Tonbridge Angels 1-2 Leiston - We've come up a little bit short tonight, admits Steve McKimm

Tuesday 23rd September 2014
Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 23rd September 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium

TONBRIDGE ANGELS manager Steve McKimm gave an honest assessment that his club deserved to lose their first meeting with Leiston.

Sixth-placed Leiston arrived at Longmead Stadium just 45 minutes before kick-off but they made the midweek 232-mile round trip from Suffolk worthwhile with a deserved victory to end the Angels’ four match unbeaten run to put the Kent club in 12th place in the Ryman Premier League table with 16 points from 12 games.

Leiston’s Michael Brothers scooped the man-of-the-match award with a very impressive display on the right wing.

He set up the first goal which was finished off by Patrick Brothers, before Tonbridge Angels equalised just 175 seconds later through Alex Teniola’s fifth goal of the campaign.

But Leiston ensured they went home with a deserved victory when midfielder Craig Parker swept home the winner with 21 minutes remaining.

An honest McKimm said: “I’ve just said to the boys in there, we’ve played a team that’s been together for two or three years, well drilled, knew what they were good at and to be fair we didn’t create a lot tonight, which in a way in the last four or five games we’ve been creating 10-12 chances a game, maybe more.

“Tonight we’ve been restricted to two or three and if I’m looking at their chances, they didn’t have a lot either but they were a well-drilled, well-organised side, a strong side and we’ve come up a little bit short tonight.

“But I’m not hammering the boys about it. They’ve had a good little run in the league, a couple of wins and a draw and you come up against a side like that who are vying for the play-offs, you’re going to find it tough.

“I’ve got no complaints about the result. Just disappointed up front we didn’t create chances like we have been doing but then sometimes you’ve got to give the opposition credit to say they’ve done a good job so that’s what I’m doing today. I’m giving them credit for the job they’ve come and done on us.”

Tonbridge Angels created their first chance inside the opening four minutes

Set-piece specialist Lee Carey floated over a right-footed corner from the right which sailed towards the far post where big central defender Jerrome Sobers planted his header past the near post from four-yards.

McKimm said: “It was a good chance.  I think Jerrome was getting his shirt pulled but that’s what happens in the box.  He couldn’t get a free header at it because he was off balanced because he was being pulled but they were experienced players out there for them and put him off his stride to get the header in.”

Leiston looked impressive on the break, but striker Nnamdi Nwachuku – a nineteen-year-old on loan from Colchester United – swept the ball out to Tonbridge winger Dee Okojie, who sprinted down the wing on the break.

He burst 50-yards before cutting the ball back to Carey, who played the ball back to Okojie who played the ball inside to Billy Medlock, who took a touch and drove a speculative left-footed drive sailing harmlessly over the bar from 30-yards.

Parker broke up a potential Tonbridge move in midfield and released Michael Brothers on the break, who cut inside but a fine sliding tackle by Sobers stopped a goalscoring opportunity.

But Leiston produced an excellent move and finish to take a 22nd minute lead.

Midfielder Gareth Heath played the ball into Parker, who played a sublime defensive splitting pass that released Michael Brothers down the right.

He cut inside before floating a cross towards the far post where Patrick Brothers arrived late to crack a stunning left-footed half-volley into the roof of the net from four-yards.

“Well I thought that number seven, Michael Brothers was the best player on the park tonight,” conceded McKimm.

“He was everywhere. He was up and down. We caught him out a couple of times in the first half but other than that, second half he was a right handful.

“He’s big, powerful and a good player. It was a great cross and a great finish.  

“We knew they had people attacking the ball from midfield. We had one eye on him, getting attached to him.

“Sometimes you have to give people credit for a goal they’ve scored! It’s a great ball out wide from their midfield, a great cross and a great finish at the back stick.  That’s what you ask your wide players to do, get in at the back stick.

“You can’t always be doom and gloom about it.  You have to appreciate what other teams do to you as well and that was a good goal.”

But Tonbridge Angels swiftly went up the other end to equalise.

Left-back Jack Parter lost then won the ball inside the Leiston half before his clever back-heal released striker Tommy Whitnell down the left channel and he whipped in an inviting cross which was met by a thumping header from fans-favourite Teniola, which crashed into the roof of the net from eight-yards.

“Jack Parter cut inside, had the ball taken off him and then retrieved it, back-healed it out to Tommy Whitnell and again, another great cross, a great run by Alex and a great header! The keeper wasn’t saving that!

“I’m sure if their manager (Steve Ball) is being honest as well, he’ll say that was a great goal. 

“Sometimes you can’t defend things. If people are going to put balls into areas, it’s very hard to defend and that’s what you ask players to do and it was a great cross and a great header.”

McKimm said he is pleased that goals are being shared around by his front men.

He said: “Alex has got five, Billy (Medlock) has got 11. Tommy Whitnell’s got five and Harrison Tweddell has got two so I’ve got four strikers all scoring.

“I felt Alex coming in tonight gives us a little bit more of a presence. Harrison hasn’t played many minutes so I thought I’ll give Alex a go tonight and see what he’s like.

“It was maybe a little bit harsh on Harrison but at the end of the day Alex has come in and he’s scored a goal so it gives me loads of problems, but good problems.”

Leiston wasted a good opportunity to take the lead again when left-back Stuart Broadley ballooned his left-footed free-kick over the bar from 30-yards after 27 minutes.

Despite both sides playing attractive passing football, there wasn’t a flurry of goalscoring chances and both sides went in at the break all square.

When asked his half-time thoughts, McKimm said: “Just keep going! We need to create a little bit more if we can but make sure we do the right things. Start well. Get at them and just match them. You’ve got to match teams to start with and hopefully a little bit of space opens up but they defended well tonight so it wasn’t there for us.”

