Tonbridge Angels 2-0 Phoenix Sports - Our chance was to win it Saturday, admits Phoenix Sports boss Steve O'Boyle
Tonbridge Angels 2 – 0 Phoenix Sports
|Location||Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN10 3JF|
TONBRIDGE ANGELS 2-0 PHOENIX SPORTS
The FA Trophy First Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 3rd November 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium
TONBRIDGE ANGELS manager Steve McKimm was full of praise for two-goal striker Luke Blewden for getting out of his sickbed to help the club progress through to The FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round.
Phoenix Sports should have won at home on Saturday and were by far the better side in Barnehurst and will rue their exit in only their third game in the competition, having won 1-0 at Whyteleafe in the Preliminary Round which scooped the club £2,500 in FA prize money.
Adem Ramadan gave Phoenix Sports the lead after 30 minutes on Saturday, but McKimm was grateful to defender Sonny Miles to equalising ten minutes into the second half to grab a second chance in tonight’s replay.
Blewden was only declared himself well enough to play at eleven o’clock this morning after suffering from flu’ but he scored both of Tonbridge Angels’ goals tonight to book a home tie against Evo-Stik Southern Premier League side Cirencester Town on Saturday 14 November.
Both managers admitted after tonight’s replay that it was a missed opportunity for Phoenix Sports.
“They should’ve murdered us Saturday and I’ll stand here openly honest,” said McKimm.
“They should’ve murdered us! We were poor. We didn’t get to grips with them. We didn’t win our battles and they had much better chances than us.
“Like I say was it their chance? It may well have been. Tonight we weren’t going to play as bad as that, saying that, we weren’t much better!
“Two very good goals but I just gave them a rollicking in there as well because in the second half we gave them a lot more possession than I wanted them to have. Any goal that goes in, you’re up against it but Luke took his goals very well. He got off his sick bed this afternoon to come and play, since Saturday he’s been ill in bed.
“We got the result, got the club through and that’s all we’re worried about.”
Phoenix Sports’ manager Steve O’Boyle added: “I thought we done alright! Obviously they’re a better side than us, a higher division and that but I can’t fault the boys’ effort.
“We lacked a little bit of quality in front of goal. That was probably the difference tonight.
“When you go home Saturday and analyse it, our chance was to win it Saturday. It hasn’t happened. We’ve come down here, it’s a nice place to come and it was going to take a major, major performance for us to win here tonight.
“I still think we’ve done ok, we’ve done alright. They know they’ve had a game tonight but they just had a little bit more quality in front of goal tonight.”
Tonbridge Angels were without the services of Miles (ankle), Tom Parkinson (abductor), Nathan Elder (hamstring), Tommy Whitnell (Achilles), while Anthony Riviere was forced off with a calf strain.
Phoenix Sports were without the services of suspended 14-goal striker Ricky Freeman, who missed a sitter to win the game on Saturday.
O’Boyle felt his side should have done better when they hit Tonbridge Angels on the counter-attack inside the opening three minutes.
Ramadan played the ball out of Phoenix’s half with a sublime 50-yard diagonal pass to release fellow winger Harrison Carneige, who lacked the confidence to take on his man inside the box and pop a shot at goal.
Instead, he played the ball inside to Ramadan, who swept his shot past the far post from 15-yards.
O’Boyle said: “I did tell them beforehand, before the game. I want my wingers to get in the box and be more direct.
“I said to Harrison, he gets in the box sometimes and stops and I want him to take people on in the box. We don’t get enough penalties.
“I want my wingers take people on in the box and shoot and that’s something we try to walk the ball in at time and I want to try and change that.”
Ramadan, the most impressive player over the two games, then cut in from the left and his right-footed angled drive was comfortably saved by Tonbridge Angels keeper Anthony Di Bernardo.
Tonbridge Angels then started to dominate proceedings and created their first opening inside nine minutes.
Blewden opted to throw the ball short to left-back Jack Parter, who whipped in a cross towards the far post where Charlie Webster glanced his header just past the right-hand post.
Winger Nick Wheeler then latched onto a long ball out of defence, cut in from the left flank and went close with a dipping drive that only just cleared the top of the far post.
Phoenix Sports called Di Bernardo into making a comfortable save after 12 minutes.
Central midfield enforcer Jason Goodchild played the ball inside to Ramadan, who unleashed a left-footed curling shot towards goal from 25-yards, which was caught by the Tonbridge keeper.
McKimm added: “I felt they didn’t hurt us and I could hear their bench saying about turning us and I don’t think they turned us as they wanted to do, as they did at their place.
“They’ve got some pace out wide. I felt Jerrome (Sobers) and Laurence (Ball) were brilliant at the back. I thought the two full-backs done their jobs better tonight than what they did on Saturday and the keeper’s assured as he always is. I thought the back five were good tonight.”
