U15s go down to strong Stones side
By Jim Rowe
But there are positives for Todd’s side
Angels made the trip to the excellent Gallagher Stadium Sunday to take on a very strong Maidstone team. Maidstone have made the perfect start to the season unbeaten in all competitions and are probably the favourites for this seasons title. Angels themselves had only lost one game but the Maidstone results have been impressive and their squad boasts a number of Kent players. Angels were still missing Howie and Exall through injury and Lawrence away but welcomed back Jack Balcombe to the squad following his ankle fracture.
Angels started with a back four of Austin, Hazelwood, Murphy and Smith with Gibb in goal. The midfield of Hermitage, Tyrie, Wilkins and Nwanosike with Lansdowne and Billy Kent leading the line. The team started very brightly Angels playing some lovely possession football from defence, Tyrie and Wilkins were asked to hold the middle and Angels tried to attack down both flanks. Maidstone have a very strong forward line and Hazelwood and Murphy were colossal in defence but were also being very brave in possession and wanting to get on the ball. Both Maidstone wingers were very powerful runners, Austin and Smith equally defending brilliantly but playing some superb football out of defence. Gibb was on top form in goal claiming every cross into the box but also joining the defence playing with his feet. The first real chance fell to Angels, Tyrie winning a good header to send Lansdowne away clear down the left, Nwanosike and Kent both made great runs to get into the box but Lansdowne shooting just wide. The games was being played at a fantastic pace Maidstone had the power but Angels probably better in possession, both teams really unable to create any clear one on one chances. Maidstone looked devastating on the break and Tyrie was forced into taking an early yellow to stop one break.
Angels best chance of a goal was looking like coming down the right side from Nwanosike who was starting to ask questions from the Maidstone defence, Nwanosike then firing inches wide from the edge of the box following an Angels corner. Angels then winning a free kick , Hermitage was left unmarked at the far post and Austin swung in a great ball but the defender just doing enough to back pedal and stop the free header. With Nwanosike pushing on Smith had his work cut out with Maidstone's left attacking midfielder but Smith stood up superbly snapping into any loose balls and denying space in behind. Hazelwood and Murphy continued to win all the aerial battles but it was more their courage in possession against a top quality attack that felt like a significant stepping stone in the team's defensive development. Wilkins had put in a massive shift tracking a number of runs and making several great tackles to protect the back four and at half time and with the score 0-0 Angels thought they had shaded the first half with a terrific all round performance, better chances but missing that cutting edge in front of goal.
Angels made the one change at half time Toby Kent going on down the right Nwanosike moving further forward and Lansdowne dropping to left midfield for Hermitage. Maidstone made a number of changes and came out of the blocks on fire. Angels were not being allowed to play from the back now and Maidstone were now dominating possession, Gibb was on top form to prevent Maidstone from opening the scoring. Angels couldn't stop the balls being delivered from wide and whilst Hazewoood and Murphy continued to challenge the aerial balls superbly Maidstone were now picking up the second balls. Maidstone had changed formation at half time and were now playing with both their main strikers up top and their third striker in the hole and were all out attack, Angels didn't change their shape a mistake in hindsight and inevitably one of the balls into the box fell to the Maidstone striker to force over the line. Angels were now struggling to create any possession in the Maidstone half and threw Hermitage back on with Lansdowne playing further forward again but were still struggling to create chances. Maidstone continued to throw players forward taking chances at the back and that allowed Angels to play on the break, Billy Kent was then sent through and smashed a fantastic shot that had beaten the keeper but unluckily crashed onto the cross bar. That proved to be a key moment in the match as straight after another good ball into the box lead to a very similar second goal for Maidstone.
Raffelt and Wates came on for Hermitage and Nwanosike and Raffelt immediately made an impact linking up well with Kent. Maidstone continued to press forward leaving Angels chances to get back into the game on the break but Angels didn't have their usual threat in front of goal, coupled with good defending from Maidstone. Wates played a nice first time ball through to Kent but he was kept wide. Kent then a couple of times beating players brilliantly but failing to find a pass and allowing Maidstone to break. Balcombe who got a good 25 minutes under his belt in his first game back made a fantastic last ditch clearance to prevent a third goal with Maidstone running out worthy winners in a very good game of football.
On this showing Maidstone are going to take some stopping this season, we didn't come away with any points but there was some huge positives in terms of the way we played, particularly defensively and from Gibb in goal (and we did try to steal their number one fan ! club legend Ian Bayley) - picture attached.
Team - Gibb, Smith, Murphy, Hazelwood, Austin, Hermitage, Tyrie, Wilkins, Nwanosike, Kent B, Lansdowne, Wates, Raffelt, Kent T, Balcombe
Next week Angels are away to KSports in the league 3pm KO and they then have two quarter finals of the cup at home to Ebbsfleet last season champions (league cup )and then away the week after in the Kent cup quarters to Kennington.