Academy off to winning start
The Academy opened their league season, coming from behind to win a hard-fought, entertaining encounter with a very good Chatham Town side.
A warm-up injury to Will Saunders saw Aston Thomas promoted to the starting XI, but leaving just Sam Grant as a lone substitute.
The first quarter-hour gave the Angels side due warning that their visitors would be stern opposition and, although Hayden Velvick was narrowly wide after rounding the goalkeeper after 17 minutes, it was no surprise when Chatham took the lead a minute later with a superb strike from 25 yards from Joel Biring.
Tonbridge slowly found their rhythm, creating a couple of half-chances before equalising on 33 minutes. Velvick, whose pace and tireless running were a constant problem for the Chats, chased down a through ball into the left channel before sliding the ball from the bye-line across the face of goal, giving Ben Hermitage an easy finish from close range.
Velvick was rewarded for his industry, three minutes before the break, when he intercepted a pass before sprinting clear to round the goalkeeper and finish into the far corner.
Tonbridge were, perhaps, fortunate to go into the break in front but in the second period exercised a much greater control of the game.
Chatham had a great opportunity to get onto level terms three minutes into the half when central defender, Lewis Ridden, headed over following a corner. But, although the half was to remain goalless, the vast majority of the chances fell to the home side.
Hermitage steered a header wide just past the hour and central defender Tom Green fired over from distance whilst the Chatham goalkeeper, Rohan Jull, made saves to deny Leo Vowles and Billy Robbins. In the final moments last gasp tackles were also needed to stop the marauding Vowles.
Manager Tom Parkinson spoke for the spectators when he described the game as “high quality against a very good Chatham team.” Adding, “with players dropping out on the day and only 12 players in the squad the team worked very hard to get all three points in their first league game.”