Chelmsford City 3-1 Tonbridge Angels

Monday 17th February 2020
Chelmsford City 3 – 1 Tonbridge Angels
Location Melbourne Community Stadium, Salerno Way, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 2EH
Kickoff 17/02/2020 19:45

Vanarama National League South
Monday 17 February 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Melbourne Stadium

TONBRIDGE ANGELS remain in relegation trouble after they threw away the lead before suffering a defeat at Chelmsford City.

Steve McKimm’s men remain in the bottom two in the Vanarama National League South table with 29 points from 27 games, while Chelmsford City’s first win under interim manager Robbie Simpson at the fourth attempt lifts them up to tenth-place in the table with 39 points from 30 games, seven points adrift of the play-offs.

The hosts went into this game on a five-game winless streak, while Tonbridge Angels were held to a 1-1 draw at home to basement side Hungerford Town last time out and have now extended their winless run to four games.

Tonbridge Angels deservedly took the lead through talisman left-winger Joe Turner, who rifled in his eleventh goal of the campaign.

However, Chelmsford City equalised just 10 minutes later through midfielder Tom Wraight.

Tonbridge Angels’ first-half promise, swiftly evaporated as Chelmsford City took 66 seconds into the second half to take the lead through striker Leroy Lita’s header before substitute Tom Knowles wrapped up the victory by scoring from the halfway line after hitting their opponents on the counter-attack at the death.

Wraight, who plays on the left-hand side of a midfield diamond, cracked a speculative left-footed half-volley high over the crossbar from 35-yards, as Chelmsford City were keen to bounce back from their poor run of form of late.

Tonbridge Angels, who won the corner-count by 4-3, suffered a similar fate following their second corner of the game.

Right-winger Khale Da Costa cut the ball back to central midfielder Harry Donovan, who attempted to curl his shot into the top far corner from 35-yards, but his shot sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

Tonbridge Angels play a direct brand of football and they called Chelmsford City keeper Laurie Walker into making a comfortable save in the 15th minute.

Donovan threaded the ball through to striker Jason Williams, who got in behind centre-half Taofiq Olomowewe and skipped past the goalkeeper but his back-heal was flicked into the keeper’s hands from 12-yards.

Tonbridge Angels deserved their lead when it arrived with 16 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock.

Chelmsford City were guilty of some poor defending during this stage of the game and they paid the price.

The Angels built-up down the right through Da Costa, right-back Liam Smith and Christ Tiehi, who reached the by-line and capitalised on some poor defending from Billy Knott, who opened the gate and the low cross flashed across the face of goal for Turner to arrive at the far post to rifle his left-footed shot into the roof of the net from inside the six-yard box.

Chelmsford City went close to equalising halfway through the first-half.

Knott swung in a corner from the right towards the near post and striker Joseph Chidyausiki found a pocket of space to glance his header through a crowd of players and just past the far post.

Tonbridge Angels also missed a glorious headed opportunity just 173 seconds later.

The lively Da Costa swung in a right-footed free-kick from the left towards the near post and centre-half Rian Bray planted his downward header across goal and just past the far post from six-yards.

However, Chelmsford City grabbed an equaliser with 26 minutes and 29 seconds on the clock.

Chez Isaac, who plays on the right-hand side of the diamond, played a diagonal ball over the top of Smith to put Wraight in behind and he kept composed to skip past goalkeeper Jonathan Henly before hooking his left-footed shot into the near corner of an open goal.

Chelmsford City missed a glorious headed chance with 28 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock.

Striker Chidyausiku, who was a threat for the Tonbridge Angels back-four, floated in an excellent cross from the left towards the penalty spot for Isaac to tower over Tonbridge left-back Alex Bentley to bury his powerful header across the keeper and just past the far post.

Tonbridge Angels went close through Da Costa, who played a one-two with Smith, before shaping up to curl his left-footed shot around the keeper into the far corner from 22-yards, only for the ball to just sail beyond the upright.

