Crucial draw for U16s
Late equaliser for Angels shares points
After a week without a game Tonbridge Angels U16s arrived at the Gallagher Stadium eager to play football, and optimistic that they could better the result and performance from the home leg.
With the winter sun shining down on the pitch the referee got us underway. Maidstone started quickly and put the Angels under pressure, and within 90 seconds the score was 1-0 to Maidstone; a miscue in the defence had given Tonbridge Angels the worst possible start.
The pressure kept coming and although the Angels were trying to play their way out of trouble and through the pressure it was tough going. Further Maidstone pressure led to more chances and a second goal resulted from an inviting in-swinging cross, which no-one got on the end of, but drifted past the entire defence and goalkeeper.
The Angels didn’t hang their heads though and kept working, and their belief in playing passing football started to show results as Maidstones pressure was having less effect. The Angels were now controlling possession and territory, and chances were starting to come. Harvey fizzed a long range effort just wide, and soon after Luca played a ball through to Dylan who saw his powerful shot well saved. A couple of good freekick deliveries from Josh Fisher tested the Maidstone backline, and Nik Ithier’s pace sown the left flank led to several chances that Tonbridge couldn’t quite convert. HT and Maidstone were 2-0 up, but there were definite signs that Angels could get back into the game.
The second half was more of the same with the Angels tireless in the work. Midway through the second half their effort was rewarded and after another attack that looked certain to result in a goal a Maidstone player fouled Luca, the result a penalty. Luca stepped up to take the penalty and confidently scored. 2-1.
The game started to become stretched with Maidstone realising that they hadn’t won yet, and Angels chasing a result that their hard work had earned. Chances arrived at either end, but the Angel’s back line worked hard to protect their goal and Hugh Jones was a reliable backstop when called upon, dealing well with several Maidstone crosses into the box. At the other end, Nik saw his shot hit the side netting, whilst Rob Myles unleashed a dipping left footed shot that was well saved. Tom Watson kept up the pressure with several long range shots that tested the Maidstone defence.
With just minutes to go Tonbridge Angels had a free kick from the left side of the pitch, midway into Maidstones half, and Josh Fisher stepped up to take it. His delivery wasagain perfect and his low out-swinging cross caused disarray in the defence. In the chaos Harvey Robinson, captain and Angels top scorer, found the time to pick out the bottom corner. 2-2.
The last few minutes were hectic and Maidstone had a few corners which Angels managed to defend. This was a well-earned draw from the Angels who finally saw rewards for their hard work and persistence, and the players deserve credit for the gritty nature of the comeback and the for the composed quality of their football. To fall behind away from home by two goals, to one of the top sides in the division, and work back to secure a draw, is testament to the ability of the team, and they’ll look to build on this performance in next week’s cup match against Westerham.