Tonbridge Angels 4-0 Leatherhead - The lads want to progress, they want to get promoted, they want to have the dream of winning the league, says Tonbridge Angels assistant manager Barry Moore
Tonbridge Angels 4 – 0 Leatherhead
|Location||Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN10 3JF|
TONBRIDGE ANGELS 4-0 LEATHERHEAD
Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 2nd February 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium
TONBRIDGE ANGELS assistant manager Barry Moore says his players are dreaming about winning the Ryman Premier League title.
The Angels notched a 4-0 victory over Mike Sandmann’s Leatherhead in front of a low crowd of 335 fans on a cold Tuesday night at Longmead Stadium to take their tally to 52 points from 29 games.
Steve McKimm’s side collected 52 points from 46 games to finish in the bottom five last season but are now eight points adrift of league leaders Dulwich Hamlet with a couple of games in hand.
It would be fair to say that a four-goal victory was flattering for Tonbridge Angels as Leatherhead impressed during a high-quality first half.
But Tonbridge Angels opened the scoring against the run of play through Bradley Woods-Garness’ stunning top corner half-volley to open his goalscoring account for the club whilst on loan from Vanarama National League South side Lowestoft Town.
Tonbridge Angels were the better team during the second half but had to wait for the final 11 minutes to kill the game off.
Nathan Elder scored his 21st goal of the season, before 31-year-old central defender Phil Walsh scored an own-goal before man-of-the-match Luke Blewden scored his 17th goal for his home-town club with the last kick of the game.
McKimm sent Moore out to conduct the post-match interview and the assistant manager was “over the moon,” with the outcome.
“Because there’s been a big streak of drawing games and a couple of loses so just pleased for the boys really, a clean sheet as well, which helps and finally a win at home,” said Moore.
“If I’m honest for the whole game I don’t think there was much in it in terms of who was far better than the other team.
“Obviously we took our chances. Tony (Anthony Di Bernardo) really didn’t have a lot to do. They moved the ball well, we knew that they’re lively going forward. We took ours, they didn’t!”
McKimm handed left-back Ben Harrison his debut, having signed him on loan for a month from League Two side AFC Wimbledon.
The first half was an end-to-end encounter, with thirteenth-placed Leatherhead playing their part in an entertaining game.
Tonbridge Angels created their first opening inside the first five minutes.
Nick Wheeler swung in a quality free-kick from the left which was glanced into the hands of visiting keeper Louis Wells by a towering Jerrome Sobers.
Blewden beat the offside trap to cut inside and his right-footed drive from 16-yards brought a comfortable low save from Wells.
“Luke hasn’t scored in a little while (coming off the bench to score in 3-0 win at VCD Athletic on Boxing Day) and I think he’s great to have in the team because he works hard, creates chances for others.
“I think he snatched at it rather than just have an extra touch and placed it, but he got his reward at the end and fully deserved, I think.”
Former Maidstone United midfielder Alex Brown was outstanding in the middle of the park for Leatherhead during the first half before Tom Parkinson kept him in his pocket after the interval.
Moore said: “First half he (Brown) got on the ball, kept it moving side-to-side and he’s a very good player, very good at switching play, finding people in little pockets of space, which Frannie Collin does. We pressed a bit harder and worked a bit harder in the second half and he had limited time on the ball.”
Brown released Stephen Okoh, who beat two defenders down the left but the former Sittingbourne winger drove his low shot just past the foot of the near post from a tight angle.
Tonbridge Angels attacked down the right through Woods-Garness and he cut the ball back to central midfielder Anthony Riviere, who miss-hit his looping shot into Wells’ hands from 25-yards.
Leatherhead went close to opening the scoring inside 18 minutes when Brown fed Okoh down the left, who cut inside and his right-footed curler was destined to sail into the top far corner of the net, but Sonny Miles made the block with his head and the ball went behind for a corner.
Adam Green whipped in a low corner from the right but Walsh ghosted in at the near post to poke his shot wide.
But Tonbridge Angels grabbed the lead – against the run of play at the time – with the clock showing 20:53.
Nick Wheeler swung in the home side’s first corner from the left, which was punched away under pressure by Wells at the far post.
The ball came out to Woods-Garness, who cracked a first time right-footed half-volley screaming over a crowd of players into the top far corner of the net from 18-yards.
“Before he signed Steve said he is a man who will shoot from anywhere,” said Moore.
“Sometimes they go in row Z, sometimes they go in the net and you don’t try your luck you don’t score! It was a great finish on the half-volley.
“He’s on loan for a month to get minutes and see how it goes with him really but he scored an important goal when we was under a bit of pressure today.
“Brad knows a couple of the boys, which does help. He knows Jerrome (Sobers), James Folkes, a few of the lads so that helps a lot but different teams have different styles of play and if you play a team that doesn’t play the same way as us it takes you a little while to get going.
“He’s experienced, he can play up front, he can play on the wing and you can hear him talking non-stop which helps the youngsters a lot.”
The impressive Okoh was denied a certain equaliser just 121 seconds later.
