Get three points at Leiston and we’re back on the trail again, says Tonbridge Angels coach Justin Luchford

Sunday 05th March 2017

TONBRIDGE ANGELS coach Justin Luchford says it’s important to finish as high as they possibly can.

The Angels slipped down a place to fourth in the Ryman Premier League table after losing 4-3 to Needham Market at Longmead Stadium yesterday as third-met-fourth.

Steve McKimm’s men were coasting during the first half and led 2-0 courtesy of headed goals from right-back Ugo Udoji and target-man Nathan Elder’s 50th career goal for the club.

But things started to go wrong for them when goalkeeper Anthony Di Bernardo pulled up with a knee injury in the 41st minute and goalkeeper coach Stewart Copeland, 26, went in goal for the second half.

John Sands headed in within four minutes of the restart to bring Mark Morsley’s side back from the dead, before Mitchell Nelson headed in Tonbridge’s third at the other end from Nick Wheeler’s corner.

A horrific mistake from Copeland resulted in Udoji committing a professional foul inside the D to bring down Luke Ingram in the 55th minute and Needham Market went on to score three goals from Ingram, Reece Dobson and Sam Nunn, as Copeland let in four goals from the visitors’ five shots on target as the former Tunbridge Wells goalkeeper was out of his depth.

Phone calls are being made this weekend to bring in a goalkeeper in time for Tuesday’s trip to sixth-placed Leiston, who are eight points adrift of the Angels, but with four games in hand.

The two sides produced a high-quality game of football when the two sides shared the points in a 2-2 draw at Longmead Stadium on 20 September 2016.

“They’re on a bad run, they’ll see yesterday’s result thinking we’ve got our heads between our legs and all that, they’ll be in for a shock,” insisted Luchford, who is keen to bounce back after Tonbridge lost their eight-match unbeaten run against a physical Needham Market outfit.

“We’ve got Damien Scannell will probably be back ready for Tuesday, we’ll sort the goalkeeping thing out. People are starting to get back fit.  Andre McCollin was gagging to go. Sonny Miles might be in the 16 for Tuesday. We’re coming good in terms of players available, all at the right time.

“We won’t be taking anyone lightly between now and the end of the season.

“We’ve got nine cup finals. There is a long way to go. There’s lots of points to play for. If we win all of our points, what does that put us on? We can get 90 points, we’ll be there and there abouts. I tell you, we’ve still got plenty to play for.”

As things stand, Tonbridge Angels will have to travel up to the outskirts of Ipswich to play Needham Market for the fourth time this season in an away play-off semi-final on Thursday 27 April.

“You’ve got to finish as high as you can,” said Luchford, whose club are now nine points adrift of league leaders Bognor Regis Town following their tenth league defeat of the season.

“If Bognor lose two or three games on a spin, it throws it all back in.  I’m not saying they will, we just need to concentrate on ourselves, right. 

“We are in a good vein of form, other than 45 minutes in the second half yesterday.  In 14 games we’ve done well since the turn of the year, we’ve got to take that to Leiston on Tuesday, take the game to them, get three points, get three points at Leiston and we’re back on the trail again.”

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Leiston  v  Tonbridge Angels
Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 7th March 2017
Kick Off 7:45pm
At Victory Road, Leiston, Suffolk IP16 4DQ