Home comforts

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Here it is, the last league game of the regular season, and one which Tonbridge Angels still have an incentive to win.

It involves a trek to a new town and ground for most of the away fans, to Potters Bar. Yes, it’s a trip to another of those Isthmian League staples – a dormitory town just outside the M25, once a sleepy medieval village which grew fat with the revenues from railways, and its proximity to London.

Like its brothers and sisters around the Road to Hell, the historic town centre has been “modernised” by the Local Council. Pavements have been thoughtfully widened and areas pedestrianised, so that oiks on stolen bicycles can harass the few remaining shoppers, picking through charity outlets and nail bars, without fear of getting knocked off by a passing car. Naturally the locals voted in favour of Brexit, so that their uniquely English way of life could be preserved for posterity.

As for the football club, they are also a fairly modern construct, an old boys club from the 1960’s which has morphed in to the town’s team. They were promoted to the Isthmian Premier Division this season, and by the halfway stage seemed to have settled well, lying in the play off places. However, they have fallen away alarmingly in 2019, and will end the season uncomfortably close to the relegation zone.

In contrast, 2019 saw Tonbridge power into the play offs, apart from a brief splutter in the final run in. A win in this game offers a the Angels a chance to finish in second or third place, securing a home play off semi final next Thursday. Apart from losing captain Parkinson to another serious ankle injury which may well end his career at this level, Tonbridge have a full squad to select from, and a large travelling contingent of fans is expected to make the trip.

As a spectacle the game is likely to be spoiled by impending stormy weather, and an apparently bumpy pitch, but the fans’ day out will only be spoiled if the team get a bit windy on the pitch. Momentum going in to the play offs has proven vital to success in the past, so a win for the Angels will be what they all want to see, ideally with the forwards contributing some long overdue goals.

Here’s hoping this is how it’s all going to end…

 

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Life’s a box of chocolates

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It’s a red hot, double bubble, Bank Holiday weekend for Tonbridge Angels, against rivals Worthing and Carshalton, for one of those cherished, nerve shredding play off spots. 

First up, pack your bucket and spade for a sunny Good Friday trip to the seaside, and the refereeing Banana Republic of Worthing. A place where they make their own rules, as they certainly aren’t the ones applied elsewhere, given the ridiculous tally of red cards and penalties against Tonbridge on their last two league visits. Curiously enough neither of those two games was filmed as evidence of the unusual goings on, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The Worthing pitch is one of those made of old Pirelli tyres, which spray black muck everywhere, and give a very artificial feel to the game. It must be a weird surface for the Angels to play on, given the green sward they are accustomed to at home. Indeed, Tonbridge are the only team in the current Top 5 who play at home on grass, which says all you need to know about where non league football is going.

Tonbridge tend not to pick up many wins playing on these recycled pollutants, which must be a bit worrying given their coughing and spluttering performances in the last two games. The midfield has lost its way due to injuries at just the wrong moment, and the manager’s covering signings have failed to materialise as yet, because they’ve been walking the dog or doing the shopping. One hopes that they at least get allowed out on Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday like the rest of us, so they might put in a belated appearance.

Worthing are also wheezing up the hill towards the finishing line, leaning on the occasional fence post for a rest. They are only 14th in the “home” table, although five  games at the start of the season were actually played at Bognor, ironically because of the poor condition of their toxic pitch. They have also had arguably worse performances than Tonbridge in the last two games, with back to back 3-0 defeats, which may offer the visitors some encouragement.

Given the form, nerves, and playing surface, don’t be surprised if this is a scrappy game, where the least bad team takes the spoils, subject to the referee’s permission.

The sting in the tail of this game, if it is not a draw, might be the swing in goal difference towards the winning team, if the reckoning on the final day comes to this. Tonbridge at +13 and Worthing at +11 would both benefit hugely from a two goal win, relative to each other and the chasing pack.

After a weekend of chocolate and enforced family jollity, Bank Holiday Monday brings the Angels back to Longmead for the last home game of the season against Carshalton Athletic.

