Angels through to Play Off Final
By Jim Rowe
Merstham visit to Longmead on May Day Bank Holiday
Angels fought their way through to the Bostik Premier Playoff Final with a swashbuckling performance away at Haringey Borough. A fine first half gave them a 2 goal cushion at the interval and although Haringey came back strongly in the second period helped by a penalty award the visitors held on with strong defensive work that cued wild celebrations at the final whistle.
Angels Boss Steve McKimm restored D’Sean Theobalds to the heart of midfield in place of the injured Tom Beere, James Folkes took the right back berth instead of Liam Smith, Adem Ramadan was preferred to Jared Small on the right wing while Tom Derry started with Alex Read on the bench.
Whilst everyone in an orange shirt – the Angels wore their change strip – had excellent games the key factor seemed to be the performances of Theobalds and Craig Stone in the central midfield areas. Both players always had that little bit of extra space that enabled them to create the telling pass.
Tonbridge had the ball in the net as early as the 8th minute when Ramadan’s shot was only parried by Borough keeper Valery Pajetat and Derry was on hand to tuck away the rebound but the effort was ruled out apparently for offside.
There was then a period of Haringey pressure with chances falling to Michael O’Donoghue and Lyle Della-Verde largely due to the promptings of Joel Nouble, the hosts best performer on the night, and a player who very nearly signed for Tonbridge last summer.
The Angels gradually gained supremacy with the midfield combining well with the forwards and resulting in Haringey losing their way somewhat. That supremacy was translated into a goal in the 35th minute when Ramadan’s shot cum cross completely deceived Pajetat and ended up curling into the top right hand corner of the net.
Eight minutes later Haringey were caught out with a Derry break and with Ramadan’s cross whipped in the ball fell to McKenzie who made no mistake with a fine shot past Pajetat and Angels were in dreamland.
With nothing to lose Haringey went on the offensive for the second period and were handed a lifeline when the referee pointed to the spot in the 52nd minute for a Joe Turner trip and Kudus Oyenuga made no mistake.
There then followed wave after wave of Haringey attacks but the Angels defence simply would not buckle. Yes they enjoyed a slice of luck when the woodwork was struck and Haringey were guilty of missing two good chances but fortune sometimes favours the brave and Tonbridge were able to see out the game to earn themselves a home final against Merstham.