Thursday 01st September 2005
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Saturday 1st
January 2005
Ryman League
Premier Division
Stephen McCartney reports from Avavan Longmead Stadium
Tonbridge Angels 2 Steve Sodje 38
Brendon Cass 43 (pen)
Braintree Town 1 Alex Revell 10 (pen)

Turner turns the tide

A DOGGED performance from Tonbridge Angels saw them end their eleven game winless streak in the Ryman Premier Division with a hard earned victory over third placed Braintree Town in atrocious conditions at the Avavan Longmead Stadium.

The Angels - third from bottom in the league - found themselves 1-0 down after ten minutes from the penalty spot but two goals in a devastating spell just before the break and an inspiring performance from goalkeeper Jamie Turner made sure the Kent side celebrated their first league victory since Chelmsford City were beaten 2-1 at Longmead on the 25th September.

Turner was called into action a minute before the goal when the former Gravesend & Northfleet goalkeeper dived to his right to push Louie Evans shot around the post.

However, Sevenoaks referee Mark Basten pointed to the spot a minute later when Nick Humphrey was penalised for bundling Evans over and Alex Revell's right-footed penalty sent Turner the wrong way to stun the Longmead faithful.

Lenny Piper - on a month's loan from Southern Leaguers Fisher Athletic - struck a right-footed 28-yarder high over the bar, crashing against the roof of the stand.

Former Folkestone Invicta midfielder Anthony Hogg was in action at both ends of the pitch in a space of a minute.  His penalty box saving tackle denied Evans a chance to double the Essex side's lead and at the other end he shot wide with a left-footed effort from 20-yards.

Turner made his second save of the game when he blocked Revell's shot with his legs as the Braintree striker waltzed his way past Humphrey - the last Angels defender.

On the half-an-hour mark, Steve Sodje, a former Braintree player, used his strength on the right hand side and almost collided with Hogg, who took over the mantle, but as he was leaning back his left-footed shot flew over.

Tonbridge, however, equalised in the 38th minute when a pinpoint cross from Gareth Street bounced over Braintree's former Bromley defender Ollie Adedeji and Sodje thumped a shot into the top left hand corner into the roof of the net.

The game turned on it's head five minutes later when the Angels took the lead.  Brendon Cass threaded the ball for Sodje who took the ball past goalkeeper Danny Gay and was brought down.

However, the goalkeeper was only booked for the foul - he was the last man and should have been sent off - but Cass coolly slotted home the spot kick, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Like at many football stadiums up and down the country, the heavens opened throughout the second half with rain lashing down and heavy winds made playing and watching football difficult.

Ten minutes after the interval Louie Riddle was denied an equaliser when his left footed 24-yard effort was comfortably saved by Turner.

After 61 minutes Turner was called into action again.  Riddle's lay off on the half way line sent Evans on his way down the left hand side of the centre circle.  After racing past John Farley he only had the goalkeeper to beat but Turner made another fine save, blocking the shot.

Angels' only shot of the second half came from player-manager Tony Dolby - who just came off the bench - with 14 minutes left.

From fully 30-yards he struck a fierce left footed curling drive which went past the three man wall and was about to creep inside the foot of the right post but Gay got down low to push the shot around the post.

Angels, however, were clinging on to their crucial three points, and as Braintree threw everything at their hosts, the Kent side's defence were prepared to go in where it hurts and Turner was immense in very difficult conditions to keep the Irons at bay in the second half.

Angels player-boss Dolby summerised the outcome.

"I mean it was dogged," he said.

"I thought we looked ok when we attacked.  We had a good spell in the first half and when they scored I thought we dominated proceedings.

"We looked very dangerous on the attack, done what we had to do and got back into the game, took the lead and very dogged defending in the second half to see us through."

And on the weather conditions, he added: "It certainly wasn't that windy in the first half, that's for sure!

"We done ok to limit them to a very few chances - clear cut chances any way - so we defended with our lives and that's what's required today, to get the three points we badly needed."

Goalkeeper Jamie Turner, the Angels man-of-the-match was praised by his manager.

"Jamie is a bit like everyone else at the moment.

"It's just that little bit of inconsistency during the game so hopefully it's a platform today for him and the rest of us to build on.

"I think baring parts of the Northwood game (lost 3-2) we haven't been outrageously bad the run would suggest.

"I keep telling the boys to believe in themselves like I do and we will certainly turn it around.

"I wouldn't like to say we were lucky today.  I thought on the day over the 90 minute we done what was required to get the three points.

"We've done really well to get three points today.  Braintree had a long unbeaten run coming into today's game, hopefully we can get something similar going."

Tonbridge Angels: Jamie Turner, John Beales, Craig Roser (Capt), Steve Searle, Nick Humphrey, John Farley, Gareth Street, Lenny Piper, Steve Sodje (Tony Dolby 67), Brendon Cass, Anthony Hogg (Luke Piscina 67).  Subs: Jay May, Matt Hollyoak, Mike McKeown

Braintree Town: Danny Gay, Steve Good, Mark Jones (James Baker 66), Ollie Adedeji, Paul Williams, Bradley Quinton, Mark Graham, Andy Porter (Rod Martin 46), Louie Evans (Ellis Remy 71), Alex Revell, Louie Riddle.  Subs: Gary Abbott, Billy Burgess

Attendance: 476
Referee: Mark Basten (Sevenoaks)
Assistants: Steve Roots (Tunbridge Wells) & Ian Regan (Ashford)