Carshalton are the surprise package in the Top 5. They secured promotion last season with a mighty 102 points, and took the momentum forward into this season. Having scored 21 goals in their last 8 games at the time of writing (not including their other Easter weekend game against Burgess Hill), they seem to be finishing at a canter, so won’t be shy about attacking if they need a win. However, their league position is largely built on home form, on their rock hard version of an artificial pitch, so they may be less bold on their travels.

The last time Tonbridge approached the end of season in a similar position, they froze at Folkestone, as did the rest of us watching, although for us it was because of the weather, not nerves. It will be interesting to see if the Angels manager can coax a more settled and less panicky approach from the players on the pitch than they showed last weekend, at home against Dorking, especially as Carshalton may be more relaxed under stress, channelling positive memories of how they smashed it last season.

It is a hugely pressurised time of the season, and for the managers in particular it can be one of extremes. On Bank Holiday Monday Steve McKimm could be helping to build his case to be one of Tonbridge Angels most successful managers, or he could even be leading his team out at Longmead for the last time. There’s that much at stake.

As Forrest Gump’s momma said, life is like a box of chocolates and you never know which one you’re going to get. Will the Easter Bunny be giving Steve a luxury salted caramel chocolate treat,  or will he be left with the last unloved chewy Turkish Delight at the bottom of the box. That’s the mystery to be solved this weekend……

 

 

Delusions of Grandeur

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Well here we go, it’s mid-April and the Champions step out at Longmead. Ah well, what might have been…..welcome Dorking Wanderers!

From park team to the National League South in 20 or so years is an immense achievement, and the covetous glances at their relationship with Surrey FC, and their flawed but smart new ground, are tinged with a bit of envy. The reality is that Dorking have been the most consistent team this season, not suffering a mid-season meltdown like Tonbridge, and deserve the title.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that success might improve their manager’s cringeworthy dress sense (think middle aged man in homage to the Backstreet Boys and you’ll be about right), so this may be our last chance for a while to snigger at his snap back, unless the Angels can pick their way through the play off minefield. However, one also wonders how far Dorking can realistically progress from here, as the National League South is becoming an increasingly professional league, and the manager will be dealing with a different class of player if they want to add strength in depth to press on rather than just cling on.

Having said all that, you can’t help thinking that long standing non league stalwarts like Leatherhead must be looking at Surrey FA, and wondering what they did wrong not to be given the keys to a smart new ground. Still, at least the suits had more sense than to get into bed with Kingstonian, who’d have spaffed it all up the wall in 18 months, sublet the ground to Brentford Ladies, and then come back for another handout.

As part of their development Dorking have invested heavily in their social media presence to attract new fans, which I believe is a smart move. Appointing a 17 year old to the post of Head of Media is shrewd and progressive, although if you tried to read the blizzard of blurb coming out of the club in the past week you wouldn’t actually have had time to go and see a match. As such, Tonbridge will be hoping for a bumper crowd for the game, but I’m not sure the away fans travel in numbers. Given that the majority of them will have only just found the club in Dorking in the last three months or so, I guess it’s a bit much to expect them to know where to find any of the other teams in the league just yet.

It’s also hard to know what to expect from the match. Tonbridge’s fine run of form came to a disappointing end at Leatherhead last weekend with a lacklustre performance, but they are still very hard to score against and need to win the game to keep comfortable in the play off places. Dorking will be elated after winning the title and are likely to go one of two ways – either looking for an emphatic win, buoyed by the adrenaline of the success, or taking the foot off the gas and giving a few fringe players a run out. If Tonbridge fly out of the blocks and really go at Dorking, how bothered will the Champions be to put up a fight?

My gut feel is that Tonbridge will eke out a win, with Dorking easing off a bit, and with a big slice of luck the two teams will be playing each other again next season, as Tonbridge lift the Super Play Off Final Trophy .

Am I being realistic?  Will Sparks fly? Or is the answer in my favourite walk out music of the season……..

Holy Pressure Cooker

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It’s a day trip to the Mole Valley this weekend, as Tonbridge Angels visit Leatherhead. 

