Don’t worry, there’s no need to panic and check the calendar to see if the last four months have been a Bobby Ewing style dream (one for the over-60’s). It really is February next week, and Tonbridge Angels really are still in a cup competition. Not one with any money of course; it’s one of those “opportunity to give the fringe players a run out” (i.e. our season is going just fine without it thanks), or “opportunity to take our mind off the league” (i.e. oops, we’ve tanked again this year), type of cups. At the moment the Angels are probably somewhere in the middle of those two camps….. but it is a Quarter Final tie and the Angels are in with a chance of winning some silverware, so they will go for it.
Their opposition in this Kent Senior Cup tie (for that is what is at stake) is Ebbsfleet United. A step up of two divisions for the Angels, to a team who have turned around their season after a poor start, at the cost of one manager, and could even have a punt at the play-offs for the Football League. Who knows, with promotion to League status they could become the Paramount Park Panthers or the Thames Corridor Cougars, rebranding themselves to profit from some well intentioned but dimly thought through government initiative. But nobody does that, do they?
Back on the pitch, in the early rounds of the competition Ebbsfleet apparently mostly fielded their development squad, but the lure of a shiny tin pot is as great for them as it is for anyone else, so don’t be surprised if bigger guns are trained on the Angels in this game as the Final gets nearer. As for the home team, there is little choice but to put most of the first team squad out, as that is the best way to give the Fleet a run for their money. It should at least give the home fans confidence that they will make a fight of it. There are a few reasons for their recent return to form, notably the first choice back four being back together and playing very well, but it’s likely that one or two of them will be rested for this game.
It’ll probably be a backs to the wall, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid kind of siege, as the Angels try and figure how to break out with the bounty, while Ebbsfleet close in for the kill, but don’t forget that against all the odds Butch and Sundance did just that. As the saying goes “beware of barking at underdogs; remember they’ve got nothing to lose”.
The only possible walk out music is…..