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Tonbridge Angels 2
Greenidge (36'), Lyons-Foster (72')
1 Weymouth
Bearwish (42')

Home, sweet home for the Angels

Tonbridge Angels returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Weymouth, who might return to home to Dorset a little disappointed such was the evenly matched nature of the game.

It is a case of home, sweet home for the Angels, who are now nine unbeaten at the Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium, a run that stretches back to early September.

Jay Saunders was able to welcome back Sean Shields to the starting XI against Maidstone United and there was a return to the bench for Jamie Fielding after his head injury sustained against Dartford prior to Christmas, but the manager would have been disappointed to lose his captain Scott Wagstaff to injury. New signing Paris Lock dropped down to the bench with Ansu Janneh starting.

Tonbridge started well against a Weymouth side who had a good Christmas with four points from their back-to-back games with Weston-super-Mare, but the best chance of the opening 20 minutes fell to Brandon Goodship, who spurned a golden opportunity at the far post after the ball had been delivered across the face of goal from the right and a couple of minutes later Dorking Wanderers loanee Alfie Rutherford brought a good save out of Jonny Henly.

Tonbridge edged their way back into the game and good work from Mo Dabre opened up a shooting opportunity for Ansu Janneh that Weymouth goalkeeper, Gerrard Benfield was equal to.

A meandering run from midfield from Tariq Hinds saw him progress to the edge of the box before his shot took a deflection for a corner.

The Angels finally got their noses in front after 35 minutes when Lewis Gard danced his way along the left byeline before sliding a pass into Jordan Greenidge who had a tap-in from about a yard out against one of his former clubs.

The goal prompted the visitors into a positive response with a header from Harry Parsons saved by Henly before, two minutes before the break, a well worked move down the left saw Rutherford slip the ball inside to Tom Bearwish, who finished well from a tight angle to even things up at the break.

Saunders, not best pleased with his side’s first half performance, made a half-time substitution with Paris Lock replacing Ansu Janneh.

Lock immediately brought some pace and directness to the Angels attack and was only denied by the feet of the advancing Benfield after 56 minutes and 10 minutes later he was narrowly wide of the far post after being sent clear by Hinds.

The Angels regained the lead on 71 minutes when a Shields corner was met with a stooping near post header from Kodi Lyons-Foster from edge of the six yard box into the bottom corner.

The result remained in doubt throughout the last 20 minutes as Weymouth pushed hard for an equaliser but were reasonably contained by the Angels back line that had been reinforced with the introduction of Fielding for Dabre.

In time added, Benfield was robbed a long way from his goal on the left touchline by Lock whose audacious effort sadly only found the side netting.

When asked how he thought his team had played, Jay Saunders replied: "Not very good! We have standards and we didn't hit those standards and, to be fair, Weymouth have given it good go in the second half. So, we are disappointed with the performance but pleased with the three points. In the second half, we just did not get going. Paris [Lock} was a positive and, if it hadn't been for illness this week, he would probably have started. But where we are as a squad, if we lose the likes of Waggy or Shields we haven't got the options to address that."

The win elevates the Angels to ninth position in National League South ahead of next Saturday’s visit to Hemel Hempstead Town.

Published Saturday 6th January 2024