Ladies triumph over league leaders
By Jim Rowe
Herne Bay beaten 1-0
You have to go back to April 2017 for the last time Tonbridge Angels Ladies have failed to win a home league match, and that record is all the more impressive considering there has been a promotion and three different home grounds in that time. The team's stiffest test of preserving that record arrived at Hadlow on Sunday in the form of Herne Bay, a team with ten successive wins under their belts and comfortable leaders of Division One East.
In truth the visitors from East Kent put in a rather subdued performance but this owed much to the Angels 4-5-1 formation and the manner in which every Tonbridge player tirelessly stifled their opposing number. This Angels side has made a habit of winning games in style but it is also capable of rolling it's sleeves up and 'winning ugly' as is sometimes necessary on winter pitches such as the sticky Hadlow surface which staged this encounter.
The first half was a cagey affair with chances few and far between, with Tonbridge shading the first 20 minutes and Herne Bay having slightly the better of the rest of the half. The clearest chance came when Bay skipper Kate Foster initiated a counter attack and released top scorer Lauren Harris, but her effort hit the foot of the post and away to safety. The home side struggled to produce clear chances but 0-0 was a satisfying scoreline to close out the half.
Tonbridge began the second half looking to replicate their first half performance but certainly managed to find another gear as the game began to open up a little. A clear chance arrived for the home side with Becky Mackley finding herself clear with only the goalkeeper to beat, who saved well at her near post. From the corner, Becky Janes picked up possession and laid off to Mackley on the 18 yard line and her left-footed chip was lifted well out of the reach of the goalkeeper to give her side the lead.
A goal in hand and the possibility of three points in their sights only served to strengthen the resolve of the Angels who continued to keep the visitors on a tight leash. They were restricted to one golden chance with a shot heading for the top corner but goalkeeper Sam Wright once again performed heroics as she tipped over the bar. Meanwhile Tonbridge looked dangerous on the counter attack with Becky Janes unfortunate to see a shot just about saved on to the post by the goalkeeper, Janes would later break down the right and deliver a cross which agonisingly whizzed inches past the unmarked Megan Akehurst.
Four minutes of injury time followed but when a half chance was sent straight into the arms of Wright, the referee's whistle signalled that another side's unbeaten start had come to an end at Hadlow.
Manager Dan Couldridge was in buoyant mood: "We've deservedly beaten the top two in consecutive games and this team has earned the right to celebrate that. We always enjoy the big occasion so we will look to treat every game like a cup final as this outstanding season continues."
The side are at home every Sunday in December with Bexhill United Reserves the next visitors to Hadlow College in the SECWFL Chairman's Cup 1st Round. Kick off is at 1.30pm.
Team: Wright, Weston, Smith, Povey, Lyons (c), Burton, Underhill, Moran, Janes, Akehurst, Mackley. Subs: Gilden, Foster, Walker, Syrett, Coulter.