Leiston squandered an excellent chance to put the game to bed with the first chance of the second half following a sweeping move in the 58th minute.

Michael Brothers sprinted down the right with the ball before playing the ball inside to Parker, who swept the ball out to Patrick Brothers on the left flank.

He whipped in a cross into the Tonbridge penalty area which was spilt by goalkeeper Kyle Merson and Nwachuku took a touch and scooped his shot over the bar from ten-yards.

“He’s put it over the bar so you get a little reprieve from that one, a huge sigh of relief and that’s it,” added the Tonbridge manager.

“You just re-group and go again.  He’s put it over so we think alright, can it be our night? We go again…”

Tonbridge Angels created their next chance after the hour mark when striker Billy Medlock went in search of his 12th goal of the season by going on a run and seeing his right-footed shot loop off the excellent Tom Bullard, which was easily caught by goalkeeper Danny Gay.

Nwachuku then played the ball inside to the unmarked Patrick Brothers, who was left unmarked on the edge of the Tonbridge penalty area, but he drilled his left-footed over the near post when he really should have tested the former Staines Town keeper.

Tonbridge Angels’ created a chance in the 63rd minute when Teniola played in Medlock but his low shot was blocked.

But McKimm wasn’t happy with the manner that Leiston deservedly won the game with 69 minutes on the clock.

Heath swung in a corner from the left which didn’t reach a great height and Merson failed to gather the ball, his team-mates went to sleep and allowed Parker to sweep a right-footed shot on the turn at the far post into the bottom right-hand corner from eight-yards.

“Craig Parker’s scored goals all his career from midfield, he’s renowned for it,” said McKimm.

“He’s done it at Bury, done it at Chelmsford, so he’s a player who’s played at a higher level.  He knows what he’s doing. 

“I’ll have to see the video again just to see how that actual ball came into the box from the corner because I don’t think it was that high and we didn’t deal with it.

“I won’t pass judgement on that until I see it but they scored the goal and we’ve still got time to get back into the game.”

Tonbridge Angels winger Okojie cut inside and drilled a low left-footed shot towards the bottom near corner from 20-yards, which was spilt by the diving Gay.

McKimm said: “We were creating a little bit not clear cut, like we have been doing on recent weeks.

“In football, you can’t keep doing it. There’s going to come a time when you get snuffed out and they snuffed us out tonight. I’ve got no complaints about that.”

Leiston produced another sweeping move in the final thirteen minutes.

Heath swept the ball out to Patrick Brothers, who whipped in a teasing cross for Nwachuku to sweep his shot straight at Merson.

Leiston created a couple of late chances as their solid back four built a brick wall to shut out the Angels’ 22-goal strike force.

Parker released Nwachuku, who outpaced Angels left-back Ben King, but Merson made a comfortable near post save.

And Adam Tann played the ball into Michael Brothers, who drove his left-footed drive over from 25-yards with eight minutes remaining and that was it in terms of goalscoring opportunities.

McKimm added: “Last ten minutes we went a bit longer. I brought Nathan (Campbell) on as well, just to try to upset them and again they stood up to that so I’m going to give them full credit for them coming here and being a strong outfit.

“With the players that I’ve got, I expected to create a little bit more but saying that if a team defended really well against you, sometimes you’re not going to be able to do that and that’s at the highest level.

“If a team comes and defend well and have one of those games here, every time a cross comes in they’ve blocked it or they’re just there for the second ball, you’re not going to be able to create chances so again I’ll say I’ll give them a lot of credit for stifling us where the last four or five games we’ve been opening up people at will, in my opinion, so I’ll give them credit for their defensive work today.”

The Angels are slap bang in the middle of the table, six points adrift of the play-off zone and five points clear of the relegation zone.

McKimm said: “We’re not even halfway through the season but halfway in the table so I’ll take that.

“If I was sitting bottom of the table would I have a job and would the fans be happy? Would they be signing the players’ names afterwards? Probably not. I don’t know.

“We aim for the play-offs at the start of the season because everyone has to have a goal and then you look back on it and you think is it a realistic target?

“Margate have beaten Maidstone tonight, does that mean Margate are going to go on to win the league? No it doesn’t!

“The bottom line is until you’ve played 25 games, see where you are in the table and see if you can push on and go and get them play-offs.

“If you can’t, see if we can finish as high as we can. That’s what we’re looking at, especially here.

“This year is a building process, set the foundations for a good push next year but we’re not going to take things lightly. We’re going to do the best we can and if we can make the play-offs we’ll be happy.”

Tonbridge Angels: Kyle Merson, James Folkes, Ben King, Lee Carey, Jerrome Sobers, Jack Parter, Alex Teniola, Tom Parkinson, Billy Medlock, Tommy Whitnell (Nathan Campbell 85), Dee Okojie (Flavio Tavares 74).
Subs: Harrison Tweddell, Charlie Slocombe

Goal: Alex Teniola 24

Booked: Alex Teniola 32, Tom Parkinson 63

Leiston: Danny Gay, Blake Saker, Stuart Broadley, Adam Tann, Joe Jefford, Tom Bullard, Michael Brothers, Gareth Heath, Nnamdi Nwachuku (Tom Winter 83), Craig Parker, Patrick Brothers (Jack Simmons 89).
Subs: Scott Mitchell, Alex Rossis

Goals:  Patrick Brothers 22, Craig Parker 69

Booked: Adam Tann 45

Attendance: 309
Referee: Mr Nick Dunn (Deal)
Assistants: Mr Ivan Gelov (Canterbury) & Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks)