Tonbridge Angels 0-0 Burgess Hill Town - We're not going to play against teams that put most people behind the ball every week, says frustrated Angels' assistant Barry Moore
Tonbridge Angels 0 – 0 Burgess Hill Town
|Location||Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN10 3JF|
TONBRIDGE ANGELS 0-0 BURGESS HILL TOWN
Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 17th January 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium
TONBRIDGE ANGELS’ assistant manager Barry Moore says he was left frustrated by Burgess Hill Town’s negative tactics after playing out their first goal-less draw of the season.
Ian Chapman’s side arrived at Longmead Stadium in the bottom five in the Ryman Premier League table with 28 points from 25 games and having lost their last four games and had gone seven without a win, while seventh-placed Tonbridge Angels had won their last three and collected 44 points from 26 games.
Steve McKimm’s side would have leapfrogged over Enfield Town and Dulwich Hamlet in to the play-off zone had they broken down a resilient Hillians’ side where their three central defenders (James Richmond, Chuck Toure and Sam Fisk) and goalkeeper Max Huxter, who is on the books of Vanarama National League side Bromley, pulled off three fine first half saves to keep the Angels at bay.
But Tonbridge Angels squandered a number of chances to win the game against a poor Burgess Hill Town side that simply parked the bus and got the point that they came for.
The game attracted an attendance of 256 people that braved a freezing cold night, where temperatures plummeted to minus three during the second half on what proved to be a night of frustration.
Moore said: “Frustrating! It was obvious they had a game plan when they turned up and that was not to win!
“Lovely, lovely staff, nice fellas. I’ve probably not seen a more negative display for quite a while. Timewasting from the first minute from throws, free-kicks and goal-kicks but saying that they’re scrapping down the bottom, although there’s still 20 league games to go and on the flip side of that their keeper pulled off two or three very good saves which we should be putting in the back of the net. There’s no excuses about that!
“Tony (Di Bernardo) had one shot from distance to save but we should be putting our chances in the net.
“I think they’re very happy with a draw as we’re not very happy with not winning. We had the chances, we just didn’t take any. The keeper pulled off a couple of great saves, it’s one of those things, I think.”
Tonbridge Angels started the game on the front foot and striker Alex Akrofi went in search for his tenth goal for the club as early as 67 seconds, dragging his shot across Huxter and past the far post, which set the tone for the Angels’ first half dominance.
Luke Allen swept the ball out to Luke Blewden, who was playing wide on the right, and he took a touch before cutting inside and flashing a low cross across the face of goal and past the far post.
Huxter, who was on the bench for Bromley on Saturday, was called into action by making his first save inside nine minutes.
Wheeler swung in a free-kick from the left towards the far post where Akrofi rose to plant his header across goal and towards the far corner, only for the keeper to palm the ball away diving to his left which was then put behind for a corner by Fisk.
Moore, who was first of the management team out of the dressing room, said: “We started very quickly first 10-15 minutes. We said if you get at them straight away you might get an early goal and their confidence might go down. We did manage to do that and then after 15 minutes I felt we dropped off the pace a little bit.”
The returning Nick Wheeler whipped in a high-quality hanging cross from the right towards the far post and it was asking to be buried by target-man Nathan Elder, who planted his header towards goal from close range, only for Huxter to pull off a great save, sticking out his outstretched arm to tip the ball onto the top of the crossbar.
“Great save, fantastic instinctive save but Nathan should be putting it in the net. He’s the first to know that. He’s an experienced man. He knows that should be going in the net but it didn’t so credit to the keeper for the save,” said Moore.
But after those chances inside the opening 15 minutes, Burgess Hill Town weathered the storm but their tactics of packing the middle of the park suffocated the game.
Damien Scannell, who was playing in a more deeper role in midfield, ventured forward and played a one-two with Akrofi, before playing the ball inside to an unmarked Wheeler, who curled his right-footed shot towards the far corner, which was held by Huxter, diving low to his right.
Moore admitted his players struggled to get in behind the Hillans’ three central defenders.
“The thing is when a team drops that many people behind the ball and they drop deep it’s hard, it is hard,” he said.
“The boys are struggling to get it out of their feet out wide with the surface getting colder and colder. It was getting slippery. It was a bit harder to get the delivery in but similar to Met Police (a 2-1 home win on 7 January) really, they came with a game plan to put everyone behind the ball and drop deep. They’ll (Burgess Hill) will look at it as ‘our game plan worked’, but you can’t do that every week!”
Burgess Hill Town took 28 minutes to create their first chance.
Skipper Dan Pearse played a long ball out from his holding role in midfield to release striker Billy Medlock down the right channel and the former Tonbridge man hit a low right-footed angled drive towards the bottom near corner, which was pushed around the post by Anthony Di Bernardo after diving to his left.
Left-wing back Leon Redwood swung in the resulting corner from the right which saw right-sided central defender James Richmond rise at the near post to send his header across the face of goal and past the far post.
Moore said: “I think we gave away the ball in the middle of the park. They’ve played one ball through, Billy’s got a shot off. Tony’s going to save them all day long so for Tony’s point of view and the back four’s point of view we’ve restricted them to a shot that Tony’s going to save all day long.”
Huxter made a comfortable catch from Allen’s shot from outside the penalty area, before Tonbridge Angels created another couple of chances as the game headed towards the interval.
Wheeler took a touch before whipping in a cross, which was headed away by Richmond and Scannell hooked his volley into Huxter’s hands from 25-yards, before the Burgess Hill keeper dived low to his right only to see Blewden’s swept shot flash across him and just past the foot of the far post after James Folkes and Akrofi linked up well down the right.
