Angels through to Ryman League Cup Final
3-1 win against Hamlet sets up 12th April showdown with ''Riccay at Carshalton Ath. : Akrofi bags brace
Manager, Steve McKimm's patched up Angels squad defied the odds and deservedly beat Dulwich Hamlet 3-1 to reach the final of the Alan Turvey Trophy sponsored by Robert Dyas. It was a performance that showed great quality combined with determination and concentration that prevented Dulwich from having too many clear sightings of goal.
Due to the injury crisis that has enveloped Longmead in recent weeks there was a call up for U18s player Liam Smith at right back while Damian Scannell went to left back. The striking partnership was provided by Alex Akrofi and Andre McCollin which meant Tonbridge would have plenty of pace up front.
That was immediately demonstrated with the game kicking off at a frantic pace with the ball moving quickly from end to end but without any clear cut chances being created. In the 8th minute however Ibra Sekajja for Dulwich made good progress down the left and looked to be clear on goal only for him to in the end run out of space to get the final shot away.
The very next minute McCollin for the home side chased a lost cause on Tonbridge's left flank and somehow managed to get a cross in which Akrofi in a great position neatly pushed past Preston Edwards in the Hamlet goal for the opener.
On 24 minutes Luke Blewden worked the ball up the right wing which then found its way to Tommy Whitnell. The effort was blocked but Tonbridge regained possession through Tom Phipp who was immediately fouled. The resultant free kick from Luke Allen grazed the Dulwich crossbar and away to safety.
Three minutes later Dulwich equalised through a well taken free kick from Kenny Beaney giving Jonny Henly in the Angels goal no chance. The 32nd minute then saw the away side awarded a penalty following a push by Liam Smith. Up stepped Sekajja who took the kick well enough but saw the shot magnificently saved by Henly and then cleared by the Tonbridge defenders.
At half time McCollin had to come off suffering with a tight groin and was replaced by Nathan Elder. Almost immediately a chance came for the substitute but his effort was off target. He was to make up for it in the 51st minute with a trademark header off Akrofi's cross.
The Akrofi/Elder partnership was working well up front and chances fell to the home side on 55, 59, 61 and 69 minutes but Tonbridge were not having it all their own way by any means. On 57 minutes a Dulwich corner resulted in Liam Smith having to make a goal line clearance.
With time running out, Dulwich brought on two of their more experienced players, Gavin Tomlinson and Ashley Carew in the 70th minute but it was to make little difference to events. In fact Tonbridge went further ahead in the 74th minute when a clever pass from Luke Allen put Akrofi clear, took 'keeper Edwards out of the game, and a delightful flick causing the ball to roll gently into an unguarded net did the rest.
Dulwich to their credit continued to press and with two goals required to force the penalty shootout Tonbridge to a man were made to work very hard. Two big chances came for the visitors in the 76th and 78th minutes with the ball on both occasions bobbling around the home goal area but defenders and goalkeeper did just enough to preserve the two goal cushion.
Afterwards, Angels assistant manager Barry Moore said: "Dulwich didn't play the full team that we are likely to see start here on Saturday in the league game, but nevertheless all their players are quality and we have produced a performance to beat them. We thought that the pace of Alex and Andre would possibly unsettle them a bit and so it proved, but this was a team performance in which everyone from goalkeeper through to strikers has put in a massive shift."
Angels now go on to meet Billericay Town in the final to be played at Colston Ave. home of Carshalton Ath FC on Wednesday 12th April.