Enfield Town 0-1 Tonbridge Angels - If you don't believe you can get in the play-offs then you're throwing in the towel, says Tonbridge Angels assistant manager Barry Moore
Enfield Town 0 – 1 Tonbridge Angels
|Location||Queen Elizabeth II Stadium, Donkey Lane, Enfield, Middlesex EN1 3PL|
ENFIELD TOWN 0-1 TONBRIDGE ANGELS
Bostik Premier Division
Tuesday 16th January 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Queen Elizabeth Stadium
TONBRIDGE ANGELS assistant manager Barry Moore says he will sleep well tonight after being the first side to come away from Enfield Town this season with three points in the bag.
Goalkeeper Joe Wright was announced as the home club’s man-of-the-match, such was the Angels first half dominance in north London.
Tonbridge Angels claimed a deserved victory, courtesy of striker Alex Akrofi’s fourteenth-goal of the season which keeps them in eleventh-place in the Bostik Premier Division table on 41 points from 28 games, cutting the gap to fifth-placed Leiston to seven points and knowing that they go there on Saturday.
Thirteen club’s had previously attempted to come away from here with a win but Tonbridge Angels were by far the better side during a one-sided first half. Enfield Town remain in 12th place in the table with 36 points from their 28 games and face an uphill struggle to join the play-off party.
“Absolutely delighted! Our away form hasn’t been brilliant this season. We’ve come to a side who I believe haven’t lost at home and I think they’ve won five and drawn four of their last nine games at home and if I’m honest we’ve grounded out a great result today,” said Moore following his side’s fourth league away win of the season.
“I think we had the better chances. It was a scrappy affair, a bit windy but I’m really, really pleased with the boys.”
Moore was delighted that his side have bounced back from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at in-form Leatherhead.
“I think just bouncing back really from the weekend. At Leatherhead we didn’t really create too many chances. We only played for 45 minutes but tonight from the first minute we really worked and we pressed hard, the deliveries into the box were good today and the subs that came on played their part and everyone to a man, even the ones that didn’t get on, that team work-rate got us a result.”
Akrofi, 22, played the ball out to left-winger Joe Turner, who cut onto his right-foot and his 20-yard drive was comfortably held by Wright inside the opening nine minutes.
Moore said: “We’ve done our homework. We’ve had them watched. We’ve had emails and I spoke to Hayden Bird (Merstham manager) and he said they really pressed them hard and won the ball high. We told them hard work and pressing we’ll get a chance and I think we got most of our chances from pressing high up the pitch, which allowed us to get crosses in and be on the front foot.”
Right-winger Sam Bantick then drilled a free-kick into the base of the wall and he had a second bite of the cherry to float in a better cross, which was punched away by Wright and Sonny Miles guided his header into the keeper’s hands from the edge of the box.
Tonbridge Angels should have opened the scoring inside the opening 15 minutes.
Turner drilled a precise diagonal pass from left to right to pick out Bantick, who swung in a cross for Akrofi to plant his free-header just over the crossbar from just eight-yards out.
Moore said: “I think he got in front of it a little bit more and went over the bar. He’s good with his head Alex, he is good for a little bloke. He’s got a good leap on him but it went just over the bar so it wasn’t to be.”
Enfield Town’s shooting on goal was poor all night, often blazing their shots over Jonathan Henly’s goal and over the stand roof and onto the six lane athletics track, which came in useful at the end of the game as Tonbridge Angels played out time.
Enfield skipper Mark Kirby rolled the ball out of defence to left-winger Aaron Greene, who burst forward, cut into the box and his finish was poor, blasting the ball high over the bar from a couple of yards inside the box. That was the story of their night.
Wright was called into making a flying save to frustrate Tonbridge’s target-man Nathan Elder.
Left-back Jack Parter burst forward, played the ball short to Turner, who whipped in a quality cross from the left into the box for an unmarked Elder to glance his header towards the far corner, only for Wright to dive to his left to tip the ball around the post for a corner. Tonbridge won the corner count 6-4.
Moore said: “Another good cross from both sides (of the pitch) today. We went with Sam (Bantick, back from suspension) instead of Dan Bennett because he gives that little bit. He’s more of a winger than Dan. Dan’s fantastic with his feet when we want to keep it a bit better, so we can afford to mix it up between the three of them but I thought the delivery from both sides (of the pitch) was very, very good today.”
After a cagey 10 minutes, Tonbridge Angels missed another headed chance in the 34th minute.
Parter and Turner linked up well down the left again and Parter whipped in a cross towards the near post, which sailed over Elder’s head but Akrofi failed to keep his free header on target from eight-yards out.
Turner swung in a deep corner from the right and the ball fell nicely at Bantick’s feet at the far post and he drilled a low shot towards the bottom corner, only for Wright to spread himself to make a vital block.
The busy Wright was called into making a better save when Turner’s diagonal played in Bantick through on goal and his dink was blocked by the advancing keeper.
Moore said: “Joe’s naturally right-footed but he can use both feet. Joe can get his head up and slide him in. Sam’s made a run in behind the full-back and hasn’t been seen.
“I thought Joe used the ball well in that circumstance. If he gets half a yard Joe’s going to shoot and we tell him to shoot because he’s in double figures (10) for goals, which for a wide man is fantastic and he played a great little ball into space and the keeper made a great save.”
Despite creating so many chances away from home, you got the feeling that Andy Leese’s side would grab a goal at some point.
Winger Greene reached the by-line before lofting the ball onto Liam Hope’s head but the striker guided his downward header straight at Henly from eight-yards in the 39th minute.
