Thursday 01st September 2005

Resilient Angels' end Tooting's nine match winning streak

Saturday 3rd
December 2005
Ryman League
Division One
Stephen McCartney reports from
Imperial Fields
Tooting & Mitcham United 0  
Tonbridge Angels 2 Nick Barnes (pen) 21
Darren Smith 80

Resilient Tonbridge Angels grounded out a vital victory at second placed Tooting & Mitcham United at Imperial Fields today and moved into fourth place in the Ryman League Division One table, writes Stephen McCartney.

The manager of the month award curse has, however, struck Terrors' manager Richard Caddett, in front of their biggest crowd of the season.

His side went into this game having won their last nine competitive games but goals from Nick Barnes (penalty) and a 30-yard volley from Darren Smith enhanced the Kent side's promotion chances.

Fraser Logan, 21, who joined Tonbridge from Kent rivals Bromley last Wednesday, played on the left of a four man midfield, and he had the games first chance inside four minutes, but his 30-yard left-footed free kick didn't trouble goalkeeper Jonty Venter.

James Lasbrey's cross from the right was met by a glancing header from John Hastings', which went wide of the far post.

But Tonbridge took the lead after 21 minutes courtesy of Barnes' third goal of the season, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot, after Ryan Gray was shown a red card for a deliberate handball on the goal-line.

But three minutes later, Mikael Munday's header sent Gavin Grant in and with only goalkeeper Jerome John to beat, the 13-goal top scorer lacked the killer touch and his shot rolled to the former Fisher Athletic stopper.

Hastings' rose to meet Munday's 32nd minute corner at the far post but John tipped the powerful header over.

Grant then cut in from the left inside the Angels' penalty area, and his shot took a deflection but John dived low to his left to claw the shot around the post.

Angels' had some respite late in the second half when John's long kick upfield sent Ray Powell through but his powerful drive crashed wide of the near post.

Tooting tested John again eleven minutes into the second half when nine-goal striker Hastings' rose to meet Lasbery's deep cross from the right, but John made a comfortable save.

Ten-man Tooting threw three men forward for the last 25 minutes but for a side that have scored 46 goals in 18 league games and have failed to score only once all season, proves this victory, although not the most exciting of games, was crucial for the Angels as they bid to return to the Ryman Premier League at the first attempt.

Tonbridge, however, secured the victory with ten minutes remianing.  Smith's 30-yard volley, on the right hand side, curled across the goalkeeper, finding the far corner to score his second goal of the season, which delighted the vocal, drum banging travelling support that are looking forward to their trip to East Thurrock United in their long-awaited FA Trophy third qualifying round replay on Tuesday night.

Tonbridge officials have received confirmation the game will go ahead at Rookery Hill as planned, despite the Ryman Premier League club suffering from floodlight problems recently.

But Angels' goalkeeper Jerome John, is desperate to win as his side will play Gravesend & Northfleet at home in the first round on 17th December.

After drawing the Essex side 0-0 on home soil seven days ago, John is relishing the replay.

He told : "That's a hard game because they battle really well.  I think they'll have a couple of players that they didn't have when we played them so it should be interesting - hopefully we can get a good result."

John, however, knows how important it is for his team-mates to win in Essex to set up a lucrative tie against Liam Daish's Nationwide Conference side.

"All the boys were talking about Gravesend as it's a Kent derby," he revealed.  "It's going to be a massive game for both clubs - hopefully we can get through and play them."

But John admitted what the club's main aim is for this season - promotion.  The Angels are now nine points behind leaders Horsham but with four games in hand over the Sussex side.

"I'm not going to be big headed and say we're going to be champions but we should definitely be up there at the end of the season," he said.  

"We've got another massive game next Saturday at Hastings as well so if we get a good result there we should be pushing in the right direction."

Angels' boss, Tony Dolby, however, is keeping his feet firmly on the ground about Tuesday night's showdown.

"Now we start preparing for Tuesday," he said.  "It's a big game for us, obviously the lucrative tie of playing Gravesend at home will do the club no end of good so we've got to get past Tuesday night, which will be no mean feat.

"East Thurrock are a decent side, especially at home, so we'll go there, give it all we got and hopefully get the result required.

"You've got to be professional about these things. East Thurrock is not the best place to visit on a Tuesday night, but the boys have got two clean sheets in two and we're on a decent run so hopefully we'll be able to take that form into Tuesday."

Dolby, who missed this game due to suspension, reflected on his side's tenth league win of the season.   "Three points today and a clean sheet at a place like Tooting is very much going to make anybody happy at the moment," he beamed.

And former Kilmarnock, Lewes and Bromley striker Fraser Logan has settled in very quickly following his switch from Hayes Lane last Wednesday.

"I thought Fraser did very well," added Dolby.  "He's slotted in nicely, there's some good shape to the team and he contributed plenty today."

And John admitted the Scot has taken plenty of banter inside the dressing room, adding: "He's a good lad.  We've been taking the mick out of him because he's Scottish.  But he's a good player, a great lad, a good laugh and has fitted in well."

Logan, however, is cup-tied, having played for Bromley during their short FA Trophy campaign, but let's hope the Angels can get the victory they need as the 'Fleet are waiting for them in two weeks time.

Tooting & Mitcham United: Jonty Venter, James Lasbery (Denva McKenzie 63), Craig Tanner, Mikael Munday, Danny Twin, Aaron Day, Ryan Gray, Ted Hart, Gavin Grant, John Hastings, Jason Pinnock (Vernon Francis 21).  Subs: Justin Bowen, Danny Platel, Scott Kinch

Sent off: Ryan Gray 20

Tonbridge Angels: Jerome John, John Beales, Jon Heath, Darren Smith, Steve Aris (Capt), Lew Watts, Loui Fazakerley (Luke Piscina 66), Danny Lye, Fraser Logan, Nick Barnes, Ray Powell (Leroy Huggins 70).  Subs: Adam O'Neill, Lee Kennett, Mike Cramp.

Attendance: 365
Referee: Mr Robert Whitton
Assistants: Mr Craig Hicks & Mr Alex Neil