Tonbridge Angels 1-0 Maidstone United - We got the result for the fans, says Steve McKimm
TONBRIDGE ANGELS 1-0 MAIDSTONE UNITED
Ryman Premier League
Bank Holiday Monday 25th August 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium
TONBRIDGE ANGELS manager Steve McKimm says he learnt a lot about his players’ after his side grabbed a last-gasp winner to stun their bitter-rivals Maidstone United.
An excellent supportive crowd of 1,168 braved the miserable wet weather to watch a battle at Longmead Stadium.
But it was the blue side of the River Medway that claimed the local bragging rights through Alex Teniola’s last-gasp winner, which was timed at 44:29.
It maintained Tonbridge Angels’ 100% home record as McKimm’s side rose four places to tenth-place in the Ryman Premier League table with nine points from six games.
Maidstone United, meanwhile, remain in second-place with 15 points, but lost ground on title challengers Margate, who edged three points clear following their sixth win on the bounce following their 5-1 win at Lewes.
“Yes, very happy with the players, coming off the back of a 2-0 defeat away (to Wingate & Finchley) on Saturday, which was very disappointing because we gave two goals away again. That seems to be our Achilles heel away from home, giving goals away,” said McKimm, 38, afterwards.
“I thought the goalkeeper and the back four were absolutely fantastic. All over the pitch, if I’m honest, they worked hard for each other and showed that they wanted to work for each other until they were dead on their feet and that’s when I had to make the substitutions.
“Of course, it was a typical derby – it was a close derby game - but then if you take the chances out of it and look at some of the build-up from our side and Maidstone at times in the second half, especially from Maidstone, that’s when you need to show characters.”
After beating Metropolitan Police, VCD Athletic, Bognor Regis Town, Hampton & Richmond Borough and Bury Town, manager Jay Saunders was disappointed that Maidstone United failed to claim the point.
“It’s a gutting way to lose a game really, in the 90th minute,” said Saunders, 35.
“It’s always disappointing to lose a game that way in what I thought really had a draw written all over it but it’s just the way it goes in derbies.
“You tend to find games like this. It’s a mistake or a bit of luck that wins games or a set-piece. It looked like it was going to be something like that in all fairness.
“I didn’t think neither team really dominated the play. I thought it was quite even. It was a typical non-league battle if you like and to be fair to the lad he’s had a shot and it’s got that little deflection at the end that won them the game so that’s the way it’s gone.”
Tonbridge Angels may have claimed the three points but Maidstone United fans’ little crumb of comfort will be that they won the terrace battle, especially first half when they were camped in both stands at both ends of the ground and gave their side brilliant vocal support.
Tonbridge Angels’ were almost gifted the lead inside the opening six minutes.
Stones’ right-back Stephen Butcher played the ball back towards his goalkeeper Lee Worgan, whose clearance was charged down by Tonbridge Angels’ striker Billy Medlock, who stroked his shot wide of the near post from a tight angle.
Tonbridge Angels edged the first half and Lee Carey played the ball into Medlock, who laid the ball back to Tom Parkinson, whose left-footed drive from 20-yards deflected wide.
Carey swung in the resulting corner from the left, which was punched away by Worgan, but Teniola cracked his volley harmlessly wide of the right-hand post.
But Maidstone United should have broken the stalemate after fourteen minutes when the home side were hit on the break.
James Folkes cut into the Maidstone penalty area and Alex Flisher made the challenge and a long ball was played out of the Maidstone penalty area by James Rogers, which released Frannie Collin through on goal at the other end, who was aided by a slip from Angels’ left-back Jack Parter.
However, the 27-year-old forward raced clear before stroking his right-footed drive across the diving Kyle Merson and past the far post.
Saunders said: “I think Frannie will be disappointed there. Nine times out of ten he scores them – but he hasn’t.
“We just move on. I’m confident if he misses that chance again he scores it. Maybe, because he’s coming back to his old club, he’s put it wide. He’s gutted really.
“I think if we score at that point it puts you in a good position but it didn’t.”
Maidstone United created their next chance exactly 60 seconds later.
Quiet striker Ashley Miller released Matt Bodkin flying down the right flank and he whipped in a cross with his right-foot towards the far post where the unmarked Flisher sent his looping header over Merson’s crossbar.
