Tonbridge Angels 4-0 Brentwood Town - When you get a high you've got to keep that high going for as long as possible, says Tonbridge coach Justin Luchford

Sunday 23rd August 2015
Tonbridge Angels 4 – 0 Brentwood Town
Location Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN10 3JF
Kickoff 25/08/2015 19:45

Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 25th August 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium

TONBRIDGE ANGELS coach Justin Luchford has played down any talk of winning the Ryman Premier League title at the end of the season – despite scoring nine goals in their last two games.


The Angels recorded a 5-0 win at Bognor Regis Town at the weekend, before scoring four second half goals to thrash Dean Holdsworth’s Brentwood Town at Longmead Stadium tonight.

A crowd of 431 watched an entertaining first half but were wondering how it remained goal-less at the break, but the introduction of classy midfielder Tom Phipp clicked the Kent side into gear.

Phipp drilled his penalty into the bottom left-hand corner to give Tonbridge Angels the deserved breakthrough after 62 minutes, before Luke Blewden capped an outstanding performance with two goals, while Tommy Whitnell came off the bench to slam the third goal into the back of an empty net.

Luchford, who took press conference duties away from manager Steve McKimm tonight, said: “Very pleasing! After Saturday, we got a great result away from home against Bognor and you worry straight away whether you’re going to be complacent and go out there and not put a good shift in.

“I thought first half we worked hard. We couldn’t fault the work rate but we didn’t quite get hold of the game.

“I thought they were decent in midfield, they broke very quickly and they gave us a few problems first half.

“Although we probably had the best chances, we certainly didn’t have it our own way, so we had a few words at half-time and then second half I think we stepped it up a little bit and I think we went to the next level.

“We said to them at half-time, we’re at home and we need to take the game to them and not let them take it to us and I think we did that second half.  Once we got the first goal I think it settled us down and we went from there.”

The Angels climbed up a couple of places into third-place on 10 points from five games, three points behind leaders Leiston, who came away from Enfield Town with a 2-0 win.

Before the game a minutes applause took place for two Worthing United footballers Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, who tragically lost their lives driving to a home game but were involved in the Shoreham Air Show Disaster on Saturday.  The women footballers of Brighton & Hove Albion laid flowers to remember the victims at the site after their training session tonight.

Both teams put on an impressive game of football during the first half, with Tonbridge Angels creating the first chance after only 73 seconds.

Nick Wheeler whipped in a low cross from the left touchline into the Brentwood penalty area and Blewden’s first time shot went straight at visiting keeper Martyn Guest from 12-yards.

Brentwood Town were to be denied a goal by a brilliant diving save from Anthony Di Bernardo.

Shad Ngandu slipped the ball forward to left-winger Leon Fisher who released striker Liam Hope through on goal and his flicked shot across the keeper was destined to nestle into the bottom far corner, but the keeper dived low to his left to top the ball around the post.

Luchford said: “Anthony’s a good goalkeeper. He’s strong, he commands his box, he’s very athletic. He’s probably one of the fittest lads at the club so it stands us in good stead. He commands his box, which a lot of goalkeeper’s nowadays don’t do that. A lot of them are shot-stoppers. We know he can shot stop.

“It’s the other side of the game that we like about him, which is he can play the ball on the deck and he can play as the last man so we’ve got an extra defender in a way, so he’s done well.”

Tonbridge Angels’ central defender Laurence Ball committed a bookable offence but Ngandu wasted the chance by slicing his right-footed free-kick past the left-hand post from 30-yards.

Guest pulled off a brilliant save of his own to deny Blewden scoring with his head with only 8 minutes and 48 seconds on the clock.

Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick cut the ball back to right-back James Folkes, who whipped in a precise first time cross into the box and Blewden’s downward header was bouncing into the far corner, only for Guest to dive to his right to push the ball away.

Luchford was quick to praise the unplayable Blewden.

“Luke’s in loads of confidence at the moment. He said on Saturday when he hit the 35-yarder into the top corner, by his own admission he said if he didn’t score the first two he probably wouldn’t have hit that!

“He’s got loads of confidence oozing through him and long may that continue. He works hard, he’s got a got a great strike partner in Nathan (Elder) that allows him to drop into those areas, drop in behind without worrying too much about leaving a big hole in the centre in between the two centre halves.  I think they worked well together.”

Tonbridge Angels enjoyed a spell of dominance and they squandered an excellent chance after 17 minutes.

This time left-back Jack Parter floated in a cross towards the far post and Blewden kept the ball under his spell before passing to Tom Parkinson, who hung a cross towards the far post where the towering Nathan Elder looped his header across the keeper and agonisingly past the far post from eight-yards.

Luchford said: “I know I’m being ultra-critical, it probably needed a bit more pace on the ball because he can’t really get up an over the ball but it was a great bit of play to get into that position. We did that a couple of times in the first half. We created a few chances but didn’t quite happen.”

