Angels edge A26 derby thriller
Fighting comeback seals the points at Culverden
Chris Wye reports
A game of two halves. Four changes to last week’s starting 11 proved to create a very disjointed start to this match. We have recently started slow in our games but the lack of performance levels throughout the first half were way below what is needed at this level. Players said that the fact that they were made to warm up on the “cabbage patch” behind the main stand rather than the pitch was a huge contribution.
Tunbridge Wells took the lead after 18 minutes when Uchenna Ekeocha broke down the left to receive a through ball into the box that Joe Roberts, replacing Tom Day in goal, came to close down. As the forward went round Roberts he was challenged and went down which the referee deemed a foul and penalty. This seemed harsh from our angle, but to be fair to the referee, he was consistent throughout the match with these challenges being awarded as free kicks both ways when they could be deemed to be fouls. Ekeocha scored from the spot and we were then hoping for a reaction from our boys.
It was not to be as five minutes later another through ball became a 50/50 once more between Roberts and Ekeocha, with the striker getting there just ahead of the goalkeeper and slotting the ball into an empty net.
A shell-shocked Angels team then had no momentum to play forward and looked very nervous in possession. This resulted in a poor quality of football. Wells managed to score a third goal when they were allowed to progress up the pitch ending with the ball falling to Ekeocha in the box who shot through the crowd past Roberts to complete a first half hat trick.
As we did against Sevenoaks in the last match we gathered the players in the changing room and reminded them how well they can actually play and encouraged them to show their quality in the second half as we were still confident they were good enough to win this game, the challenge was put to them and they needed to deliver.
We started the second half on the front foot and it was Sam Jones who set us on our way, bursting through two Wells defenders, showing his strength and determination, then smashing the ball past the Wells keeper.
This was the trigger and now the Wells couldn’t settle.
Five minutes later Jones again broke into the box and for the fourth game in a row gained a penalty much to the disbelief of most of us as we didn’t see much wrong. It was cleared up as a pull and kick and as the Wells fullback did not protest and received a yellow card it was clear that it was more obvious on the pitch. Sam Jones slotted home again and the lad’s backs were really up.
The Angels were then relentless as they created attack after attack and playing in the Wells half. With 20 minutes to play Stevie Panayi went on a mazy run into the box and fired past the Wells keeper to put us on level terms.
A slight lull in the performance was followed by a rally call and the Angels stepped it up again. With five minutes to go Dom Toussaint received the ball out wide and cut inside beating three players as he wriggled into box before firing into the net to take his tally to four goals in four games. Celebrations were short lived as the Angels knew the job was not yet done.
The Wells had a free kick awarded in a rare attack in the second half that was put over the bar which made us all a bit anxious. As the final whistle went the boys celebrated their achievement and showed what it meant to them.
We must make sure that these lessons are learnt now and with every game played there are things we can draw experience from and this was a massive lesson for many reasons. Credit to the players for putting the effort in during the second half and hopefully we won’t have to endure any further first half performances like that during the rest of the season.
Line up v Tunbridge Wells
1. Joe Roberts
2. Ciaran Nadison-Singh
3. Kobie Ambrose
4. Lekan Ejiwumni
5. Gareth Austin
6. Ristel Benz
7. Reis Eren
8. Stevie Panayi
9. Gideon Donkor
10. Sam Jones
11. Dominic Toussaint
12. Harold Sanchez
14. Charlie Dumas
15. Will Dumbili
16. Phil Jackson