The Surrey town is remarkably similar to its Kentish counterpart. An old market town which is now mostly a dormitory town for London commuters, surrounded by plenty of old money, with a river running through it, and an ancient town centre that some twat in the Council thought would be improved by being largely demolished and replaced with concrete and breeze blocks.

It’s not a particularly showy place, which is why its most famous current resident is probably Batman’s butler Michael Caine. I’ll resist the obvious “not a lot of people know that”. Another less well known piece of Leatherhead trivia is that it was attacked by the Martians 10 days in to their invasion in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. They probably still managed to do less damage than the Town Planners in the 60’s and 70’s.

On the footballing front, their club is best known for its 1970’s FA Cup exploits, which they reprised briefly in 2017/18, reaching the second round again. However, in the league they haven’t really got out of second gear for years, being true stalwarts of the various guises of the Isthmian. They toyed with a bit of stardust by taking on Jimmy Bullard as manager, which gave them a PR boost, but no more on-field joy in the league. Now feeling less ‘ard they have Nikki Bull in charge. 

Bull is well known to Angels fans as, when playing for Margate, he enabled them to tick off the “I saw a goalkeeper go up for a set piece and score in the 90th minute” from their I-spy Book of Football Cliches, worth 40 points. Bastard.

This season Leatherhead have not been ground-sharing with Kingstonian, so their pudding of a pitch will hopefully be in slightly better condition than usual. For once I don’t think the River Mole has diverted through it this winter either. Their ground will, however, no doubt still be a tip, which is a shame because I always think that its situation means it should be one of the most picturesque on the Southern non league circuit.

On the pudding, Leatherhead are hanging on to the coat tails of the play off contenders, in 7th place on 58 points at the time of writing. They are unbeaten in their last 4 matches, all with clean sheets, so present a very different proposition for Tonbridge from the bottom feeders the Angels have been dispatching easily in recent games.

Tonbridge also continue to be in a rich vein of form, now in 3rd place on 67 points, with only 1 defeat in 15 league games, and just 2 goals conceded in the last 8 games. However, the next four games of their run-in starts with this team in 7th, then the current 1st, 4th and 6th. 

Thin squad, midfield injuries, players hovering on the 9 card cut-off, and Tonbridge are down to their last half a dozen first team coaches as Justin Luchford leaves. 

Holy Pressure Cooker Batman – the season starts here.

Walk out music is, of course…..

Snakes & Ladders

AE49D52D-D756-4430-8DFA-34CED71FCBE0Well this is getting exciting! It’s another play off v relegation scrap at Longmead this weekend, with Tonbridge Angels and Harlow Town serving up the goodies. Turning up every week when there is something to play for will make it an exciting run-in to the end of the season in this part of West Kent, and a great shop window for the home team.

The last three “top v bottom” matches have gone very well for Tonbridge, seeing off Whitehawk, Corinthian Casuals and Hornchurch with some ease, while Harlow have found the going much heavier.  One of many football cliches is that success is built from the back, and  with five clean sheets in a row, and just one goal conceded in the last seven league matches, Tonbridge are currently a fine example of this. 

As for Harlow, last season’s relegation reprieve due to the league restructure doesn’t seem to have done them any favours. They have the worst defence in the Division, conceding 88 goals, and sit second bottom. They have conceded seven and five goals in their last two games, and shipped nine in one game last month at Worthing. They are clearly not only very fragile in defence, but also prone to the occasional spectacular collapse.

As is often the case, there is a familiar old face in the Harlow side returning to Tonbridge, in defender Ugo Udoji. I think it’s fair to say that he didn’t really reach the current level of quality defenders enjoyed by Tonbridge. Given the number of goals Harlow are conceding, maybe that’s why he now calls himself Emmanuel Udoji, in the hope his family and friends don’t realise where he plays when the results are read out. “Nah mate, that’s not me, that’s my cousin Manny. He’s hopeless”.

However remember that, as Ugo, he does have a little place in a Tonbridge Angels history, as he scored the winning spot kick which finally ended the club’s decades long penalty shootout hoodoo, going one better than players with many more goals than him under their belts.

