Tonbridge Angels 2-2 Concord Rangers - I think the boys showed a bit of character and scored two excellent goals, says Barry Moore

Tuesday 18th July 2017
Tonbridge Angels 2 – 2 Concord Rangers
Location Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN10 3JF
Kickoff 18/07/2017 19:45

TONBRIDGE ANGELS  2-2 CONCORD RANGERS
Pre-Season Friendly
Tuesday 18th July 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium

TONBRIDGE ANGELS assistant manager Barry Moore says the pressure is off his team to win promotion at the end of the season while Billericay Town are throwing big money around.

 

The Angels remain unbeaten following their first three warm-up games as Steve McKimm’s men aim to improve on a top-six finish.  They collected 74 points from their 46 league outings last term, missing out on the play-offs by a single point.

Tonbridge Angels stunned newly-promoted Vanarama National League side Ebbsfleet United 3-2 here last Tuesday, before Bostik South side Thamesmead Town were beaten 3-1 in their first game sharing at Dartford.

Adam Flanagan’s Concord Rangers side finished in 18th place in the Vanarama National League South last season, collecting 42 points from as many games and the Canvey Island based side were the better side during the early part of the first half and deserved their early lead through Jason Williams’ deflected finish.

Kyron Farrell came off the bench to drill the Essex side into a 2-0 lead with 18 minutes remaining, catching Tonbridge on the break.

McKimm threw on the big men up front and Nathan Elder was fouled in the box but Dan Thompson dinked his penalty over the bar.

Elder powered home a trademark header just six minutes later after a fine move before fellow striker Thompson recovered from his glaring miss by planting home another header.

“First half, or first sort of 20-25 minutes, I don’t think we were at the races, we gave away cheap possession,” admitted Moore.

“After that, after the goal they scored, we sort of created some half chances.  Two were penalties, that the ref admitted at half-time he got it wrong, but we sort of grew into the game towards the end of the second half without really penetrating too much.”

Reflecting on Concord’s early dominance, Moore said: “We sort of lost a little bit of shape. They rotated around their midfielders and we lost a bit of control in there but we went in at half-time and said ‘look, enjoying having the ball a bit more!’  We look to play a little bit more this year so enjoy having the ball, make an extra pass and I thought second half we done that really well.”

The game started with a slow tempo, although Concord Rangers bossed the midfield and penetrated down the right as left-back Jeysiva Sivapathasundaram failed to stop a constant flow of raids.

Williams struck an angled drive from the right, which flashed across former Maldon & Tiptree goalkeeper James Behan, who was slow to get down low to his right but held onto the shot before it nestled inside the bottom far corner.

Referee Jack Packman somehow kept his red-card in his pocket in the ninth minute as visiting keeper Brown came out of his penalty area and misjudged the flight of a long ball and after the ball skimmed off his head he clattered into Tonbridge striker Andre McCollin some 30-yards from goal.

The referee spoke to the goalkeeper and kept his cards in his pocket and Brown was there to dive low to his right to prevent Sivapathasundaram’s low curling free-kick nestling into the bottom left-hand corner.

“You don’t want the keeper sent-off so early in the game when you’re not playing for points,” added Moore.

“The ref did say he should’ve sent him off but I wouldn’t have wanted the lad sent-off 10 minutes into a game that doesn’t affect a league table.”

Lewis Taaffe lined up well with Williams to cut inside and his shot was curling away for a goal-kick but the Tonbridge keeper took no risks and dived to his left to push the ball behind for a corner.

“They had a couple without really making too many out-right saves.  They had a couple of opportunities that went past the post but I don’t think there were a lot of efforts on target,” said Moore.

“I don’t think he’s done much during the summer, so he’s just getting back into it.”

First choice goalkeeper, Anthony Di Bernardo, meanwhile, is expected to feature during their trip to Bostik South Division side Phoenix Sports on Saturday.

“Anthony will be back off holiday this week, I think he’s back on Thursday so he will be back on Saturday,” revealed Moore.

“I think he’s recovered from his operation at the back end of last year.”

Both sides were playing with a diamond formation in midfield but Concord Rangers were bossing it and were miles better than their Bostik Premier opposition.

Concord Rangers deserved their opening goal, timed at 14 minutes and 31 seconds, but they did receive a huge slice of luck.

Williams cut onto his right-foot to whip in a cross from within the left-channel and the ball deflected off Craig Stone and sailed over the struggling back-peddling keeper to land into the far corner.

