Tonbridge Angels 1-1 Bury Town - We've had a wake up call against Bury, admits Tonbridge Angels boss Steve McKimm

Sunday 22nd March 2015

Ryman Premier League
Saturday 21st March 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium

TONBRIDGE ANGELS manager Steve McKimm says he is not going to hold up the white flag and remains confident that the club can avoid back-to-back relegations.

BATTLE: Steve McKimm says he only wants players who are up for a fight as he bids to avoid the club's second successive drop.

The Angels played like a side that will slip through the Ryman Premier League trapdoor next month after putting in a woeful performance during the first hour.

Bury Town arrived in Kent rooted to the foot of the table with five wins from 39 games and their 2-1 win over play-off chasing Metropolitan Police last Saturday was only their second win in 20 league outings.

Ben Chenery’s struggling side fully deserved their lead when striker David Lampshire hooked his shot into the far corner to stun Longmead Stadium into silence.

However, the double substitution of Lee Carey and Dee Okojie sparked the Angels into life and Tom Parkinson’s fourth goal of the season salvaged a point with 12 minutes of the game remaining.

McKimm fumed: “First half we turned up when we wanted to turn up and gave another catastrophe of a goal away but when we went forward with a bit of purpose and put a bit of energy into it, we hurt them.

“When they’ve grabbed something and held onto something, they’re (Bury Town) going to defend for their lives.

“Second half, my players’ couldn’t do no more than what they’ve done.  They pushed and pushed but if they had done that in the first half they would have made an easier afternoon of it.

“They’re told what to do and first half, like I said before, without us putting our boots on and getting out there and running for them, you’ve just got to get on with it.

“We’ve had a wake-up call. They’ll be some changes on Wednesday because the first half was unacceptable.”

When asked why his side played so poorly, McKimm replied: “Non-league mentality, that’s all! I can put it down to non-league mentality. They’re an honest bunch but sometimes people look at where other teams are in the league and think ‘it’s alright, we only have to turn up.’

“Met Police done it last week, speaking to their manager (Jim Cooper), they’ve done it last week and they got turned over so (my players’) were under no illusions what it was going to be like today.”

The tone was set as Bury Town almost opened the scoring after only 83 seconds.

Noel Aitkens split open Simon Cox and Jon Heath with a pass along the deck to put Lampshire through on goal, but keeper Tom Hadler sprinted out of his penalty box to make a decisive block with his right leg.

McKimm said: “Good save but the balls straight down the middle! It shouldn’t have got down there. It’s one straight ball. It’s killed my two centre halves and Tom’s had to come out and it’s a good save.”

Bury Town’s central defender Joe White clipped a free-kick into the Tonbridge box from the edge of the centre circle and Hadler caught Lampshire’s back-header.

Tonbridge Angels’ opening chance arrived inside the opening eight minutes following the first of eleven corners.

Whitnell played a short corner to Nathan Elder – who was making his debut having arrived on loan from Vanarama Conference side Dover Athletic until the end of the season – and Whitnell played the ball inside to the unmarked Dan Parkinson, who blazed his right-footed drive high over the bar from 35-yards.

Bury Town broke away and should have doubled their lead in the 12th minute.

Craig Nurse’s hooked pass released striker Saul Otobo down the right, who whipped in a cross but Lampshire didn’t tuck away the chance at the far post.

Bury Town skipper, Russell Short, played a sublime diagonal pass to Nurse, who whipped in a cross from the right, which was cleared away by Heath, but Remi Garrett lacked composure and cracked his right-footed volley high over the bar.

James Patterson came up from left-back to swing his free-kick into Hadler’s hands at the near post.

Tonbridge Angels were to become a threat from set-pieces and Whitnell swung in a corner from the right but Heath failed to score his first goal for the club in his 306th game by directing his header past the near post.

The stadium fell into silence when Bury Town deservedly took the lead in the 28th minute.

Short turned and swept his cross in from the right hand side and Lampshire hooked his right-footed shot into the far corner – past the diving Hadler’s outstretched right hand – from 12-yards.

Bury Town had obviously not read the script and McKimm was fuming.

“My players were told first 20 minutes, I need balls in the box for the two boys to get on the end off. There was not enough quality, not enough energy and then they go away and score a goal that was ridiculous on my part.

