Three more precious points for U18s
Goalkeeper injury doesn't deter Angels
For the second consecutive game, Tonbridge Under-18s had to play for 45 minutes without a regular goalkeeper after Lewis Mitchell sustained an injury in the 36th minute. He soldiered on until the break but didn’t appear for the second half with Louis Pateman taking over between the sticks.
Kingstonian provided much sterner opposition than their lowly league position suggested they would and a competitive first half ensued. Chances were very much at a premium as Tonbridge struggled to get going, much to the credit of the Kingstonian back line that were well organised.
It took a full half-hour for the Kingstonian goalkeeper to be tested but Matthew Allison was up to the task touching over the bar an effort from Sid Sollis.
Sollis, who had a frustrating first half-hour in which his touch was unusually heavy and was missing the pin-point delivery of an absent Tommy Chapman, came to life with a shot from 40 yards that didn’t trouble Allison but seemed to provide the spark that ignited his evening.
After 36 minutes a pass through the centre of the Tonbridge defence sent Orlando George chasing a 50/50 ball with Mitchell diving at his feet. The subsequent collision left the goalkeeper with an injured leg from which he ultimately substituted.
In the first minute of first half added time, Sollis, from wide on the left hand side and about 35 yards out produced a shot that whistled past Allison and into the net.
Mitchell’s substitution introduced Ziyad Ghali and the young striker was on the score sheet within five minutes. A shot from 20 yards from Sollis came back off the underside of the crossbar and Ghali was on hand to nod home the rebound.
Kingstonian were back in the game quickly when a shot from George from 25 yards was too much for Pateman but, within two minutes, Tonbridge had restored their two goal advantage when a free kick from Liam McCreadie found the head of Jack Bray whose effort was well saved by Ellison but the rebound was headed home by Jack Fenton.
The Tonbridge back line, with Bray dropping into the central defensive spot, did well to protect their goalkeeper limiting Kingstonian to a single shot that Pateman saved with his feet.
The game was made safe with a piece of individual brilliance by Ghali who left a couple of defenders in his wake before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home.
Kingstonian added a second to the scoreline three minutes from time when George converted a cross from Kailen North to score from close range.
In injury time, Sollis cut in from the left and sent a shot agonisingly wide that would have been a delicious icing on the cake.
Manager Billy Thornton commented after the game that they made it hard for themselves in the first half but the second half performance showed the characters they have in the squad whilst accepting it wasn’t a great performance.
League leaders Merstham, as expected, won 9-2 at Raynes Park Vale to maintain their two point lead over the Angels. Third place Maidstone visit Longmead next Monday and also have Merstham to play in their run-in and they will have a big say in the destination of this close run title race.