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Today! 4th Place Angels Go Again!

By Jim Rowe

Simon Piper reviews our opponents at home , Corinthian-Casuals

High-flying Tonbridge aim to keep the bid for National South football on track in another crucial clash at Longmead, on Saturday generously sponsored by Building Contractors Dan Barden Ltd https://www.dsbardenbuilding.co.uk/.

It’s also a very warm welcome to our good friends from Tonbridge Juniors FC who will be providing our mascots for today’s game. We wish all of you a great afternoon with us and many thanks for your support.

The Angels are fourth in the Bostik Premier and in encouraging form as the campaign moves into the closing weeks. The most recent outing was an efficient 1-0 home win over AFC Hornchurch, which followed useful draws in awkward trips to Enfield Town and Lewes (both concluded 0-0).

Steve McKimm's men have 57 points and three clear of the Towners (fifth) and Worthing (sixth), the latter sitting just outside the play-offs places.

The promotion situation is so close this year, with the exception of runaway leaders Dorking Wanderers, many teams in the top half of the table find themselves within touching distance of potential success. Even Lewes, 11th out of 22, are just a few points adrift of the crucial cut-off line.

And, miraculously for mid-March, every club has played the same number of matches, with each having only half-a-dozen fixtures outstanding.

The Angels' next opponents are fresh faces in the Bostik top flight and arrive in Kent with an intriguing past. It includes a Wembley Stadium cup final appearance, a tradition of amateur status and sportsmanship, plus a roving existence involving a host of borrowed grounds.

The upwardly-mobile guests are appreciating what is probably the best period in their history and these days are landlords rather than tenants.

The Amateurs stepped-up to the Isthmian Premier last summer, following decades in the lower echelons of the non-league game.

Some people might argue they were promoted courtesy of mathematics, rather than match-play after losing in the play-off final, last spring. At the end of the season-proper Corinthian-Casuals had finished fifth out of 24 in the Bostik South.

The team did beat Greenwich Borough, convincingly, by 3-0, in the semi-finals but lost in the win-or-bust clash at the hands of Walton Casuals. The game finished 0-0, but a penalty shoot-out decided the outcome, with the county rivals securing victory by a 4-2 margin from spot-kicks.

Elevation was based on merit, because figures over the course of the season provided the rationale. The Surrey side achieved the highest points-per-game ratio when compared to other finalists at “step four”.

A ranking among the best at Isthmian Division One level is also supported on the grounds of consistency over a few campaigns. The club finished the previous season (2016/17) in fourth spot and again graced a play-off final following a win over Greenwich (4-3). The upshot of the finale was also goal-less stalemate and disappointment in a shoot-out. The victors on that occasion, Dorking Wanderers, went on to consolidate in the Bostik Premier and seem destined for higher things, enjoying a firm grip on top spot.

Corinthian-Casuals have a proud tradition of sportsmanship and, like their weekend hosts, thrived during a purple patch in the 1950s. And, also similar to the Angels, the glory days were fairly soon after formation.

In Surrey, two separate clubs (Corinthian and Casuals, funnily enough) merged and adopted the current name, in 1939. The team played one game, before competitive football stopped because of the Second World War.

On resumption of normality, the fledgling side joined the Isthmian League and clinched a first trophy, the Surrey Senior Cup, in 1953/54.

The biggest occasion in their history occurred a couple of years later, with an appearance at Wembley Stadium in the FA Amateur Cup Final. An initial tussle against Bishop Auckland concluded 1-1, before a replay in the north east, at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, ended in a 1-4 defeat.

However, as the swinging sixties drew to a close, fortunes plunged with a handful of bottom finishes starting from 1968/69 until the mid-1970s.

The club competed in the lower divisions of the Isthmian, during a spell of struggle, as well as various reshuffling exercises and new rules imposed by officialdom.

The latter included regulations involving ground-sharing - a blow for rovers who rented borrowed facilities for much of their existence. The list of tenancy arrangements is somewhat lengthy with several significant South London clubs (Dulwich and Tooting), plus cricket (The Oval) and athletics (Wimbledon) venues providing homes until 1988.

The highlight, during a generally depressing period of the 1980s, was an FA Cup First Round Proper tie against Bristol City, in 1983/84. The first tussle ended 0-0 followed by a 0-4 defeat in the replay.

The new ground-sharing rules came into play for the next campaign and meant relegation to the Spartan League. There was also a brief stint in the Combined Counties, before a return to the Isthmian in 1997.

Corinthian-Casuals later merged with Tolworth, in 1988, and the upshot has been a home of their own ever since.

These days, King George's Field is shared with Kingstonian, the K's becoming tenants at the start of the current season.

On the pitch in 2018/19, the Amateurs have done pretty well and should be on course for a campaign of consolidation. The league position is 18th, at the time of writing, and inferior squads can be expected to occupy the relegation positions.

Recent results have included creditable draws, against Bishop's Stortford (1-1 at home, on Saturday March 9), and a week earlier the team held second-placed Haringey 2-2, in North London.

On the minus side, defeats were suffered at the hands of Lewes (0-2), Margate (0-3) and Merstham (1-2).

The latter beat Tonbridge by a single goal, in Kent, a couple of weeks ago (February 23), when third faced fourth.

Details of the visiting playing staff and management can be found in Matt Davison's article in the matchday programme.

The Bostik Premier match between Tonbridge and Corinthian-Casuals on Saturday March 16, at Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, is a 3pm kick-off.

There is a large and free-of-charge car park at the ground, fully licensed bar, refreshment outlets, club shop and plenty of seated and standing cover all to add to your comfort and enjoyment. For full details of how to get to Longmead including public transport please click or tap here

Updated 07:30 - 17 Mar 2019 by Jim Rowe

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Results
Sat 11 May
a
Angels First Team Metropolitan Police
Cup 2 – 3
W
Mon 6 May
h
Angels First Team Merstham
Cup 2 – 0
W
Thu 2 May
a
Angels First Team Haringey Borough
Cup 1 – 2
W

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