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Impressive Angels secure point at Dartford

A brilliant performance from the Angels saw them earn a point at Princes Park

It was always going to be the sternest of challenges for Tonbridge Angels visit to Princes Park and National League South hot favourites Dartford who had an unblemished record from their first five games.

But, as the Angels’ supporters filed away from Princes, if they could have been party to Steve McKimm’s post match comments, they would have given a rousing “hear, hear”!

Steve commented: “I couldn’t be prouder of the boys. They did exactly what we asked them to do. It wasn’t as if we sat everyone behind the ball. We stood strong and credit to every one of the players for a deserved point today.”

Tonbridge were simply magnificent, fully deserving of their point and, arguably could have taken all three with a first-ever win at Princes Park.

McKimm chose an unchanged side with Tommy Parkinson and Zak Guerfi returning to the bench alongside new signing Jamie Fielding.

The away fans, perhaps fearing the worst from the outset were nervously viewing the opening minutes when Jonny Henly made a fine save from Dan Roberts and from the resultant corner a header was directed over.

After 17 minutes, the visitors received a set back when the lively Ricky Modeste had to be replaced by Parkinson, but Tonbridge started to get a foothold in the game and the momentum was swinging in their favour.

Successive corners were forced, a free kick in a dangerous position was won and, on 24 minutes, a pin-point Joe Turner cross found the head of Tommy Wood, whose firm header from close range gave goalkeeper Dan Wilks no chance.

Tonbridge were absorbing any pressure comfortably whilst creating chances of their own and a 41st minute effort from Parkinson was not that far wide.

The half had entered into added time when from a free kick, Dartford’s Jack Jebb struck the right hand post, but a minute later the home side scored to enter the break on equal terms. A long ball forward saw Henly advance beyond his penalty area to head clear but the ball fell to Jebb who clinically executed a lob into the unguarded goal.

As would have been expected of the League leaders, Dartford came out in the second half with renewed purpose but the Tonbridge back line withstood the expected pressure and, on the break, were proving dangerous with Turner firing narrowly wide after 55 minutes.

Roberts brought a good low save from Henly on the hour whilst Beere tested Wilks at the other end.

Thirteen minutes from the end, the hard-working Wood was replaced by Ibrahim Olutade and five minutes later, the visiting support thought they were in dreamland when he met a Beere cross to head home. Sadly the celebrations were curtailed by the linesman’s flag indicating offside.

The closing moments were nervous ones but, in fairness, the Angels kept their hosts at arms length really quite comfortably to exact a point from a difficult place to get anything at all.

Wink Tomkinson

Published Saturday 11th September 2021