Dorking Wanderers 2-3 Tonbridge Angels - I think you’ve got to try (to get into the play-offs) as long as it’s possible, otherwise there’s no point in doing it, says Tonbridge Angels assistant Barry Moore

Tuesday 05th December 2017
Dorking Wanderers 2 – 3 Tonbridge Angels
Location Westhumble Community Ground, London Road, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6AD
Kickoff 05/12/2017 19:45

Bostik Premier Division  
Tuesday 5th December 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from London Road

TONBRIDGE ANGELS assistant manager Barry Moore heaped plenty of praise on his two goalscorers, who both got out of their sick beds to help put the club’s play-off push back on track.


Steve McKimm’s side climbed up a couple of places into ninth-place in the Bostik Premier Division table on 30 points from 20 games, five points adrift of the play-offs and fifth-placed Hendon.

Marc White’s side raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening nine minutes, courtesy of drilled strikers from central midfielder Lewis Taylor and striker Giuseppe Sole.

Dorking Wanderers, who went into game in eighteenth-place in the table with 21 points on the board from their first 18 league games at this level, were first to everything inside the opening 20 minutes as Tonbridge put in a very poor performance, but they were given a lifeline through striker Nathan Elder’s tenth goal of the season.

However, the turning point arrived in the 27th minute when referee Lee Dyson pulled out a red-card for Dorking Wanderers’ right-back Isaac Philpott for a professional foul.

Tonbridge Angels fought back and were level on the stroke of half time through striker Alex Akrofi’s header, before he drilled in the winner in the second half to score his 12th goal of the season.

“Crazy game really,” said Moore, following their second league win on the road.

“We said before the game to the lads that they’ll start fast and they’ll look to pass it, which they did and they scored two goals in about nine minutes.

“We came back and we worked hard and a couple of times we got in behind them so we knew we had a bit of a chance there. 

“We scored and then we got fortunate with the sending off.  It’s a little bit harsh but we’ll take that and then on with 11 men we said to the boys be patient, keep getting the ball wide, keep getting deliveries in. 

“We got the equaliser and then went in at half-time and said be patient really.  We came out second half, got our goal and as soon as we got our goal we decided that we wanted to get four, five and six and we left ourselves a bit open and the game turned extremely scrappy and obviously Dorking, now they’re 3-2 down and had to go a little bit more direct and rightly so.

“I felt we didn’t use the width well enough after we went 3-2 up.  I think if we’d had done that we would’ve maybe have got four or five goals but all in all, a win’s a win!”

Dorking Wanderers goalkeeper Slavomir Huk was called into action inside the opening three minutes.

Ryan Worrall drove forward from the middle of the park before playing the ball out wide to left-winger Joe Turner, who whipped in a low cross towards Elder, who took a touch and drew a fine block from the advancing goalkeeper from 12-yards, which was followed-up by Xavier Vidal’s shot which sailed over from the edge of the box.

“Good chance and then two minutes later they go up the other end and score! That’s happened a lot this season to us. We’ve missed gilt-edged chances and then the other team go and take theirs,” said Moore.

But Dorking Wanderers immediately went up the other end and opened the scoring with four minutes and 49 seconds on the clock.

Sole’s flicked pass around the corner found his strike partner James McShane, who laid the ball off for an unmarked Taylor, who drilled his left-footed shot past goalkeeper Jonathan Henly from 20-yards.

“When you’re playing against a passing team, if you dive in you could be in trouble,” admitted Moore.

“I think it was a throw-in from Jack Parter, they cleared it.  The boy got lucky, I don’t know if he meant to flick it over someone’s head but it looked a bit lucky to me and then Lewis Taylor….His whole career he’s been a fit lad.  He’s broken into the final third and it’s a good finish!”

The floodgates appeared to be left wide open as Dorking Wanderers raced into a 2-0 lead with only eight minutes and 41 seconds on the clock.

Taylor, who scored THAT 81st minute winner that saw Tonbridge Angels beat Lowestoft Town 4-3 to win the Ryman Premier League Play-Off Final on 7 May 2011, was given time and space to thread a low through ball into Sole, who drilled his left-footed shot past Henly into the near corner from 16-yards.

Moore said: “I think we dived in, in the middle of the pitch when we shouldn’t have done, which allowed him to turn and Giuseppe Sole, he’s played at a level.  I know people say his legs have gone a bit but your legs have gone but your brains still working. He peeled off the shoulder of Sonny Miles and it’s another good finish!”

When asked what he was feeling at the time, Moore replied: “Sometimes as ridiculous as it sounds, if you go two down early you have got a lot of time in the half to get back in it.”

Tonbridge Angels fashioned a half-chance in the 11th minute when left-back Jack Parter fed Joe Turner, who cut inside and his shot was charged down by central defender David Ray and allowed Huk to gather.

Dorking Wanderers passed the ball out from the back and Tonbridge Angels failed to press them and the home side won many second balls in the middle of the park when it was eleven-a-side.

Tonbridge Angels were given a lifeline through Elder’s finish, with 22 minutes and 44 seconds on the clock.

