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Academy open Pre-Season with a win


Goal in each half enough to edge past Welling

The Academy opened up their preseason with a hard fought win at the University of Greenwich against Welling United with a goal in each half and, in no small measure, to the heroics of 15-year-old goalkeeper, Nat Gibb.

Academy boss Tommy Parkinson fielded a mixture of first and second year students with another team playing at King’s Hill, also against Welling.

Tonbridge opened up on the front foot with a shot on target from George Martin within the first minute and were ahead in two minutes when a fine run and cross from Sam Babayale sent Ned Snowden-Lewis clear to finish past the advancing Welling goalkeeper.

The Angels dominated the opening half-hour before Welling registered their first attempt on goal after 32 minutes which was well saved by Gibb. Prior to that Lewis shot at the goalkeeper and, on 19 minutes was unlucky to see his shot come back off the underside of the crossbar.

Having finally made their initial foray into the Angels’ territory, Welling ended the half the stronger with Gibb, who normally plays his football at Kent Youth League level on a Sunday morning with Todd Tyrie’s Under-16’s, making a trio of saves and generally looking very composed given his tender years. He was actually beaten on 36 minutes but Welling were denied their equaliser by an offside flag

The early part of the second period was competitive with both sides creating chances, Jacob Lambert and Sam Babayale firing over for Tonbridge and Welling being equally wasteful.

On the hour, a Lewis free kick was met with the head of Harry Hudson, who steered a great chance wide of the mark.

It was Welling’s turn to take the game to their opponents and, after 70 minutes, Gibb made a top drawer save, clawing the ball out of the top corner and this he followed up within a minute saving with his feet leaving the Welling coaching staff exasperated!

Tonbridge put the game to bed with 13 minutes to go with a fine move involving Lewis and Lambert to set up Louis Copeland with a tap-in at the far post. This they quickly followed with another flowing move that saw the ball into the net but ruled out for offside.

Tom Parkinson remarked after the game that his squad have a lot of potential but there is a great deal of work to be done. He felt that some of the decision making was rash and that on a first outing perhaps some were trying too hard to impress, often looking for the “Hollywood” ball. But, he was also quick to pay tribute to his young goalkeeper whom he had only seen previously in training.

He should have four or five players back from holiday next week for the games against Bromley before facing the champions Dover a week later in further pre-season games which he has deliberately selected to be against the better academies.

Team: Nat Gibb, Riley Morris, Sam Babayale, Ben Twist, Mikey Ryan, Harry Hudson, Louis Copeland, George Martin, Ned Lewis, Jacob Lambert, Malachi Babayale. Aidan Murphy was the lone substitute, but there were several rolling substitutions during the game.

Published Thursday 8th August 2019