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Sheppey United 0
3 Tonbridge Angels U18
Pritchard (59'), Waring (64'), Puffette (70')

U18's ease to comfortable win

Tonbridge Angels U18’s recovered from a desperately poor first half performance at Holm Park to score three times in the second period and comfortably take home the points from Sheppey United.

“We were terrible first half and let them know that too during the break. Just so sloppy on the ball,” reflected Dom Welsh.

Whilst the Angels U18’s continue to harbour ambitions of a top three finish, their hosts sit stranded at the bottom with no hope of escaping the wooden spoon. But for 45 minutes they were more than a match for Tonbridge, who struggled, be it on a wet and windy evening, to gain any sort of momentum.

A Will Puffette header from a left-sided corner that was cleared from the line after 21 minutes and a Sheppey effort that was well saved by Toby Edwards, low to his left, were the best moments of an instantly forgettable first half.

The Angels brought on Fiachra Pritchard, fresh from the title-winning Under-16’s, for the second half and the extra width posed problems for the home side that hadn’t existed in the first period.

Welsh explained: “The changes we made to bring Fiachra on and move Noah [Millis] deeper to help with the build up worked with also moving Felix Waring wider. This gave us a wide threat which also created space centrally.”

Sheppey actually had an early chance when an unchallenged header from a corner was steered narrowly wide after just two minutes but from that scare, Tonbridge took control and eventually opened the scoring just shy of the hour when Sam Firman played in Pritchard to drive the ball into the bottom corner for his first U18’s goal.

Five minutes later, a splendid run, cutting in from the right and evading several challenges, from Waring before finishing past the advancing goalkeeper doubled the advantage and the Angels finally looked comfortable.

On 70 minutes, Puffette headed home a Waring free kick and the first half woes were sidelined.

The lead enabled Welsh to introduce Harry Barton, also from the U16’s, and he tested the keeper on a couple of occasions.

All’s well that ends well for the Angels and they move on to a sterner test against potential champions Welling United at Holmesdale next Tuesday.

Published Tuesday 9th April 2024