Kent Senior Cup Quarter-Final
|Stephen McCartney reports from the
Avavan Longmead Stadium
|Gravesend & Northfleet||1||James Pinnock 16|
Fleet ease into last four
GRAVESEND & Northfleet eased into the last four of the John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup with a comfortable victory at the Avavan Longmead Stadium tonight.
Although the Nationwide Conference side fielded a weakened side, they were still too strong for their Ryman Premier League hosts.
Former Fleet goalkeeper Jamie Turner was called into action inside three minutes, saving comfortably from visiting skipper Graham Porter's rasping drive.
One visiting player trying to impress was left sided midfielder Gary Martin - wearing the number 33 shirt - and the shaven headed youngster tested Turner from a 40-yard free kick out on the right touchline.
Gravesend, however, were full value for their 16th minute lead. Nick Harrhy evaded two tackles and a foul from Turner before James Pinnock pulled the trigger, firing the Conference side into the semi-finals, shooting into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Spraying the ball confidently around the Longmead turf, the Fleet didn't look like increasing their lead until the half an hour mark when Turner was tested with a low angled drive from goalscorer Pinnock.
The Angels finally got a sniff at goal in the final eight minutes of the half. A penetrating run from former Dartford striker Jay May saw the youngster shoot from 28-yards which was comfortably saved by Paul Wilkinson and a minute later Kieron Wilson flashed a shot wide from 22-yards.
Angels boss Tony Dolby, who left himself out of the 15-man squad, inspired his side during the interval as the Ryman Leaguers came out with more urgency.
Within nine minutes, Steve Sodje, who beat the goalkeeper to the ball on the left hand side of the penalty box, lifted the ball inches over an open goal and the impressive May rolled a shot wide of the foot of the post following a mix-up between Wilkerson and central defender Sam Groombridge - who had recently spent a spell at local Kent League side Sevenoaks Town.
Just before the hour mark, however, Lee Gledhill's first time cross from the right was chested and volleyed by Pinnock and the ball fell to Jack Roberts' whose tame shot rolled to Turner, scopping the ball up at his near post.
Moments later Ben Surey's long range shot sailed over Turner's bar.
After evading Michael Cramp's tackle, Harrhy cut in from the right to the edge of the penalty box and fired narrowly wide.
Angels striker Brendon Cass, however, twice had chances to force extra time. After racing through the Fleet defence and with only Wilkerson to beat his shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. The young striker then shot wide from 16-yards following a good run from Sodje.
Angels skipper Craig Roser almost grabbed an injury time equaliser when he unleashed a left footed thunderbolt from 45-yards which was rocketing towards the top left hand corner of the net but a diving Wilkerson managed to tip the ball over.
Gravesend joined Folkestone Invicta and Dover Athletic in the last four and Margate or Cray Wanderers - who clash at The Homelands in Ashford next Tuesday - will join them in the hat.
Tonbridge Angels: Jamie Turner, Kieron Wilson, Steve McNamara, Danny Lye, Jay May (John Sinclair 75), Michael Cramp, Craig Roser (Capt), Gareth Street, Luke Piscina (Ross Mills 89), Brendon Cass, Steve Sodje. Subs: Matt Hollyoak, Mike McKeown
Gravesend & Northfleet: Paul Wilkinson, Lee Gledhill, Sam Groombridge, Graham Porter (C, Lee Protheroe 72), Jimmy Jackson, Moussa Sidibe (Jay Saunders 82), Jack Roberts, Ben Surey, Gary Martin, James Pinnock (Luke Moore 69), Nick Harrhy. Subs: Paul McCarthy, Sam Mott
Referee: Mick McKoy (Herne Bay)
Assistants: Graham Ions (Maidstone) & Paul Harris (Maidstone)