“I think on the play, they deserved to score,” said Sutton resident Moore.

“I think they had five or six corners, which they had a couple of headers that went over the bar but on the first 20-25 minutes, I think it was justified that they scored.”

Right-back Stone was Tonbridge’s best player tonight and the former Eastbourne Borough man brought a range of quality passing.

Moore said: “Since he’s been in, that’s the first time that I’ve known Craig. I think he’s in the mould of George Beavan and Sonny Miles. You ask him to do a job, he’ll do it for you.  You ask him to defend bravely, he’ll do it for you.  I think he’s going to be a really great addition for the squad.”

Tonbridge Angels failed to clear Concord’s fourth corner of the game, the ball was laid off by Steve Cawley into Amps Nasha, whose low drive towards the bottom near corner was turned around the post by the diving Behan.

Taaffe swung in the resulting corner from the right and Taylor McKenzie came up from the back to steer his header just past the near post.

Tonbridge Angels then stepped up their game and created a good chance to equalise in the 25th minute.

Chris Kinnear (the son of Dover Athletic manager Chris Kinnear) spread the ball out to Sivapathasundaram, who drove forward before slipping the ball into Fidan Fejzi’s feet inside the Concord box and his flicked pass set up the onrushing McCollin, but Brown made himself big to make a vital block.

Tonbridge Angels front three were tiny compared to Concord’s physically robust back four.

“We started with one or two pacy forwards, smaller but pacy.  I think two or three times they got down the side of the centre halves, which we wanted them to do. A little flick, Andre just runs off the shoulder and the keeper just gets a block.”

Attacker Fidan Fejzi impressed against Thamesmead Town on Saturday but the youngster plucked out from Bromley’s Academy this summer found the going tougher against a strong back four.

“It was difficult for him today because it was a little bit more hectic than it was Saturday,” said Moore.

“I said to him before today and after the game Saturday, the position that you play, you’re a talented young player coming from Academy football, it’s all tippy-tappy, feet, feet, feet, feet, get loads of the ball. Come to non-league, it’s a little bit different, a little bit hectic. I just said to him keep persisting, some games you’ll get a lot of touches, some games you’ll get minimal touches.”

Taaffe dragged a low drive across the keeper and past the far post from 25-yards as the Essex side created another chance down the right.

But this sparked a good spell from McKimm’s men as McCollin drilled a left-footed free-kick straight at the keeper from 30-yards, who spilt the ball and Akrofi sliced the rebound over the crossbar on the half-hour mark.

Concord Rangers deserved to go in 1-0 up at the break.

“They were disappointed with themselves that they were chasing rather than playing,” said Moore.

“We just said to them ‘look, we’re four-v-four in the middle of the park, trust yourselves to have an extra pass. Even if you have to go backwards at times to then play forwards, do it.’

“They agreed.  We worked getting out to the wide areas quicker when we were defending, showing them one way and I thought from the first minute of the second half, we did that.”

The start of the second half was a cagey affair and Concord Rangers created the first opening inside nine minutes when Steve Cawley played the ball inside to sub Farrell, whose driven shot was held well by Behan.

However, a quiet second half exploded into life inside the final 17 minutes.

Sivapathasundaram hung over a great cross, which was knocked down by Elder from inside the box and Kinnear cracked a right-footed volley screaming just past the foot of the near post from 25-yards.

“Once you stick the big man (Elder) up there or Tommo up there, it gives you that little bit of leeway for them to link-up.  Andre and Alex are fantastic around the box, Nathan and Tommo are a little bit different where they can get their body in front of it easier,” added Moore.

But Concord Rangers grabbed a two-goal lead on the break with 26 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

Substitute Audrius Laucys played in a low cross from the right into the penalty area, the ball was flicked on by J Brown inside the box and was finished off superbly by Farrell, drilling a left-footed shot past the diving Behan from 12-yards.

Moore said: “Sods law really, you start the second half really well, get on the front foot, not much action each end, they break, cut it back and probably the only yellow shirt that was in there, it fell to him neatly on his left-foot. James weren’t saving that! He drilled it in!”

Thompson whipped in a deep cross from the right and McKenzie leaned on Elder to bring him down inside the box.

Thompson sent up and smashed his right-footed penalty against the roof of the South Stand, sending his penalty over the top of the right-hand post – with 30 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

“I thought it was a very good cross from Tommo but to be fair he should’ve had a shot on target,” came Moore’s response to a woeful spot-kick.

