U18's progress in League Cup
Tonbridge Angels progressed to the Quarter Finals of the Isthmian Youth League Cup with a battling performance against a talented Bracknell Town side.
The visitors, wearing a bizarrely numbered set of shirts featuring numbers from 41 through to 56, also employed a high tempo, attacking game that had the Angels youngsters on the back foot from the outset. But, that style of football naturally leaves areas elsewhere that can be exploited and the Angels tactical plan worked perfectly.
It was a cold evening that needed a good game to distract supporters from the chill and both teams served up an entertaining encounter.
Bracknell served warning to their hosts with Angels goalkeeper, Toby Edwards, gainfully employed in the opening 10 minutes, firstly saving a header from Ralph Vicram and then thanking the woodwork as a shot from Marky Tacrari not only came down from the underside of the bar but also striking a post before being cleared to safety.
The early onslaught continued and Edwards saved superbly to deny Vicram after a long ball forward sent him clear.
So it was largely against the run of play when the Angels went in front when a cross hooked in from the right was met with a deft header from Cameron Honarvar.
The goal boosted the confidence of the home side who began to exploit the wide areas of the visitors defence but Bracknell continued to be threatening going forward and after 31 minutes the Angels post was struck again by Hayden Vaughan.
But the visiting goalkeeper, Nicolo Toro, was not standing idle either and was needed to make a great save from Honarvar and following a surging run from Sam Gerard he was called upon to palm the ball to safety for a corner.
Tonbridge held their lead at the break but only with the help of a goal line clearance after the ball had been lobbed over the head over Edwards.
The opening 20 minutes saw the Angels needing all their defensive resolution as they faced a succession of corners but the back line, superbly marshalled by Will Puffette was standing firm.
On 73 minutes, the Quarter Finals began to look in sight as the Angels doubled their lead. A corner from the right, swung in by Reuben Etherington, saw Ben Martin-Coward rise high above the Bracknell defenders to head home.
Now needing to press forward in ever-increasing numbers, the Angels were able to catch their visitors on the break and a couple of chances to put the game to bed were wasted.
But, by the same token, the Angels back line dealt with everything thrown at them in the final minutes until, with virtually the last kick of the match, a penalty gave Bracknell a consolation goal.
A delighted Dom Welsh said after the game: “An excellent reaction to a disappointing performance last week. We identified key ways to exploit space tonight and were excellent in doing so. We defended resolutely throughout, conceding late being the only frustration.”
Looking forward to the Quarter Final draw: “There’s some big sides left in the competition, but if you get to the last eight, you have to expect to get a tough draw.”