Thursday 01st September 2005

Dolby: We fear nobody at the moment

Boxing Day, Monday 26th December 2005 Ryman League
Division One
Stephen McCartney reports from Betterview Longmead Stadium
Tonbridge Angels 1 Nick Barnes 38
Cray Wanderers 0  

Nick Barnes' fifth goal of the season helped Tonbridge Angels move up to second place in the Ryman League Division One table as their Kent rivals Cray Wanderers suffered their seventh league defeat on their travels at the Betterview Longmead Stadium today, writes Stephen McCartney.

The former Fisher Athletic and Maidstone United midfielder stroked the ball into the bottom far corner of the net from ten yards to settle this Kent derby seven minutes before the break.

Tonbridge have now won five league games in succession as they bid to overhaul Horsham at the top.  Although they are four points behind the Hornets, the Angels have three games in hand.

And with Dover Athletic and Ramsgate sharing the points in a 1-1 draw at Crabble, Angels' player-manager Tony Dolby admitted in an EXCLUSIVE interview with that he was pleased with today's events.

"Today was an important game," he said.  "It's an important part of the season, Christmas.  

"That's our fifth win on the trot now in the league. Obviously we are building up some momentum and another three points today going into a tough game at Ramsgate next week, so I'm delighted at the moment."

Dolby takes his side to Southwood Stadium next Monday, 2nd January, looking to get the New Year off to a winning start.

And he was pleased hearing today's showdown at Crabble between two of his promotion rivals ended all square.

"That's the result that we wanted and obviously that puts a little bit of daylight between us and them (Ramsgate)," said Dolby.

Dolby knows what to expect from Jim Ward's side, having beaten them 2-1 at Longmead at the end of August.

"They're obviously a good, strong side, had a good cup run and they're up there in the league, only lost a few games," he said.

"We know what they're all about.  We're one of the sides that have beaten them this year and I think there won't be any surprises when we get up there.

"It's just a matter of us playing our stuff and dealing with what they've got to offer.

"And at the moment, like I say, the ascendancy is with us and as far as we're concerned we fear nobody at the moment."

Dolby, however, made it clear where his attentions lie for the remainder of the season.

"Hopefully promotion. It's what we're after now," he insisted.

"The decent cup runs we've had have obviously come to an end and the most important thing is to get promotion from this level.

"The clubs made some great inroads into moving forward.  We've moved a lot quicker than we've anticipated, that's coming together.  

"The fans have supported us well, considering the weather etc and obviously we are now performing on the pitch.  We haven't done too badly at all.

"We've got to get promotion, that's the way I see it.  I put pressure on myself to achieve the most I can, which will be promotion this year."

Dolby admitted he speaks the same "football language" as his chairman, Nick Sullivan, who took over the club during the close season.

"Nick's been fantastic to work with," said Dolby.  "We speak the same language as far as football is concerned.  

"He wants the best for Tonbridge Angels, as do I, and we see the game very similarly.  When we talk its often with the same views, which is good."

Dolby is currently in discussions with another goalkeeper as Mikhail Czanner, who made his eighth start of the season today, is unavailable for their trip to Ramsgate, and former Fisher Athletic stopper, Jerome John admitted that he's still going to be out for three weeks nursing his shoulder injury.

"There's a few options that we're looking at but we'll definitely have a keeper in place for that game," said Dolby.

Cray Wanderers' assistant manager Joe Francis, meanwhile, admitted his side need more luck, after dropping to twelve in the table after their second successive defeat.

Francis and manager Ian Jenkins were in a meeting with their chairman and vice-chairman until after midnight following their 3-1 defeat by Kingstonian at Hayes Lane last Tuesday night.

And when asked if there is pressure coming from boardroom level, Francis replied: "No, none at all - we're in it all together.

"We just have to turn it around," he admitted.  "We've been doing it five years and this is the first blip we've had so got to show a bit of faith ain't you?

"Players know what they have to do to turn it round - we're going to work hard this week and await the arrival of Richard (Caddett) and his boys."

Third placed Tooting & Mitcham United (two points behind Tonbridge) visit Hayes Lane in their next game on 2nd January.

"We're lacking a bit of belief," admitted Francis.  "We dominated the first half, should have came in three or four nil up, they've had one chance, one goal - simple as that."

"Then they sat the game out didn't they - a professional job second half.

"I thought we were the better side first half.  We're just not getting the rub of the green at the moment."

Looking ahead to their next game, Francis said: "Going in there positive.  Get the boys into training a couple nights a week and go there positive.  We're at home, we're better at home than we are away from home."

Francis, meanwhile, is using that famous old cliché' taking one game at a time, adding: "Well, I don't know about the rest of the season.  I tell you what you will find on Monday is we'll be out to win the game and take it from there mate.  You can't plan anything really - week by week at the moment."

Cray suffered a scare prior to kick-off, as their goalkeeper Steve Northwood broke down on the way to the ground and Jenkins was named on the team sheet and took part in the warm up.  Northwood, however, reached the ground in time to take his place in goal from the first whistle.

Top scorer, with 17 goals, Jon Main, had the visitors best chances when his 18th minute lob was plucked out of the air by Czanner, and fourteen minutes later the former VCD Athletic striker saw his shot roll agonisingly wide of the far post.

And their best chance of the second half fell to 41-year-old eight-goal striker Gary Abbott.  Hitting a first time shot from 25-yards - following a square pass from substitute Leigh Bremner - the stroked shot lacked power and allowed Czanner to save comfortably.

However, Barnes' hooked volley from just inside the box flew over the bar after 14 minutes and early in the second half the home side forced four corners in quick succession. 

Fraser Logan's fourth corner picked out his skipper, Steve Aris unmarked at the far post, but the former Fisher Athletic defender seemed surprised and poked his shot wide.

Not the prettiest of games, but I don't think Dolby and Sullivan are complaining.

Tonbridge Angels: Mikhail Czanner, John Beales, Danny Glozier, Darren Smith, Steve Aris, Lew Watts, Jay May (Luke Piscina 60), Danny Lye, Fraser Logan, Nick Barnes, Ray Powell.  Subs: Adam O'Neil, Jon Heath, Tony Dolby, Leroy Huggins

Cray Wanderers: Steve Northwood, Terry Khan, Ian Rawlings (Capt), David Gray, Dean Morris (David Hall 77), James Taylor, Ross Lover (Drew Watkins 45), Jamie Kempster, Gary Abbott, Jon Main, Jamie Wood (Leigh Bremner 65).  Subs: Adam Young, Richard Dimmock

Attendance: 457
Referee: Mr Ian Gosling (Sittingbourne)
Assistants: Mr Martin Taylor (King's Lynn) and Mr Ian Regan (Ashford)