Thursday 01st September 2005



Saturday 19th
March 2005
Ryman League
Premier Division
Mike Green reports from
The Avavan
Longmead Stadium
Tonbridge Angels 0  
Billiercay Town 2 Cousins 39
Wareham 86

Angels hit poor form at wrong time

“Well at least the weather was good!”

When you hear comments like that as supporters leave a ground, you know that they haven’t been impressed with what they’ve seen.  Unfortunately that was the case after Tonbridge’s fifth defeat in six matches left them with just Kingstonian below them in the Premier Division table! 

What a time to have your worst run of the season, and when you look a bit closer, it becomes seven defeats in nine games and you really do start to cringe and fear for the Angels survival!

And to be fair, on this display at least, those fears appear justified.  Manager Tony Dolby changed his formation to play with only one up front, and to a point the manager’s plan worked.  “I went with just Leroy (Huggins) up front because we’ve been leaking too many in the first half recently – and it nearly worked!”  Dolby shrugged after the game.  “The idea was to keep it tight so that we were still in with a chance come the second half.”

And to be fair to the Angels boss, it did nearly work, because the goal that gave Billericay the lead really did sum up Tonbridge’s season!  A couple of ricochets and a lucky bounce, and hey presto – Neil Cousins had scored his 13th goal of the season just before the break! 

Now whether or not it would have been a different game after the interval if that goal had not gone in is another matter, but what was evident was the way that as the ball entered Jamie Turners net, so you felt the black clouds loom large over Longmead.  Just as well it was a nice day!

With Huggins ploughing a lone furrow up front the Angels rarely in the opening half and when they did, poor Leroy was, on two occasions, beaten by horrendous bounces off of the rock hard pitch. 

Incredible to think really as just three weeks ago, they’d been a mad panic to clear the Longmead pitch of snow! 

Indeed the best chance the Angels created in the opening half was as a result of Huggins endeavours.  He made a powerful run to the line before cutting the ball back to… open space as the Angels failed to support him. 

The visitors meanwhile were being frustrated by Dolby’s tactics and were restricted to a couple of log range efforts from Steve Forbes and Paul Armstrong – neither of which troubled Turner.

The game though turned on 39 minutes.  The giant figure of Forbes picked up a loose pass from Nick Barnes, and bore down on the Angels penalty area.  The defence reacted quickly and managed to clear the ball, only for it to ricochet off of Forbes into the path of Cousins, and he volleyed the ball into the ground, and almost in slow motion it looped over Turner and almost apologised before dropping into the side netting.

The second half wasn’t much better as a spectacle and followed the pattern of the first as a whole!  Billericay continued to press without creating that much – Armstrong and Gary Henty both had shots blocked following a good run from Forbes, and a Henty cross found no mans land when he was given too much time!

Tonbridge finally tested Billericay keeper Mel Capelton on 83 minutes when substitute Steve Sodje burst into the area, and the keeper blocked his initial cross cum shot before (with the help of the outstanding Pat Sappleton) bundling the loose ball behind for a corner. 

Almost from the corner the visitors broke away and yet again Forbes found acres of space in behind the Angels defence on the right, as the home side pushed up.  The former Colchester midfielder coolly squared into the box for substitute Ross Wareham to sweep the ball home.

“We can still get out of trouble” Dolby insisted afterwards, “the two games we’ve got over Easter are now huge!”  So, unfortunately I think is the task that lies ahead!  Good job it’s the Angels that we’re talking about… as something tells me that they may need all the help they can get!

Tonbridge Angels:       Turner; Wilson, Cramp, Farley; Piscina, Barnes, Lye, Dolby (Sodje 85), Roser; Emblem (May 55), Huggins

Billericay Town:     Capelton; Sappelton, McSweeney, Trott; Henty, Game (Oxby 61), Hunter, Dormer; Forbes; Armstrong, Cousins (Wareham 70)