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Maidstone United 0
16 Tonbridge Angels Academy

Academy Champions Again!

Tonbridge Angels Academy retained their National League Under-19 Alliance title with a one-sided romp at the Gallagher. From the first minute to the last, they dominated their hosts, Maidstone United with top scorer Ben Hermitage recording a treble hat-trick.

Academy manager Tommy Parkinson hailed his side as a “fantastically talented group who fully deserve the league title” which has now been won for three successive seasons. He also described the performance as “ruthless” which it was almost in the extreme.

The Angels were ahead after just two minutes when a shot from fully 30 yards from skipper for the day Tom Green cannoned down from the underside of the crossbar to cross the line and given on the direction of the linesman.

Maidstone remained competitive in the open quarter hour forcing Nat Gibb into a smart save but after Hayden Velvick scored when sent clear by Billy Robbins and, a minute later, Velvick finished after first Hermitage saw his shot saved with the follow-up from Shea Brennan striking a post, the traffic became as one-way as the county town’s traffic system.

All credit to the Maidstone goalkeeper, for whom sadly we have no name, who almost single-handedly kept the half-time score at five with goals added from Hermitage on 40 minutes and Fyn Rutherford two minutes later.

Leo Vowles, back from a lengthy injury, was introduced at the break and in the space of 12 second half minutes, the score went from five to 10 as the home side were taken apart.

A 20 yard shot from Hermitage made it six after 48 minutes and Vowles set him up for his first hat trick three minutes later. His fourth came courtesy of a Robbins pass and a brilliant team goal involving Robbins, Josh McArthur and Hermitage ended with Vowles firing into the bottom corner.

Two more Hermitage goals (his fifth and sixth) took the score into double figures on 58 minutes and all the time, the Maidstone goalkeeper was performing heroics.

In fact, he held back the tide until 15 minutes from the end despite losing his centre half to a red card. But he was helpless as Hermitage tucked home a cross from substitute Alex Shave and a volley from Will Saunders that made it a dozen.

Robbins produced another great pass for Hermitage to make it 13 despite the best effort of the goalkeeper who also saved a minute later but couldn’t deny the follow-up from Saunders.

There was one little cherry that would have topped the cake and that would have been a goal for the industrious Robbins, who has never scored for the elite side. Having earlier hit the post, with three minutes remaining, he rattled the crossbar as all looked on in anguish as if the winning goal had been missed!

Hermitage completed his treble hat-trick in the final couple of minutes with an audacious back-heel for his final goal.

Champions again!

Published Wednesday 26th April 2023