All square at Wheatsheaf Park
Angels dig deep for point as injuries decimate team
Angels had to dig deep to pick up what may yet prove to be a vital point at Staines Town in Saturday's Ryman Premier encounter that kept them in 4th place. No less than three players, Jack Parter, James Folkes and Tom Parkinson were forced from the field of play due to injury while Ugo Udoji finished the game with damaged ankle ligaments. Such was the injury crisis that has befallen the Angels they had to play out the last 15 minutes of the game with only 10 players as all substitutions had been made. Melvin Slight, the Tonbridge physio was so busy that the final minutes saw the Staines physio having to come on and treat Tonbridge players. And yet this was not a dirty game, just a case of the injury curse that has affected Tonbridge all season continuing to make its presence felt.
From an Angels perspective the first half was instantly forgettable aside from the heroics of loanee 'keeper, Jonny Henly making his second appearance for the club. But for his efforts, the Swans could and perhaps should have been out of sight by half time. The Hemel Hempstead based player was forced into saves in the 4th, 8th, 26th and 29th minutes. He was finally been beaten in the 30th minute when following good work by Mohammed Bettamer the Tonbridge defence was split open once more and Jonathan Hippolyte couldn't really miss from 10 yds. It was no more than the home side deserved.
In Angels boss Steve McKimm's words : "The paint peeled off the walls of our dressing room at half time." It seemed to have the right affect as Tonbridge came out for the second half in much more determined mood. They started to win the 50/50's the passing was crisper and the tackling stronger. Also crucially, Nicky Wheler had switched to the left flank, his preferred position. When Nathan Elder fed the ball out to Wheeler in the 52nd minute there didn't appear be too much on apart from perhaps a trademark cross from the Tonbridge winger. He, however, had other ideas. Cutting in from the left he cleverly made space for himself for the shot and let fly from 25 yds giving Jack Turner in the Staines goal absolutely no chance.
They say goals change games and from that point for the next 20 minutes there looked to be only one winner and that would be the team from Kent. On 55 minutes a Tom Parkinson header either side of Turner would have doubled the score for the Angels and three minutes later Andre McCollin beat the offside trap with his on target shot deflected away for a corner by Turner.
While Wheeler continued to terrorise the Staines defence, the hosts did come close on the hour mark with the goalscorer Hippolyte just wide from the edge of the area. On 66 minutes McCollin made way for Alex Akrofi and then five minutes later substitute James Folkes who had already come on for Jack Parter was himself substituted due to injury. Worse was to follow on 76 minutes when skipper Tom Parkinson was stretchered off with a suspected fractured ankle and no further substitutes available on the bench.
Despite the numerical disadvantage the match continued to be fairly even with both sides managing to create half chances but in the final few minutes it was the hosts understandably who were pressing slightly more. A Sonny Miles goal line clearance in the 85th minute typified the new found courage in the Tonbridge ranks and despite the Swans pressure the Angels goal remained unscathed.
Afterwards, McKimm expressed himself very pleased with the point: "This is not an easy place to come to and they hadn't conceded in five matches. We sorted a few things out at half time and it was a very different game in the second half. Sonny has come through 90 minutes, Jonny's kept us in at times, and it was a great strike by Nicky."