Angels U18s edge out Nut and Bolts
Important win against form side
Two second half goals from Jack Cussen, both headers from Tommy Chapman corners, turned a half-time 1-0 deficit into three valuable points.
Ashford United came into the game on the back of five straight wins including eye-catching wins against fellow title challengers Merstham and Maidstone and are vastly improved from the side that the Angels beat 4-2 at Homelands back in October.
Tonbridge fell behind after 19 minutes in which they had created no less than seven attempts on goal. But with Ashford’s first counter attack that caught Jardell Conteh stranded in the opposition half, Harry Lacey sprinted into the space vacated and produced a cross that Clark Woodcock was able to convert from close range.
The Ashford goalkeeper, Aaron Warton, had earlier produced saves from Liam Smith, Jack Bray and Cussen to deny the hosts.
The goal set back Tonbridge and for the rest of the half they struggled to reproduce the creativity of the first 20 minutes. Lewis Mitchell saved well from Matt Kirby and produced an ever better save to thwart Woodcock.
Billy Thornton made a half-time change replacing an injured Conteh with Alex Bishop, whose pace stretched the visitors during the second period.
Tonbridge were on equal terms within two minutes of the restart when a Chapman corner was met with a powerful header from Cussen from the centre of the six yard box.
Ashford continued to carry a threat and Mitchell produced a superb save, high to his right and from the resultant corner Dominic Welsh cleared from the line whilst covering the far post.
Chapman had a productive seven minutes in which he sent in a cross that begged a touch but none was found; then a shot from outside of the box that was well saved by Warton and, in the 73rd minute, a deep corner was headed home from the tightest of angles from beyond the far post by Cussen.
A high up and under from Smith resulted in Bishop being clattered by Warton to concede a penalty after 76 minutes. The goalkeeper redeemed himself with a fine save, low to his left, from Ziyad Ghali’s spot kick.
The last ten minutes saw chances for both sides, Warton saving from Harvey Killick and Ghali whilst Mitchell saved from Kirby.
Billy Thornton said afterwards: “I never thought we were going to lose the game. First half they had two chances, one of them they scored and the other Mitch pulled off a stunning save. Apart from that we had the ball for long periods of the game. We sat down at half-time and told the lads that we will make more chances. We believed that Ashford were looking tired and once we got one, we would get a few more. Two outstanding deliveries from Tommy Chapman and two fantastic headers, especially the second goal from a tight angle.”
All Tonbridge can do is win their games and hope that Merstham slip up somewhere along the line. This was a game that Ashford made them work hard for the points, but was well deserved by the finish.
Thanks to Wink Tomkinson for report