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Hemel Hempstead Town 2
Folivi (56')
0 Tonbridge Angels

Early second half "wobble" costs the Angels

Two early second half goals consigned Tonbridge Angels to defeat at Hemel Hempstead Town’s Vauxhall Road, where fortune rarely favours the Angels. But, in all honesty, fortune had very little to do with an indifferent performance from Jay Saunders’ team.

A very chilly Hertfordshire greeted the Angels support alongside the team news that new signing Devonte Aransibia had gone straight into the starting XI. Jamie Fielding for Ethan Sutcliffe and Paris Lock for Ansu Janneh, who dropped to the bench were the changes from the home win against Weymouth with Jernade Meade also absent through injury. On the bench were Hayden Velvick who had been recalled from his dual registration at Rusthall and there was a surprise inclusion for Sonny Fish.

The first half was a dull affair with neither side gaining the upper hand. Mo Dabre was playing in the unaccustomed position of left back in Meade's absence and doing a very competent job.

The first goalkeeper to be tested was Hemel’s Craig King, who comfortably held Aransibia’s free kick from the edge of the box. Hemel began to apply the greater of the pressure without particularly testing Jonny Henly.

On the cusp of the break, a nicely worked Angels move involving Lock and Jordan Greenidge ended with the former seeing his effort saved by the feet of King.

A poor start to the second period saw Tonbridge quickly fall two goals behind from set pieces. Within a minute of the restart, a corner from George Williams sent to beyond the far post was headed back across the face of goal from where Josh Hill buried a close range header past Henly.

A cross saw two Hemel forwards attempting a overhead kick but they did little more than put each other off before the Tudors doubled their advantage on 56 minutes when Myles Judd stood up a great cross that found Michael Folivi in space to head home an easy finish.

Sean Shields brought a good save out of King as the Angels mounted a decent response that also saw a Jordan Higgs header go wide.

Twenty-five minutes remained as Jay Saunders reshaped his attack, bringing on Velvick for Aransibia, who was tiring after very little game time of late, followed by the return of Fish as Greenidge made way. This brought a different focus to the front line with extra movement but, despite this, they continued to be well marshalled by Hemel’s strong central defensive partnership.

Henly kept the Angels hopes alive on 77 minutes with a fine save from Judd but the game slipped away from them with King only troubled by a late effort from Dabre.

Jay Saunders was disappointed with his side’s beginning to the second half: “We started the second half poorly. We allowed them to put entries into our box and they are a threat from set pieces. We had a wobble for 10 minutes and it is frustrating. The changes we had to make to the back four did not help.”

Published Saturday 13th January 2024