Simpson, a temporary measure after Rod Stringer’s departure, certainly rallied his out-of-form troops at the interval and they took the lead with just 66 seconds into the second half through Lita, who otherwise had a quiet game.

Right-back Danny Imray threw the ball to Isaac from within the right channel and Imray whipped in a great cross towards the far post for Lita to bury his header into the roof of the net from six-yards, despite Henly getting his outstretched fingertips to the ball.

Tonbridge Angels went route-one as they searched for the equaliser when Henly was slow to come off his line before putting his laces through the ball and launching it straight back down the middle of the pitch.

Walker raced out of his box to clear the ball and it came out to Donovan, who lacked composure and curled his right-footed shot just past the foot of the near post of an open goal from 35-yards.  These chances have to be taken when you’re involved in a relegation scrap.

McKimm brought on Joshua Ajayi in the 65th minute to partner Williams, who was isolated up front on his own and Ajayi was keen to get involved in the game as Tonbridge launched the ball forward and by-passed their midfield trio of Tiehi, Donovan and Ben Greenhalgh.

Turner collected the ball at his feet and ran 30-yards with the ball cutting across the pitch from the left wing to the centre but his 30-yard shot was weak and rolled into Walker’s hands, who dropped to his knees to make a comfortable save.

Tonbridge Angels failed to trouble Walker in the main as the Chelmsford City defence were well-marshalled by former Cambridge United centre-half Elliott Ward, 35, who was making his debut for the Essex club.

Chelmsford City wasted another glorious chance to clinch the victory with 33 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

A big kick from Walker straight down the middle of the pitch was flicked on by Knowles and this played in Lita, who stroked his left-footed drive across Henly and just past the foot of the far post when he only had the visiting keeper to beat.

McKimm told centre-half Sonny Miles (who was making his 401st start for the Angels tonight) to stay forward inside stoppage time but they were hit on the counter-attack as Chelmsford City scored their third goal of the night with 48 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock.

Greenhalgh floated a free-kick into a crowded Chelmsford City box from the left – with his keeper Henly at the back of the crowd – and home keeper Walker jumped to punch the ball towards safety while under pressure from within a group of players.

The punch released Knowles, who sprinted down the left and he crossed the halfway line and with Henly sprinting back down the heart of the pitch, making it to the halfway line himself, Knowles swept his shot from 50-yards towards an empty goal and watched the ball trickle over the goal-line.

McKimm now has 14 league games remaining to avoid the drop and an immediate return to the Isthmian League Premier Division.

The Angels are seven points clear of basement side Hungerford Town and with two games in hand over them.

Outside the relegation zone are St Albans City (31 points from 31 games); Billericay Town (31 points from 26 games); Braintree Town (32 points from 31 games); Chippenham Town (32 points from 32 games); Eastbourne Borough (34 points from 30 games) and Dulwich Hamlet (34 points from 31 games).

McKimm takes his side to Oxford City on Saturday (15:00), a side sitting in 12th place with 37 points on the board from their 29 league outings.

Chelmsford City: Laurie Walker, Danny Imray, Frazer Shaw, Ollie Muldoon, Taofiq Olomowewe, Elliot Ward, Tom Wraight (Anthony Church 85), Billy Knott (Tony Knowles 73), Joseph Chidyausiku, Leroy Lita (Jonny Giles 90), Chez Issac.
Subs: Shaun Jeffers, Chris Gregan

Goals: Tom Wraight 27, Rory Lita 47, Tom Knowles 90

Booked: Frazer Shaw 14, Robbie Simpson (manager) 50

Tonbridge Angels: Jonathan Henly, Liam Smith (James Folkes 85), Alex Bentley, Christ Tiehi, Sonny Miles, Rian Bray, Khale Da Costa (Joshua Ajayi 65), Harry Donovan (Jared Small 85), Jason Williams, Ben Greenhalgh, Joe Turner.
Subs: Henry Burnett, Edward McDonald

Goal: Joe Turner 17

Booked: Steve McKimm (manager) 50

Attendance: 611
Referee: Mr Wayne Cartmel
Assistants: Mr Andrew Gray & Mr Alan Cresswell