Another chance fell to Maidstone United when Bodkin swung in their third corner from the left and Merson comfortably caught Jack Parkinson’s header at the far post.
The game turned into a midfield battle with both sets of players desperate not to give anything away in front of two sets of fans who were a credit to their clubs.
Tonbridge Angels went close seven minutes before the break after Tom Parkinson earned his side a free-kick after being fouled by his older brother Jack.
It was the first time that the two brothers faced one another on the same pitch for different clubs, although both work alongside each other coaching at Maidstone United’s Academy during the day.
McKimm was full of praise for the former Leatherhead midfielder.
He said: “It was a good battle for him. I told him before the game whose going to have the bragging rights when they go home tonight.
“I thought Tom was outstanding today. He’s a young boy learning his trade still.
“Against Wingate & Finchley in centre midfield he was non-existent. I need to get him to do it both home and away. That’s no disrespect to him because he’s a good totally honest young player.
“I thought he was fantastic today. He won his headers, he won his second balls and when he had time to play he played, setting up the goal almost.”
Saunders admitted: “That’s what it was all over the park to be honest, it was a battle. It was about not giving anything and I didn’t think we did.”
Medlock took seven strides forward before drilling his right-footed free-kick from 30-yards, which curled around the diving Worgan but agonisingly past the left-hand post.
McKimm said: “Billy’s got that in his locker. Some will go miles over the bar, like Ronaldo, some will hit the back of the net. He tells me it wasn’t that too far away.
“I was more interested in the one that he charged down their keeper and on the spin tried to put it in the back of the net. That’s quick thinking for a boy who hasn’t played at this level. He’s worked his socks off. He’s taking whacks and the knocks and he will be a player at this level even though he’s not scoring at this level.
“He’s learning his trade. He’s 22, who hasn’t been given a chance at this level because they say about his size and I thought today he took whacks of Sonny Miles and Jamie Coyle and got on with it and he did a good shift for the team.
“His goals will come. It’s like any striker. You work hard, your goals will come at the end of it.”
Tonbridge Angels had the last chance of the half when Ben King played the ball up from the centre of defence, which was brought down under control by Medlock’s chest and his strike partner Tommy Whitnell stroked his left-footed shot past the left-hand post from 25-yards.
Both managers were asked their thoughts at half-time.
McKimm said: “Keep doing the same thing. Keep being patient. I wanted them to be patient and play football.
“We had a spell when we had a bit of a panic and we were going longer, longer and longer and I don’t want that to happen in their half. I want us to play football, be comfortable on the ball. As long as you don’t make too many mistakes, you’ll be alright.
“If you’re on the ball and they haven’t and you’re moving it across the pitch it’s going to be harder for them and they’re going to wear themselves out.
“I want them to enjoy playing for Tonbridge and enjoy playing for me, Barry (Moore) and Justin (Luchford) and the only way for them to do that is to put faith in them and my faith for them is to play football.”
Saunders admitted target-man Jay May was missed.
He said: “We missed Jay May. I don’t think we adjusted our game well enough as players. I don’t think we didn’t get into the front men’s feet. People like Ashley (Miller) and Frannie need it into feet and we didn’t do it enough.
“I felt we battled well. We worked very hard and matched them through work-rate but I just wanted a bit more quality on the ball. We had the odd spell where we did but not often enough.”
The home fans were housed in the south stand behind Worgan’s goal for the second half and they came out of their shell in the vocal stakes during a sterile second half on the wet pitch.
McKimm said: “There was a lot of Maidstone supporters here. When we first came out I looked and they had both ends but I will tell you the second half the Tonbridge fans with that drum – it did go on – and they helped the players.
“I’ve said before and I’ll keep maintaining it the players’ appreciate it so much. They need that little bit of help at times because things aren’t always going to go swimmingly for us and I believe the supporters understand we’re a work in progress side that will have some mistakes, will be outstanding.
“It’s getting that consistency. It’s going to be a hard job for me but I’m going to get there. The players are going to get there. It’s just being patient with them. As long as they’re patient with them, those players will do what they’re asked to do and put these smiles on the supporters faces like today.”
