Women defeated in first league game
It was a disappointing start to the Kent Division 1 West campaign for Tonbridge Angels Women as they went down 2-5 on a difficult surface at Petts Wood.
With two players lost to long-term injury manager Joe Rowe shuffled his pack with centre-back Beth Kemp accompanied by two 16-year olds Grace Nicholson and Freya Jones. Another 16-year old Erin Clouston took to the field at right wing-back while striker Grace Mayhead spearheaded the attack with Alice Grandpierre dropping to the bench.
In 30-degree early afternoon heat the Angels struggled to adapt their passing game to suit a hard uneven surface and their first half attacks tended to be restricted to set pieces, while the hosts looked to counter with pace. Tonbridge had not one but two let-offs in the first half with Petts Wood twice finding the net but being denied by the offside flag. At the other end there was a goal disallowed as well, this time the indiscretion was handball.
Four minutes into the second half however there was no respite as the hosts took the lead. As Tonbridge attempted to work the ball out from a goal kick Sophie McCormick picked up a loose pass in the midfield and launched a shot from some 30 yards which eluded goalkeeper Ashleigh Rhodes.
The Angels would now enter their best spell of play and when an equaliser arrived on 62 minutes it was well deserved. In spite of the pitch condition substitute Grandpierre had shown great composure on the ball since taking to the field and she started and finished the move, playing the ball out to wing-back Jade Folkard who turned her marker and returned the ball square. The central midfielder needed just two touches to drive the ball into the top corner and score the new team’s first competitive goal.
On 77 minutes the Tonbridge defence again lost possession in a dangerous area following a goal kick, and this allowed Beth Bunker to unleash a shot from 25 yards into the roof of the net. As the Angels were still looking to recover from this setback a controversial decision to award a penalty to Petts Wood for a challenge on the edge of the area put the game almost out of reach. Gabriella Hawkins converted the spot kick and two minutes later Holly Harris made it 4-1. There was still time for Aimee Churchill to capitalise on a rare home defensive error to reduce arrears to 4-2 but two minutes later Bunker had the final word scoring a fifth.