Angels stun St Albans with courageous comeback
Angels took the trip to St Albans on Saturday afternoon. A fresh day north of the capital was the setting for the clash. Falling on the eleventh of November, this game saw both clubs’ players, officials and supporters observing two minutes of silence as they remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The only change from Tonbridge’s stalemate with Hampton on Tuesday was Jordan Greenidge into the side replacing (now suspended) Ben Swift. The change saw Hinds shifting to right-back, Fielding to centre-back, Wagstaff out to the right flank and Fish dropping into the number 10 role to make room for Greenidge at 9. A familiar face was present in the opposition eleven, Ibby Akanbi started in a forward role for the hosts.
Early on, it felt like a cagey contest. Both sides were trying to get a feel for the game and consequently, neither looked convincing. Angels had opportunities to find a ball in behind but on most occasions, whether Fish or Greenidge, they couldn’t get onto it or they were flagged offside.
St Albans took hold of the game after 15 minutes, and from a four versus three situation, Shaun Jeffers did everything but beat Jordan Higgs who was the hero, clearing off the line in dramatic style.
With just over half an hour played, there was a turning point. Jeffers went down in the box after a soft tackle from Sutcliffe and the referee was sold, awarding the hosts a spot-kick. Jeffers himself stepped up and slotted smartly past Henly into the bottom right.
10 minutes later and nearing half time, Jernade Meade carved a clever cross-field ball towards captain Scott Wagstaff. The skipper struggled to bring the ball in towards goal and despite the keeper being in no man’s land, the eventual lob posed no risk to the score line.
Just two minutes later and looking more comfortable in the game, Tariq Hinds made a mistake at the back that was punished by Ryan Blackman who pounced on Hinds’ wayward pass and tucked home.
At the break, Angels were left with a lot to do in the second half.
Despite the chance to regroup in the dressing room, Tonbridge weren’t inspiring in the opening minutes of the second period. St Albans were constantly looking to deliver balls into the Angels box and had relative success doing so.
With an hour played, Sonny Fish was replaced by Francis Mampolo. That was when the game changed, not because of the departure of Fish who’d played well, but the arrival of Mampolo who brought energy and creativity when Tonbridge needed it most.
Instantly a flurry of attacking moves came from the right flank, Mampolo delivering crosses and taking on the opposition fullback on multiple occasions.
On 71 minutes, Wagstaff (who had now moved central) shifted the ball to Mampolo who drove into the box and put it on a plate for Greenidge who made no mistake, scoring his third of the season and giving the Angels one back.
Within two minutes, incredibly, Angels scored again to equalise. Sean Shields (who’d had a quiet game) delivered a moment of magic. Having received the ball initially facing away from goal, he did exceptionally to find an angle and beat the keeper impressively from short range to bring the visitors right back into contention.
Now level, Angels had the wind up their tails and were looking so positive, building momentum with every chance. Twice in the eighty-fifth minute, Tonbridge struck the post; Jordan Higgs from distance hit the left post with a low driven effort and Mampolo from the right fired the second warning.
A massive transformation from the start of the half, Tonbridge were now the favourites and despite some frantic and nervy moments at both ends of the pitch, they were rewarded when, after many threats, Greenidge fired home sparking carnage behind the goal and in the dugout.
With just seconds left and almost defeated, St Albans had one last chance after their kick off. Ethan Sutcliffe made a fantastic tackle to prevent developing danger and a hopeful shot was saved and secured by Henly.
The referee then blew the full time whistle, confirming an emphatic victory for Tonbridge that they wrestled from the depths.
St Albans City 2, Tonbridge Angels 3