Last week the Angels paper thin squad waved goodbye to captain Tom Parkinson for his early summer holidays again this season. It looked bleak when his cover, Tom Beere, was stretchered off at Whitehawk last Saturday, having twisted his knee on some old turnips or discarded farm machinery left on the pitch in Sussex. However, word from the physio’s bench suggests he should be ok to earn another invisible man of the match award again this week.

So, what could possibly go wrong? Well….the Angels home form is patchy this season, and over recent years when a decent crowd has turned out at Longmead, they’ve lost. Is it a good idea for the Tonbridge Board to target this game as “Project 650”, to get their biggest gate of the season, especially when the away crowd will come in a Reliant Robin? Perhaps Project 150 would be wiser.  

While a big crowd should turn out in the hope of a goal fest, given their respective league positions, Harlow are at the point where they can’t afford to lose. In all likelihood they will do what any team in their position would do – put 11 men behind the ball, foul the Tonbridge playmakers in rotation to avoid too many bookings, and hope to nick a win from a scruffy corner in the 88th minute. Tonbridge, and especially their supporters, may well have to be supremely patient if they don’t get an early goal.

We are at the Snakes & Ladders point of the season. Tonbridge are in very good form indeed, but may have to roll the dice to find a way to climb higher, while Harlow must try and avoid slipping on snakes and hope their number comes up.

Walk out music….. 

 

Reach for the stars

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Out of nowhere they launched up the Leagues, and entertained the starry eyed masses with a sky high cup run. It was bright, colourful and charismatic – the stuff of non league dreams. But no sooner had the starburst exploded, than it began to fizzle out, and fall back from whence it came. The crowds thinned out and went to find something more interesting to watch instead, leaving the locals to pick up the pieces.. Welcome to a Whitehawk – the club which gave you fireworks.

Unfortunately, because nobody knew where they were launched from, their rise included the PR stunt of trying to rename themselves Brighton City, when Brighton Out of Town Housing Estate would have been more appropriate. It got about as far as their whizz-bang league escapades.

On the upside, you can’t fault Whitehawk’s ambition, and their hard core fans will have had plenty of fun on the way, along with a couple of season’s worth of hangers on. However, the recent demise of North Ferriby is a cautionary tale of boom and bust for historically small teams, who do not have the same depth of resources to draw on as the more experienced boom and bust charlatans like Margate. It’s a risky game to play nowadays.

As such, Whitehawk have looked doomed to relegation for much of the season, but have made a decent attempt at the Great Escape until the last two games against Enfield and Worthing ended in defeat. For the uninitiated Whitehawk’s ground is as scruffy and un-endearing as its surroundings, with a bumpy sloping pitch, and they have only managed three league wins there this season. However, holding Dorking to a draw at home in January, with noisy and committed local fans, shows it will be no pushover for the Angels. 

There will be a few familiar faces to greet the away team, the cheery demeanour of Henry Muggeridge (and his Dad 🙄) and the ground shaking Nathan Pinney on the pitch, with Johnny Elwood sharing his wisdom from the dugout.

This season it’s Tonbridge Angels’ turn to be aiming for the stars, and they will be looking at this as a game they should win, if they are to start to cement their growing play off claims in the end of season run in. The last half a dozen matches have seen a return to early season form, grinding out low scoring wins, built on an outstanding defence. Only Merstham have found a way through in the last six games.

Up front, a potent strike force on paper is looking a bit, um, impotent on grass, but is still squeezing out the goals that matter, while the midfield is adjusting to the loss of captain Tom Parkinson. It is a small but very talented squad, but will it be big enough to make it to the end of the season with sufficient in the tank for the three consecutive cup finals, which need to be won to secure play off promotion this year, thanks to the FA’s crackpot League restructuring. This is another of those games which the Angels need to be a three pointer, to help give them a chance to find out when May comes around.

Because there’s plenty at stake for both teams, let’s hope there’s a few whizz bangs and no duds on the pitch to entertain the fans on Saturday.

Walk out music..

