Ebbsfleet Utd 3 Tonbridge Angels 1
By Wink Tomkinson
Angels Under-14s fall just short in clash of unbeaten sides.
Tonbridge Angels Under-14s travelled to Ebbsfleet on Sunday, and with both teams having won their first three games, Angels knew they would be in for a tough game, Ebbsfleet having won the division last season with the Angels finishing runners up.
The Angels went in with a game plan and change of formation trying to stay compact, allowing Ebbsfleet to play in their own half and not press, but look to catch Ebbsfleet on the break. This, however, failed miserably, with Ebbsfleet completely dominating the early possession and hitting Angels with some great angled balls into the box. Tonbridge conceded the first goal after about 10 minutes from a good cross to which the Ebbsfleet striker got in between our defence and goalkeeper, Nat Gibb, to prod home.
Angels realised they needed to change the formation, reverting to 4-4-2 thus allowing Billy Kent to press and Toby Lansdowne to pick up the loose balls. The midfield of Wilkins, Tyrie, Raffelt and Austin were having to work hard against the five man midfield of Ebbsfleet. The young Angels team were starting to feel their way into the game with Howie and Murphy shackling the powerful Ebbsfleet striker and Hermitage and Balcombe working tirelessly down the flanks. Raffelt continued to carry the ball whenever he could and always managed to keep possession. The Angels won a free kick on the right which was superbly delivered by Lansdowne for Tyrie to head home and level the score at 1-1. We were starting to look more of a threat; the midfield starting to win some good challenges and were unlucky not to seize on a mistake from the goalkeeper but we also rode our luck with a penalty shout. Just before half-time though the Angels were again undone by that diagonal ball between the keeper and defence with the striker arriving to head home to put Ebbsfleet 2-1 up at the break.
The Angels started the first five minutes of the second half slowly but then began to dominate; Kent and Lansdowne starting click and play closer to each other. A great combination between the pair creating a good chance for Lansdowne who brought out a great save from the goalkeeper; then Kent drove through to again bring a great save from the Ebbsfleet keeper. Angels started to sense the game was there for the taking, Kent looking very dangerous playing off the shoulder of the last defender. Wilkins finishing the second half strong and with Toby Kent coming on to add fresh legs, Angels forced several corners, brilliantly delivered by Austin and Lansdowne. The key moment in the game then came from another corner from Austin, Hermitage meeting the ball superbly to powerfully head down, but the Ebbsfleet goalkeeper produced a world class save to claw the ball out. Ebbsfleet knew they had ridden out a great spell from Angels and a third goal would kill the game and that came with about eight minutes left. Angels gave possession away in midfield and then failed to clear a loose ball allowing Ebbsfleet to scramble the ball home.
Ebbsfleet finished strongly and some good defending by Howie and Smith was needed to stop Ebbsfleet from adding a fourth but it was a very good game of football with both teams playing in the right spirit with Ebbsfleet looking like they will take some stopping again this season.
Team Gibb, Hermitage, Howie, Murphy, Balcombe, Tyrie, Wilkins, Austin, Raffelt, Lansdowne, Kent B, Kent, T, Smith, Wates
Next week the team are at home against Larkfield with an 11:00 am kick-off.