“We headed it away, don’t deal with the next ball, they get a shot, a ricochet and the boy taps it in so not pleased with that because we should have picked up the second ball.”

Bury Town keeper Alex Archer was forced into making his first save of the game on the half-hour, sticking out his left leg at the near post to deny Tom Parkinson from finding the bottom near corner from eight-yards.

His younger brother Dan clipped a cross towards the far post where the unmarked Whitnell directed his header straight at Archer for a comfortable catch.

And right-back James Folkes ventured forward to sweep in a hanging cross towards the far post but Elder planted his header across goal and wide from eight-yards.

Yet another headed chance fell to the home side when Tom Parkinson spread the ball out to Folkes, who whipped in a cross and Joe Taylor out-jumped the keeper to head wide too.

But Tonbridge Angels squandered their best chance of the first half in the 43rd minute.

Taylor’s flicked reverse pass put Elder through on goal but the 29-year-old drove his right-footed shot over the bar from ten-yards when he only had the keeper to beat.

McKimm admitted: “Nathan should have scored – he’s been told about that – right at the end of the first half, but we didn’t do enough.”

The half-time whistle blew and McKimm was clearly unimpressed as he trudged back to the dressing room with his hands in his pockets ready to give his under-performing side a few home truths.

He said: “Not good enough! The attitude weren’t good enough!

“All in all the first half was an embarrassment to Tonbridge Angels because they only put effort in only when they felt they had to put effort in. You don’t win football games like that!

“The pressure on them weren’t good enough and they had to up their game because you just can’t walk into a football match thinking you’re going to win and at times it seemed like that.

“They had a lot of work to do and to be fair they went out and done it but again it’s too late, 45 minutes you can’t just play.”

Jerrome Sobers, who had replaced Heath, who was forced off with a hamstring injury, should have scored with a free header at the near post, which he planted over the bar, after left-winger Whitnell swung in another corner after 49 minutes.

Cox pumped the ball forward to an unmarked Elder who knocked the ball down to Dan Parkinson, whose right-footed drive was pushed around the post by Archer, diving to his right.

But Tonbridge Angels finally upped their game following the introductions of Carey and Okojie.

McKimm said: “They’ve sat back in the first half and you’ve got to put pressure on them - we didn’t!

“We just felt it would be easy.  The best way to kill them, which is what they were told, they play narrow so I need to get my full-backs out. We didn’t do it enough.  We didn’t switch play.

“Split the pitch in thirds, we played down the thirds. We didn’t open our body up and switch it from left to eight or right to left.  We created a chance to get a cross in. We didn’t do it enough.”

Whitnell was freed down the left and his cross floated across the face of goal but Elder failed to show desire to meet the ball at the far post, watching the ball curl around the far post.

But Archer kept his side in the game by making a series of great saves as Tonbridge Angels put the ball in the box in the final 20 minutes.

Jack Parter came up from left-back to whip in a cross from the left towards the far post and Tom Parkinson’s header was clawed away by the diving keeper.

Okojie immediately whipped in the ball from the other side of the pitch and Elder’s header was brilliantly clawed away by Archer, diving low to his left.

And another cross from Tom Parkinson saw Archer save another header from Elder.

“Second half, they were holding on to dear life. The keeper’s made a couple of great saves,” said McKimm.

“They worked hard for their manager, which I knew they were going to do. I told the boys that beforehand.

“If we put the second half performance in the first half, I believe we would have come out with three points – but we haven’t! We’ve got a point and we’ve got to go out on Wednesday night.”

But Tonbridge Angels accepted a life-line with 12 minutes to go to ease the gloom on a chilly day.

They won themselves a free-kick just outside the Bury Town penalty box on the left hand side.

Carey whipped in the ball with his right-foot which sailed towards the far post and Cox rose to knock the ball down and Tom Parkinson planted his header through a crowd of players into the back of the net from eight-yards.

“Tom deserved that goal. He worked really hard today, he has all season,” said McKimm.

“You get a bit of quality in the box, make things happen. When Lee put that ball in the box it caused all sorts of panic and then we scored.

“I just felt at times we didn’t put enough balls in the box when we had chances to.”

Bury Town failed to create a single chance in the second half and Tonbridge Angels could have snatched a victory that seemed unlikely during the first hour.

