbsfleet half with Jack Wood firing over the bar when well placed. 

Ten minutes later the home side equalised when Ebbsfleet failed to deal with a corner and the loose ball fell to Scott Wagstaff who hammered the ball home. 

To their credit both teams went for the winner with chances for substitute Domi for Ebbsfleet and Jack Wood for the Angels but in the end a draw was probably a fair result. 

Jay Saunders, Tonbridge Manager, said afterwards “I’m happy with a point, it puts us one point from the playoffs.” 

Dennis Kutrieb, Fleet Manager was not so pleased; “I’m not so happy today because we needed to score a second in the game and we had plenty of chances to do so.”  

Picture : Richard Hood.  Scott Wagstaff celebrates after scoring the Angels equaliser

Published Saturday 11th March 2023 (last updated Sunday 12th March 2023)