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Angels and Gills share the honours

Mid-season friendly ends all square at wet and windy Longmead

Tonbridge Angels welcomed Gillingham B team to a wet and windy Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium for a mid-season friendly.

Jay Saunders picked a team that rested players that have seen plenty of game time this season but included Devonte Aransibia and Jordan Greenidge alongside Jamie Fielding. Academy players and graduates, Nat Gibb and Hayden Velvick started as well as the Under-18’s skipper Will Puffette.

Gillingham’s B team do not compete in any league and free of those constraints, friendly matches have been arranged throughout the season, against fellow professional clubs B/Under-21 sides and non league clubs with the aim of bridging the gap between their senior and junior ranks. Tonight’s Gillingham team contained seven players with first team experience in the EFL Trophy.

Despite having an early chance that saw Aransibia fire over, it was the Gills that had the first opportunity when they were awarded a penalty after 10 minutes with Ronald Sithole being brought down in the box. However, from the spot, Josh Chambers put his shot wide of the post.

After 14 minutes there was a long break in play as Angels goalkeeper, Gibb, received attention for a head injury sustained after collecting a cross. He was stretchered from the pitch to be replaced by Under-18 goalkeeper, Toby Edwards.

On 26 minutes the Angels went in front when Francis Mampolo when he guided his shot from a tight angle past Taite Holtam and into the back of the net.

Just before the break, Edwards excelled with a fine save to deny Matty Macarthur’s well struck effort from 20 yards whilst Fielding headed just over from a Liam Vincent cross in the extended added time.

Mampolo had an early effort saved by Holtam before substitutions brought Leo Vowles and Shea Hutchinson, a trialist, into the action with Fielding and Velvick having served their time.

Gillingham largely dominated possession but efforts from Sam Skipper and a trialist failed to work Edwards.

Further Angels Under-18 players, Felix Waring and Reuben Etherington replaced Aransibia and Ansu Janneh after 70 minutes.

The Gills finally got themselves level with nine minutes remaining when Chambers was sent clear to round Edwards and tuck the ball home.

Edwards once more excelled in the first minute of time added saving well from a trialist with the follow-up also blocked in what proved to be the last action of a very wet evening for a hardy attendance of 117.

Jay Saunders said after the game: "We thank Gillingham for coming down. A lot needed minutes so it was a good exercise against a good set-up."

It was a good run-out for the Angels ahead of Saturday's clash with top-of-the-table Yeovil Town and our thoughts and best wishes for a speedy recovery go to Nat Gibb.

Published Tuesday 6th February 2024 (last updated Wednesday 7th February 2024)