Phoenix Sports went into the game sitting in ninth-place in the Ryman League Division One North table with 26 points from 17 games, while Tonbridge Angels slipped down to seventh-place in the Ryman Premier League table with 30 points from 14 games, with games in hand on their rivals.
Tonbridge Angels began to turn the screw after the halfway point of the first half.
Lee Carey played the ball out to Webster down the left flank and he cut the ball back to Parter, who whipped in a precise cross into the penalty area for Blewden to loop his header over the bar from 12-yards.
McKimm said: “I haven’t got Nathan Elder in there so my point to the players was if we kept on putting aimless crosses in, albeit we had the two headers, nine times out of ten they’re not really powerful headers.”
O’Boyle was delighted that his players kept the Tonbridge attack quiet.
He said: “They didn’t make our goalkeeper make a save. To call them half chances would have been generous!
“I thought our shape was pretty good. I thought it was an even game. I thought their defence didn’t play as high as they did on Saturday and we tried to get it in behind them. We couldn’t really get the ball in behind them first half but it was an even game. We was pretty comfortable, I thought they were pretty comfortable.”
Tonbridge Angels should have opened the scoring on the half-hour mark.
Wheeler produced a quality cross from the right flank towards the near post and Blewden peeled off his marker to flick his shot into the top of the side netting.
Blewden then turned provider and played the ball into Ellis Brown’s path, but he steered his low shot past the foot of the near post, before Tonbridge Angels deservedly opened the scoring with 34 minutes on the clock.
Brown swept a first time pass from the middle out to the right which was latched onto by right-back James Folkes, who found himself down the right channel. He cut the ball back to Carey, who played the ball into the penalty area for Blewden to flick his shot into the top left-hand corner from 10-yards.
McKimm said: “It was knocked back to Lee Carey and I think he shanked it a bit having a shot and Blewey reacted as he does and he’s done all season to put it in the goal. He’s a bit of a predator at the minute and it’s a great finish, so pleased to go in at 1-0.
“I thought first half we done a lot better than we did at their place. We started on the front foot, we turned them, stretched the game and then we started to get some joy in and around their penalty box by getting crosses in because we stretched the game by going a bit longer and chasing in the channels with Ellis’ pace and Blewey’s pace and it frightened them at stages.
“When they’re on the back foot we can then start dictating the game a little bit. That’s what I thought we done. I thought we dominated the first half.”
O’Boyle added: “I weren’t too happy with our midfield tracking their runners basically. We should’ve tracked the runner from full-back basically. A good ball into other box and from their point of view, a good goal, from ours it was a poor goal!
“What was going through my mind? In big games this season when we’ve conceded one, we’ve conceded a second quite soon after so it was important we never conceded another one straight after the goal, which we never and I think it was important to get into half-time.”
Tonbridge Angels could have killed the game off as early as the 43rd minute when Carey chipped the ball over the top of the Phoenix back four but Blewden hooked his volley high over the goalkeeper’s left shoulder, over the crossbar from 16-yards.
Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.
McKimm said: “Whatever I said, they went the opposite because I told them again we need to stretch the game because they were going to throw everything at us.
“So I told them to stretch it and within the first five minutes we’re playing little dinky balls in midfield and it’s getting cut out.
“We’re getting overrun because they had three in midfield. When we stretched it, those three in midfield, they couldn’t get on the ball so we made a mistake there and I had to change it to go three in midfield and played two wide players similar to their system because they didn’t follow out instructions and I told them in there after the game that I won’t tolerate that!”
O’Boyle added: “Basically told them at half-time not to panic, keep on playing the same way.
“I think our final pass has got to be a lot better and in the final third we’ve got to take our end product and our final balls have got to be a bit better than they were in the first half.
“Basically the front three have got to get out and have absolute worldy’s in the second half!
“They took it on board and for the first 20-25 minutes second half I’m thinking we gave it a real good go, but no penetration in the box.”
The second half wasn’t the greatest and with home fans getting restless, Phoenix Sports created the first chance after thirteen minutes.
Phoenix built patiently, keeping the ball in midfield with Christie Pattison, Ramadan, Alastair Gordon and Goodchild, who opted to play the ball back to right-back Helge Orome.
He fed the ball into Pattison’s feet, who held off his marker inside the penalty area and his shot on the turn was comfortably saved by Di Bernardo at his near post, diving low to his left.
McKimm admitted: “Because we didn’t stretch the game as I wanted us to, I think they dominated proceedings for 20 minutes in that game. They put four up front and they dominated it because when we got it we just lashed it and gave the ball straight back to them rather than just using our width. We just kept smashing it up to Luke and it kept coming back which I was disappointed with.