 

Angels with dirty faces

So, a bunch of rank amateurs are coming to Longmead this weekend. For once, it’s for real. In 1939 two teams, Corinthians – the model of English gentlemen footballers, and Casuals – a bunch of toffs from Eton and the like – combined to create Corinthian Casuals.

As is well known, they retain the mantle of true amateurs to this day. Even more so than “expenses only” Haringey Borough. Their success in being promoted to the Isthmian Premier for this season was their highest playing achievement for many years and they have done well to settle in this season, albeit at the lower end of the table. Maybe an experienced coach from Sutton United had something to do with it? Or a bit of extra dosh from their profligate tenants Kingstonian? Oh, wait a minute, they can’t spend that on players can they…..

However, the reality is that Corinthian Casuals’ current form is poor, and the going is getting bumpy. They haven’t won a league game since 19th January, and are heading the wrong way, needing to stop the rot, especially as fellow strugglers such as a Whitehawk are on the up.

As for Tonbridge Angels, free flowing February has turned into mardy March, with goals hard to find. Nearly six hours without scoring, but fortunately it’s been the same at both ends of the pitch, as the defence has been outstanding. The loss of captain Tom Parkinson to yet another ankle injury last week was a big blow. It probably puts Tom Beere in situ in midfield for the rest of the season, and it would be great to see him actually fulfil his potential consistently for this period, instead of just the occasional glimpse.

The Angels’ home form has been suspect for most of the season, but the patient 1-0 win ground out last Saturday against Hornchurch is a good enough template for the rest season, if a play off place is to be secured.

The home team will hope that at the end of 90 minutes we can all still tell which ones are the amateurs, and which ones are the play off chasers. Both teams need to get down and dirty, and grind out a win, but which will it be?

Let’s see if all the effort from Tonbridge ends up with some muddy Angels….walk out music….

The Blustery Day

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It was Saturday, and that meant one thing in the Hundred Acre Wood – football. As Pooh and Piglet walked to Longmead, Pooh looked at the bare tree branches blowing about in the wind.

“It’s a blustery day, Piglet”, said Pooh.

“Yeah, shit weather for football”, said Piglet.

That rather killed the conversation, so Pooh stayed silent as they headed to the match, as he suspected that Piglet was in a bad mood.

As the first half progressed Pooh was impressed with the Tonbridge Angels passing game, which was dominating possession.

“This passing game is impressive”, said Pooh.

“Yeah, but it’s not opening up the Hornchurch defence”, said Piglet.

At that moment McKenzie was played through one on one with the keeper, but hit a weak shot wide of the post, and shortly afterwards Turner hit a great shot on the move. Pooh pondered these positive developments, but sensed that Piglet was a bit grumpy so kept himself to himself for a while, rather than point out that the home side should be ahead.

By half time even though the Angels were firmly on top, it was still 0-0, and something was troubling Pooh. 

“Piglet”, said Pooh.

“Yes Pooh”, said Piglet.

“Can you help me with some numbers”, said Pooh.

“I’ll try”, said Piglet.

Piglet was not very good with numbers higher than three, but this was not usually a problem watching Tonbridge Angels.

“What is 45 plus 90 plus 90 plus 90 plus 45?” asked Pooh.

Piglet pondered this for a while as they walked from the terraces, and quickly realised that it was probably more than three. He needed help.

“I think we need help with this Pooh. Let’s go upstairs and ask Wol”.

Piglet knew that Wol was good with numbers because he sat in a tower and read out numbers during the game. He even lit up a sign with numbers on it as well. Wol used the name Dave on Saturdays.

So they climbed the stairs to the tower and asked Wol what 45 plus 90 plus 90 plus 90 plus 45 was. Wol looked over his glasses at them, and after a great deal of thought he announced that 45 plus 90 plus 90 plus 90 plus 45 was a VERY big number. “Gosh, thank you Wol”, said Pooh, “that means it’s a VERY  big number of minutes since Tonbridge last scored a goal”. Piglet glared at him, and with that Pooh and Piglet left the media tower and headed to the bar for a couple of pints of Guinness, before walking back to the terraces for the second half. 

As the second half progressed Pooh noticed that every time the ball was hoofed up in the air it landed in a different place from where it was supposed to. He decided that this was what Piglet meant about it being a shit day for football.

