Tonbridge U14 3 Larkfield U14 2
By Wink Tomkinson
Angels Under-14s come back from two down.
The Under-14s played their first league game of the season at home on Sunday against a strong Larkfield team. The Angels team once more started slowly, struggling to get used to the speed of grass once more, and were thankful for a good early save from Nat Gibb.
Larkfield looked dangerous down both flanks and our lads struggled to keep the ball when in possession. Larkfield were managing to get in behind the Angels defence but Gibb was brilliant in coming off his line and again made a great save before Larkfield finally opened the scoring with Harry Colling latching onto a through ball and rounding Gibb.
Tonbridge tried to impose themselves on the game but their usual passing game had deserted them. Billy Kent and Toby Lansdowne were forced to feed off the odd long ball and it wasn’t long before Larkfield got a deserved second; the ball coming back off the post for Mackenzie Gardiner to tuck away.
The Angels shuffled the pack to try and stem the Larkfield flow and the second goal seemed to have galvanised us. The midfield of Howie, Tyrie and Wilkins started to get on top and feed Toby Lansdowne who had started to isolate the Larkfield right back one on one. Toby Kent had come in on the right side of midfield and looked back to his best winning a couple of great tackles, adding his energy to the game.
Balcombe and Murphy started to gel in their first game as centre back pairing and there Angels were now starting to dominate the midfield, with Larkfield having taken their foot off the gas, a great ball out to Lansdowne pushed him slightly wide but he managed to beat his man and put in a fantastic cross to the back post, where the ball fell to Billy Kent to wriggle through and fire home.
Tonbridge were on top but really needed a second goal before half time. A great move started off by Chester Smith lead to a couple of fantastic one touch interchanges in the middle for our new boy Wilkins to power forward and smash an unstoppable shot into the top corner, straight out of the Stevie Gerrard copy book.
The Angels came in at half time 2-2 having finished the half very strongly but knew they had Gibb to thank for keeping them in the game. Raffelt had come on at right midfield and we looked to attack down both flanks similar to Larkfield in the first half with the ball holding up much better behind the full backs. Raffelt and Lansdowne both drove superbly and Billy Kent continued to press very well. Wates had come on to add a bit more width and we were dominating the second half.
Tyrie continued to pick up a lot of the second balls and play some neat passes over the top into Howie and Wilkins who were driving from the middle. Larkfield, though, were defending valiantly, similar to Angels first half, but always dangerous on the break, although the Angels defence of Austin, Murphy, Balcombe and now Raffelt looked solid.
The Angels finally made the breakthrough. A lovely short corner from Lansdowne to Wilkins, who curled in a peach of a ball for our man-mountain Howie to head home brilliantly. It was a beautifully worked goal and finish.
With about eight minutes left Angels tried to shut up shop. Hermitage had come back into midfield and a couple pieces of exquisite body movement allowed him to beat his man and send Lansdowne free, one leading to a fantastic shot that whistled inches wide. Howie dropped back into defence and the Angels saw out the last few minutes to win 3-2 but it was another great game of football for the neutral.
Team Gibb, Hermitage, Murphy, Balcombe, Smith, Wilkins, Tyrie, Howie, Lansdowne, Austin, B Kent, T Kent, Raffelt and Wates
Next week, Tonbridge Angels Under-14s are at home to Danson Sports with an 11am kick-off.