“The chances they had, I felt Tony was comfortable with all of them. I didn’t feel under pressure that they were going to hurt him. I felt he done very well and it was a case of I was disappointed that we didn’t keep the ball.”
The temperatures started to drop after an hour’s play and the fog started to roll in making visibility difficult for both team and for the 339 fans inside Longmead Stadium.
Phoenix Sports’ left-back Richie Hamill stroked his left-footed free-kick just over the crossbar from 30-yards.
Tonbridge Angels killed off Phoenix Sports by scoring their second goal of the night after 68 minutes.
Phoenix Sports central defender and captain Chris Hill was harshly penalised by referee Paul Yates for blocking Wheeler, as he attempted to stab the ball on the central defender’s outside down the right channel.
Wheeler whipped in a quality free-kick towards the near post for Blewden to ghost past his man to place his header into the right-hand corner from six-yards, scoring his 13th goal of the season.
McKimm said: “Good free-kick, we work on them in training. Luke Blewden made that run across the defenders. With the pace of the ball it’s coming, he only needs to get a touch and it’s fired in the back of the net.
“Pleased for Luke because he’s been ill all weekend. It was only 11 o’clock this morning that he declared himself fit and he’s come and got two goals so he’ll be happy tonight.”
O’Boyle added: “Second half I thought we done alright. Steve Phillips has really not done much tonight. He hasn’t really done much apart from pick the ball out of the back of the net twice.
“The goal, another set-play. We’re undone by a good ball. As I said before the game you can’t afford to give away set-plays against teams like this and we’ve been undone by a set-play.”
Ramadan’s sublime diagonal pass, which found Carneige via Parter’s attempted clearance, was dragged wide by the Phoenix Sports winger.
McKimm felt his side should have wrapped the game up with a third goal with 75 minutes on the clock.
Blewden put Webster through on goal straight through the heart of the Phoenix defence and with only Steve Phillips to beat his attempted chip was weak and allowed the keeper to catch the ball comfortably.
McKimm said: “He’s made a great run of Luke Blewden’s flick and what he hasn’t done, he’s got in there, controlled it, just ain’t composed himself. He’s tried to lob the goalkeeper, I think, but Charlie at times is 100 miles per hour. He just needs to slow himself down a little bit because he’s a very good player, but he’s so keen to impress, sometimes that gets the better of him.”
The foggy conditions worsened during the final 15 minutes but Phoenix holding midfielder Giannoulis Fakinos’ right-footed curling free-kick sailed just over the crossbar from 25-yards.
O’Boyle admitted: “It was comfortable. It was hit over the bar. To be honest with you, we needed a lifeline there. We needed it to go in – and it never.”
Phoenix Sports created the last chance when Ramadan ran forward and cracked a right-footed drive from 30-yards, which was saved low down by Di Barnardo, who grabbed hold of the loose ball.
Tonbridge Angels reached the Third Qualifying Round of The FA Trophy last season but were defeated 3-0 at Bromley in a replay after a goal-less draw at Longmead Stadium.
Tonbridge Angels scooped £2,700 in prize money tonight and McKimm said: “It’s good for the club. I’ve only been here last year but history says they don’t do very well in the cups.
“Last year we got to the Third Qualifying Round and we played Bromley and got beat after a replay quite comfortably, which we had our chance and didn’t take it and they hammered us at their place.
“The income (£2,700) for the club tonight, it does help, it’s only a little but it does help. The more we can do in the cup the better. People say you’re falling behind in the league games but listen, you want to win every football game you play in. If that means we fall behind in the league games, we can do nothing about it.”
McKimm added: “The boys have come off and they’ve just done a job for the team tonight, whether it’s pretty our not, I’m not worried about that! The boys had to put a shift in tonight, injured as well and they’ve done it.”
Tonbridge Angels: Anthony Di Bernardo, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Lee Carey, Jerrome Sobers, Laurence Ball, Charlie Webster, Anthony Riviere (Brett Milham 63), Luke Blewden, Ellis Brown, Nick Wheeler.
Sub: Cameron Milham, Aaron McGuigan, Gianfranco Mici
Goals: Luke Blewden 34, 68
Booked: Jack Parter 65, Laurence Ball 76
Phoenix Sports: Steve Phillips, Helge Orome, Richie Hamill, Alistair Gordon (Yacine Gnahore 71), Lewis Mingle, Chris Hill, Harrison Carneige (Zac Bryon 88), Jason Goodchild, Christie Pattison, Giannoulis Fakinos, Adem Ramadan.
Subs: Steve Springett, Ryan Andrews, Danny Kemp
Booked: Jason Goodchild 27, Chris Hill 68
Referee: Mr Paul Yates (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Scott Rudd (Dartford) & Mr Olly Fyfe (Lewisham, London SE13)