Ryan Worrall floated in a cross from the right, a sliced clearance later and Elder swept his shot across the keeper to find the far corner from 10-yards.

“We wound him up today, he doesn’t score many with his feet and it did bobble in but his physical presence got him the goal more than anything,” said Moore.

“You could see, at the same time, he was getting pulled down, he managed to get a half decent contact and it dribbled into the corner.”

Tonbridge Angels squandered an excellent chance to grab an equaliser when Henly’s big free-kick wasn’t cleared by the home side’s defence and Akrofi failed to keep composed, blasting his shot over the onrushing keeper and over the crossbar.

“Alex’s pace, which we missed at the weekend (in our 1-0 home defeat to Merstham), he got in a couple of times and when you do that it frightens centre halves,” said Moore.

“It turns out Alex said to me, he said he went to hit it with his left and it came out to his right before it hit his left so it was a bit of a scuffed shot. He’ll be disappointed but at the same time he’s come away with two goals tonight!”

However, then came the turning point, a massive turning point when Kent based referee Lee Dyson sent off Philpott after he sent big Elder falling to the ground around 30-yards from goal in a central position.

“From my angle if it was against us I’d probably feel hard done by but I think we’re due a bit of luck! Contrary to what people might think, we are due a bit of luck,” admitted Moore.

“It was a massive turning point. They had to bring off Beckles, which I was surprised about because he’s a big, strong physical player and they brought off Giuseppe Sole so they lost a bit of height in the team as well, which obviously helps with a team like us.”

Once play resumed, Huk was called into making a dive to his right to push Turner’s resulting free-kick around the post and the red-card lifted Tonbridge’s spirits.

“James has been great for us, I think he’s had big shoes to fill with Nick Wheeler going but Joe gives us something different than what we had last year. He’s powerful and when he’s moving with the ball he’s hard to shift and he’s been a great asset for us this year.”

Six minutes after the red-card, White made a double substitution which simply backfired on him. You can get away with it in Bostik South but not in the Bostik Premier.

Jerome Beckles, who was playing at the heart of defence tonight, and Sole were withdrawn.  Seven-goal striker Tom Tolfrey was deployed as a lone man up front, sub Tom Summerfield slotted in at left-back while Rob Sheridan dropped back into right-back.

“We thought they’d bring one off, a midfielder and maybe bring Dean Hamlin on or Pearse on, a bit more defensive minded but he chose to bring on two attacking players really,” said Moore.

The impressive Turner made inroads into the bottom left channel before cutting the ball back for Parter, who cut inside and his low shot towards the bottom near corner was spilt by Huk, who relied on Ray to hook the ball behind for a corner.

Craig Stone floated in a deep cross towards the far post which was met by Akrofi’s shot, which flashed past the diving keeper and the near post.

Turner unleashed a left-footed drive which forced Huk into making a diving save to parry the low shot, the keeper getting back up to smother the ball before Turner could get there as the Angels found new energy levels to pounce on every second ball, which wasn’t the case earlier on in the game.

Akrofi’s lay-off set-up Turner, who cracked a right-footed drive screaming towards the roof of the net from inside the D, which forced Huk to push the ball over his crossbar with his outstretched left-hand.

“When you’re out there on the pitch you forget how long’s left in the game, you forget at times where you are on the pitch.  Looking back he could’ve had a touch and passed it in the net but he’s snatched it and it didn’t go in, which you wanted it to do,” said Moore.

Tonbridge Angels deserved their equaliser when it arrived with 43 minutes and 21 seconds on the clock.

Turner took a touch before whipping in a quality cross from the left and Akrofi rose above his man to plant his header across the keeper into the far corner from eight-yards.

Moore said: “We tell our centre forwards, one of them have got to be central, normally its Nathan in there.  Alex is good in the air for a little bloke, he’s got good leap and good hang on him and he headed it down and he had a bit too much power for the keeper.”

The impetus was now on Tonbridge Angels to go on and win this game, although all seemed lost within the opening 20 minutes.

“The sending-off helped massively,” admitted Moore.

“We just said to them look they’re going to try to get their free-kicks in dangerous areas because maybe that’s the best chance of them scoring.  Be patient, don’t get twitchy thinking we’ve got to score in the first minute to win it.  Just take a little bit more care and move the ball. 

“Normally we get crosses in really early but when their down to ten men we need to work them a little bit more, which I felt we did for 15 minutes but then after that everyone got a little bit nervous, I think.”

Worrall played the ball up to Akrofi, who turned his man and curled his shot around the far post from 22-yards, inside the opening three minutes of the second half.

“We’ve worked with Alex a lot this year.  He’s a centre forward and centre forwards are allowed to be greedy at times.  We tell him to just shift it out of your feet and the old cliché, the goal doesn’t move, so if you shift it out of your feet and hit the target you’ve got every chance of it going in!”

Worrall spread the ball out to winger Vidal and his cross was met by Elder’s trademark towering header, which he planted over the crossbar.

Tonbridge Angels kept knocking on the door and their deserved winner arrived with 17 minutes and 7 seconds into the second half.