Brentwood Town, who arrived in Kent sitting in seventeenth-place in the table with one in and three defeats in the league so far, also enjoyed good moments and they too played their part in an attractive first half.

Fisher did well to shrug off the attentions of Parter’s shoulder barge before sweeping the ball across to Dave Collins out on the right and he cut the ball back to striker Hope, who bent his left-footed curler towards the bottom corner, but Di Bernardo pulled off another brilliant save, diving low to his right to top the ball around the post.

Brentwood Town’s set-piece specialist Collins swung in a corner from the right but Hope held his head in his hands after sending his free-header looping wide from 16-yards.

Tonbridge Angels were to be denied a deserved lead inside the final four minutes of the first half.

Hippolyte-Patrick, who caused Collins problems with his pace down the right, required treatment after Nicky Symons came across to bring him down in the right channel.

Wheeler whipped in another excellent dead-ball towards the far post and Parkinson thumped his header across the keeper and agonisingly clipping the far post from 10-yards.

Tonbridge Angels created the last chance of the half when a big kick straight down the middle by Di Bernardo was flicked on by the towering Elder but Guest rushed off his line towards the edge of the penalty box to deny Blewden.

Luchford admitted: “We didn’t feel at half-time that the game was going our own way. Certainly they matched us up, if not slightly better than us on the ball. They were better than us on the ball first half.  We managed to carve out three of the best chances and we should’ve been in the lead on chances but not on possession. They had more than us and they were better on the ball.

“It changed at half-time! The gaffer’s not going to stand there and (have a go at) them because they’re putting the work-rate in and that’s what he said before the game.

“We just said at half-time, own the pitch a bit more. We’re at home! Take the game to them and second half we did that and I don’t think they were in the game after we scored.”

Despite the thrills of the first half, the second half only got going when Phipp showed his talents in the 56th minute.

Luchford said: “Obviously Phippo’s been injured for the last couple of games. He’s a strong boy, he’s got great feet, he can drive with the ball. He can pick a pass, he’s great in the air and he’ll cause havoc. He’s a good player but what he did was supplement what we were already doing, which was pressing the game.

“Lee Carey was on a yellow and we felt it was wise to get him off the pitch just in case anything happened and like we’ve got this year that we didn’t have last year, we’ve got a bench. The three players we put on could quite easily start on Saturday so we’re fortunate at the moment.”

Before that though, a poor header from Brentwood defender Ryan O’Rawe was latched onto by Blewden, who sliced his right-footed drive wide from 35-yards after only 55 seconds.

Wheeler, who caused problems down the wing, hit an angled drive straight at Guest from 25-yards out but something wasn’t clicking until Phipp’s arrival.

Parkinson fed Phipp, who immediately drove forward before chipping his right-footed shot towards the top right-hand corner from 30-yards, which forced an excellent save from Guest, who clawed the ball behind with his left hand, high to his left.

Blewden found himself down the right channel and he cut the ball back to Hippolyte-Patrick, whose driven shot was blocked by the keeper and seconds later Parkinson was fouled in the box by Ngandu’s clumsy challenge.

Phipp stepped up to drill his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Guest diving the same way, to give Tonbridge Angels the lead after 62 minutes.

“Sometimes you need a little bit of luck to get off the mark and we got that little bit of luck,” admitted Luchford.

“From where I was standing it was a bit of a clumsy challenge. Was it a penalty? Well, it was because the referee gave it! I don’t know. It’s one of those. It’s 50-50. Some you get, some you don’t but Phippo’s stood up and put the ball away.”

Blewden, who scored a hat-trick at Bognor Regis Town at the weekend, scored after 67 minutes by showing desire to get to the ball first after hitting the woodwork.

Wheeler whipped in another excellent delivery from the left towards the near post and Blewden rose to plant his header against the left-hand post.  Brentwood’s defenders slept but Blewden pounced on the loose ball and lashed his left-footed shot into the top near corner.

“That just shows the confidence in the lad because he’s won the header and attacked the goal and it’s gone off the post and with his confidence he’s just smashed it in with his left-foot,” said Luchford.

“That’s what happens when you’re confident and you’re flying. Everything goes for you - long may it continue!

“To be fair, he deserves it because the work-rate he puts in. He puts in a shift in every game. He’s listening and he’s doing his job and that’s’ all we can ask for.”

Brentwood were looking a battered side now and Blewden released Elder through on goal but Guest saved his side’s bacon by coming off his line and blocking with his legs and was relieved to see Collins get back on the line to clear Hippolyte-Patrick’s follow-up shot away as the ball was rolling towards the bottom near corner.

Wheeler whipped in another excellent cross from the right and this time Blewden powered his header straight at the keeper.

Comical defending from Brentwood gifted Tonbridge Angels a third goal in the 72nd minute.