Winger Ryan Mahal played a one-two with Kiernan Hughes-Mason down the right and had time to whip in a deep cross towards the far post which Okoh steered towards the bottom far corner, which was saved low down by Anthony Di Bernardo.
Moore said: “We were too open in the first half so we were too open for our liking, which with their sort of front three or four leaves them chances but Tony was on his toes and he’s been fantastic this year so far.”
Tonbridge Angels were to be denied a second goal only 30 seconds later.
Elder’s flick-on was latched onto by Blewden, whose right-footed shot was saved by Wells, high to his left.
“He could’ve been a little bit more composed, he lashed at it again. As I said earlier on he got his goal, he deserved it,” added Moore.
Wheeler then collected a Leatherhead clearance and flashed his left-footed angled drive across goal and past the far post from 35-yards.
The Tanners were to be denied a 28th minute equaliser by a fine save from the former Peacehaven & Telscombe stopper.
Hughes-Mason played the ball inside to Okoh, who cut across the penalty area and drilled his left-footed shot towards the bottom corner, which was expertly saved by Di Bernardo, low to his left.
Moore said: “Frannie Collin drops into great little pockets of space and links up play which allows their two wide men and the 10 (Hughes-Mason) to get past him and create chances. They’ve got pace but Tony was well aware of that before the game so he was fully focused and made some good saves first half.”
Tonbridge Angels went close with 34 minutes on the clock.
Wheeler floated in a corner from the right, which slipped through Wells’ outstretched finger tips and landed on Miles’ head but the Tonbridge Angels central defender looped his header over.
Miles revealed that he rolled his ankle earlier in the game and was forced off at half-time – as was Woods-Garness with the same injury.
“Just precaution really, a bit like Bradley,” said Moore.
“It’s boggy out there. If you go over it (ankle) again it could cause a lot of damage so it’s just precaution. Bally came on, stepped in brilliant. Webbo came on, fantastic.”
Woods-Garness collected a pass on the left-hand side and cut inside and drilled a low right-footed shot past Blewden and his marker which was saved by Wells, who saw the shot late but held the ball as he dived low to his right.
Frannie Collin released Okoh down the right but a poor first touch forced the winger wide before he lashed his shot straight into Di Bernardo’s hands at the near post.
When asked what was said during the half-time interval, Moore replied: “Just a case of ‘you’re looking nervous lads!’.
“We have got a lot of players that haven’t played higher than this level, there’s times where we gave the ball cheaply that allowed them to attack.
“We just said ‘look, relax, you’re good players, keep doing what you’re doing, get more balls in the box and go back to what we did earlier in the year, press, press, press.’
“Second half they followed it to the letter of the law.”
While the first half was end-to-end, Tonbridge Angels put in a more solid display during the second half and stopped Leatherhead playing by cutting out the supply chain via the talented Brown.
Tonbridge Angels created the first chance of the second half in the 61st minute.
The Angels linked up well down the left with Wheeler playing a one-two with Parkinson, before Wheeler twisted-and-turned right-back Adam Cash to whip in a cross towards the near post which was steered wide off Blewden’s head.
The home side then played a ball out of defence to the ever-hard working Blewden, who swept the ball out wide to substitute Charlie Webster and the winger cut inside Walsh but his weak shot was saved comfortably by Wells.
“A good little move. We told them to link up a bit more, the front men, to get hold of it and put it wide,” said Moore.
“The pitch is boggy in places and sometimes your standing foot gives way, which is going to affect your shooting.”
Leatherhead’s left-wing threat Okoh issued a warning when he cut inside and drilled his right-footed shot past the near post from 25-yards.
It appeared that a second goal from Tonbridge Angels would kill the game off and Elder was left in despair after failing to convert a great chance with 20 minutes left.
Right-winger Webster floated in a deep cross towards the far post and Elder’s downward header from eight-yards bounced into Wells hands.
“He scored a lot of goals like that this season Nathan,” added Moore.
“This one instead of in the corners it sort of went at him or just down to his side. He’s always in there.”
There was a game of head tennis on the edge of the Leatherhead penalty area and Parkinson managed to nod the ball into Blewden, who with his back to goal tried to score with an overhead kick, which lacked power and landed straight into the busy Wells’ hands.
Wheeler whipped in another inch-perfect free-kick from the left which was glanced into Wells’ hands by unplayable Blewden from eight-yards.
The home fans had to wait until 33:57 on the clock for their side to score the match clinching second goal.
They won a free-kick down the right channel, which was chipped in towards the far post by Wheeler, an excellent crosser of the ball.
Parkinson rose to head the ball back across goal and the ball dropped at Elder’s feet, who forced the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from four-yards.
“You’re probably talking about three of your consistent players linking up for that goal,” said Moore.
“Parky is a massive influence in the air in the box and Nathan, you might think he doesn’t do much in the game and then bang! Just like at Hampton, he’s in the right place at the right time.”
Leatherhead capitulated at this point as Tonbridge Angels went on the rampage.