Turner took a touch before he whipped in a cross from the left.  Huk failed to gather and a scramble ensued, with Bradley Stevenson having a couple of shots blocked before the ball rolled out to Akrofi, who drilled his first time right-footed drive through a crowd of players into the roof of the net from 10-yards.

Moore said: “It was a good cross from Joe. Bradley had a shot, the keeper blocked and we had another shot and the keeper’s saved it and it’s come out to Bradley, a clever little header inside and the keeper got two hands to it but the power just took it into the roof of the net.”

Tonbridge Angels hit Dorking Wanderers on the break when right-back Tom Jelley, who was at fault for the home side’s opening goal, swept forward a sublime 60-yard diagonal pass which sailed over to Turner, who brought the ball down under his spell to bend his shot from 25-yards into Huk’s midriff from the left-hand side of the pitch. 

“He’s scored a few goals like that this year, cut inside and bent them in,” said Moore.

“If you take that natural drive out of his game he wouldn’t be Joe Turner. Some go in, some don’t go in.  If you stop doing it they’ll never ever have a chance.”

George Beaven, who returned to partner Sonny Miles at the heart of the Tonbridge defence, was withdrawn in the 74th minute and this gave Dorking Wanderers hope.

Sheridan’s throws into the box started getting longer as the game went on and you got the impression that White’s men would nick one late on.

That was almost realised when in the final three minutes Dorking Wanderers almost snatched an equaliser following their second and final corner of the night.

McShane swung in the ball from the right, Ray poked the ball into the six-yard box and Tolfrey’s shot on the turn was blocked by an alert Henly.

Moore said: “Out of all of their players who were on the park at the time I think Tolfrey isn’t the one you don’t want it to fall to because he’s a natural predator in the box at this level of the level below.  Jon made himself big and I think it’s come off him but we put ourselves in that position because we didn’t keep the ball well enough!”

Tonbridge Angels created the final chance of the night when Worrall floated in a cross from the right wing and Elder got in front of his marker to plant his diving header straight at Huk.

“Another good chance,” said Moore.

“We said it on Saturday, Nathan finished the game on Saturday went straight home and back to bed.  Nathan and Alex have been ill now for 7-8 days.  They were running on absolute empty.  Nathan couldn’t breathe by half-time.

“Nathan gave us everything today, he was still not 100% tonight but many players wouldn’t have turned out.  He’s grabbed himself a goal, Alex is still coming off the back of that illness comes and scores two goals. They’re good lads and they want to do well for the club.”

Tonbridge’s ninth league win of the season puts their play-off hopes back on track.

“We set the boys a target about five games ago of two points a game,” revealed Moore.

“Can we do that for the end of the year because of our bad start? If we get points on Saturday, I think they’re bang on with their target.  Sometimes drawing ain’t worth it. You’re either going to win or you’re going to lose.

“I think you’ve got to try (to get into the play-offs) as long as it’s possible, otherwise there’s no point in doing it.”

Tonbridge Angels travel to Worthing on Saturday. The Rebels are rooted to the foot of the table on 11 points from 20 games, seven points adrift of Tooting & Mitcham United, but with a game in hand.  Only one side gets relegated this season and this is another game that Tonbridge Angels must win.

“We’ve had them watched and we’ve seen them on highlights.  They play football and they’re a young side that want to play.  Hopefully we can put our physical presence on them a little bit,” said Moore.

Moore paid tribute to chairman Steve Churcher who stands down after nine years at the helm this month due to ill-health and he paid tribute to Glyn Beverly, the former Bromley chairman and club president who sadly passed away today.

“With the news of the chairman being diagnosed this week when he’s had to resign puts things into perspective,” said Moore.

“Also learning today, I know it’s not Tonbridge related, but Glyn Beverly from Bromley passed away. Top, top man.  He's got a daughter and he’s got grandkids and these are people that have been involved in football through thick and thin, good times and bad times.  I’d like to send my condolences to the Beverly family and everyone at Bromley because it’s a sad day for them.”

Dorking Wanderers: Slavomir Huk, Issac Philpott, Chris Boulter, Luke Moore, Jerome Beckles (Tom Summerfield 33), David Ray, Rob Sheridan, Lewis Taylor (Dan Pearse 72), Giuseppe Sole (Tom Tolfrey 33), James McShane, Lewis Putman.
Subs: Dean Hamlin, Anthony Oakes

Goals: Lewis Taylor 5, Giuseppe Sole 9

Booked: Tom Summerfield 68, Tom Tolfrey 81

Sent Off: Issac Philpott 27

Tonbridge Angels: Jonathan Henly, Tom Jelley, Jack Parter, Craig Stone, Sonny Miles, George Beavan (Chris Kinnear 74), Xavier Vidal (Bradley Stevenson 59), Ryan Worrall, Nathan Elder, Alex Akrofi, Joe Turner.
Subs: Andrew Sesay, Jack Fenton, Liam Smith

Goals: Nathan Elder 23, Alex Akrofi 44, 63

Booked: Bradley Stevenson 77, Ryan Worrall 80, Joe Turner 82

Attendance: 205
Referee: Mr Lee Dyson (West Malling)
Assistants: Mr Michael Taylor (Alton, Hampshire) & Mr Derrick Laing (Lightwater, Surrey)

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