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Tonbridge Angels 1
Turner (52')
1 Hemel Hempstead Town
Castiglione (61')
Joe Turner celebrates his goal

A point for Angels on Good Friday

The stage was set for a cracker at Longmead. A sunny day and a rare Friday fixture. Coming into the game, both sides very much hoping for three points to boost their playoff chances. Despite some big chances in the second half, the game ended with the teams forced to share the spoils. Ultimately, a result that did neither team any favours.

The terms of Jordan Greenidge’s loan made him unavailable to line up against his parent club with Tommy Wood leading the front line. Tariq Hinds, Devonte Aransibia and Bailey Akehurst were rested to the bench with Jack Wood, Tommie Fagg and Craig Braham-Barrett returning to the starting XI. 

The first ten minutes saw Angels with the better of the chances. A first minute volley from Joe Turner was just wide and seven minutes later it was the same man on the end of a Jamie Fielding cross, heading the ball just over the goal and into the home fans. Hemel, who started the afternoon six points off the playoffs, then picked up the pace and threatened the home defence. Jonny Henly was called into action after a header in the 11th minute and not long after Hemel's Montel McKenzie had a powerful volley slam the right hand post. 

Naturally, because of the stakes of the game, it was a relatively cagey and low-key first half with neither team wanting to give anything away cheaply.

Tonbridge's best chances were crafted by Jack Wood, who cut in from the right as he so often does and struck the ball well but into the arms of Craig King... And from Tommie Fagg with an effort on the stroke of half time after a corner for the home side. 

Despite a couple of close calls at both ends, neither team could capitalise on their first half efforts. 

It was then a frantic start to the second half with Henly forced to make a double save to deny an opener from Hemel Hempstead. Despite the shaky opening, it was Angels who broke the deadlock courtesy of Joe Turner with a fantastically taken goal from the left hand side of the pitch, thumping it over the keeper and into the top right with a superb finish.

Six minutes later, Tonbridge teased a second goal with a Jack Wood ball across the face of goal which stretching Tommie Fagg couldn’t reach to tap in. A big chance to double the lead missed.

Hemel now behind and needing to fight back, then took advantage of a scramble in the Angels box caused by a deep free-kick. Despite the efforts from the Angels defenders to clear the danger, it was Josh Castiglione picking up the loose ball and beating Jonny Henly to place it into the bottom left corner. 

With both teams eager to bag the three points, the last half an hour became quite intriguing. A change of shape came for Tonbridge with Tariq Hinds being introduced and later Devonte Aransibia and recent arrival Jeremy Santos

Although these seemed positive substitutions, Angels were unable to net a second. A fair few chances came, Tommy Wood was refused by a terrific challenge as well as Joe Turner and Jeremy Santos both being denied in the box by Craig King who was there with an impressive double save to preserve the point Hemel had earned so far. 

Having done his job in his own six-yard box, the away keeper then went up the pitch during injury time to try and help his team from a corner. Keeper King climbed higher than anyone else and met the ball with a powerful header which fell wide in what seemed like slow motion for everyone observing.

The five minutes of additional time came to an end leaving the scoreline at one a piece. For Hemel Hempstead, leaving with a draw seriously damages their chances; for the Angels the challenge intensifies but there is still hope.

Afterwards, Angels Boss Jay Saunders said "It's been our problem all season, giving away cheap goals, but after that we've had three great chances".

Photo by Wesley Filtness. Tonbridge Angels photographs can be found at www.wezpix.com

Published Sunday 9th April 2023