Leatherhead striker Hughes-Mason – whose corners during the first half were poor and failed to beat the first man – turned and cracked his right-footed shot over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.
Blewden was released down the right and he put Webster through on goal, who took two touches to cut into the penalty area before blasting his shot over with his third touch.
Tonbridge Angels scored their third goal with 40:49 on the clock.
Blewden ghosted past Walsh on the half-way line before playing the ball out wide on the right to Webster.
Webster cut inside and whipped in a cross from the right intended for Blewden at the far post but Walsh sliced his clearance past his own keeper and the ball nestled into the bottom left-hand corner for an own-goal.
It summed up Walsh’s poor night, to go with his torn number five shirt as he was chasing Blewden’s shadows all night long.
Moore said: “I think it might’ve started from Walsh, a bad touch on the halfway line. Blewey sent it out to Charlie Webster. I think him and Luke Allen, when they came on, their attitudes were spot on today on a cold evening, especially Luke Allen, who’s come on for the last 10 minutes. He’s got energy, got desire him and Charlie are promising young players.”
Collin, who signed permanently for Leatherhead in the afternoon following his loan spell from Vanarama National League South side Maidstone United, had one chance at the death.
Leatherhead won a free-kick some 35-yards from goal and Collin’s right-footed free-kick sailed over the wall and Di Bernardo maintained his 14th clean sheet by dancing to his right to parry the ball down to Sobers feet who reacted to put the ball behind for a corner.
Moore added: “He’s a proven goalscorer at this level, he’s scored in the league above. His movement at times is fantastic. He’s going to be a great asset to Leatherhead, especially with the wide boys who are very fast. They tried to play through him as well, which is good. It’s only positive things for them really.”
Tonbridge Angels netted a flattering fourth with 47:27 on the clock – but man-of-the-match Blewden deserved it.
Wheeler fed the ball to substitute Luke Allen down the left, who sped past his man to reach the by-line before cutting the ball back for Blewden to flick his shot into the bottom near corner to score a deserved goal.
“Fully deserved. I don’t think anyone could argue,” Moore said of Blewden’s strike.
“One minute he’s shepherding in the corner of the pitch for a goal-kick for us and next minute he’s up front.
“Nick Wheeler played it into Luke Allen and that’s what he’s all about. He’s got a good drop of the shoulder and played it in to Luke Blewden and a well-deserved finish.
“He probably feels he could have 17 more (goals). What he does for the team, he creates good chances for the other boys. Sometimes he sacrifices himself, which like a lot of lads out there that’s what you need in the team, sacrifice yourself for the result.”
Moore is delighted that the club are challenging for the title going into the last 17 league games.
“I think it’s the same points we had in total last year, 52,” revealed Moore.
“We’ve only lost five games, we’ve had a run of drawing but I think that’s the first time in a while that we’ve actually been up (leading) in a game.
“The boys have shown good character to come back when their a goal or two goals down, which at times some teams don’t but it shows the lads they want to progress. They want to get promoted, they want to have the dream of winning the league but all the clichés come out but we’re very happy where we are at the moment and so are the boys.”
Tonbridge Angels travel to second-from-bottom Farnborough on Saturday, a side that suffered their 21st league defeat of the season tonight, going down to a 3-1 defeat at third-placed Hampton & Richmond Borough.
Moore said: “They’re fighting for their lives. We’ve seen them play. When they are confident they’re a good side but sometimes it’s like anything, when you’re down there, the luck goes against you. They’ve been on a bad run. The teams they’ve been playing are good sides. If it’s not going for you, it’s not going for you.”
But these are the games that Tonbridge Angels must win if they are to challenge for the title.
Moore said: “Obviously you want to win the league. Ideally you set out to do better than the year before, which I feel we’re doing a lot better than the year before.
“Everyone at the club has backed us this year and a credit to the players. Sometimes people want success and more success and more success. We’re quickly creeping up there and if we can be around the Dulwich Hamlet’s and the Bognor’s that are established, with established budgets every year – they haven’t got the earth – but they’re reasonable, we’ll be more than happy.”
Tonbridge Angels: Anthony Di Bernardo, Jack Parter, Ben Harrison, Tom Parkinson, Jerrome Sobers, Sonny Miles (Laurence Ball 46), Bradley Wood-Garness (Charlie Webster 46), Anthony Riviere, Nathan Elder (Luke Allen 83), Luke Blewden, Nick Wheeler.
Subs: Tommy Whitnell, Jack Brivio
Goals: Bradley Woods-Garness 21, Nathan Elder 79, Phil Walsh 86 (own goal), Luke Blewden 90
Leatherhead: Louis Wells, Adam Cash, Adam Green, Paul Semakula, Phil Walsh, Jerry Nnamani, Ryan Mahal (Kyle Martin 80), Alex Brown, Frannie Collin, Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Stephen Okoh.
Subs: Jordan Gallagher, Evander Lopes, Louie Downey, Taryn Smith
Booked: Adam Cash 50
Referee: Mr Stuart Butler (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks) & Mr Glen Childs (Ashford)