Angels keep run going
Win maintains pressure on top three
It may have been the Angels last ever visit to Kingsmeadow but they will be hoping it will be because they will be playing in a higher league next season rather then the obvious one of the home side having to vacate their ground. Tonbridge remain in 4th place with 61 points but they are breathing down the necks of Needham Market on 62 points. Whilst the possibility of the title may in the final reckoning elude them, a 3rd place finish is on, and that would give home advantage in a semi final play off.
In the end this was another comfortable victory for the Angels who as against Enfield in midweek simply out played Kingstonian in midfield areas and that provided the springboard for victory. Steve McKimm opted for an identical starting lineup that was used in the midweek game. Indeed, there was only one change to the entire squad with Tommy Whitnell, as part of his rehabilitation following injury, preferred to Liam Smith on the bench. An interesting development occurred in the 13th minute because of the enforced substitution of Alex Akrofi due to injury. He was replaced by crowd favourite Nicky Wheeler who as the top of McKimms continuing diamond formation was to have an excellent game, causing no end of problems to the Kingstonian defenders who found him virtually impossible to mark. If the manager was hoping for a reaction from his hitherto out of favour winger now playing in an unfamiliar position, then he certainly got one.
The first half was scrappy with neither side able to make much of an impression. The best chance fell to the visitors on 18 minutes when Wheelers excellent cross from the right was somehow not converted despite Tonbridge players queuing up to score. The final effort from Tom Phipp was blazed over the bar. The 24th minute saw a Luke Blewden long throw cause confusion in the K's defence with the ball only cleared at the expense of a corner. Wheeler's delivery was as usual excellent with K's unable to take proper control of proceedings. The loose ball should have been put away by Tonbridge attackers but somehow the ball was knocked against a visiting forward and a tame goal kick was the eventual result.
The best moments for Kingstonian in the 1st half, and there weren't many, were a couple of chances for Sean Bennett-Johnson but they were both well over, and a quality cross from full back Joe Turner who deserved batter from his teamates instead of Angels' Mitchell Nelson clearing the danger with an emphatic header.
The half time cuppa obviously had an effect on the Angels as they emerged for the second period in far more positive mood. They took the lead just a minute into the half when following pressure on the Kingstonian goal the loose ball came out to Luke Allen lurking with intent on the edge of the penalty area to sidefoot the ball past K's keeper Rob Tolfrey. The visitors certainly weren't content to sit back and defend their lead but took control and for the next 10 minutes looked odds on to increase their lead. Chances came to Allen, Nathan Elder and Nick Wheeler whose screamer forced a terrific save from Rob Tolfrey.
Just when it seemed that Kingstonian might have weathered the storm, the Angels struck again. Just inside the home side's half there was contact between two players and momentarily the K's were expecting a whistle but the referee waved play on and suddenly Tonbridge had players in the box with Kingstonian back peddling. Although the ball was partially cleared it only fell to full back Jack Parter who cut in from the left and got a shot away that admittedly took a deflection causing it to loop over Tolfrey and into the net.
On 73 minutes Kingstonian had that one big chance to get back into the match. Substitute Tom Derry cut inside from the right and looked odds on to score but somehow between them Tom Parkinson and Anthony Di Bernardo just did enough to get the ball to safety and the chance was gone. The game was now starting to slip away from Kingstonian as the visiting defence took an iron grip on any incursion into the Tonbridge final third. In fact it was the Angels who always looked the more likely to profit further and add to their score and this was precisely what they did in the 90th minute. Ironically, despite all the excitement of the new diamond formation, it was the traditional Wheeler/Elder connection that did the damage this time; a Wheeler corner was converted with the head of the Angels centre forward and leading scorer to put the final gloss on a more than satisfactory afternoon for the Kent side.
Afterwards, Mckimm said:" It wasn't a great first half for us, but we sorted out a few things at the interval and the response in the second period was excellent. Yes, Nicky did well in a withdrawn role, but that's typical of my team, they always want to play and will do their best even if its not their favourite position. Although we obviously have momentum just now I'm Ok with having no midweek game this week. We will train hard and some of the squad who need game time will play with the reserves on Wednesday evening while I will go and have a look at Leatherhead (Angels next opponents).