Tonbridge Angels 0-0 Hythe Town - We're not good enough at the moment, admits Tonbridge Angels coach Justin Luchford

Tuesday 07th November 2017
Tonbridge Angels 0 – 0 Hythe Town
Location Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN10 3JF
Kickoff 07/11/2017 19:45

(Hythe Town win 5-3 on penalties)
The Velocity Trophy Second Round
Tuesday 7th November 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium

HYTHE TOWN boss Clive Cook says his side’s work-rate was immense as they became the third lower league club to send Tonbridge Angels crashing out of a Cup competition in four months.

Tonbridge Angels thrashed Bostik South side Herne Bay 10-1 in the First Round of the Isthmian League Cup, while Hythe Town came away from their league rivals Faversham Town with a 5-2 win.

Tonbridge Angles made four changes to the side that were dumped out of The FA Trophy by Bostik North side Heybridge Swifts in a replay seven days ago, while the Cannons made three from the side that came away from Chipstead with a 4-2 win at the weekend.

The Angels created more chances than Hythe Town but neither side could score during 90 minutes so the game was settled by a nine-penalty shoot-out, Hythe converting all five, Tonbridge putting away three.

“It was more about how we played.  They’re a good side, a league above, always nice to get a result,” said Cook.

“Did they threaten us? I don’t think they did personally speaking. I thought we defended brilliant and considering the three changes that we had with the keeper and other changes I was very pleased with the result and the work-rate especially in this weather.

“It’s one of these Cups that sometimes I feel is too early in the season and of course you’re just worried about injuries etc but at the end of the day you’ve got to play them and we didn’t want to lose so as a general thing, I’m pleased.”

A disappointed Tonbridge Angels coach Justin Luchford said: “I sound like a broken record, don’t I? We had enough chances to win the game many times over and haven’t taken them so once again we’re out of a Cup to a lower league side.”

Tonbridge Angels manager Steve McKimm was forced into making a couple of substitutions inside the opening 14 minutes, losing Luke Blewden (who played on the left hand side of the diamond) to a knee injury, while sitting at the base, Chris Kinnear pulled up with a groin injury.

“Chris got a groin, we’ll have to assess it on Thursday and Blewey’s knee blew up.  We thought it was his hamstring but it was his knee and we’ll see where we go from there.”

Tonbridge Angels created the first opening inside the opening 17 minutes.

Attacker Alex Akrofi played the ball out to Tashi-Jay Kwayie, who cut inside Jerald Aboagye and his right-footed curling shot from 25-yards was tipped over by Louis Lawlor’s outstretched left-hand.

“Good strike but ultimately our forwards weren’t good enough tonight right from the start to the end of the game,” admitted Luchford.

“We didn’t keep the ball first half at all. We kept giving the ball away again and again and again and again and all the time you do that you’re going to give them chances.

“We wanted to look at Tash, he’s been cup-tied (for the FA Trophy). We wanted to try a little bit different, a bit more of an attacking line-up, see if we can get more strikers on the pitch in different areas and try to cause them problems in different areas.”

Andre McCollin swung in the resulting corner from the right, Nathan Elder flicked the ball on and Sonny Miles’ clipped the top of the crossbar with a shot from a tight angle from the left-hand side.

Cook was full of praise for his number two goalkeeper.

“He done very well, he’s a young keeper and his attitude is brilliant. I’m very, very pleased for him. He never lets us down, absolutely over the moon for the boy because his attitude is superb. He knows that Will Godmon is the number one. He comes here, he trains, he comes Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, every single game, works hard and I love the boys attitude, I think he’s a great kid.”

Tonbridge Angles missed a glorious chance in the 21st minute from another set-piece.

McCollin’s swung in their third corner from the right, which was met by Elder’s free-header and Akrofi somehow flicked his header over the crossbar from close range.

A run from Charlie Webster saw the Hythe wide-man get inside the Tonbridge half but he lost the ball and the home side broke away.  Akrofi fed the ball to Jack Parter, the left-back cutting inside Aboagye and his right-footed drive from 25-yards forced Lawlor to dive to his right to parry before gathering.

Hythe Town’s first opening arrived in the 32nd minute following their fourth corner of the half.

Ben Wilson produced a quality delivery in with his left-foot from the right, which was cleared back to him and the left-back cut into the box to drill his low left-footed drive into Jonathan Henly’s hands from 16-yards.

“We had a few half-chances in the first half, nothing too drastic,” said Cook.

“Our main aim was to stay in the game.  The longer it went 0-0, the better it was for us because it put a little bit of pressure on them and I thought we done ok first half.  I thought our work-rate was massive.”

The Cannons then produced a good move which saw holding midfielder Jordan Johnson-Palmer feed the ball into Jerson Dos Santos’ feet, who played the ball out wide to Ryan Palmer, who cut into the box and drove his shot towards the bottom near corner of the goal, which was easily gobbled up by Henly at his near-post.

Debutant Lawlor then launched a big kick forward, Palmer played in Santos, who cracked a fierce drive towards goal from the edge of the box, forcing Henly to dive low to his left to parry and Sid Sollis failed to get his shot on target as he followed-up under pressure.

