Harrow Borough 0-1 Tonbridge Angels - The odds were against us tonight, says Steve McKimm

Tuesday 16th December 2014

Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 16th December 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Earlsmead

TONBRIDGE ANGELS manager Steve McKimm praised his makeshift team for deservedly winning a relegation six-pointer at Harrow Borough.

The Angels climbed a couple of places to seventeenth in the Ryman Premier League table on 27 points from 23 games after striker Royce Greenidge, 23, scored his first goal for the club against their fourth-from-bottom hosts.

McKimm’s men moved four points clear of the relegation zone after dominating for large chunks of the game against Dave Anderson’s side, who claimed a shock 3-3 draw away to league leaders Margate at the weekend.

But Tonbridge’s eighth league win of the season was marred with an injury sustained to midfielder Jack Brivio, who was stretchered off during the first half and was driven to Medway Hospital by his dad.

“I felt that the boys stuck to the game plan that I wanted,” said McKimm afterwards.

“I had two quick boys up front, it wasn’t a pitch to play lovely football on. We’ve come unstuck at times playing lovely football and not getting the results and not turning their defenders. 

“It worked for us because I had two boys up front willing to run, get in behind, cause problems and that’s exactly how we won the game.”

Harrow Borough’s main threat was in the shape of left-winger Nik Salapatas, who was released down the left and his shot flashed across Tom Hadler and past the far post inside the opening four minutes.

But a brilliant save from Harrow Borough goalkeeper Nick Jupp denied Tonbridge a sixth minute lead.

The Angels played the game at a high tempo and Brivio played the ball out to right-back James Folkes, who cut inside to whip in a cross and Marvin Williams’ glancing header from 12-yards was destined to sail into the far corner but Jupp dived to his right and stuck out a strong right hand to push around the post for a corner.

“I wanted us to get it in behind them,” explained McKimm.

“I wanted us to support the four attacking players I had out there - rather than doing overlaps -  and get balls in to the box.

“Royce tonight, he actually got in between the goalposts and attacked the ball and that’s where you score goals.  Every time the ball’s come in for Marvin or Tommy Whitnell or for Dee Okojie, he was in the middle of that goal trying to attack it and score.”

Tonbridge Angels scored what turned out to be the winning goal with 12:25 on the clock.

Jack Parter played the ball down the line from his left-back position to release Williams down the channel and he cut the ball back to Greenidge, who took a touch before drilling his right-footed shot past Jupp from 12-yards.

McKimm praised Greenidge, who came in and impressed following the release of striker Alex Teniola yesterday.

“It’s his first start as well,” said McKimm.

“He impressed me at Maidstone, he impressed me the other day when he came on as sub and with what I’ve got at the moment - I’m trying to bring a couple of players in and it didn’t work.

“He’s got his start tonight so you could say my misfortune in trying to get an experienced player in and putting a rookie in, but he stepped up to the plate.

“He’s just said to me in there he should’ve had three or four goals – he’s disappointed with that – but I like that!

“He’s still scored. He looks promising.  Listen, you don’t judge people after one game, you judge them after ten, but the boy wants to learn and I’m going to give him all my time to help him.  He knows I’m going to be patient because he won’t be playing every time and we’ll see where we go, but the boy wants to learn and he’s a good kid.”

Tonbridge Angels were enjoying plenty of possession against a Harrow Borough side who failed to replicate their shock result at Hartsdown Park at the weekend.

Tom Parkinson, who partnered Laurence Ball at the heart of Tonbridge Angels’ defence, played the ball to Dee Okojie, who raced forward for 30-yards before cutting the ball back for Lee Carey to loop his left-footed shot over Jupp’s crossbar.

But there was a delay for around ten minutes after Brivio went to the ground screaming in agony following a challenge and once made comfortable by team personal was stretchered off the pitch and driven to hospital.

Charlie Slocombe came off the bench to perform well at left-back and Parter slotted in Brivio’s central midfield position.

There was a silence around the ground when Brivio hit the deck in agony and McKimm was full of praise and concern for the player.

McKimm said: “Jack Brivio’s been knocking on the door to start.  There’s still things he’s got to learn in his game but I thought the first 15-20 minutes he was outstanding.  He won every second ball, which I asked him to do.  He pumped balls into people and he done very well.

“It’s very disappointing to see that happen. It was an innocuous challenge, no fault of their player, no fault of Jack’s and it was just unfortunate and I feel for him, I do.

“We’ll find out what’s happened to him in the morning and we’ll take it from there. 

“I do feel for him because he’s started like a steam train and he would’ve been a big part for me but we’ll see how he is in the morning.”

McKimm added: “That might be a season injury, I don’t know.”

Play resumed and Tonbridge Angels continued to press forward at a high tempo, without testing Jupp in the Harrow Borough goal.

The home side squandered their best chance of the game inside stoppage time.

Parter’s intended square pass to Slocombe was intercepted by winger Michael Bryan, who raced forward before whipping in a great cross into the box but striker Marc Charles-Smith looped his volley over the bar from six-yards.

McKimm said: “I thought they put pressure on us and you’re going to have spells when you’re under pressure but I thought my makeshift back four again, Charlie Slocombe came in and done a job for me.  Tom Parkinson had to drop in there because Jerrome (Sobers) went at half-past-two this afternoon so they’ve done very well.

“I’ve got to take my hat off to them.  Tom Hadler had to come out and do what he had to do, punched it, he was commanding. I’ve just got to give them credit because they went out there, the odds against them tonight.

“The team that we’ve just played got a three-all credible draw after being 2-0 up at Margate and we’ve beaten them tonight. They’ve stuck to the game plan that I wanted them to do and it worked a treat.  It’s not always going to work but it worked a treat tonight, so I’m very happy with the team.”

