Angels double over Canvey Island
Early Akrofi strike seals win
It wasn't a classic but Angels and their supporters won't be too worried as they took three points against a hard working but totally predictable Canvey Island team. Recent visits to the Essex club haven't always been the happiest for Tonbridge but today they earned their win by playing what football was on offer and keeping their concentration at the back when Canvey did manage to apply some pressure.
Angels Assistant Manager Barry Moore was in charge as Steve McKimm was confined to bed and made just a couple of changes to the side that started the midweek home draw against Leatherhead. Luke Allen replaced the injured Tom Phipp on the right side of central midfield while Alex Akrofi back from suspension partnered Nathan Elder up front, Luke Blewden switched to wide right and Damian Scannell started on the bench.
Moore's faith in Akrofi was to bring an almost immediate return as the pacy Angels striker scored after just four minutes taking full advantage of Luke Allen's through ball. It was the visitors first serious attack but it was to prove decisive as the only goal of the game.
On 26 minutes Jack Parter's superb overlap and cross flashed past the Canvey Island goalmouth with Luke Blewden's first time shot crashing against the post. On 40 minutes another Parter overlap caused panic in the home defence but again no Angels player was able to take advantage.
It was a poor half for Canvey Island with just a snap shot on the turn from Jay Curran after nine minutes that flashed past Di Bernardo's right hand post. The hosts did manage some crosses but their strike face never gambled and lacked conviction with the result that the Tonbridge defence was able to deal with everything that came their way.
It was in midfield areas that Tonbridge showed their superiority as a footballing side particularly during that first period if not the entire game. The imperious Tom Parkinson as captain lets his playing do the talking and had a fine game all afternoon. Although he is more than capable playing as a central defender, Tonbridge lose so much if he is denied a midfield place.
As expected Canvey Island did put much more effort into their game during the second half but they quite simply were unable to vary their plan of attack to spring any kind of surprise to the visitors. The unmarked John Mbamarah should have done better for the Gulls at the back post with a header on 50 minutes but made it too easy for Di Bernardo to collect.
A flowing move on 62 minutes involving Akrofi, Nick Wheeler and Parkinson saw the Angels skipper just wide with a header. A great spell for Tonbridge around the 75 minute mark saw a Wheeler corner almost converted by Akrofi, a George Beavan shot saved literally on the line by Ashley Dumas, a Luke Allen chance and a Mitchell Nelson header that was just over the bar.
Nathan Elder forced a decent save out of Gulls keeper Conor Gough on 79 minutes with a strong header and nine minutes later the Angels big man again created himself a chance after combining well with Luke Blewden.
A few minutes before that Harrison Chatting did manage an on target header but Di Bernardo was equal to the task and saved the effort. Canvey when they could continued with the aerial bombardment but by then Nelson and Beavan were reading everything that came their way and despite four minutes of stoppage time the Angels never looked in any real danger of relinquishing their lead.
An interesting substitution for Tonbridge had come in the 34th minute when Damian Scannell replaced Ugo Udogi at right back due to injury. It was an unfamiliar position for the Angels midfielder but Scannell acquitted himself very well and so it seems the Angels management team now have another option up their sleeves if required.
Afterwards, Moore said: We knew what they would be about and were able to deal effectively with their threat. Yes, 85 minutes is a long time to hold out but we created loads more chances and I can't remember too many coming from them."