“Piglet”, said Pooh.

“Yes Pooh”, said Piglet.

“Do you think Eeyore’s happy to see so many of his relatives playing football for Hornchurch today”, said Pooh.

“Nothing makes Eeyore happy”, sighed Piglet, “Can’t you tell by his demeanour in the dugout?”.

“Oh yes”, said Pooh. Not wanting to admit that he didn’t know what a demeanour was. He decided that it was probably one of those nasty things from Harry Potter, which would fit the mood of the people in the home dugout.

As the second half went on Pooh was a bit bored as nothing much had happened, and he was sad that the Tonbridge captain had been stretchered off with a bad ankle injury. He started to wonder if 45 plus 90 plus 90 plus 90 plus 45 plus another 45 was a VERY, VERY big number indeed. But Pooh was a bear of little brain and the two pints of Guinness he’d drunk at half time were working their way through him, so he decided to go to the toilet.

“Piglet”, said Pooh, “I’ve decided to go to the toilet”.

“Oh!”, said Piglet,”That’s great, you know what happens when you do that with 5 minutes to go”.

“Yes,” said Pooh, “Of course I do”. He didn’t really know what Piglet meant, but as his little friend still seemed to have the hump at the Angels’ inability to break down the stubborn Hornchurch defence, he thought it best not to say, and went to the Gents behind the stand.

As he was finishing relieving himself he heard a loud roar. “Oh fantastic” he said to himself, as could only mean one thing. Tigger had arrived! Pooh rushed back to the stand to see Piglet beaming from ear to ear. “You see Pooh, I told you what would happen!”. “Yes”, said Pooh, “Of course I knew all along what you meant.” Still not knowing what he meant. Looking around he could not see his bouncy friend anywhere, but everyone else was jumping up and down so he knew Tigger must be there, because his bouncing was so infectious.

“It was a great pass by Tom Beere to Joe Turner, who finally banged in a hard low cross instead of a loopy high ball, which Tom Derry stabbed home”, squeaked Piglet. Pooh realised that as well as missing Tigger, he’d also missed a goal, as Wol announced some numbers from the tower. “That’s brilliant”, said Pooh, “Two Toms combined to score for Tombridge”. “No”, said Piglet, “It’s Tonbridge, not Tombridge”. “Oh”, said Pooh. “But the dementor always calls it Tombridge in his post match interviews.” Piglet gave him a withering look, so Pooh decided it was time to keep quiet again.

The match ended 1-0 shortly afterwards, and Pooh was all smiles to see S.Miles given the Man of the Match award, as Tonbridge had kept another clean sheet. Piglet told him that they were 4th in the table, and only 4 points off second place which was great news. Their next three league games were against teams currently in 18th, 19th and 20th places, which gave the Angels a great chance of closing in on a play off spot. “That should be interesting with a Garden Show planned on the pitch on the same day as the new fangled Super Sunday play off final”, thought Pooh. He looked at Piglet’s face. “Oh, sorry, I said that out loud, didn’t I”.

As they walked back up the hill towards the George and Dragon after the game, Pooh chuntered amiably to Piglet about what fun it had been to see a home win even on such a blustery day, and how good the Tom’s had been for Tombridge. Piglet agreed, but was still a bit grumpy about the quality of the football, and was irritated by some of Pooh’s questions about why anyone bothered with long throw ins and short corners, because nobody ever scored from them. At the end of the day it didn’t really bother Pooh that Piglet was grumpy, because he was his friend, and even though Pooh was a bear of little brain who was easily pleased, at least he knew that he was the one of the two of them who would be around next season come what may, because he wasn’t the one who’d end up over the summer as the filling in a Gregg’s sausage roll. But being his best friend, of course he wouldn’t tell him.

Walk off music

Something fishy this way comes

 

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Saturday welcomes Hornchurch to Longmead. I’ll be up front, they are not one of my favourite clubs. 

Firstly, their ground has a running track around it. The guaranteed atmosphere killer from non-league to Premier League. 

