Dodgy kit, far from dodgy performance!
Under-21s win at Walton & Hersham's spanking new stadium
Picture : Wink Tomkinson
Tonbridge Angels Under-21s came away from Walton & Hersham’s spanking new Xcel Sports Hub stadium with a win far more convincing than the 2-0 scoreline suggests.
Chris Wye’s side, who were boosted by the inclusion of first team squad members Dominic Welsh, Liam Smith, Dan Thompson, Tasha-Jay Kwayie and Jack Fenton, dominated the game from the first whistle to the last and only a combination of some wayward finishing and a superb goalkeeping performance from the Walton custodian kept the scoreline as respectable as it was.
The Angels had to survive the embarrassment of a wardrobe malfunction as our very own man of many hats, Charlie Cole, inadvertently picked up the wrong bag en-route to Surrey and, to his horror, found that the Under-21's kit had been left behind and he had brought the Under-13s kit! The Under-13's shorts and socks were used and Walton kindly lent their visitors a set of training tops that were evidently used by their ladies' side with vastly differing levels of fit. Poor Josh Olafemi, looked as if he had to be stitched into his kit and on his substitution at the hour mark nobody was too sure whether it was for tactical reasons or chafing! Meanwhile, for the diminutive skipper Welsh, the shirts fitted a treat!
Tonbridge started on the front foot with chances falling to Thompson and Fenton, who went on to have a private battle with the Walton keeper, who saved shot after shot from the midfielder.
The Walton rearguard was broken after 12 minutes when, following a corner, a shot from outside of the box was deflected into the path of Thompson who was able to stab home from close range.
Fenton’s battle continued with the keeper making two flying saves whilst the midfielder set up an opportunity for Kwayie who ballooned wastefully over.
Steve McKimm was in attendance to watch over his first team charges but would surely have also been impressed with a livewire display from Luciano Osbourne that was full of direct running coupled with some very clever footwork.
Tonbridge’s goalkeeper, Peter Ruggles, was only really called into action once in the first period saving comfortably a headed attempt.
Early in the second half, Thompson was denied by the goalkeeper’s feet at the near post and when Fenton rounded the keeper and pulled the ball back for Osbourne there was a defender on the line to clear.
A second goal finally arrived after 55 minutes when a great retrieval on the left bye-line from Fenton allowed a pull back to Thompson who rifled the ball into the roof of the net.
Steven Panayi had the ball in the net a couple of minutes later but this was disallowed for a high boot on the goalkeeper in the challenge that led to the ball falling at Panayi’s feet.
The second half took on exactly the same format as the first with the Angels completely dominating.
It would be nice to give the Walton & Hersham goalkeeper some credit by name, but the lack of a team sheet sadly doesn’t allow this, but he alone was the saviour of his side.
Ruggles was asked to make one save and there was a clearance from the line in the second period but Chris Wye will be more than satisfied with his side’s dominant performance.
A stiffer test will come on Saturday as the Under-21s entertain Binfield, a side handily placed in fourth position in the Suburban League but it does offer the opportunity for a little revenge following a heavy defeat in the reverse fixture earlier in the month. The game kicks off at Longmead at 3 p.m., and the lads will be appreciative of your support if you are not travelling to Needham Market.