“Thankfully, there wasn’t much pace on the ball so he couldn’t generate the power and that fell into Jonny’s hands,” added Moore.
Sam Youngs was then given acres of space to whip his left-footed curler around the diving keeper and past the far post from 30-yards.
Youngs then swung in a corner from the left and Henly palmed away a looping over-head kick from Hope at the far post and referee Paul Forrester them blew the half-time whistle.
“We told the back four if Hope drops in to be a little bit tighter to him. I thought we defended so well in the first half so there wasn’t much to say defensively,” revealed Moore.
“We said to the front men if you hold it up a little bit, they’re going to start dropping because a couple of their players haven’t played and it will allow space and it came off really for the goal.”
Enfield winger Ryan Blackman slotted into the middle of the park after the interval but they continued to play with three central defenders and two wing-backs but Tonbridge Angels were resilient on a chilly and windy night in north London.
Tonbridge Angels created an opening inside the opening four minutes of the second half when Turner’s fierce left-footed drive from 30-yards was parried by Wright, diving to his right.
Tonbridge Angels finally made the breakthrough with eight minutes and 40 seconds into the second half.
Turner was the architect on the left and holding midfielder Tom Jelley played the ball into Akrofi’s feet, who picked the ball up in a deep position, drove forward, cut inside to drill a low right-footed drive nestling into the bottom left-hand corner from 25-yards.
“Alex is very good at getting it out of his feet and you can’t really catch him when he’s in full flow,” said Moore.
“I’m really pleased with Alex. Fourteen goals, let’s hope he gets to 20! And for him that will be good. He’s a talent and he wants to listen and he wants to learn. I spoke to him on the phone last night and he’ll ring us and say ‘what can I do? because he wants to get on and he wants to learn.
“Any good forward, if he misses three one-on-ones he will be there for the fourth, hopefully going to score. I think that proved it tonight. He missed two good headers that he should’ve scored, kept his head and deserved his goal.”
Enfield Town were to be denied an equaliser in the 63rd minute, thanks to a fine save from the diving Henly.
Greene bent his low left-footed 25-yard free-kick around the wall and it was destined to nestle into the bottom far corner, only for Henly to dive to his right to push the ball into Liam Smith’s feet and the right-back poked the ball behind for a corner.
Moore said: “It just dipped in front of him. He got two good hands on it. Jonny didn’t have (a lot to do).
“I think Liam Smith just turned 18 last week. I think at times his maturity in certain situations, especially in the second half, keeping the ball, I thought he done really well today.”
The free-kick spurred on the home side for a little while. Youngs drove at the excellent Tonbridge defence, which was well-marshalled by Sonny Miles and Craig Stone, but Hope’s low drive deflected just past the foot of the post from 22-yards.
Tonbridge switched their formation to 4-4-1-1 for the final 20 minutes and Moore revealed that Akrofi came off through a “knock” while Elder was feeling “leggy.”
With the away side taking their time as the climax approached, Enfield Town almost snatched a point late on.
Greene smacked a volley over the bar whilst being left unmarked by Smith at the far post following a deep cross, before substitute Jack Hockney drove into the box from the right and smashed his low shot into the foot of the side netting 33 seconds into time added on.
When asked whether he felt the home side would snatch an equaliser, Moore replied: “Yes I did, I did! We came here last year or the year before and we conceded in the last minute here but we’ve got a really good record against Enfield and sometimes that does count for something. You have bogey teams but I thought we were worthy of the win today.
“It should’ve been more but I will take the one, I’ll take the 1-0. One-nil or three-nil is still three points!”
Saturday’s trip to fifth-placed Leiston (48 points from 28 games) is another must-win game if Tonbridge Angels are to deliver expectation levels and finish in the play-off zone at the end of the season.
“We’re a long shot from getting in the play-offs, we know that,” admitted Moore.
“All we can do is give the boys a target of trying to win every game they can and all the clichés, see where it takes us.
“The fans’ were great again. I know they’ve had a lot of disappointment this year with the way we’ve been at times but thankful to them turning up tonight and supporting the lads’ and we all really appreciate it.
“Leiston are a good side. Glenn Driver (manager) gets them very organised and they’re very dangerous on the attack. I think Matt Blake’s starting to score goals now, he didn’t at the start of the season. They’ll be organised and they’ll look to play but hopefully we can take this on to Saturday.”
Moore added: “We can get in the play-offs. Of course, we can get into the play-offs!
“I think if you don’t believe you can then you’re throwing in the towel. There’s no point training, you might as well not turn up.
“Tonight I’ll sleep well but there’s been other Saturday and Tuesday nights when I haven’t slept well, nether has (manager) Steve McKimm.”
Enfield Town: Joe Wright, Mickey Parcell, Dan Rumens, Adam Martin, Mark Kirby (Jack Hockney 88), Mat Mitchel-King (Ryan Blake 73), Ryan Blackman, Sam Youngs, Liam Hope, Simon Thomas (Ben Ward-Cochrane 76), Aaron Greene.
Subs: Steve Wales, John Kyriacou
Tonbridge Angels: Jonathan Henly, Liam Smith, Jack Parter, Tom Jelley, Sonny Miles, Craig Stone, Sam Bantick, Xavier Vidal, Nathan Elder (Daniel Thompson 82), Alex Akrofi (Tashi-Jay Kwayie 76), Joe Turner.
Subs: Daniel Bennett, Jack Fenton, Stewart Copeland
Goal: Alex Akrofi 54
Referee: Mr Paul Forrester (Luton, Bedfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Keith Kennett (Eastcote, Middlesex) & Mr Deryll David (Edgware, Middlesex)
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