Honours even for U16s
Perseverance to the fore as the Angels recover from 2-0 down to secure draw
This was the first game the Angels U16’s team had played since before Christmas and the opening ten minutes was a test in getting back up to speed. Early pressure from Ebbsfleet led to several chances, however Angels rode it out and spent the rest of the first half building into the game.
The players didn’t panic and continued to work together as a team. The first half had few chances, although the Angels had started to look more threatening, with Josh Fisher, Tom Watson and Nik Ithier linking well down the left flank. The striker for the day Dylan played incredibly well, holding the ball up effectively and using his strength and good close control to allow the Angels to move up the pitch.
At half time it was 0-0. The second half started in a similar fashion with Ebbsfleet attempting to manufacture early pressure, but it wasn’t until mid-way through the half where the Ebbsfleet left winger managed to get in behind the fullback, sprinted away and finished cooly past the Angels keeper.
The Angels were not deterred and immediately attempted to strike back. The home side were denied what looked to be a clear penalty, as Luca drove athletically into the box only to be dragged down by the Ebbsfleet defender with the goal at his mercy. From the resulting corner kick Tom Watson saw an excellent header saved acrobatically by the keeper, whilst captain Harvey Robinson shot just wide after bringing the ball down from a free kick. Alfie Barclay, who had struggled to get into the game early on, now started to see some reward for his perseverance and saw a shot-come-pass creep agonisingly wide of the post, with the keeper stranded.
The game had become stretched and Ebbsfleet capitalised where Tonbridge hadn’t. Too many Angels players were caught up field and ended up leaving the defence exposed and outnumbered, a good shot from the edge of the box into the side netting of the goal put Ebbsfleet 2-0 up. Just 5 minutes to go. It seemed like it was all over, and it took a great save from Hugh Jones after an Ebbsfleet corner moments later to prevent the away side finishing the game off.
However the players didn’t give up, they knew they deserved something from this game and they were going to get it. Tom Watson capped an impressive performance by picking up the ball and driving from centre midfield into the box, where an Ebbsfleet player tripped him. Penalty. Alfie Barclay stepped up and finished calmly into the bottom corner. The comeback was on, but time was ticking away. Angels had now started hitting longer balls forward, hoping for some luck, and it came their way. Fred Johns pushed the ball forward, Dylan headed the ball on and just over the defence, Alfie reacted first and sprinted onto it, finishing past the keeper. 2-2.
A frantic last minute saw Luca sent off for a second yellow card, with frustration on his part high after a missed chance, and the earlier denied penalty claim. Overall Tonbridge Angels can be happy with the result, and another step in the right direction. It takes time to build a team, but on Sunday they looked more like a team than they have all season, they never gave up and those two things will hopefully lead to a strong 2017