Match Report: Gareth Nicholas
The Reds fielded the strongest possible side available to them, including Alfie Young and the trialist who made his debut at Baffins Milton Rovers on Tuesday. While Wednesday night’s hat-trick hero, Alfie Hall started this one on the bench.
Tonbridge did likewise, featuring a number of familiar faces; amongst them were ex-Albion midfielder, Doug Loft, former Leatherhead striker, Ibs Olutade and one-time Burgess Hill man, Aaron Smith-Joseph.
Jasper Pattenden whipped in a right-sided delivery that just eluded the head of Aarran Racine at the back post, as the hosts created the first real chance of the afternoon.
A miscommunication between visiting goalkeeper, Jon Henly and his centre-half, Harry Hudson then led to the opening goal on eighteen minutes. The ball bouncing up and hitting the unfortunate Hudson on his outstretched hand for a penalty. Ollie Pearce stepped up and hammered home only the second strike Angels had conceded in pre-season, so far.
Another mix-up in the Blue’s rearguard almost led to a second for the hosts moments later but Hudson made up for his earlier error by heading away the danger, with Reece Myles-Meekums ready to pounce at the back stick.
From nearly scoring to nearly bagging an assist, Myles-Meekums received his own corner back from Pattenden before the ball was only cleared as far as our trialist, whose shot took a deflection to win a flag-kick. The set-piece taken by Pattenden and headed well clear of the crossbar by the diving Young.
The Wasp (Pattenden) was really buzzing and soon he stung the palms of Henly with a low drive from the edge of the box, after Jerry O’Sullivan’s partial clearance.
A peach of a cross from the trusted right boot of Joel Colbran landed on the dome of Mr. Trialist but he could only direct straight into the hands of Henly and, he was at it again shortly afterwards, when some neat approach work resulted in the same player nodding a Myles-Meekums centre over the target.
With half-time almost upon us, Colbran found himself in space, twenty-five yards out on the right, took a couple of touches and let fly with an absolute screamer, to leave Henly clutching thin air as the ball rocketed into the top corner.
Unfortunately, as the opening period drew to a close, a pass back by Colbran to goalie, Harrison Male never reached it’s intended recipient and Olutade was able to nip in and intercept, then race to the byline where he laid across for Tommy Wood to sweep high into an unguarded net.
However, normal service resumed immediately after the break, when Marvin Armstorng broke through the middle and spotted Jack Grealish look-alike, trialist to his left. Grealish cut inside and gave Danny Barker the opportunity to restore the two-goal advantage, only for the number eight, who came out for the second forty-five wearing number twenty-two instead, to blaze over the bar from twenty yards.
That proved to simply be a precursor though to our “unknown” number nine to make it three, just three minutes into the resumption.
Stealing possession away from Captain, Sonny Miles, he tucked a tidy finish past Henly into the bottom corner.
A trick he almost repeated less than a minute later; starting in his own half and beating one man on his way to seeing a final attempt well held by Henly.
We’d still had a mere ten minutes of play after the turnaround when Pattenden, by now switched to the left, got the better of former Dorking Wanderer, O’Sullivan who upended the flame-haired attacking-midfielder a yard inside the penalty area.
Pearce once again making no mistake from the spot, to really rub salt into the wounds of an away team who had yet to taste defeat in a pre-season friendly and add to the yellow card awarded to Miles for his protestations at the decision.
Olutade then had a couple of sights of goal but Male and the backline in front of him were equal to his efforts.
Substitutes, Kyle O’Brien and Ty Mthunzi linked-up at a freekick won by the former but glanced marginally the wrong side of the upright, by the latter.
Tonbridge hadn’t really tested Male in the home goal but did eventually dirty his gloves thanks to Olutade managing to hold off the close attentions of Skipper, Racine as he broke into the box on the left, forcing our man between the sticks to parry.
There was one last hurrah for our Kent-based guests, via Tom Beere’s short corner to half-time replacement, Zak Guerfi but the ex-Tunisian Under-Eighteen international saw his subsequent delivery into the danger zone headed above the bar by Miles.