Angels defeat title favourites
By Jim Rowe
Wonder strike from Turner sets up win
Tonight Tonbridge Angels joined the list of clubs that have recently started to ask questions of the title favourites , Billericay Town, by inflicting a fifth league defeat in six matches. Whilst automatic promotion is still well within the Essex club’s hands there is a glimmer of hope for Dulwich Hamlet and Folkestone Invicta all the time the Blues continue to falter.
Both teams served up an entertaining first half with Billericay enjoying more possession but the Angels prepared to play on the break.
As early as the 2nd minute a Liam Smith cross presented the onrushing Sam Bantick with a half chance but he couldn’t control the shot. Six minutes later Xavier Vidal for the home side played a glorious pass to Bantick with the right winger getting behind his marker but his low cross eluded the Tonbridge forwards.
Bantick again on 10 minutes saw his snap shot go just wide. At this point Angels had provided the clearer chances but gradually the visitors started to get the upper hand. The Tonbridge woodwork was struck on 23 minutes and on the half hour a saving Jack Parter tackle prevented Billericay taking the lead. Eventually the league leaders did open the scoring on 37 minutes when following the failure of Tonbridge to clear their lines after a corner, Billy Bricknell ‘s deflected shot gave Angels ‘keeper Jonny Henly no chance.
Just before half time Alex Akrofi gave the home supporters hope when he turned beautifully and gave himself a clear sight of the Billericay goal but the shot was never going to worry Alan Julian, the Billericay custodian.
The second period started with the visitors continuing to have the lion’s share of possession but Tonbridge were always prepared to battle knowing that if they could keep the deficit to just one goal there would be a chance of getting back into the game.
They did in fact get the ball in the net courtesy of a defence splitting pass from Vidal to Turner whose cross was met by Akrofi but the Angels striker was adjudged to be offside although it was a tight decision. Nevertheless it seemed to spur the home side on with that man Akrofi forcing a good save from Julian onto the bar.
In the 75th minute Longmead exploded when Joe Turner met the ball 26 yds out and let fly with a terrific shot that had goal written all over it the moment it left his boot and gave Julian absolutely no chance. A draw for the Angels would have been a terrific result if they could hold out, but maybe , just maybe they could even go on and claim all the points.
The answer came in the 85th minute when a cross from the right sailed over Julian’s head and there was Angels substitute , Nathan Elder, at the back post doing what he does best and heading home to give Tonbridge the lead and sending the Longmead faithful into dreamland.
Naturally, Billericay threw everyone forward in the closing stages but the hosts were not to be denied and whilst they were forced to defend deep the players kept their concentration and marked superbly.
Afterwards, Assistant Manager Barry Moore said: “This is a terrific result for us when you consider the resources Billericay have. Everyone of our players contributed massively this evening and even when we were under pressure, as you would expect with a team like Billericay, we competed and battled to a man.”