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Tonbridge Angels Academy 4
Shave (), Thomas (), Velvick (,)
1 Hollands & Blair

Opening day win for Academy

As with any academic year, the Academy new intake is integrated into returning second and third year students leaving the opening outing a learning curve for both the management and players alike. The new intake have, for a third consecutive season, to take their places in a side as reigning champions, the team whose title the rest of the division aspire too.

Hollands and Blair, new to the National League Under-19 Alliance this season, for 30 minutes looked every inch one of those aspiring clubs as they dominated the early stages and were well worth their lead, taken on 15 minutes, when a defence splitting pass allowed a shot into the bottom corner.

Debutant goalkeeper, Jay Blake, had already had to show his mettle with two sharp saves before he was beaten and five minutes later, the visitors might have doubled their advantage when a free header cleared the bar.

As the Angels youngsters started to find their feet with a fine move involving Hayden Velvick and Ollie Thomson that ended with Josh McArthur shooting narrowly wide, they enjoyed a stroke of fortune as a shot struck the left hand post after 29 minutes.

As the pace of Velvick began to unsettle the Blair defence, the Academy imposed a threat in the final 15 minutes of the half culminating with an equaliser five minutes before the break when the striker was sent clear to shoot into the bottom corner from a fairly acute angle on the left side.

Not satisfied with ending the half on level terms, the Angels went ahead in added time when McArthur set up Alex Shave to finish from close range.

The home side doubled their advantage just two minutes after the restart when a free kick from Leo Vowles was headed on by Shave for Ashton Thomas to hook home.

The Angels were now confidently in control of the game and went further ahead on 69 minutes with a fine team goal involving Vowles and Thomas that allowed Velvick a finish at the far post.

Velvick was denied his hat-trick on 70 minutes when he saw his shot cleared from the line and, five minutes later, from a Steve Southern cross, the goalkeeper saved.

Blake was tested on a couple of occasions in the final 20 minutes but the Angels were largely in control of the game with substitute Max O’Neil having a shot saved.

Manager Tommy Parkinson commented after the game that “there had been lots learnt and much to improve on in the coming weeks.” 

Published Wednesday 13th September 2023