Blewden charged through the heart of the pitch and Paul Goodace collided with his goalkeeper and the loose ball ran to Whitnell, who at first was going to walk the ball into the empty net, but he slammed his shot in from ten-yards.

“It was exactly the same Saturday,” revealed Luchford.

“It was the fifth goal Saturday. Bognor did the same and Whit’s did exactly the same Saturday, so it’s good that Whit’s is doing it.

“It’s good that Blewey’s gone and put himself in that position and chasing them down and make them make mistakes and that’s what he’s good at.”

Another cross from Wheeler found substitute Charlie Webster unmarked at the far post and the right-winger sent his free header straight into Guest’s hands for a comfortable save.

Blewden then fed Whitnell who found Webster, who cut in from the right and played a fine ball across the face of goal towards the far post where Wheeler slid in to poke the ball straight at Guest at the near post.

The stadium announcer confirmed that Blewden scooped the man-of-the-match award and within seconds he tucked home his second goal of the night – his seventh of the season - with two minutes left.

Phipp was the driving force in the move again as he penetrated the middle of the pitch before sweeping the ball out wide to Webster, who whipped in a low cross towards the near post for Blewden to cut across his marker to flick his shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner from eight-yards.

“Give credit to Phippo, he’s driven through the middle of the pitch,” said Luchford.

“He could’ve given it earlier but he took one more touch. We thought he’d gone too far. We then thought the pass was then too far but Charlie’s managed to cross it back in across the pitch and Blewey’s come across and got the goal.

“He deserves man-of-the-match. He was man-of-the-match on Saturday and if he keeps going like this he’ll stand us in good stead going forward.”

Brentwood Town’s only chance of the second half came at the death.

Substitute Robbie Rees cut a corner back to Ngandu, who was given time and space to drill his shot past the near post.

Luchford praised Sonny Miles and Ball for keeping back-to-back clean sheets.

He said: “I think we were professional tonight at the back without being courageous and without taking chances. We just did the job.

“I thought Sonny was unassuming tonight. He just did the job. He held us together. Laurence does that Laurence does – which is just defend. Jack and Folksey are two good full-backs.  We’re solid at the back and we’re pleased what’s going on there. It’s a clean sheet!”

McKimm takes his side to Harrow Borough on Saturday, before hosting second-from-bottom side VCD Athletic on Bank Holiday Monday.

McKimm watched Vickers’ 3-0 defeat at Kingstonian on Monday night, while Keith McMahon watched Tonbridge’s impressive performance tonight.

“We’re pleased with the start, there’s no doubt about that but I can talk for the gaffer now, the league table means nothing at this point,” said Luchford.

“We’ve got points targets in house that we want to meet and the gaffer will be pleased that we’ve got the points on the board, three wins, a draw and a defeat.

“It anything it was really pleasing to get off the mark at home. The fans have turned out tonight, it’s another good crowd and they deserve to get a win so I think maybe we were a bit tentative to begin with but I think we’ve shown strength tonight.”

With Maidstone United and Margate now in Vanarama National League South, you’d expect a club like Tonbridge Angels to be challenging for the Ryman Premier League title, especially after tonight’s performance and finishing in the bottom five in McKimm’s first season in charge.

“No! No chance, don’t be silly,” said Luchford.

“Let’s take one game at a time. There’s no huge pressure on us. We want to improve on last year. If we can get that top half finish that’s where we’re aiming at the moment.

“I made a joke on Saturday, I think it was 46 more points and we’re safe (from relegation).

“Look, we’ve started well. We’ve got to continue that form. It’s good form. You get highs and lows in a season. When you get a high, you’ve got to keep that high going for as long as possible because we’re going to have a low. That’s football but talk about titles? No! Don’t be silly.

“How many games are there to go? Forty-one to go. Ask us that question with six games to go and see where we are then.”

Tonbridge Angels: Anthony Di Bernardo, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Tom Parkinson, Laurence Ball, Sonny Miles, Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick (Charlie Webster 76), Lee Carey (Tom Phipp 56), Nathan Elder (Tommy Whitnell 70), Luke Blewden, Nick Wheeler.
Subs: Ellis Brown, Jerrome Sobers

Goals: Tom Phipp 62 (penalty), Luke Blewden 67, 88, Tommy Whitnell 72

Booked: Laurence Ball 7, Lee Carey 38

Brentwood Town: Martyn Guest, Ritchie Jones, Dave Collins (Jordan Holdsworth 83), Nick Symons (Robbie Rees 74), Ryan O’Rawe, Paul Goodacre (Martyn Stokes 74), Leon Gordon, Shad Ngandu, Liam Hope, Mitch Hahn, Leon Fisher.
Subs: Tom Richardson, Josh Banton

Booked: Dave Collins 28

Attendance: 431
Referee: Mr Harry Lennard (Peacehaven, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Lee Martin-Cramp (Lewes, East Sussex) & Mr Christopher Hamilton (Newhaven, East Sussex)


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