Thursday 01st September 2005

I'm not pleased with our performance - Dolby

Tuesday 13th
December 2005
Ryman League
Division One
Mike Green reports from the Betterview Longmead Stadium
Tonbridge Angels 2 May 40, 44
Burgess Hill Town 1 Watts 25

“I’ve got to be pleased with the result - if not the way we played.  We’ve had a lot of tough games recently and there were a lot tired legs out there tonight” - an honest and fair assessment from Tonbridge boss Tony Dolby after his side closed to within a point of second placed Tooting in the Ryman First Division, writes Mike Green.

In truth it wasn’t a classic but the Tonbridge faithful went home reasonably happy as their side extended their recent good run to four wins in five games as they consolidated their third place in the League and closed to within six points of leaders Horsham.  Thing is that Dolby’s side still have three games on the Sussex pace setters and with now successive home games over the Festive season, these particular Angels could really start flying high!

Substitute Jay May will take the plaudits for scoring both goals in the five minutes leading up to half time, but it was the flying wing play of Fraser Logan and the inspirational defending of skipper Steve Aris who really sealed the points for the home side.

After losing defender Lew Watts on 22 minutes through injury (May his replacement with John Beales joining his skipper in the middle of defence and Ray Powell slotting in at full back), Tonbridge were rocked three minutes later as the visitors took the lead.  Lloyd Cotton was played in down the right (looking suspiciously offside); he managed to pull the ball back into the box for Neil Watts who was able to hook his foot around the ball and drill it through keeper Mikhail Czanner and into the net. 

The response couldn’t really be described as instant, more concerted, as the Angels patiently looked for a way through.  It eventually came five minutes from the break, and was almost textbook.  Logan played a delightful one-two down the left with Adam O’Neill and raced clear to the goal line before sending over the perfect cross.  May brilliantly escaped his marker and was left with the “easy” task of heading into the roof of an empty net from all of a yard.

Suddenly the Angels were on a roll, and Logan was unstoppable!  A minute from the break he got away again.  This time his cross was deeper and Nick Barnes did well to get his head on the ball at all.  As the ball looped up in the air, Barnes recovered and was able to challenge keeper Pat Gannon for the loose ball.  It ricocheted off the pair and dropped for May who somehow was able to force the ball over the line.  The game had been turned on its head in four short minutes and the Angels had the half time lead.

I wish I could report that the second half was one of fast flowing football and end to end excitement!  Well it wasn’t… and apart from a Barnes lob and an Aris header the Angels threatened very little, whilst at the other end Merve King missed two golden chances within sixty seconds of each other…  On 78 minutes as Burgess Hill cleared a corner, the elusive Cotton got away again, and fed a delightful ball into King’s path down the left.  With men over, he elected to shoot and his drive finished in the sidenetting.  A minute later he got even closer.  As keeper Czanner narrowed the angle, King clipped the ball past him only for Aris to produce one of the clearances of the season to stop the visitors drawing level.  Somehow the Angels skipper managed to get back and with a diving header get the ball off of the line and away to safety.

One other theme that followed during the second half were a series of “clashes” between Angels sub Luke Piscina and Burgess Hill’s Glen Matten where no quarter was asked and none given, with both players at time stretching the letter of the law to the very limit.  Indeed neither player finished on the pitch as both were substituted before the end with Piscina showing his displeasure at the decision in no uncertain terms!

But in the final analysis, as Manager Dolby said, it wasn’t pretty, and there were some very tired Tonbridge legs at the end, but at the end of the season I wonder just how important these three points may prove to be…


Tonbridge Angels: Czanner, Beales, Heath, Dolby, Aris, Watts ( May 22), O’Neill (Piscina 58)(Lye 81), Smith, Logan, Barnes, Powell.

Burgess Hill Town:      Gannon, Pulllin, Matten (Gedling 87), Souter, Curry, Day, Cotton, King, Watts (Miller 72), Musungu, McLaughlin (Greenfield 72)