Under 18s - Match centre

Tonbridge Angels
Mon 5 Dec 19:45 - Cup Full time

U18's through in Kent Invitational Cup

Last gasp equaliser proves to be the key

With just a minute remaining, Lordswood must have thought they had won this Kent Invitational Cup tie following a spectacular 25 yard strike from Jake Everett that rocketed over the head of the Angels’ Under-16s goalkeeper, Hugh Jones. In a very evenly contested game, the Lordwood supporters would probably have felt that the potential winner was no more than they deserved.

But Tonbridge roared straight back and within 60 seconds were back level when Guy Taylor, sent clear by a sublime through ball from Connor Watson. Taylor kept his composure and slid the ball past the advancing Lords’ goalkeeper to level the score and send the tie into, a largely unwanted, extra time.

On a cold evening, the spectator’s extremities had reached the point of numbness and with another game at Greenwich Borough set for Thursday, it was the last thing that manager Jay Stubberfield wanted.

The visitors opened the game well and dominated the opening 15 minutes, so it was somewhat against the run of play when the Angels went ahead after 17 minutes. Sid Sollis was fouled on the right hand angle of the box and from the resultant free kick directed towards the far post, Jack Bray volleyed into the net from around six yards.

Tonbridge gained confidence from their lead with Ziyad Ghali, Bray and a rampaging run and shot from Alex Bishop testing the Lords’ defence, but, all the time, the visitors had a threat of their own with their captain Bradley Taylor to the forefront.

Lordswood got an equaliser that their first half effort had richly deserved when Joe Gravenell struck a well-placed shot into the net from the edge of the box.

Tonbridge picked up the pace in the second half with the majority of the efforts on goal coming from them. A rasping shot from Bray, who got through a mountain of work during the 120 minutes, was just over and Ghali shot marginally wide. But in general, a lack of quality in the final third was the reason the game wasn’t won in normal time.

After Everett and Taylor’s goals had sent the game into extra-time, Tonbridge’s quality became to shine through as tiredness took its toll. A pin-point cross from the right by Bishop was met with a firm header from Bray to give the Angels the lead after 104 minutes and the game was wrapped up with a minute remaining when a good move completely opened up the Lords’ defence allowing Jack Fenton to strike from the edge of the box.

Jay Stubberfield agreed after the match that Lordswood had been very good opponents and contributed to a good game. He paid tribute to his Under-16s, Hugh Jones, Nic Weedon and Harvey Robinson who had shown real potential. He was also high on praise for Ryan Gallifant who had an exceptional evening and Jack Bray, responding to the comment he had got through a mountain of work, quipped he is a man mountain.

Jay is hopeful that some of his walking wounded will be fit to return at Greenwich Borough.

Report by Wink Tomkinson

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