Honours even in Under-14s derby
By Wink Tomkinson
Fair result at Mascalls
Report from Dominic Welsh
A tasty opening fixture to start our Kent Youth League season had us opening our season playing hosts to local rivals Tunbridge Wells. Adding to the affair was three former Angels players lining up for Tunbridge Wells after departing last season.
With only 14 players signed so far this season, and two unavailable for different reasons, this left us with just the one substitute in comparison to a full five on the Tunbridge Wells bench.
The game started with a fast tempo with the Angels lining up in their accustomed formation; with the Wells lining up as 4-3-3, quickly changing to a 4-2-4 formation.
The game started as an even affair, with the Wells limited to long range shots not troubling Angels ‘keeper Matt Larkin. A defence made up of Jacob Hodges, Joe Wallis and Harvey Lawrence gave no quarter and made it difficult for the two central strikers to make any progress. Our wing backs Isaac Barden and Max Lambert prevented any danger from wide areas, with Tunbridge Wells full backs failing to advance to support the wingers, to create 2v1’s . A midfield of Alex Hamza-Goodacre, Mike Hollamby and Alfie Dennis stayed on task, tight to the Wells midfield and gained joy from a high tempo pressing game with Fin Wolvey and Rockie Burke causing problems in behind the Wells defence.
There were no clear cut chances in this game until 25 minute with Dennis threading an unbelievable through ball into Wolvey who burst through, unfortunately blazing his shot over the bar. Moments later Burke got himself in behind, but with a Wells defender hot on his heels, Burke was only able to strike a shot down the keeper’s throat.
Angels now starting to pump the pressure on, and on the half-hour following more hard work and pressure, Dennis and Burke chased tirelessly forcing the Wells centre back to head over his own keeper to allow Burke to tap home.
On 35 minutes, Hollamby turned a Wells player 15 yards from the Wells goal but the referee deeming this as a foul. Amongst the protests, the Wells got on with it quickly and within three or four passes were in behind and finished smartly past Larkin who had made some good long range saves previous to this. With a minute remaining, Lambert made a crucial last ditch tackle to leave the sides level at the break.
The second half became a strange affair with both teams battling hard but with no real chances. The referee had a bizarre performance leading to a scrappy game with the Wells getting the majority of the decisions.
Most significantly of all with Sam Mellish running through on goal, a Wells player swooped in from behind, taking Mellish out before getting the ball but the referee waved play on. There were no further real chances other than a superb turn from Barden and a long range effort that sailed over the bar.
The referee certainly didn’t help the game, and if anything turned it into Tunbridge Wells’ favour, however a draw was probably a fair result, and one both sides wouldn’t have been too unhappy with at the start of the game. A point on the board ahead of a tough away fixture to Sheppey next Sunday who had a great start, beating last year’s champions Maidstone 8-3 away from home.