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Welling United 1
Breece (68')
2 Tonbridge Angels U18
Mgbeze (), Fabimafobee (88')

Party Poopers!

Tonbridge Angels Under-18’s gatecrashed the party on a wet night at Holmesdale with two late goals to deny Welling United the league title on the night, leaving them sitting helplessly whilst Cray Valley complete their final two games with victory in both enough to snatch the title.

Manager Dom Welsh was justly proud of his team that had shown resilience, spirit and no small amount of skill in terms of the finishes that dampened the celebrations. “What a game to be involved in, 1-0 down with two minutes to play, to earn all three points epitomises the desire and determination this group showed tonight.”

The game was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Angels U18’s. Shorn of their commanding central defensive partnership of skipper Will Puffette and Ben Martin-Coward and the influential Sam Firman on a dreadful pitch that was not going to suit either side.

The storm clouds were gathering but at kick-off time the pitch was dry, but the grass was long and the surface bumpy as the Angels fashioned the opening chance after two minutes when the ball fell to Cameron Honarvar in front of goal but there was too many bodies around him and his effort was blocked and eventually cleared to safety.

The game ebbed and flowed with both sides having spells in which the chances fell to them. After eight minutes a left-sided corner flashed across the face of the Angels goal with nobody to add the finishing touch and after 15 minutes a shot drifted narrowly wide.

The Angels, playing down the discernible hill, had their period from 20 minutes in when an Adam Larkin shot brought a save from the goalkeeper and successive efforts from Felix Waring were not too far wide or high.

On 42 minutes, Welling were awarded a penalty when a Welling attack saw a player brought down on the far right side of the box. But, Toby Edwards was equal to his penalty taker, diving low to his left to save.

The storm clouds had turned to heavy rain as the second half began and the bumpy surface now had an added slippery element. Tonbridge had to repel an almighty scramble in front of their own goal after 10 minutes and whilst Tolu Fabimafobee stretched the Welling goalkeeper, a goal had been coming when Welling took the lead on 68 minutes when Breece found himself the man over on the left to drive home and spark ridiculously over-the-top celebrations, considering there were 20 minutes (that actually turned in 30 minutes) remaining.

Tonbridge dug deep as emotions ran high and weathered the storm, literally, and with just two minutes remaining Fabimafobee ran from deep through a stretched Welling defence before despatching his shot into the bottom corner.

With the title now out of their hands, Welling threw bodies forward in search of the winner but the Angels stood firm and when Honarvar cleared from defence, Ethan Mgbeze strode clear before striking his shot cleanly into the bottom corner.

The Angels had to survive a final free kick that eventually came back off the bar to preserve a memorable win.

There’s a famous old saying; “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” and with 20 minutes to go she wasn’t even clearing her throat.

With one game remaining, at Glebe next Wednesday, a top three finish is secure for Dom Welsh’s lads and of that they can rightly celebrate.

Published Wednesday 17th April 2024