“I think he was being very precise where he was going to put it and he ended up leaning back, but the boy scored two in his first two pre-season friendlies and after the penalty he got himself another one!”

Central midfielder Kinnear brought the ball under control before cracking his right-footed volley curling around the far post, before Tonbridge Angels scored two late goals.

The Angels played the ball around the back before the ball was played out wide to right wing-back Liam Smith, who was given acres of space to whip in a great cross which was met by a trademark Elder header at the far post, powering into the roof of the net from eight-yards with 37 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

“Nathan Elder does exactly what it says on the tin,” Moore said of the 32-year-old target-man.

“You get the ball in the box and he worries teams.  It doesn’t matter how old he is, he’s a very, very important player for us and if I’m honest I think the two goals we scored tonight we’re probably since we’ve been at the club, two of the best goals we’ve scored in terms of passing.  We started at the back, I think they were fantastic goals.”

Tonbridge Angels were then level – the clock showing 40 minutes and 44 seconds.

Former Dover Athletic midfielder Kinnear played the ball out wide to left-winger Jerome Walker, the former Harrow Borough winger whipping in another brilliant cross towards the far post and this time Thompson planted his header across the keeper into the far corner.

“Since we’ve brought the two big un’s on, which allows you to get crosses into the box. It wasn’t a cross putting it in from 40-yards away, both goals were four, five, six passes from one side of the pitch to the other and two excellent headers.”

Tonbridge Angels could have won it through a free-kick from Sivapathasundaram, his left-footed free-kick from 25-yards sailing over the crossbar.

Moore joked: “I think he must’ve been getting lessons from Tommo because I think both of them cleared the stand quite easily! It’s practice. I’m sure he’ll be practising free-kicks after training non-stop.”

Promising form during their first week of pre-season matches but it all starts for real when 18th-placed finishers Hendon visit Longmead Stadium on the opening day of the Bostik Premier campaign on Saturday 12 August (15:00).

Moore said: “You get no points, do you, after friendlies so you get the stereotype work-rate, pre-season fitness but we want to win, you want to win every single game you play regardless of friendlies, what cup it is, what league game it is.  I think the boys showed a bit of character and scored two excellent goals.”

When asked what can be expected of Tonbridge Angels this season, Moore replied: “Well hopefully similar to the last two years. Obviously we missed out by a point last year, a few things didn’t go our way. Injuries were well publicised but that’s been and gone but one thing with Steve, myself and Justin (Luchford), we preach that the minimum requirement is hard-work and I think the boys that we’ve brought in, you might not say they’re not flair players like the Nick Wheeler’s or Luke Allen’s but at the same time hard work and honesty can get you results.

“Our aspirations are to get promoted, whatever way you do it.  It’s not worth going into conversations about people who spend money because anyone who could have that budget, any manager would not turn down the money people are throwing about so fair play to them, if you’ve got it.

“Billericay have got some fantastic players on paper, as you say they’re going to be up there and I think Dulwich have got some great players as well but as we know Havant got over the line by two points last year. Money doesn’t buy you success but with the calibre of players he’s (Glenn Tamplin) bringing in, it probably does take the pressure off a lot of other teams, even ourselves but we’ll give it a good go.”

Tonbridge Angels: James Behan, Craig Stone, Jeysiva Sivapathasundaram, Damien Scannell (Dominic Welsh 75), Sonny Miles (Liam Smith 67), George Beavan (Callum Adonis-Taylor 75), Luke Blewden (Jerome Walker 75), Chris Kinnear, Alex Akrofi (Dan Thompson 62), Andre McCollin (Nathan Elder 62), Fidan Fejzi (Tommy Whitnell 55).

Goals: Nathan Elder 82, Dan Thompson 86

Concord Rangers: T Brown, Rob Girdlestone (Adam Topley 64), D Pesters, Harry Lee (M Fretter 67), Taylor McKenzie, L Knight, Lewis Taaffe (Audrius Laucys 46), Jordan Sanderson (Khale Dacosta 64), Jason Williams (J Brown 46), Steve Cawley, Amos Nasha (Kyron Farrell 46).

Goals: Jason Williams 15, Kyron Farrell 72

Attendance: 188
Referee: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Paul Saunders (Hove, East Sussex) & Mr Max Sollis (Tonbridge)

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THAMESMEAD TOWN v GUERNSEY
Bostik South Division
Wednesday 14th December 2017
Kick Off 7:45pm
At Princes Park Stadium, Dartford DA1 1RT