Under-21s share the points at Longmead
By Wink Tomkinson
Under-21s conclude their home programme with hard-earned draw against Corinthian
Our Under-21 side concluded their home Suburban League programme earning a hard-fought point against a strong Corinthian team. Chris Wye needed to reshuffle his plans on hearing that his centre half was stuck on a train and was not going to make the game. He called 16-year-old Harry Hudson, one of next season’s Academy members, into the team alongside Dominic Welsh to form one of the most diminutive central defensive partnerships you are ever likely to see. But, in the face of a formidably sized attack, they both acquitted themselves admirably, with the skipper Welsh particularly outstanding in marshalling the back line.
Tonbridge created the first chance of the game after five minutes when the visiting goalkeeper, Billy Johnson, was forced to palm to safety a free kick from Steven Panayi.
However, it was Corinthian that took the lead when a long ball through the middle saw some hesitation between debutant goalkeeper, Tom Day and a defender that allowed Lewis Wood to challenge the goalkeeper and ultimately touch the ball into an empty net. The home side were aggrieved that the ball was actually in Day’s hands but the referee was poorly placed to make the decision.
Corinthian might have gone two in front a couple of minutes later when Jacob Wright was caught in possession and a pass to Lorenzo Couzzo saw his shot come back off a post.
After a shaky start, the Angels grew into the game and Charlie Dumas saw a shot deflected wide for a corner and Sam Jones needed a touch too many when in a good shooting position.
Tonbridge were nearly undone a second time by a straight ball through the middle that sent Wood clear but the striker shot wastefully wide. Wood was further denied in the 36th minute when Day turned his effort over the bar.
Tonbridge equalised just prior to the break when the ball reached Dominic Toussaint at the left hand angle of the box from where he confidently struck the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The first big chance of the second period fell to Corinthian when a back pass fell short but the Corinthian player only managed to send the ball into the side netting.
Tonbridge had grown into the game and they had the momentum as Toussaint forced Johnson into a save with the follow-up bravely kept out. At the other end, minutes later, Day was forced into a replica scenario.
Cuozzo placed a shot against the top of the crossbar after 74 minutes but, two minutes later, it was the Angels that took the lead. Cutting in from the right, substitute David Gharbi’s shot came back off the near post but Toussaint was alert to the rebound to tuck home.
Corinthian were forced to throw caution to the wind and after a succession of corners, their height advantage finally told as the comparatively mountainous Jack Smith rose to head home.
Following the game, Chris Wye paid tribute to his team that have grown into the season following a challenging start commending his players on their character, commitment and attitude. He believes that there are now solid foundations in place for a much stronger season next term and with four 16-year-olds already in the squad the future is looking bright.