Danny Barker was back from the hamstring injury he picked up at Bedford Town and joined Darren Budd, Will Miles and Joe Clarke, who were all restored to the starting eleven. However, both sides were down to the bare bones, with neither able to name more than three substitutes.
On a pristine playing surface, made slick by a pre-match downpour, the opening salvo was fired by the second-placed hosts. Tom Beere whipped in a free-kick that lead to Alex Read’s predatory instincts being quashed by the assistant’s raised flag, after just four minutes.
Sam Rents’ flighted delivery, out on the right, from the visitor’s first foray into enemy territory, shortly afterwards, resulted in a defensive header snuffing out any potential danger.
Jared Small’s cross into the six yard box found Joe Turner who, in turn, discovered the ever-alert Kleton Perntreou to be in fine form.
The provider of that particular chance then fired a rather ambitious effort, low and wide as both teams struggled to make inroads.
A sublime pass from Joe Clarke, to James Crane and subsequently, on to Reece Myles-Meekums, ended with Buddy having time to take a touch or two to set himself but unfortunately, he only succeeded in sending a shot hurtling towards the next village, as he managed to clear both the goal and the stand behind it.
Tom Parkinson thumped an effort harmlessly wide of the far post at the other end in response.
Sanity prevailed, eventually, as Crane’s foul on Small inside the area lead to a penalty that Read stepped up to take. Despite being successful from twelve yards in the recent Velocity Trophy shootout though, Pertntreou this time pulled off a fine, one-handed stop to keep him out.
Turner became the next player to try and find a breakthrough, by latching on to a lovely dinked pass over the top by Eastbourne Borough loanee, Michael West. KP standing up to the task once more, dashing out to block at the expense of a corner.
The ensuing flag-kick saw one of the more extraordinary shots of the afternoon, as a chance fell to a lurking Tom Beere, not very far away from the edge of the box. He managed to send the ball (virtually) into orbit, earning himself a request from NASA; who asked if they could attach a probe to it next time.
Two minutes before the break, Turner was somewhat more accurate, as he touched home Parkinson’s fight wing delivery, to give Tonbridge the lead.
The same combination almost worked again, deep into first-half stoppage time, only for Turner to head a weak attempt at Kleton.
Early signs were positive for The Angels, when the second period kicked off; Budd narrowly preventing West from connecting with Small’s right wing cross.
The Red’s Captain was then at the centre of the opening opportunity for the men in red; his shot blocked by the hand/arm of James Folkes, who subsequently received his marching orders from referee, Elliott Kaye. After the right-back finally got off the pitch, Crane sent Jon Henly the wrong way from the spot, to restore the equilibrium.
Myles-Meekums could only watch his cross drift past the far post and Crane was unable to keep his shot the right side of the crossbar, as the visitors moved into the ascendancy.
With a little over ten minutes to go, Callum Kealy, on in the first half for Ricky Aguiar, deftly guided his header from Crane’s cross into the opposite side of the net to a stranded Henly.
The game petered out a little after that, although not before goalscorer, Kealy blotted his copybook by becoming the second player to see red, his prevention of a quick free-kick by the boys in blue, earning him a yellow card, to match the one he’d picked up late in the first-half.
Turner chipped wastefully over the bar, while great defending by Will Miles, to stop Small finding a teammate at the near post and squirrel-like reactions from KP, to clear a long ball forward, left Worthing to see out time without too much apprehension.