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Ebbsfleet United 2
3 Tonbridge Angels Academy

Academy end regular season on a high

The Academy ended their regular season with a comeback win against Ebbsfleet United, who sit third in the table with one game remaining, with a last minute penalty.

In a season in which, too often, wins have come with ease, the Angels were asked to show that they have a resilience to go with their undoubted talent after a first half, which in truth, the Angels performance was as miserable as the weather.

The game, played on Punjab United’s back pitch, saw Tonbridge missing four regular starters and needing to use their only two substitutes in the first 25 minutes as Will Saunders and Shea Brennan limped out of the game.

The home side were in front after eight minutes and the Angels were on the back foot for much of the opening period, going two behind after 15 minutes when a cross from the left was converted with a far post header as defensively, unusually, the Angels were floundering.

As the game unfolded, going down the considerable slope was proved to be a disadvantage, especially as the rain gave the pitch a bit of extra pace. The first real chance created by the visitors fell to Josh McArthur who directed a header at the goalkeeper.

Further chances fell to Hayden Velvick, following a cross from Leo Vowles and a fine move between the same two, just before the break, were both saved by the Ebbsfleet goalkeeper.

As the teams found respite from the rain in the dressing rooms, the Angels could have few complaints at finding themselves two behind and a revitalised side emerged for the second period although the first couple of chances that cleared the bar fell to the home side.

With Vowles enjoying a lot of the ball down the right hand side pressure began to mount on Ebbsfleet. Successive corners saw a Kian Austin header saved and, just past the hour, Billy Robbins struck a shot just wide.

The breakthrough finally came on 67 minutes when a cross from Ben Hermitage saw Vowles arriving at the far post to steer the ball home.

The Angels were level on 75 minutes when a cross from Vowles was turned in by substitute Alex Shave, who also saw a header, three minutes later, go marginally wide.

Tonbridge pressed hard for the winner and it finally came in the last minute when the goalkeeper spilled a cross and in his efforts to retrieve the ball brought down Velvick for a clear penalty. Hermitage converted from the spot for his 49th goal of the season, despite the best efforts of the keeper.

The Angels go forward to the post-season Champions of Champions Cup having the best record across the 11 divisions with 144 goals and only 13 conceded with only one defeat.

At the time of writing, the first opponents in the Champions Cup were unknown.

Published Friday 12th May 2023