Plucky Grays Downed by High Flying Angels
Clinical finishing was the difference between these two teams writes The Mariner.
Blues more than matched their opponents in a tight encounter at Mill Field on Saturday but it was in front of goal where the hosts came out on top with two decisive finishes to claim the points. Grays had their own opportunities but failed to capitalise on them.
After Wednesday’s victory over Harlow, Blues went into this game full of confidence and it showed when with barely minutes gone Adeyenka Cole tested Angels stopper Di Bernardo with a low drive producing a corner.
Moving the ball at pace, Grays looked menacing in the early stages as Tonbridge struggled to get a foothold. Once again Nathan Campbell was adding steel to the midfield with some timely interventions breaking up the visitors’ rhythm.
Tonbridge eased themselves into the game and looked to hit their wide man Wheeler at every opportunity. His pace was causing home captain Kwabena Osei some anxious moments, but the Grays man stuck manfully to his task.
The home goal had a lucky escape when a Parkinson header was hooked off the line by Jamie Mascoll. Worryingly, seasoned striker Elder and his partner Dundas were finding space in the Blues’ box, but led by manager Jamie Stuart Blues’ goal remained intact.
Menga did well to outpace the Angels’ rear guard but failed to capitalise when his strike on goal lacked pace and was comfortably gathered by Di Bernardo. Luke Hornsley was his usual hard-working self but lacked the service to damage the visitors’ back line.
Play became scrappy, punctuated with a number of free kicks which served to break up both sides’ rhythms with little goalmouth incident, although a Wheeler cross to the far post found the unmarked Dundas who squandered the chance, heading into the arms of Grays’ ‘keeper Callum Thomas.
Tonbridge served notice of their intent inside the first minute of the second half when Allen unleashed a fierce volley past Thomas, but fortunately for Grays the ball grazed the crossbar.
The Angels didn't have to wait long for their goal though. The home side will feel aggrieved when - yet again - an offside decision went against them, the referee ignoring his assistant’s flag and waving play on and deciding not to consult his assistant. It was one of many strange decisions. Tonbridge went on to win a corner from which Elder scored with a diving header.
It was a bitter blow for the Blues coming after last week’s disappointment following an unjust offside decision, but they didn't drop their heads and began to find a way back into the game. Mukanya Kabobola had a great chance to level the score but finished weakly with only Di Bernardo to beat.
Blues introduced new signing Sandy Cunningham and the youngster showed glimpses of what he can do and should be a useful addition to the team, although he will be disappointed when a Mukanya Kababola cross found him unmarked at the far post, but he snatched at a volley firing into the side netting.
A goal at this stage would have seen for an interesting final few minutes, but in time added on for injury Tonbridge made sure of the points again from a corner when Thomas failed to hold a Miles downward header, allowing Blewden to pounce on the loose ball and fire home.
The young Blues can take heart from this game with another hard-working performance and with just a little more composure in front of goal will soon see them picking up points. They will have been boosted by the return of David Fallah after a long period out with injury. It will be interesting to see how he combines with Hornsley and Cunningham in the coming weeks.
Blues travel to Suffolk on Tuesday to meet AFC Sudbury who themselves have been having a difficult time of late.