U16s back in action at last
Creditable draw with Tunbridge Wells
The Angels finally completed a game after a month without a 90 minute runout. With a cancellation, two abandoned games and an unscheduled week, any momentum built up after good results against Maidstone United and Ebbsfleet had likely dissipated. Tunbridge Wells meanwhile came into the game sitting fifth in the league and were going to present a tough test for the Angels, having triumphed by 6 goals to nil in the season opener. To make the Angels job even tougher Luca was still suspended, and our goalkeeper Hugh is out injured with a severely broken nose. With another two players missing on the day it was hardly the team that had picked up points in previous games. On the plus side, stand in keeper Rory had showed himself a more than able deputy over 60 minutes against Ebbsfleet the previous week, and the performances throughout the squad during the two abandoned games had been encouraging.
With the gusting wind in their favour, Tunbridge Wells started the brighter, rattling the bar early from a dangerous free kick, and forcing Rory into a couple of good saves from close quarters. After that initially flurry the Angels fought back into the game, and from that point on the away side were mostly limited to chances from set pieces, which reflected a very solid performance from Fred, Josh and Andy, who were led by Harvey Robinson and supported by GK Rory.
On a windy day the first half saw few chances, with midfield control difficult to come by for both sides. The Angels were outnumbered in the midfield four against five, and each of the players battled tremendously and more than held their own. With Tom and Charlie hustling well in the centre, Nik was able to trouble his opposing full back with his close control and abundance of pace, whilst Rob continued to improve on the other flank, despite playing through a back injury sustained the previous week. That workrate was matched by Harvey Westerman when he made an appearance after half time from the bench, despite playing in an unfamiliar central role for a time.
The second half saw more chances for Tonbridge, who finished looking like the stronger side despite their lack of regular match action over the last month. Dylan continues to grow into the centre forward role, mixing power and skill as he held the ball up superbly and made fools of his markers on more than one occasion. Alongside him Alfie offered a similar blend, and was a constant threat in behind the Tunbridge Wells defence. One such occasion saw Alfie pressuring a back pass that the opposing GK only just hacked away.
All of the Angels' best chances came in the final quarter, as the home side turned the screw on a tiring Tunbridge Wells side. Alfie picked up the ball in the inside right position and turned the defender, drove for the byline and cut inside before pulling the ball back for Dylan. His shot was deflected just past the post, but it was further evidence of the growing partnership between the two strikers. Later Nik cut inside from the right wing and saw a fantastic cross-come-shot well saved around the post. And towards the end of the game Alfie had two further chances from near the edge of the box; the first after a powerful run took him past a couple of defenders, the second after a clever pass from Rob on the right flank. Unfortunately both shots were narrowly off target, flying just over and a little wide respectively. As the game stretched Wells looked to open up the Angels defence on the counter attack, but found Fred and Co, well shielded by Tom, in no mood to concede.
Overall a draw was probably a fair result, with both teams largely cancelling each other out. That said the Angels left slightly disappointed knowing they could have pinched a goal as they finished the game on the front foot. That late game dominance has been an encouraging feature of recent performances against K Sports, Maidstone and Ebbsfleet, and is a good indication that the confidence and ability of this new side is growing. The defence will be very pleased with a clean sheet and on another day the attackers would have a goal to shout about. Overall, the Angels put in another strong team performance with every player working hard for each other and continuing to improve, which leaves us excited for the remainder of the season.