Under-21's exit the Challenge Shield
By Wink Tomkinson
Neighbours triumph in tight encounter
With both sides struggling to make an impression in the final third, this Suburban League Shield game was destined to be settled by a mistake rather than a moment of brilliance and so it was the case as a scuffed clearance found the feet of Tunbridge Wells’ Sam Haylett who clinically drove the ball past Tommy Taylor.
The Challenge Shield operates within a group stage in the opening round and with the Angels having drawn their opening game at Lingfield, this defeat by their neighbours denies them any further progress in the competition leaving Tunbridge Wells needing to avoid defeat at Culverden against Lingfield to move into the quarter finals.
Angels’ Under-21 manager Chris Wye was disappointed that his side lost their way in the second half, failing to take on board the instructions that had been given to his team during the break.
Whilst not making excuses, Chris commented that having only one defender available meant that they were somewhat forced into a 3-5-2 formation that they were not used to.
Chances were at a premium, for both sides, throughout the game with Taylor saving from Tunbridge Wells’ Frankie Pooley after 18 minutes and Cameron Hall turning away a shot from Charlie Dumas at his near post the only efforts worthy of mention in the opening 45 minutes.
Into the second half and two early chances fell to Jorge Diez, but the first was fired over and after some good work by Connor Watson, who has returned to the club from Corinthian, the second was pulled wide.
That is not to say that the Wells were not offering their own threat as Matt Coleman’s effort after 65 minutes was saved by Taylor and a minute later a free kick from Terry Ede came back off the upright.
A good move between Diez and Esteban Salgado ended with the latter’s shot having the sting taken out of it by a deflection on its way through to Hall, but the visitors were to go ahead after 74 minutes when Haylett scored.
Tonbridge pressed on for an equaliser that would have, at least temporarily, kept them in the competition but the cutting edge was not there as Dominic Toussaint and Steve Panayi only asked Hall to make comfortable saves.
There was almost a final twist when goalkeeper Taylor went forward for successive corners and from the second got his head to the ball, only for it to drift agonisingly wide.
Chris Wye summed up: “We were lacklustre in the second half, we should have shown more patience and togetherness and we didn’t work hard enough as a team resulting in getting what we deserved, nothing. But we now need to move on to the next game (in the Suburban Challenge Plate, if you are managing to keep up with the Suburban’s Challenge competitions against now familiar foes in Lingfield) and for the players to show a reaction.”