Football: Welcome win for Tonbridge Angels as Bantick runs the show

Pam Mills

WITH their season in danger of falling flat, Tonbridge Angels achieved a timely victory over a Staines side who had been pushing hard for the play-offs.

Despite the defeat the visitors showed they will continue to challenge for a part in the end of season shake-up.

But it was Tonbridge that took the honours with a determined defensive display and by taking the few chances they created.

New recruit Paul Kalambayi, on loan from AFC Wimbledon, went straight into the centre of defence alongside Sonny Miles, which allowed Craig Stone to move into a holding midfield role. As a result there was a more secure look to the Angels formation.

Staines were on a five-match winning streak in the Bostik League Premier while the hosts had lost their last three games, and the opening exchanges went to form.

Staines laid siege to the Tonbridge goal and after nine minutes they deservedly went ahead when following four saves in quick succession from Angels keeper Jonny Henly, eventually Daniel Brown managed to fire the ball high into the roof of the net.

It looked as if it was going to be a long afternoon for Tonbridge but they got themselves back into the game when an excellent free-kick delivery from Sam Bantick gave an unchallenged Alex Akrofi the opportunity to head past Conor Hudnott in the Staines goal.

This spurred the Angels on to take a more assertive role and on 23 minutes Bantick forced a terrific save out of Hudnott.

Just a minute later the same player drifted out to the left and unleashed a shot which this time Hudnott couldn’t deal with and Tonbridge found themselves in front.

The rest of the half was a fairly even affair and as chances were created, the expectation was that the game would produce more goals.

The second half saw more possession for Staines but they came up against a resilient Tonbridge defence who worked well as a unit, with plenty of support.

Henly was called into action one more time to make a save in the 79th minute from the always willing Buchanan.

At the other end Alex Akrofi was a constant threat and provided a welcome outlet to take the pressure off the Angels defence.

In the closing stages Staines poured men forward in an effort to get something from the game but the Angels rearguard held firm.

Angels manager Steve McKimm was full of praise for his team, saying: “The effort the boys put in today was brilliant.

“Staines are a good side and they showed plenty of that but the boys deserve praise for the way they applied themselves against a strong forward line and took their chances when they came.

“They have come in for some recent criticism but today they answered that in emphatic fashion.”

Defensive steel

THE Angels’ defence has been bolstered by the arrival of Paul Kalambayi (pictured), who joined the AFC Wimbledon Academy from Brentford in 2015, and signed a professional contract with the Dons the following year.

The 18-year-old made his senior debut for the League Two side when he came on as a substitute in an EFL Trophy group stage match at Barnet which Wimbledon won 4-3. He arrives on a one-month loan.

“I’m looking forward to Paul enjoying equal success with other AFC Wimbledon loanees that we have had here at the club in recent seasons,” said manager Steve McKimm.

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