Friday 01st April 2005

Angels given a lifeline

A SPECTACULAR volley from striker Steve Sodje has re-ignited Tonbridge Angels' survival hopes after their crucial 1-0 win over Worthing on Easter Monday, writes Jez Durrant.

With results elsewhere going in their favour, Tonbridge are now just three points behind Cheshunt, who occupy the last survival spot in 18th place.

With five games remaining, Tonbridge's hopes of salvation looks set to go all the way with the games against relegation rivals Dover Athletic and Harrow Borough taking on particular importance.

Following Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Slough Town, it was vital that Tonbridge secured three points at home to Worthing on Monday.

A change in formation heralded a change in fortune and Tony Dolby's men were worthy winners and should have increased their 1-0 winning margin after creating a host of chances.

Player-boss Dolby told the Kent and Sussex Courier Newspaper, he felt his side were worthy winners, adding: "Everything came together and the application and attitude was just right.

"The whole team worked really hard and we defended from the front three which made things easier for the defence.

"Nick Barnes, Steve Sodje and John Farley all had great games but it is hard to pick out individuals in a team performance like that.  I said beforehand that I thought the guys owed me an extra five or ten per cent and I think I got that."

Tim Hambley has returned to the club to help with the Angels' survival campaign and Dolby believed his know-how will be vital, adding: "It's not always easy for me to manage while playing.  It's ok if I am on the sidelines but then you lose my experience in the side.  With Tim he is technically a very good player and he has that experience which will be critical for us."

Youngster Michael Cramp retained his place in the heart of defence as the Angels managed their first clean sheet since December 4th and Dolby praised the 17-year-old's recent contributions.

He added: "Technically he is a very good defender and very quick. He still needs to work on his strength and will have to spend the summer down the gym bulking up a bit and then he could really be a good player."

Tonbridge now face away trips to Hendon and Wealdstone before hosting Dover Athletic on April 16th, which seems set to be another tense Kent derby.

Dolby said: "It would be great to be ahead of Dover and Harrow after we have played Hendon and Wealdstone as that would mean it wouldn't be so critical to play for the win - that is the ideal scenario with Cheshunt to keep losing.  We really need to be top of that pile."

Tonbridge have injury concerns ahead of tomorrow's clash with Hendon.  Danny Lye sustained a nasty gash to his head during Monday's win and could be out for the next few weeks.

Hendon v Tonbridge Angels
Ryman League Premier Division
Saturday 2nd April 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Claremont Road, Cricklewood, London NW2