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Tonbridge Angels Academy 2
2 Worthing

Academy fight back to earn point

Where’s VAR when you need it! 

The Academy were denied a last kick of the match winner by a linesman’s flag who gave a hairline decision against Hayden Velvick, who had allegedly strayed offside. In all fairness, whilst a late winner would cheer the hearts of Tonbridge Angels supporters, it would have been rough justice on a Worthing side that fully deserved to take something out of the game.

The draw maintains the Academy’s position at the top of the National League Under-19 Alliance but they lose their 100% record.

Following last week’s one-sided romp for the Angels, this game provided excellent entertainment with both sides neither asking or giving any quarter.

Tom Parkinson’s side was forced into a couple of changes with academic examinations taking priority for Josh McArthur and Shea Brennan.

After a fairly quiet opening the first chance of the game fell to Worthing after 13 minutes with a shot that was pulled narrowly wide, but within a minute it was the Angels that opened the scoring. A shot from Will Saunders was parried by the Worthing goalkeeper but leading scorer Velvick was on hand to seize onto the loose ball to score and take his total for the season to 22.

Tonbridge might have gone 2-0 up just three minutes later when, in similar circumstances to the opening goal, the goalkeeper parried a shot from Joe Tyrie into the path of Velvick who tucked it home but the referee decided that the goalkeeper had sufficient downward pressure on the ball to deem that it was kicked from his hands.

The Worthing goalkeeper saved well from Velvick and Saunders shot over as the Angels were well on top at this stage of the game.

But the visitors fought back and it took a superb challenge from Ashton Thomas to foil one attack which was followed quickly by a shot that was narrowly wide from the full back. So, it came as little surprise, when on 28 minutes a fine move that started on the left with a fine cross from Lewis Thorne found Bradley Dolaghan at the far post to score, this being his 23rd goal of the season.

Although Sam Grant tested the Worthing goalkeeper, the visitors remained on top for the remainder of the half although Angels’ keeper, Lewis Wilkins wasn’t seriously tested.

The Angels came out from the dressing room for the second period with a renewed sense of purpose and very nearly regained the lead after three minutes when a brilliant pass from Billy Robbins found Leo Vowles whose fiercely struck shot came back from the underside of the crossbar, despite protests that the ball had crossed the line, the game continued.

Worthing were still giving as good as they got and it wasn’t undeserved when they went in front after 63 minutes with some excellent work down the left hand side saw the ball crossed from the byeline for Thorne to drive it into the bottom corner.

With a league defeat for the first time this season staring them in the face, Tonbridge threw everything at their visitors in search of an equaliser. Substitute Tom Green fired over; and the goalkeeper bravely saved at the feet of Robbins before with 10 minutes remaining, what looked to be the golden chance, Hermitage headed wide from a Grant cross.

But the Angels stuck at it and their equaliser came on 85 minutes when a quick throw from Grant found Robbins whose cross saw Green smash home from around the penalty spot.

Green had the ball in the net again with three minutes to go, this time disallowed for a foul before, in the seventh minute of time added, from Vowles’ cross, Velvick turned and shot only for the celebrations to be cut short.

It was great entertainment and, guess what, we can do it all again as the two teams meet again at Woodside Road next Wednesday.

Published Thursday 12th January 2023