Cook said: “Jerson had a better game tonight.  I thought Jerson has struggled the last couple of games but his work-rate tonight, like everyone else, was immense and I think sometimes when you don’t play well or you’re not finding a bit of form, it doesn’t cost anything to work.”

Johnson-Palmer released Santos, who ran with the ball for 20-yards before flashing his right-footed drive past the left-hand post, before Hythe Town created the last chance of the first half, before the half-time whistle.

Aboagye strode forward and played the ball inside to Santos, who slipped a diagonal pass into Palmer’s feet but he took a couple of touches to bring the ball under control before stinging Henly’s fingers with a right-footed angled drive from 15-yards.

“I think he could’ve done better than that but Palms has had a lot on his plate with his new baby being ill etc so he done ok to me.  He should’ve hit the target better than that.  I feel that it was an opportunity,” admitted Cook.

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the break.

Luchford said: “Just got to step it up and stop giving the ball away!  We moan at the back four for going deep, the reason we go deep is because we were giving the ball away in high areas of the pitch so they’re back on us again so the back four don’t know whether to stick or twist.”

Cook added: “It was a bit bitty, a few silly little bits and pieces with fouls but we went in at 0-0 with a team that are midtable in the Premier or above midtable. They’re a good side, good manager, everything is good about them, so I was pleased especially for our work-rate in this game.

“We were more than happy.  I felt there would be opportunities as the game went on.  I  was just generally pleased to carry on as we were, the main thing for me was keep the work-rate up and we did.”

Tonbridge Angels started the second half with keeping the ball on the deck and spraying the ball around the pitch without getting any shots at goal.

Hythe Town then created a couple of chances to break the deadlock.

Aboagye advanced into the final third and whipped in a great cross from the right but Santos rose at the far post to glance his header across goal and past the far post from six-yards.

Hythe Town then missed a glorious chance to score in the 57th minute.

Johnson-Palmer hit a long ball over the top, which skimmed off the head of Tonbridge defender Miles, playing in Santos, who only had Henly to beat, the striker dragging his right-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 16-yards.

Cook added: “Good opportunity, that’s a striker trying to get into form and not in form, I think that’s the difference.”

Luchford added: “They had a couple of chances second half, nothing of any note.”

Akrofi got the ball out from underneath his feet on the edge of the Hythe box but Lawlor dived low to his right to make the save.

Akrofi then played in McCollin through on goal on the hour mark, Lawlor sticking out his right-leg to make a vital block as the Tonbridge striker only had the keeper to beat.

Luchford said: “Just before that, we said about swapping and if they swap, Alex and Andre then that comes onto Alex’s right-foot rather than Andre’s, it’s his natural foot or the opposite is to that, Andre, if he digs it out and gets it onto his left-foot then he’s got a left foot into the other bottom corner.

“But it wasn’t just them two, the whole forward line tonight at any point of time didn’t stand up and score goals.  We keep having a go at the back line for not keeping clean sheets but you’ve got to get it right at both ends. The proof is in the pudding, it went to penalties and we had the same problem.”

The heavens then started to open after the hour-mark, Tonbridge Angels continued to knock on the door but Hythe’s back four, which was well marshalled by Ryan Johnson and Dave Cook, held firm.

Cook said: “I was pleased. We defended absolutely brilliantly, the two centre halves were brilliant tonight, seriously, seriously brilliant, just like the other lads did.  They put their bodies on the line, their work-rate was exceptional.   The rain came down, it got worse, but we still dug-in and we still done the horrible bits and I’m very happy with the result.”

Tonbridge Angels missed a great chance to smash the deadlock in the 70th minute following their fourth corner of the night.

McCollin floated in the ball from the right and Miles rose to plant his free header over the crossbar from six-yards.

Luchford said: “At the moment it’s fine lines for us. If you look at the last few games, the Heybridge game, the one away and the one at home. It’s fine margins and we scored three goals at home against Heybridge and we got punished three games through defensive errors and it was the same up there, they cut us open.

Dave Cook, who picked up his sixth-booking of the season tonight and will therefore serve his one-match ban at Shoreham on Saturday, had a couple of headed chances that failed to hit the target from six-yards after two corners from the right from Wilson.

“He should’ve hit the target!  When you get a header in the six-yard box, to me, we should make the keeper work. It’s over the top, you win the header, you’ve got to make the keeper work.”

When asked about his son’s suspension, he replied: “It’s a miss because of his experience but then you bring Mitchell Dickenson back in. You’ve got RJ (Ryan Johnson).  It is what it is, I’m happy with the strength-in-depth.

With the rain getting heavier, Tonbridge Angels pressed for the winner that they deserved in the final 10 minutes.

Kwayie played in Akrofi, but Lawlor made himself big and stuck out his right-leg to make another vital save against his old club.

McCollin’s fifth corner came in from the left, was cleared out to Craig Stone – who partnered Miles at the heart of defence – and his drive shaved the left-hand post as Lawlor dived to his right to turn the ball away.