Whitnell’s right-footed drive deflected wide and Carey swung in the resulting corner from the left, but Elder’s free header at the near post sailed over.

When asked about Elder’s contribution on his debut, McKimm replied: “I thought he done well as the game went on. He got better as the game went on.  You see he’s a little but rusty where he hasn’t played many games but you see the experience he’s brought in, especially come the end of the second half when he’s knocking balls down into midfield and laying balls off to people and getting on the end of crosses, which we haven’t been doing.

“Yes, he didn’t score and he’s beating himself up because he knew he should have scored. At least he got on the end of some crosses.”

Carey put in another corner in the final five minutes and this time it was central defender Sobers who planted another free header over the bar.

McKimm takes his side to thirteenth-placed Grays Athletic on Wednesday night, before travelling to sixth-placed Leiston next weekend.

Fifth-from-bottom AFC Hornchurch visit Longmead Stadium on 4 April, before the Angels travel to third-placed Margate on Easter Monday.

The Angels then host fourth-from-bottom Witham Town (11 April), travel to fourteenth-placed Billericay Town (18 April), and hosting fourth-placed Dulwich Hamlet on the last day of the season.

Tonbridge have picked up three draws and four defeats from those teams and will be playing Ryman League Division One South football next season if they don’t pick up the wins required to beat the drop.

They are currently six points clear of the relegation zone, which contains Witham Town, Harrow Borough, VCD Athletic and Bury Town.

“I said that when it was 12 to go, we nicked a couple of draws and went alright but no disrespect, I know Ben (Chenery) very well, you’ve got to be beating Bury, you’ve got to be beating Bury at home and I know that,” said McKimm.

“The second half performance was what I’m looking for. We put balls in the box, we had chances, their keeper’s pulled off two worldies. We’ve missed free headers and that’s what I’m looking for. The intensity was there.

“I give them their due, they worked really hard for their manager and that’s all you can ask for.”

When asked if he is feeling confident that he can guide the club towards safety in his first season in charge, McKimm replied: “Of course I am! I wouldn’t go out there every week trying to get the players to get a result if you’re not confident in staying up – then you might as well hold the white flag up!

“That’s not happening with me or my players. After the first half I had to change it. I changed it quickly in the second half and then there will be some changes on Wednesday as well.

“I know Mark Bentley who’s just got the job there. They’ve been doing well. It’s what team turns up and does the best on the night. If they fancy it or we fancy it. It’s non-league football. Sometimes people have had a hard day at work and come in and they’re a little lethargic and stuff like that. I’m hoping it’s then, rather than us.”

McKimm lost left-winger Mitchell Pinnock to Bromley, following a successful five-game loan period at Tonbridge Angels.

And McKimm is actively searching for replacements ahead of Transfer Deadline Day at the end of the month.

“I’ve been looking to bring people in.  Mitchell Pinnock has been a big miss for us since he’s gone back to Bromley and I will say that because he gave us that balance.

“I’ve been looking at two or three left sided players but as I’ve said before, they don’t want to come to a dog-fight. It’s a matter of playing football. Nathan Elder wants to come and play football because he hasn’t played a lot this year.

“I want players to come that want to play football and don’t come just because they have to play football.

“I’ve spoken to two or three people that don’t want to come and be involved in a dog-fight even if it means they are playing football on a regular basis.”

Tonbridge Angels: Tom Hadler, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Dan Parkinson (Lee Carey 62), Simon Cox, Jon Heath (Jerrome Sobers 39), Nathan Elder, Tom Parkinson, Joe Taylor (Dee Okojie 62), Tommy Whitnell, Marvin Williams.
Subs: Flavio Tavares, Royce Greenidge

Goal: Tom Parkinson 78

Booked: James Folkes 72

Bury Town: Alex Archer, Tevan Allen, James Patterson, Russell Short, Joe White, Justin Miller, Craig Nurse, Saul Otobo (Tanner Call 88), David Lampshire, Remi Garrett (Ryan Jolland 82), Noel Aitkens.
Sub: Alfie Bedingham

Goal: David Lampshire 28

Booked: Tevan Allen 75, Noel Aitkens 77

Attendance: 416
Referee: Mr Oliver Jackson (Sittingbourne)
Assistants: Mr Joe Kasper (Gravesend) & Mr Ryan Whittaker (Bexleyheath)