Ladies convincing win in local derby
Angels make their mark on table
Tonbridge Angels Ladies moved back into the top three with a convincing 4-1 win at home to rivals Maidstone United.
Two seasons ago the sides had met four times with the Stones coming out on top every time and completing a league treble. They backed that up with runners-up spot at this level last year and arrived at Hadlow boasting an unbeaten league record. However the Angels showed how far they have progressed since then with a devastating display of strength and pace which quickly dismantled their opponents.
The tone was set early when Becky Mackley was given acres of space on the left to break clear of the defensive lines, but her shot agonisingly hit the post. She quickly made amends in the 10th minute with a cool finish into the bottom corner after a similar break on goal by Becky Janes. Mackley was causing all sorts of problems for the visitors and when Lauryn Underhill was released down the right wing on 13 minutes her perfect delivery was headed in by Mackley to leave a shell shocked Maidstone 2-0 down. Further waves of attack followed with only poor finishing keeping the score down to a two goal lead, before the first of two controversial incidents took place towards the end of the half. Mackley had done well to keep the ball in play near the by line, then played in Janes whose flicked effort was parried into the goal by the visiting goalkeeper - or was it? Angels players celebrated, and their opponents stopped play, until it seemed that the referee had failed to award a goal, and Tonbridge had to react quickly to prevent a counter attack taking place. After a long delay and consultation with Maidstone's linesman - who also confirmed the ball had crossed the line - the referee bizarrely decided to award a throw-in. This incident added five minutes of stoppage time to the half, and in the fourth, a ball behind the defence found its way to Gemma Sullivan, who shrugged off a challenge from Sharon Lyons and put the ball past Sam Wright to reduce arrears to 2-1.
This setback didn't deter Tonbridge though and they kept up pressure on the Maidstone goal from the start of the second half. Megan Akehurst saw a shot tipped round the post and Becky Janes struggled to find the target with a number of chances, until finally getting her own breakthrough on 59 minutes. Underhill supplied another perfect cross from the right and Janes made no mistake from 10 yards out. Janes doubled her tally on 77 minutes, scoring from a one-on-one position after a good through ball from Mackley, and this wrapped up a fine win for the Angels. But there was still room for more controversy when the referee awarded an injury time penalty after a visiting player had fallen to the ground following a Maidstone corner. Visiting captain Beth Kemp stepped up to take the spot kick but it was well saved by Wright.
Manager Dan Couldridge was delighted with his team's efforts. "We were well prepared for this match both tactically and mentally, and the great work that Reece (assistant) is putting in on the training pitch is really starting to come to light in matches. The team are playing with no fear, they will enjoy this win tonight and then look forward to the next challenge."
Next Sunday Tonbridge visit Ashford of the Premier Division for a League Cup match.
Angels: Wright, Anastasiou, Smith, Burton, Lyons (sub Moran), Weston, Underhill (Foster), Gilden (Povey), Janes, Akehurst (Walker), Mackley.