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Cray Valley PM 5
0 Tonbridge Angels U18
Cray Valley PM U18

Disappointing start for Angels U18's

Tonbridge Angels Under-18’s endured a nightmare start to their season as naive defending saw them 4-0 down in the opening 23 minutes.

Cray Valley PM were last year’s champions for good reason, not needing any sort of a helping hand and on this showing have the potential to repeat their achievements this season.

But, to their credit, the Angels youngsters showed, especially in the second half, a great deal of spirit to limit the home side to just one further goal.

The afternoon’s storm had drifted north leaving a warm, muggy evening at kick off. Cray Valley kicked down the slope in the first half and were ahead after just three minutes when a shot from Emmanuel Eyin came back off the bar to Riley Woods who drilled the ball into the far corner from the left hand angle of the six yard box.

After seven minutes, Cray doubled their advantage when a free kick lofted into the box saw Liam Hutchings effort saved by Toby Underwood but the rebound was tucked home from close range by Stanley Flockton.

Things went from bad to worse for the Angels after 18 minutes when, playing out from the back, the ball was lost giving Eyin the simplest of chances to make it three.

The ball was, once more given away cheaply on the edge of the box and Malachy Turner was on hand to take advantage and slot home past Underwood to make it four after 23 minutes.

Those 23 minutes of chaos left the Tonbridge contingent fearing a rout but a lot of heart for the rest of the season can be taken from the resilience shown after such a torrid opening. 

A surging run from defence into the Cray Valley half from skipper Will Puffette certainly raised the spirits despite the free kick that he had earned being struck over the bar by Reuben Etherington.

The Angels still had to defend for long periods in the early part of the second half but a shot from Teddy Cooney wasn’t too far wide and a free kick from Ben Martin-Coward forced the keeper into a good save.

A defence splitting pass saw Arinze Chukwujekwu finish past Underwood for Cray Valley’s fifth after 77 minutes as the Angels actually enjoyed their best spell in the game.

A consolation goal would have been a just reward but the goalkeeper denied Cameron Honavar and Etherington and in the final act of the game substitutes Ethan Mgbeze and Logan Wallace combined for the latter’s header to drift agonisingly wide.

Manager Dom Welsh commented after the game that it had been a “really poor start to the season, all accountable for the first half performance. We applied ourselves well in the second half but too many mistakes gave away a huge deficit early on, we learn and move on.”

Published Friday 25th August 2023