Tonbridge Angels 0 Dover Athletic 0 (Exclusive Interviews)

Tuesday 28th February 2006




Stephen McCartney reports from the Betterview Longmead Stadium
Ryman League Division One

Tonbridge Angels’ skipper Steve Aris insists they are doing all they can to win automatic promotion from Ryman League Division One this season.

The Angels’ were held to only their second league draw on home soil this term in tonight’s dour Kent derby against their under-performing arch-rivals Dover Athletic.

Full credit, however, must go to both sets of supporters for their vocal and passionate support.

It’s just a shame chances were few and far between and fans can’t enjoy the bragging rights, as both games have ended in drab goal-less stalemates.

Dover started brightly, and their best chance came after just five minutes when their right-back, Dave Clifford saw his 14-yard volley strike the underside of the crossbar.

Dover’s supporters will, however, take heart from tonight’s performance. It couldn’t get any worse than their 3-0 home drubbing at the hands of Metropolitan Police - their only league defeat at Crabble this season - in front of their lowest crowd of the season on Saturday.

The visitors relied heavily on Craig Cloke’s long throws into the penalty area, and their best chance from this predictable method came after 36 minutes but Londoner Daniel Braithwaite shot straight at goalkeeper Jerome John from eight yards.

Tonbridge’s only worthwhile chance came on the stroke of half-time but Jay May skied Daniel Glozier - whose loan period from Nationwide Conference side Gravesend & Northfleet was extended by Fleet boss Liam Daish this week - crossed from the left.

Tonbridge earned their only corner of the game early in the second half when Nick Barnes’ right-footed drive from 25-yards took a deflection and flashed wide of the right post. The corner, however, was wasted.

Angels’ striker, Jay May then sent a 16-yard shot high over Kevin Readings’ crossbar soon after.

The game desperately needed a lift. A bit of special magic, or a defender to make a mistake.

Dover’s fans urged their team on, having won a 56th minute corner, but Lee Spiller blazed high over the bar from 25-yards.

The Angels’ best chance of the second half fell to former Cray Wanderers’ striker, Jon Main with 21 minutes left but he dragged his shot wide of the far post, although from a difficult angle.

Former Bromley target-man, Wade Falana, 34, received a good reception from the Longmead Stadium faithful on his return when he entered the battle with 13 minutes left but by then the game petered out into a boring draw.

Looking at the league table tonight, Ramsgate (66 points), who drew 3-3 at Dulwich Hamlet, have a five point lead on Horsham, who lost 2-1 at Cray Wanderers.

The play-off positions are currently held by Tooting & Mitcham (60 points), Tonbridge Angels (60), Metropolitan Police (60) and Kingstonian (55).

But don’t rule out seventh placed side Croydon Athletic (54), Leatherhead (53) or Cray Wanderers (51).

Reflecting on the game, Aris, 27, who lives in Bromley, said: “Both sides cancelled each other out.

“We felt we created a few chances and we kept them at bay. I don’t think JJ (Jerome John) had to make a save all game and we felt comfortable defensively.

“We just waited to nick one at the other end to nick a one-nil but it didn’t happen so we go on Saturday.”

The club have kept three clean sheets from their last four games and travel to Horsham on Saturday - a real six-pointer.

“It’s a big game for us,” admitted the former Fisher Athletic defender, who clinched the home side’s man-of-the-match award.

“The last two games we’ve kept two clean sheets so we’ll be looking to go to Horsham and do the same but hopefully we’ll try and nick a couple and come away with a victory.

“A victory there is a must and sets up right up for automatic promotion again.”

The Longmead Stadium outfit, however, have collected 15 points from their last 11 games - something that can be improved on, according to Aris.

He said: “It is disappointing but we’ve had a very bad couple of weeks but if you look at the league table and look at our situation now it’s still in our hands.

“So it’s still down to us, we don’t have to rely on anyone else. It’s down to us to get the results, which we are very confident we can do.”

Can they win promotion? Aris replied: “Very much so. We are looking for the title. There’s no reason why we can’t get the title.

“We want to go up automatically, we don’t want to go into the play-offs. We’ve been there or there abouts all season so if we can put on another good run together hopefully we can get there.”

Angels’ manager, Tony Dolby, meanwhile, had no complaints picking up a point against Dover, a side that have collected just ten points from the eleven league games they’ve played in 2006.

“It was a tight game, we always knew I was going to be,” he said.

“The pitch isn’t great and I think the lads performed well. Their attitude was first class and another clean sheet so not a great deal to moan about at this stage.”

Looking ahead to their showdown at Queen Street on Saturday, Dolby added: “Obviously every game is important and no doubt with Horsham being where they are in the league and us being where we are, it’s a very big game.

“It’s one where we’ll be going there to win. We’ve been doing well on our travels all year long so we go there full of confidence and they obviously know they’ll need to win because getting beaten tonight, so yes, it’s going to be an open game and hopefully we’ll come away with three points.”

Dolby revealed morale in the camp is good, adding: “If we get a result Saturday it puts us in a very strong position.

“We’re full of confidence at the moment. There’s no big panic in the camp, we’re playing well, we’re hitting form at the right time.

“We’ve had a good result Saturday (winning 1-0 at Newport IOW) and tonight, which was a decent enough point in a local derby.  If we get three on Saturday it’s been a very good week for us.”

Former Fisher Athletic goalkeeper, Jerome John, admitted their recent solid displays at the back breeds confidence for their promotion push.

He said: “It was a good defensive performance tonight. Last two games we’ve been quite good defensively after the Leatherhead game (which they lost 4-1). We’re building a bit more confidence at the back with two clean sheets.

“If we win Saturday’s massive game it puts more pressure on the other two teams at the top like Tooting and Ramsgate, so it will be good to win that game.”

Tonbridge Angels: Jerome John, Ray Powell, Danny Glozier, Jon Main, Steve Aris, John Beales, Danny Smith, Danny Lye, Fraser Logan, Nick Barnes, Jay May (Wade Falana 77)
Subs: Tony Dolby, Lew Watts, Leroy Huggins, Danny Ward.

Dover Athletic: Kevin Readings, Dave Clifford (Sam Vallance 67), Daniel Braithwaite, Danny Chapman, Craig Cloke, Tony Browne, Anthony Hogg (Shane Hamshare 88), Lee Spiller, Craig Wilkins, Kevin Cooper (Michael Smissen 77), Tommy Tyne.
Subs: James Rogers, Paul Hyde

Attendance: 536
Referee: David Buck (Istead Rise)
Assistants: Mr Graham Ions (Maidstone) Simon Finnegan (Maidstone)