“They played a bit and they put us under a little bit of pressure towards the end of the season half but again I think we defended absolutely brilliant, said Cook, as Hythe Town beat Tonbridge Angels for the first time in only the second competitive meeting between the two clubs.

Luchford added: “It’s a clean sheet tonight, which is a positive. We didn’t give them much of a sniff which is good, which we shouldn’t do because we are the level above.   I thought they worked hard, very hard tonight, my old club in Hythe and good luck to them. If we keep another clean sheet (at Staines Town) on Saturday, we’ll start to think about positives.”

Parter played in sub striker Daniel Thompson who cut the ball back for Akrofi to miss a sitter from inside the six-yard box, before Thompson guided a weak shot into Lawlor’s hands from the edge of the penalty area after getting Parter’s pass out from underneath his feet on a soaked surface.

There were nine penalties taken in total.  Hythe Town went first, captain Johnson leading by example, his right-footed shot nestling into the bottom left-hand corner, sending Henly the wrong way.

Akrofi had a poor night overall. He crashed his right-footed penalty against the crossbar, despite keeper Lawlor going down to his left.

Cook gave Hythe Town a 2-0 lead with a right-footed penalty driven straight down the middle.

Kwayie drove his right-footed penalty down the middle, sending Lawlor diving to his left.

Palmer smashed his right-footed penalty into the roof of the net to give Hythe Town a 3-1 lead.

McColin kept composed, steering his left-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner.

Wilson held his nerve, slotting his left-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, sending Henly the wrong way.

Tonbridge Angels’ substitute Joe Turner rifled his penalty into the roof of the net to score his side’s third spot-kick.

But Hythe Town sealed only their third victory in the Isthmian League Cup when Dos Santos rifled the ball into the roof of the net.

Luchford said: “We’ve got five forward thinking players taking penalties, which is good that they all wanted them because that is what I expected of them.  Ultimately if you don’t want to score from 12-yards I’m questioning it. To be fair, they all wanted them. Penalties are a lottery. Is it good enough? Probably not.  It is a lottery. You’re going to get some that are saved, some you’re going to miss, that’s the way it was.  They took their penalties better than us.  They scored five and we scored three and we’re out of the Cup.”

“I can’t watch penalties,” revealed Cook, who now faces Hendon or Grays Athletic in the last sixteen, the club’s first ever home Isthmian League Cup tie.

“I have to put my head in my hands, I can’t watch them. I’m no good, I’m chicken, never have done, but we got through on penalties, through to the next round.

“It’s nice to have a little Cup run.  It’s about winning games, that’s all it is, it’s all about winning games, however you win them.  I’m just keeping it going, keeping the momentum, we’re in to some momentum at the moment.

“Once you get one or two games out of the way you want to do as well as you can in it so it’s a game of football. I’ll be disappointed if we go out the next one.  We’ll take it, we’ll take everything as it comes. Hendon or Grays? Happy with that, whatever, it doesn’t matter, bring it on.”

Tonbridge Angels are in eleventh-place in the Bostik Premier with 21 points from 15 games – five points adrift of fifth-placed Staines Town.

“We’re not good enough at the moment,” admitted Luchford.

“But it doesn’t matter really. There’s no point dwelling on that. We just have to get on the training ground on Thursday night and work hard and keep working hard.  It doesn’t matter if you’re playing football or you’ve got  job to do, you’re going to go through a bad spell and things aren’t going to go right for you, so things aren’t going right for us.

“So we get behind the gaffer, we get behind the players, whatever the gaffer sends out on the Saturday we’ll be ready for Staines and then we’ll go again and try to pick up some points.”

Hythe Town, meanwhile, slipped down a couple of places into ninth with 26 points on the board from 15 games, two points adrift of the play-off zone.

Cook takes his side to relegation threatened basement side Shoreham on Saturday.

“They’ll be tough, they’ll be fighting, they will fight for their lives to stay up,” said Cook.

“They’re new to the league so they’re getting to know it. It’s a must, three points. We must go there and get three points, however we get it, I’m not bothered. I want the three points and we know we’ve got a battle on our hands.”

Tonbridge Angels: Jonathan Henly, Liam Smith, Jack Parter, Chris Kinnear (Dominic Welsh 14), Sonny Miles, Craig Stone, Luke Blewden (Joe Turner 8), Tashi-Jay Kwayie, Nathan Elder (Daniel Thompson 66), Alex Akrofi, Andre McCollin.
Sub: Stewart Copeland

Booked: Dominic Welsh 42

Hythe Town: Louis Lawlor, Jerald Aboagye, Ben Wilson, Jordan Johnson-Palmer, Ryan Johnson, Dave Cook, Charlie Webster (Kieron Campbell 62), Mitchell Chapman, Sid Sollis, Jerson Dos Santos, Ryan Palmer.
Subs: Dean Grant, Mitchell Dickenson, Will Thomas, Will Godmon

Booked: Ben Wilson 42, Dave Cook 44

Attendance: 173
Referee: Mr James Hurst (East Dulwich, London SE22)
Assistants:  Mr Luke Donaldson (Tooting, London SW17) & Mr Peter Georgiou (Wandsworth, London SW17)

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