“We said to Blewey anything around that box have a shot across the goal. It might go through somebody’s legs in the corner, it might take a nick and he’s done that and it’s narrowly gone wide.”
Moore revealed that the dressing room was “not that warm,” during the half-time interval as the small crowd sought shelter from the elements at the break.
“We said basically start the second half nice and quick,” said Moore.
“It’s going to be difficult, keep trying to get the balls in, keep trying to get deliveries into the box because we know we’re dangerous at that and at times we did do it but it just didn’t fall for us in the end.”
Tonbridge Angels created the first chance of the second half after only 194 seconds when Wheeler delivered a cross from the left, the ball was headed away and Allen hit a low first time drive which was gobbled up by Huxter, the busier of the two goalkeepers.
“It’s one of them, if he had it again he’d probably bring it down and have a touch and then shoot but as it goes on the boys’ get a bit ‘we’ve got to score, we’ve got to score.’ A one in a million go in but sometimes you’ve got to have a try.”
But Tonbridge Angels missed a glorious chance to break the stalemate when Blewden delivered a deep cross while in space down the right wing towards the far post where Tom Parkinson (who partnered George Beaven at the heart of defence) rose to plant his free header over from six-yards.
Moore added: “It was a loopy ball in if I remember rightly, I think he jumped a little bit too early and got underneath it. Like I said, that’s one of four very, very good chances that we missed!”
When asked how he was feeling at that point, Moore replied: “We’re always confident we’ll get one more chance, one more chance, but I think there was a lot of frustration.
“They got a couple of throws over at our side and they’re walking at snail’s pace to take a throw and things like that gets to you. It’s none of our business what their game plan us but that gets to you and you get frustrated.”
But as the temperatures lowered, so did the quality of the game as the frosty pitch conditions made it difficult.
Moore said: “As it went on it was hard for our wide men and full-backs to get deliveries in because it was firming up and with that bit of crisp on top the ball does skid but listen you can use all the excuses, if you miss four chances like we did today, you don’t deserve to win it.”
Tonbridge right-back Folkes kept giving the ball away, Elder was not his usual threat in the air and watching Burgess Hill Town park the bus was simply frustrating and uninspiring.
Burgess Hill Town did finally manage a shot on target in the 71st minute when ex-Angel Jack Brivio fed Pearse in space, who stroked his right-footed drive towards goal from 25-yards, which Di Bernardo held while diving low to his left.
“Similar to the first half really, a save that he’s going to make all day long. We gave them no clear cut chances at all,” added Moore.
Tonbridge Angels’ final chance arrived in the final seven minutes as Wheeler was given oceans of room to whip in a cross which was headed towards goal by substitute striker Sid Sollis, which sailed into Huxter’s hands.
With a stalemate looking more likely, Burgess Hill lacked quality to win it inside injury time.
A good ball in behind the defence by Medlock released substitute striker Tyrell Richardson-Brown down the right channel, but his speculative chip from 30-yards was comfortably plucked out of the air by Di Bernardo.
Moore added: “I’m two foot tall, not much taller than that and I think I might have been able to catch that one!”
Despite tonight’s set-back Tonbridge Angels have climbed up a place into sixth and are a point behind fifth-placed Dulwich Hamlet.
Bognor Regis Town retained top-spot with a 2-1 win over Needham Market in the top-off-the-table clash at Nyewood Lane.
Bognor Regis have collected 57 points from 28 games, Havant & Waterlooville are now in second-place on 55 points from 27 games, followed by Needham Market on 53 points from 29 games. Leiston are fourth with 51 points from 25 games, followed by Dulwich Hamlet with 46 points from 29 games. Tonbridge Angels are next with 45 points from 27 games.
“I think the only positive is we didn’t lose, apart from that on another day two or three of those chances go in,” said Moore.
“We’re not going to play against teams that put most people behind the ball every week so on chances created we had four clear cut and two or three half chances and we’ve restricted them to basically nothing. Another day they go in, today they didn’t.
“We’ve gone up a place. Sometimes having games-in-hand don’t work for you because you go into the game thinking ‘we’ve got to win, we’ve got to win.’
“That’s our 27th game so we’ve got a hell of a lot more games to play. We’ve got a big game on Saturday, Harlow are a big, strong side and it will be a battle.”
Tonbridge Angels sent a scout to Harlow to watch the Essex side lose 2-1 to Lowestoft Town, a result that saw them slip down a place into 12th with 38 points from 28 games.
Looking ahead to their trip to Harlow Town on Saturday, Moore said: “We have every team we play watched so we’ve seen them. We do know they’re a big, strong side. They’ve had mixed results, had a good little run in The FA Trophy. I think they narrowly lost 2-1 to York City so they didn’t have a bad run (reaching the Second Round). We’ll still go there confident. We’re still unbeaten in four games, we’ll train Thursday, today’s gone.”
Tonbridge Angels: Anthony Di Bernardo, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Damien Scannell, Tom Parkinson, George Beaven, Luke Blewden, Luke Allen (Tom Phipp 66), Nathan Elder, Alex Akrofi (Sid Sollis 73), Nick Wheeler.
Subs: Tommy Whitnell, Liam Smith, Louis Lawlor
Booked: Alex Akrofi 34
Burgess Hill Town: Max Huxter, Lee Harding, Leon Redwood, James Richmond, Chuck Toure, Sam Fisk, Dan Pearse, Pierre Hazet, Dan Thompson (Tyrell Richardson-Brown 82), Billy Medlock (Aaron Smith-Joseph 90), Jack Brivio (Guy Bolton 76).
Booked: Billy Medlock 64
Referee: Mr Ryan Whitaker (Bexleyheath)
Assistants: Mr Alexis Stacchini (Orpington) & Mr Olly Fyfe (Orpington)
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