Defeat at Leiston
Late arriving Angels never catch up
Angels slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Leiston but still retain 4th place courtesy only of Wingate & Finchley's inferior goal difference.
Ugo Udogi was unavailable due to work commitments, while Luke Allen was out with a dead leg suffered in Saturday's 4-3 home defeat at the hands of another Suffolk club, Needham Market. Damian Scannell made a welcome return to the holding midfield position while Luke Blewden switched to the left of the diamond midfield, swapping places with Tom Phipp. Andre McCollin was preferred to Alex Akrofi up front and on loan goalkeeper Jonathan Henly from Hemel Hempstead made his Angels debut covering for Anthony di Bernardo who it seems will be out of action for a few weeks.
The first half was a cagey affair with few genuine chances for either side. Leiston were coming off the back of five successive defeats which has certainly ended any outside chance of the title, while Angels still seemed edgy after that calamitous home reverse on Saturday and in both cases it showed. The visitors cause probably hadn't been helped by a difficult road journey from Kent which caused the kick off to be delayed by 50 minutes and meant that pre-match preparation was somewhat rushed. Not that Angels boss, Steve McKimm was using that as an excuse for what followed.
There were just two good moments for the home side - a cross from the right which bounced on the Angels cross bar and away to relative safety and a shot from the edge of the area but was hit straight at Henly in the Tonbridge goal. For the Angels, Blewden enjoyed some progress on the left side but the crosses when they came in either lacked accuracy or were not anticipated well enough by his colleagues. McCollin did just have a couple of clear sights on goal but the shot lacked power on the first occasion and on the second he was simply outmuscled by the Leiston central defenders who both had a very sound game.
The second half started well for the visitors who were now kicking down the slope and for the first 10 minutes pinned their hosts into the their half, but without really hurting them and the failure to score when on top was to prove crucial although on 52 minutes a McCollin shot had keeper Jacob Marden scrambling to hold on to the ball.
The character of the game was to change in the 62nd minute when a clever lay off to Nicko Muir that took two Tonbridge defenders out of the picture allowed the forward to pick his spot firing low and the left of Henly. That goal seemed to give Leiston the confidence they needed and they started to play some fine attacking football with good movement and passing. In fact the next goal came just three minutes later again through Nicko Muir who had now pretty much made the points safe for Leiston. The home side continued to play with the confidence borne out of the achievement in halting their disappointing run while to be honest Angels had now simply run out of ideas.
In the 77th minute Muir was beaten but only to see Tom Phipp's effort hit the inside of a Leiston post roll along the goal line and cleared for a corner. If that had gone in, would there have been a different outcome? Perhaps but football is full of maybes and the fact is that Tonbridge simply on the night did not create enough to get anything from the game. They will now need to lick their wounds and prepare for a visit to Staines this Saturday.
Afterwards, McKimm said: We seem to have lost the art of defending and we need to hard work on the training ground this Thursday and sort a few things out before our trip to Staines. That becomes a vital fixture if we are to retain a firm foothold in the playoffs. Jonny had a sound debut and could do little for the two goals."