Tonbridge Angels’ created the first chance after only 105 seconds.
Impressive winger Dee Okojie played the ball into Teniola’s feet, who clipped a diagonal pass to Whitnell. His first shot was blocked before his second bite of the cherry curled wide of the near post.
Unfortunately, goal scoring chances were nullified as both teams cancelled each other out.
McKimm said: “There wasn’t many chances because both teams, not necessarily cancelling each other out to get a draw. Both teams were going for a win. Sometimes the final ball wasn’t there but the work rate from all of them – both sides I would say – was good and we got the goal that won it at the end.
“Not many chances but the ones that do count are the ones that go in the back of the net and Alex Teniola got that today.”
You had to wait until half-way through the half for the next chance, which fell to Maidstone United.
Flisher floated over a cross from the right towards the near post but an unmarked Bodkin powered his header harmlessly over the crossbar.
An even better chance for Maidstone Untied to win it came in the final thirteen minutes.
Jack Parkinson clipped a sublime pass to release Flisher down the left and after cutting inside the winger dragged his powerful drive across Merson and past the far post.
Saunders said: “I don’t think both sides really had many chances second half. When we were getting things in the box, rather than whipping things across, the lads we had on the pitch were holding things up and we didn’t have a Jay May to get on the end of things. Our final ball today was disappointing.”
McKimm was full of praise for former Bromley and Maidstone United central defender Jerrome Sobers, 28.
He said: “I had a right-back playing left-back. A left-back playing centre half and a player that’s played no time at all since the second game of pre-season.
“Jerrome held them together and that’s why I brought him in because he is experienced and he knows what the game’s about. He was constantly talking to them all the way through the game and you can’t buy that experience and I thought to myself all of them and Kyle Merson were brilliant.”
On Flisher’s chance, McKimm added: “They had a couple of chances as well when they got through our back line and Alex Flisher screwed one wide.
“But it’s going to be very tight, not because people don’t want to win, it’s going to be tight because everyone’s up against each other. It’s eleven-versus-eleven. If they all compete like that against each other their side and my side you’re going to be alright.”
With Stones’ left-back Tom Mills down on the deck after picking up a knock, the Angels controversially played on and Okojie hit a speculative right-footed drive curling past the near post from 25-yards.
Maidstone United substitute Ben Greenhalgh released Flisher down the left and Merson came rushing off his line but was never going to get to the ball before the flying winger, but Flisher’s cross narrowly sailed over Greenhalgh’s head at the far post and the chance was gone.
Saunders brought on defender Steve Watt for Bodkin to see the game out during the final three minutes of normal time.
He said: “I looked at it, neither team really dominated areas of the game, neither team created loads of chances. I thought it would have been a set-piece that won it, hence the reason Steve Watt came on.
“I just thought it looked like that way. I thought he’ll give us a little bit of height in our box but also if we can get things in their box I thought he’ll get on the end of something.”
But with the game destined to end in a stalemate, Tonbridge Angels grabbed the three points with Teniola’s third goal of the season.
Tom Parkinson – who edged the midfield battle with his older brother Jack – found himself on the right flank and he played the ball inside to substitute Flavio Tavares.
The ball was played into the unmarked Teniola, who swept his first time right-footed shot on the turn from 20-yards, which deflected off Sonny Miles and sailed past Worgan’s despairing dive to his right and the ball caressed the foot of the far post before crossing the line to the delight of the home fans’.
McKimm was delighted with the former Concord Rangers attacker.
“It was a good finish, good build-up play,” he said.
“I told them to be patient in the final third and I think I saw Tom Parkinson out on the right wing doing step-overs when he’s a centre midfielder and he’s kept the ball, played it inside, set.
“It might have been a miss-hit but at the end of the day it’s gone in the back of the net.
“I thought it was a good strike. People are telling me it’s a miss-hit but it’s gone in the back of the net and that’s a good bit of play in my eyes in the final third.”
Teniola will go down in the hearts of Tonbridge Angels’ fans for scoring the winner over their bitter-rivals.
They will love Teniola even more going by McKimm’s next comment.