Secondly, the coldest I’ve ever been at a game was watching Hornchurch play at Longmead. Ok, not really their fault. 

Thirdly, they were guilty of the most shameless match fixing I’ve ever seen, when one of their players literally crawled around the penalty area to make sure he handballed, and the keeper then pointed to our penalty taker which way he would dive, pulling his hands away from the ball to make sure we scored. The three points were welcome, but it was as bent as you like. And if you think I’m making it up, Google Reiss Noel and Joel Woolley, and Mr Fixit, Lewis Smith.

The current cohort from Essex were promoted back in to the Isthmian Premier this season, and have found it hard work, hovering just above the relegation zone, although they did themselves and the rest of us a lot of good by beating the thuggish Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday night. The familiar face of George Purcell still plays for them, and will be subject to the usual catcalls about his ability and girth.

On the pitch at the moment Tonbridge are enduring a barren spell in front of goal, which is odd given the three decent quality strikers they have on their books. However, the last three games have all been against play off rivals and only one goal has been conceded, as the Angels’ first choice back five have once again shown their quality as a unit.

Hornchurch are on something of a “win one, lose one” run. The former are generally at home, and the latter usually away. They only have three wins away from home, but given Tonbridge’s weak home form and current inability to break down obdurate defences, they could reasonably be eyeing a draw. 

The Tonbridge manager has pointed to bobbly pitches as a reason for his team favouring a less effective long ball approach, instead of the passing game, for the past few matches. The Longmead carpet should not offer that excuse this week, even though it’s a wet one. Hopefully they will revert to the style that ignited the first eight weeks of this year.

It’s always gritty rather than pretty against Hornchurch, but if the play offs are a realistic aim for Tonbridge they must sort out their home form and win this game, and the rest of their home games this season.

Walk out music…

Super Sunday

Super Sunday, eh? Man Utd V Liverpool and Man City v Chelsea cup final. 4 of the top 6 teams in the country. Silverware at Wembley and the top of the Premier League at stake. What could possibly go wrong? 4 hours of unremitting boredom with no goals, animated only by a scrap between the most expensive goalkeeper in the world who let in a powder puff penalty, and a manager who has never won anything. Not one league, not one cup, not one promotion, nothing. And is paid millions. The beautiful game, eh? 

So, why not spend a Sunday afternoon watching a game that means something to the players, their managers, and their fans? Where the effort and passion will really count. A local derby between Tonbridge and Maidstone.

The ferocity of local rivalry does seem to perplex some fans, but then a match between Tonbridge and Maidstone comes along and for 90 minutes trenches are dug, battlements are manned and long standing enmity bursts forth. I sincerely hope that this Ladies match arouses similar passions, especially being a Kent Plate semi final.

Having been promoted this season the progression of Tonbridge Angels Ladies in the league was outstanding, until hitting a couple of bumps in the road recently which has seen them slip back from challenging today’s opponents for second place in the league. They now sit 5th, but with games in hand on teams above them. However, it is very difficult to establish any momentum when you have only played three league games since 25th November 2018! The hallmark of the team is togetherness, typified by the recent team trip to Ireland for the captain’s wedding, and this will help them build and bond for this match, which offers is the chance to play at Longmead against a team they have a real prospect of beating.

Maidstone are unexpected opponents, replacing Bromley who beat them in the quarter final but were then excluded from the competition, I believe for playing an ineligible player. They are 3rd in the league, but not in great form with two defeats and a draw in their last three games, so may be there for the taking. Tonbridge will be hoping for a repeat of the 4-1 win back in October, and perhaps the game will even produce some Teniola Time heroics for a lady to make themselves another Tonbridge legend.

The media coverage of the untimely death of Kent Football United’s Jordan Dawes last week was a mark of how football stands together, and in particular of how far Ladies football has progressed in the public awareness. Hopefully this awareness and appreciation of the game will be marked by an attendance well in excess of a hundred – so if you have nothing planned for the Sunday afternoon, come and give them your support. They deserve it.

Walk out music……is this an outtake from the wedding party videos? I’m sure I can see manager Dan hiding at the back….