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Tonbridge Angels 1
Wagstaff (8')
1 Chelmsford City
Jenkins (33')

Hard earned point with ten men

Tonbridge hosted Chelmsford at Longmead on Saturday. On the back of three draws, the visitors were desperate for a win. The Angels themselves were looking to build some home form after a superb win on the road vs Truro.

Just eight minutes into the game, Tonbridge opened the scoring. Scott Wagstaff finished home after a long-range effort from Jordan Higgs forced Joshua Oluwayemi in the visitors’ net to parry the ball. It came back into the path of the Angels captain who made no mistake in finishing the ball in front of the home fans.

A few minutes later, the Chelmsford fans (who travelled well) were appealing for a penalty. Jonny Henly couldn't keep hold of a strong shot and the loose ball fell before Callum Jones. Henly dived to collect, Higgs beat him to it and booted clear but the goalkeeper was accused of pulling down Jones. The referee waved it away confidently.

With a good foundation, the Angels were looking relatively comfortable but on 14 minutes, the lead was tarnished. Jamie Fielding, whilst facing his own goal, attempted to square the ball to Ben Swift. Fielding's pass wasn't strong enough to reach him, instead the ball fell into Jermaine Francis’ path. Ben Swift was left chasing and, as the winger came inside, he went down outside the box after suspected contact. It'll definitely be one to watch back but, as Francis was one-on-one with Henly, the referee dismissed Swift who has already seen red this campaign. Nothing came of the resulting free kick which was angled straight at the wall.

Due to the red, Tariq Hinds slotted into right back and Jamie Fielding moved across to cover the gap left by Swift's red. 

Despite being a man down, Angels showed character and continued to create chances including an effort by Sean Shields from distance, which forced a strong save.

Perhaps it was because of a missing man, maybe it wasn't, either way, former Angel Luke Jenkins evened the score line after 33 minutes. The defender nodded home a header from a whipped corner and beat Henly at his far post. Chelmsford closed the half strongly, but efforts from Bettamer and Alfa stayed out of the net and, at half time, it remained 1-1.

Naturally with an extra player, Chelmsford were the favourites going into the second half. Tonbridge were forced to try and protect the draw and keep the point they had so far earned.

A couple of substitutions were made at half time for the visitors. Most notably, Samir Curruthers was introduced and had an instant impact delivering a teasing ball two minutes into the second half. He was a strong contributor for the visitors throughout the second period, putting the ball in all the right places to cause problems. Despite his work, Angels dealt with the resulting chances and showed great character in an uphill battle. 

Ethan Sutcliffe, who's been thrown into the deep end for Tonbridge, tackled crucially with 66 minutes played, denying Jermaine Francis who'd been lively all game. 

With 20 minutes left, the pressure ramped up. Barbrook's shot from distance for Chelmsford was a scary moment for the fans watching on, but it fell just wide. Curruthers had no better luck when striking a free kick onto the crossbar in the closing stages.

Jordan Higgs had the chance to play Jordan Greenidge through after a break late on, but he couldn't quite carve the ball out. From then onwards, it was about winding down the clock and the referee's whistle came on time for Angels to ensure they gained a hard earned but well deserved point.

Tonbridge Angels 1, Chelmsford City 1.

Published Saturday 4th November 2023