Sollis strike not enough as U18s suffer 2nd cup final defeat
New U21s manager, Chris Wye gives first interview
The final hurrah for Tonbridge’s Under-18 side didn’t quite end as we hoped as the Metropolitan Police Under-18s hit back from a goal down to win the game with nine minutes remaining.
Our Under-18 side will now break-up in its present format, some will leave for pastures new, some will stay to be within the newly-formed 17-21 year old age group which will be competing in the senior Suburban League next season.
That they fell short at the final hurdle shouldn't diminish the efforts of this talented group of players, not only from this season but also through the age groups for the last four years. Callum Adonis-Taylor, Sid Sollis and Liam Smith have all progressed to first team appearances whilst Tommy Chapman and Jack Fenton have been involved in senior squads.
The Champion of Champions Final was played at Tooting and Mitcham’s Imperial Fields on a bone hard, threadbare pitch that made any decent football difficult for both sides who spent the majority of the first half trying, and largely failing, to come to terms with the conditions.
Tonbridge carved out the first chance of the game when Chapman had a shot deflected for a corner and this was quickly followed by a five minute period in which the Angels were reduced to 10 men whilst Oliver Baker was treated for a bloody nose.
A cagey first half was to ensue, as said the pitch causing problems and neither side wanting to concede the first goal.
Metropolitan Police were forced into a substitution after 20 minutes when George Smethurst was replaced by Prince Eze, who went on to produce a performance that begged the question as to why he was on the bench in the first place.
What few chances that evolved were created from set pieces, Tonbridge’s from Chapman free kicks whilst the Met relied on the long throws from Luke Mitchell.
Lewis Mitchell made two smart saves at the end of the half to allow Tonbridge to go into the break on level terms. Firstly, a fine save low to his left to deny John Gilbert and an even better save acrobatically parrying away an effort from Jamie Autorino.
The Angels were forced into a half-time substitution when Chapman was replaced by Ziyad Ghali.
Mitchell was called into action again early in the second period brilliantly touching a shot from Eze.
Tonbridge finally opened the scoring after 53 minutes. A long ball forward was overhit but Sollis willingly chased it down. The goalkeeper got there first but cannoned his clearance into the body of Sollis for the ball the rebound into the net.
The Police responded with an equaliser after 65 minutes when a shot from outside of the box came back off the chest of Mitchell into the path of Eze who gratefully accepted the opportunity.
The game became stretched with half chances at both ends before the Met grabbed a goal which was ultimately to be their winner. A cross from the left was punched clear by the goalkeeper to a waiting Luke Mitchell who drove the ball back into the net.
The Angels made a concerted effort to rescue the game, including sending goalkeeper Mitchell forward for a corner, but without creating any clear opportunities.
After the final whistle, we talked to the new manager of the Suburban League group, Chris Wye about the game and his plans for the future. About the game, Chris agreed with our opinion that, overall, the Met Police probably just about deserved their win but he was disappointed that the goals had come from set pieces that could have been better defended.
He was also disappointed that a training session on Monday which was set up to brief the team on the viewing of the opposition had been poorly attended.
For the future, he was asked about the possibility of having a blank piece of paper from which to assemble a side for next year. He said that he is expecting around 50% of the side to still be around and he would be supplementing those with players that would come from organised trial days.
Of his own coaching career, he says that he draws on the disappointment of a playing career that showed great potential at Basingstoke only to find that he and other youngsters were released when Eddie Howe became the manager. He felt that he suffered from some poor advice and now uses those experiences to, hopefully, point youngsters in the right direction and he added that he finds it satisfying when he sees a player that he has nurtured featuring in reports for all the right reasons.
As one era closes and another begins, we finished our interview with Chris feeling a lot more optimistic than we had at the final whistle.
Report and picture : Wink Tomkinson