McKimm admitted he did not do any homework on Harrow Borough leading up to this vital must-win clash.

He said: “I didn’t get a chance to. I haven’t spoken to anyone about them but I just thought tonight I’m just going to go with what I think we can do and hurt them but looking at their team-sheet, it’s like looking at mine.  You don’t really recognise a lot of the players so you can’t really identify what their strengths and weaknesses are but what I will say I know their manager and he has them hard working and I don’t think they worked as hard for him in the first half and that gave us a little foot hold to put balls in behind them but at the end of the day we’ve done what I’ve asked them to do and we’ve got the result.”

Tonbridge Angels’ skipper Carey swung in a free-kick from the left channel, which was comfortably caught by Jupp at the near post, before Harrow Borough finished the half with Carl McCluskey nicking the ball off Tonbridge keeper Tom Hadler, only for the number ten to steer his low shot into the keeper’s grateful hands from a tight angle.

Tonbridge Angels were frustrating during the early stages of the second half, creating openings to kill off their hosts.

Tommy Whitnell, playing down the left flank in front of Slocombe, played a sublime diagonal pass over the head of the last defender to release Williams down the middle.

The striker brought the ball down with his chest and sprinted forward but steered his shot into the hands of the advancing goalkeeper after only two minutes.

“Just couldn’t get it out of his feet. He was a threat.  Wit (Whitnell) has done brilliantly, but he just couldn’t get it out of his feet and put it in the back of the net, but he’s in there to make a nuisance of himself and he done that. 

“A chance went by and when you always think when you’re chances go by is it going to be our night? Are they going to nick one in the last minute? The boys stood strong.”

Greenidge picked the ball up midfield and released Williams charging down the left, who held the ball up before clipping the ball to Carey on the edge of the box.  A reverse pass played in Parter, who swept his left-footed shot towards goal from the corner of the six-yard box, which forced Jupp into making a comfortable low save to his left.

“I was looking for him to get forward and support the front boys without getting in advance of them because I’ve got quick players up there to do them damage and it worked out,” said McKimm.

“Jack’s had a chance, again it hasn’t gone in.  You need that second goal for a cushion just to keep yourself on the front foot.”

The Tonbridge strike force got themselves in decent positions in and around the box on a number of occasions but failed to call Jupp into action.

McKimm added: “We’ve done that all season and I’m encouraging them to shoot. I can’t get the boots on out there and take a shot from them. They’re encouraged to shoot.  Sometimes we look for that special opening to score a special goal when sometimes you hit the ball and it hits someone’s backside and it goes in the back of the net anyway – but we got the result and I’m happy with that.”

The Tonbridge defence were resilient and didn’t look like conceding until Harrow Borough made a double substitution in the 68th minute and pressed forward in numbers in search of an equaliser.

They went close when they were awarded a free-kick some 30-yards from goal but the impressive Salapatas curled his right-footed effort into the side netting.

The home side threw bodies forward and left-back Julian Smith clipped a cross into the penalty area, but Charles-Smith’s header looped over the bar.

McKimm said: “They weren’t clear cut chances so if you look at the whole game, I don’t think they had any clear cut chances.  They didn’t really cut us open.

“They had a looping header which was defending right so he hasn’t got a free header and the free-kick, which you could see he’s (Hadler) lined up his (wall) perfectly and yes he’s scrambled across his goal but he had that comfortably covered.  You could see where we were from that.”

Tonbridge Angels could have made the game safe in the final nine minutes when Carey released Whitnell down the left and he reached the by-line before flashing the ball across the face of goal, but neither Greenidge or Okojie could apply the finish as the pair slid in.

Harrow Borough didn’t have the quality in the final third to hurt the Kent as Ball and Parkinson protected keeper Hadler, who put in an immaculate performance when catching crosses.

Harrow Borough’s right-back Howard Hall drilled a right-footed shot high and wide from 30-yards with seven minutes left, but Tonbridge Angels played out the rest of the game and sealed a comfortable victory.

“What pleased me most tonight was having Lee Carey back, a calming influence and that’s his first game back for four weeks and I thought he was fantastic tonight so that pleased me,” said McKimm.

“We defended stoutly and a clean sheet pleased me. All in all we needed a result tonight.

“If you look at the side I had out there and the players that came on, they’ve done themselves proud.  Some of them are reserve players that need to get better but will get better and we needed that three points tonight and we got it.

“We lost on Saturday, won tonight and we’ve got another tough (away) game against Hornchurch (on Saturday), but I’ll go with what bodies I’ve got, what players I can get in and take it from there.”

Harrow Borough: Nick Jupp, Howard Hall, Julian Smith, Harold Odametey, Michael Peacock (John Sonuga 46), George McCluskey, Michael Bryan (Kamaron English 68), Sekou Kaba, Marc Charles-Smith, Carl McCluskey (Gregory Ngoyi 68), Nik Salapatas.
Subs: Jerome Walker, Daniel Dyer

Booked: Julian Smith 57

Tonbridge Angels: Tom Hadler, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Lee Carey, Jack Brivio (Charlie Slocombe 29), Laurence Ball, Royce Greenidge (Gavin Quintyne 88), Tom Parkinson, Marvin Williams, Tommy Whitnell, Dee Okojie (Flavio Tavares 90).
Sub: Kyle Merson

Goals: Royce Greenidge 13

Attendance: 127
Referee: Mr Adrian Gillett (Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire)
Assistants: Mr Mark Stevens (Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire) & Mr Vincent Neale (Luton, Bedfordshire)