Tonbridge Angels v Brightlingsea Regent – 5th January 2019
The lively, well fed Boxing Day crowd of 606 which had watched the Kent derby with Folkestone was replaced today by a post-New Year hangover turn out of 358.
By the time the first 45 minutes had elapsed, the home crowd’s mood matched the cold, grey weather, as Tonbridge once again fell behind to defensive indecisiveness, then huffed and puffed to no great effect to try and draw level.
New striker Chinedu McKenzie confused fans by playing with a smile on his face, and having a rough idea of where the goal was. Did he know something that they didn’t?
Aside from D’Sean Theobalds, the other standout performance of the first half for the home team was by the frame of the Tonbridge goal, which kept the score at a respectable 1-0.
Brightlingsea looked comfortable and confident, if a bit mid-table in terms of passing and ball retention, which was nothing the Longmead faithful weren’t very familiar with.
The second half followed a similar pattern, as incisive tackling and decisive defending by Brightlingsea kept Tonbridge at bay, while the opposite from the Angels handed the Regents a 2-0 lead.
Events were unfolding with all the predictability of an episode of Casualty. But, wait a minute, don’t those have a happy ending?
Lo and behold, on 75 minutes Tonbridge woke up in front of the telly, pushed the dish of cold leftovers to one side, and started to get involved in the plot.
A back post header from Parkinson and a clean 20 yard strike from Read pulled it back to 2-2, and the traditional gung ho last 5 minutes nearly brought the Angels an undeserved but much needed winner.
Tackles finally snapped in, crosses rained over, Ramadan reminded us why he should start every week, and McKenzie earned a deserved MOTM award for being a much needed pain the ass.
2-2 at the end will have felt sweeter for the home fans than the (very amiable and sociable) Brightlingsea crowd, even if a cold assessment of 5 points from a possible 30 leaves a lot to be desired.
Mixed feelings – a great late rally, showing what arguably the best squad the Angels have had for 5 years can do, but why do they only join in for 15 minutes a week?
Hopefully the motivational bus will pull up earlier than the 75th minute next week, because the league’s well heeled sofa surfers Kingstonian turn up at Longmead – second in the table, and with carrier bags stuffed full of quality buys.
Post match interviews:
But before that, a midweek cup tie which offers potential giant killing and a glimpse of the future….watch this space.