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Dartford 1
Rooney (31')
0 Tonbridge Angels

Angels edged out in Kent derby

Tonbridge travelled to face Dartford in what was a high-pressure game for both sides.

Tonbridge came into the game on the back of a disappointing cup exit as did their hosts who have also been struggling for results in the opening weeks of the league campaign. 

Angels lined up with Henly in goal, Fielding, Swift, Lyons-Foster, Hinds, Meade, Higgs, Wagstaff, Santos, Turner, Greenidge.

The hosts kicked off and were on the front foot from the outset with a penalty appeal turned away and a couple of corners that were relatively easily defended.

With less five minutes on the clock, Jeremy Santos limped out of the game after going down following a challenge, holding his knee. Lewis Gard, back on the bench after a spell out, came on as substitute.

Joe Turner forced the first Angels corner on 11 minutes which led to another as it was headed behind by an opposition player, the subsequent corner coming to nothing. 

Tonbridge had grown into the game, sloppy at times, they had no choice but to adapt and improve.

A loose ball in the box on 17 minutes could have been the opener for the Darts if it wasn’t for Jamie Fielding’s headed clearance in front of his goal. Four minutes later, Dartford’s Manor headed wide with a skimmed header.

On the half an hour mark, better signs were apparent for the visitors, Joe Turner again forcing a corner which didn’t come to fruition.

Despite the improvement, it was Dartford who opened the scoring. Kodi Lyons-Foster blocked an initial shot from inside the box but, unfortunately, the rebounding ball fell for Paul Rooney who struck low and hard into the bottom right-hand corner through multiple bodies.

Nearer to half time, Tonbridge had their best passage, Joe Turner with a thumped shot from 20 yards testing the Beeney who had to retrieve the ball at the second attempt. Jordan Higgs, minutes later, shot from the same area but giving the keeper easier work to do.

Half Time: Dartford 1, Tonbridge 0.

Ten minutes into the second half, Joe Turner was played in, he cut in from the left onto his right foot and shot, but the effort was deflected wide for a corner which came to nothing.

Not long after, Dartford were on the attack and threatened a second, Barzey striking through Ben Swift’s legs forcing a super reaction save from Jonny Henly down to his left-hand side. Henly was quickly called into action again with another Dartford chance coming his way, this time a header at the back post which Henly kept out. 

A good period for the hosts around the hour mark saw Henly worked hard. A Bradbury free kick from 30 yards which Jonny had to turn over the crossbar. The resulting corner caused carnage in the Angels box but somehow the ball stayed out the net and was cleared.

Approaching 70 minutes, the Angels had chances themselves. Jordan Greenidge was played in, got around the keeper but was halted by the last Dartford defender, Joe Turner also firing wide with a volley on the end of a Scott Wagstaff cross.

With 15 minutes left to play, Jordan Higgs was booked after a 50/50 challenge. It looked like he had won the ball, but the referee put the blame on the Angels player sparking mass debate.

A few soft shouts for a penalty came as the game was coming to a close, but the referee rightly dismissed them and the game ended with defeat for Angels on the road.

Jay Saunders commented “We switched off for one minute and we conceded, that’s the way it goes sometimes. We’ve had chances today, got in some good areas but we didn’t score a goal and that’s what counts. We’re not a million miles off and that’s the frustrating thing.”

Published Saturday 23rd September 2023