“He went off to Conference South (Concord Rangers) to try it out there and then they wanted to send him to a Ryman club and then he phoned me and said the only Ryman club he wanted to come back to was Tonbridge. They wanted to send him to East Thurrock and he said no, can he come back and he’s come back and he’s been outstanding.
“When he’s started he’s been ok – or good should I say.
“His attitude all round football is great. If I told you how much he was on it’ll be embarrassing. It will probably cost him to get here at the moment, which we’re working on but I didn’t have no budget left and that shows the mentality of the boy and how much he loves the club.
“He’s done very well for me. His attitude is spot on. He wants to learn and hopefully I’ll be in with the chairman to make sure that he does stay here because he’s an asset to this club definitely.
“He frightens the life out of me when he plays one touch. He’s such a big lad. If he secures the ball people can’t get it off him and it’s a learning curve for him. Whether he’s been taught that I don’t think it has. If you can teach him that he’ll be some player and the fans’ love him. I love him because that helps me.”
Saunders said: “To be honest he’s took a shot, it was probably the first bit of positive play in the second half. Someone’s got on the ball and thought to have a good go in the first real shot of the second half.
“It’s got a deflection, whether that made much difference, I don’t know, but from where we were it looked like it did. It’s gone in and good luck to them.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose the game, but we have and you have to give credit to Tonbridge. They worked hard.”
Despite their relegation after three seasons in Conference South, Tonbridge Angels retain the supremacy in west Kent as they extended their unbeaten record to nine games against Maidstone United.
McKimm said: “Like I said to our players at the start of the game, Maidstone have won five-out-of-five, they’ve got to lose some time, so why not today?
“I don’t know how Margate got on but they’re going to lose at some point. Every team has got to lose at some point. There’s not a team in this league that’s good enough to go and win every single game so today was our day. The players’ deserve it and earnt it. Take nothing away from Maidstone but I thought the players deserved their win.
“We got the result for the fans really because I know the bragging rights and stuff like that but for me it’s to see the development of the players. I learnt a lot about them today.”
Saunders added: “That’s just one of those records. It’s there to be broken and hopefully we’ll do that when they come to us.”
Tonbridge Angels’ fans claim the local bragging rights until the two sides clash again in Maidstone on 1 January 2015.
McKimm said he was impressed with his first taste of this fixture.
He said: “It was a great crowd. I thought their supporters were good. I thought our supporters were fantastic and that’s what makes non-league football. The banter, the rivalry and getting behind your team.
“There’s nothing worse going to a game where your supporters’ are on your back and you’re frightened to do anything.
“Every game, even away from home, the Tonbridge supporters have been fantastic.
“If we can excite the crowd with what we’re trying to do and they can see the desire of the players, they’ll come back in their droves.”
Saunders added: “We had a great turn out with the fans. I thought they were superb. It’s disappointing to lose and for the lads like Sonny (Miles), Frannie (Collin) and Worgs because it’s not nice coming back to your old club and losing.
“The fans were brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I thought from start to finish. Even at the end when we lost they were clapping the boys and they appreciate that.
“If we can get that at home it will make a massive difference.
“I’m disappointed for them because I don’t think we deserved to lose it but that’s why it’s gutting for people like them.”
Tonbridge Angels: Kyle Merson, Jack Parter, Ben King, Lee Carey, Jerrome Sobers, Tom Parkinson, James Folkes (Charlie Slocombe 79), Alex Teniola, Billy Medlock (Harrison Tweddle 89), Tommy Whitnell (Flavio Tavares 86), Dee Okojie.
Sub: Qudus Bolagi
Goal: Alex Teniola 90
Booked: Harrison Tweddle 90
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Stephen Butcher, Tom Mills, Jamie Coyle, Sonny Miles, James Rogers (Alex Brown 79), Matt Bodkin (Steve Watt 87), Jack Parkinson, Ashley Miller (Ben Greenhalgh 64), Frannie Collin, Alex Flisher.
Subs: Charley Robertson, Will Godmon
Booked: Jack Parkinson 76, Alex Flisher 82, Stephen Butcher 90
Referee: Mr Gary Jerden (Wickford, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Anthony Pope (Braintree, Essex) & Mr Stephen Tate (Leigh-on-Sea, Essex)