Thursday 01st September 2005

Tunbridge Wells fighting for the right cause


Thursday 21st
July 2005
Pre-Season Friendly Stephen McCartney reports from
Culverden Stadium
Tunbridge Wells 5 Steve Ward 48,76
Dave Eckersall 52
Craig Boyle 63
Michael Ward 90
Grays Athletic 1 Sam Taylor 83

Tunbridge Wells opened their pre-season programme and romped to victory against a youthful but talented Grays Athletic side at Culverden Stadium tonight, writes Stephen McCartney.

Wells' boss Kevin Metcalf selected a 19-man squad and was pleased with their performance, in a highly entertaining game, which saw only two substitutions made in the entire 90 minutes, and they came from the Essex side late in the second half.

But Metcalf admitted the club's management team of himself, Dave Rice and the absent Martin Telford are prepared to make some tough team decisions in the near future.

"It is going to be tough," he told in an EXCLUSIVE interview after the game.

"We saw 19 players out there with another four or five playing on Saturday (at home to AFC Totton), so there's going to be some tough decisions.

"We're going to take this club forward -  but it was a good work out for the boys.

"It was a good test as Grays were young and very fit.  They were about us all the time, very organised.

"At some stage some of those boys are going to make their first team."

Some of the visiting players had just been released from Premiership clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur, and having found out most had agents, this seemed to spur on the Kent League hosts.

Striker Joe Fuller, who played for Tonbridge Angels' second string last season, went agonisingly close for the home side after six minutes when he lobbed the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper but the ball dropped the wrong side of the far post.

James Coleman impressed in between the sticks for the Kent side as he looks likely to replace the injured, highly-rated stopper, Matt Bromby.

Sam Taylor's 25-yard free kick was acrobatically tipped over the bar by the Kent representative goalkeeper after 20 minutes.

Ten minutes later Fuller's glancing header went wide and Dave Hassett had a couple of chances late on without finding the net.

Both sides changed the majority of their team line-up during the interval with Grays changing from a sky blue kit to purple.

Their second half side, however, were off-colour as Tunbridge Wells romped into a 4-0 lead inside 31 minutes.

One of the most talented young players in the Kent League, Steve Ward showed good touch and balance inside the penalty area before firing into the corner of the net past the goalkeeper who had a pink streak in his blonde hair to give the home side a 48th minute lead.

Four minutes later the Kent Leaguers doubled their lead.  Buster Beaney's free kick was flicked on by Craig Boyle into the path of former Conference player, Dave Eckersall and the striker who has recently been playing for Lingfield rifled the ball into the roof of the net.

And Wells increased their lead further in the 63rd minute when Beaney's corner was met at the far post by Boyle, whose thunderbolt crashed into the back of the net from the edge of the box.

Former Cray Wanderers' reserve team top scorer, David Batt, played the pass of the game in the 76th minute, threading a ball into Steve Ward's feet and the 18-year-old kept his composure and fired low into the far corner of the net.

Grays netted a consolation goal with seven minutes remaining when Taylor rifled a shot past Coleman but inside injury time, Michael Ward scored via a deflection to inflict a heavy defeat on the young-guns playing for a FULL-TIME Nationwide Conference outfit.

"A good start, but there's still a long way to go," admitted a delighted Metcalf.

"Rome wasn't built in a day but I am really pleased for the boys, they've all worked very hard during pre-season.  

"We looked fit and sharp and that was the main thing."

Metcalf is currently in negotiations with midfielder, Joe Wade, whose been absent from the side having suffered an ankle injury at Herne Bay in January.

"He looks like he wants to come back so he's another top drawer player and these are the players we are now attracting at the club," revealed the Tenterden resident.

And Metcalf is delighted with the strides being made at Culverden Stadium.  The pitch has vastly improved from last season, the dressing rooms redecorated and there is an air of expectancy as they bid to win their first title since 1985.

"There's so much work going into the club from the chairman, committee, management team and the players.

"The one thing about this club is it's a nice club and we are all fighting the right cause and that is to take this club to where it should be.

"We want to be up there at the end of the season," Metcalf said.

Tunbridge Wells: (First Half): James Coleman, Gavin Williams, Ben Hilden, Simon Joynes, Craig Boyle, Kevin Skinner, Aaron O'Leary, Martin Anderson, Paul Hallet, Joe Fuller, Dave Hassett

Tunbridge Wells (Second Half): James Coleman, Lee Porter, Alex Rich, Craig Boyle, Simon Joynes, Buster Beaney, Drew Menzies, David Batt, Michael Ward, Dave Eckersall, Steve Ward