Thursday 27th January 2005

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

McGowan makes Angels debut in massive game

A FORMER Arsenal star will grace the Avavan Longmead Stadium turf for Saturday's Ryman League Premier Division clash against Staines Town, writes Stephen McCartney.

Gavin McGowan is set to make his Tonbridge Angels debut in a game they cannot afford to lose.

McGowan was born in Blackheath on the 16th January 1976 and was an England Schoolboy before joining Arsenal in the summer of 1992.

After making his Gunners' first team debut a year later and playing an important role in bringing the FA Youth Cup to Highbury in 1994, he twice went on loan to Luton Town before signing for the Hatters in the summer of 1998 on a free transfer.

McGowan, however, was a vital team player for the Bedfordshire side but was released by Joe Kinnear in April 2001.

He was playing for Horsham, then in the second division of the Ryman League,  before former Bromley manager Stuart McIntyre snapped him up for the Hayes Lane club, making his Bromley debut at Dulwich Hamlet in a Ryman first division match on Boxing Day, 2002.

Following spells with Hornchurch, Braintree Town and Dulwich Hamlet, McGowan should give the Angels an edge in their midfield battle against the Swans.

Angels player-manager Tony Dolby explained: "We've been short in midfield in recent weeks and Gavin has been signed to give us an edge in there."

Dolby, however, has been forced to ship out two players to bring in the former Arsenal starlet.

"We've had to free up a little bit of money in the budget, which we did," he said.

"Unfortunately we had to make a couple of changes but these things happen in football."

Former Folkestone Invicta midfielder Anthony Hogg and former Chatham Town and Maidstone United defender Andy Larkin have both been shown the door.

Dolby, however, is man enough to stand by his decisions and he added: "That's what I am paid for, to make these decisions.

"We needed to freshen it up a little bit and not rest of the fact that we've been doing well in recent weeks.

"We won't rest on our laurels.  We have to take this on and keep going forward."

Dolby admitted their clash with Staines Town is a "massive" game.

"We cannot afford to lose any ground," he said.

"It's going to be a case of getting amongst them early, let them know what we are all about to keep our momentum going.

"We've kept our unbeaten record since the turn of the year and we don't want to lose that."

Dolby, however, revealed he will be without John Beales (calf strain) but other than that he has a full strength squad to choose from.

The 30-year-old from Chislehurst asked the fans: "Just get behind us.  We will be doing every thing we can to get the three points that are necessary."

Tonbridge Angels v Staines Town
Ryman League Premier Division
Saturday 29th January 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Avavan Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge