Football: Wheeler shines as Angels keep driving forward

Afternoon Boosters

IT MAY have been the Angels’ last visit to Kingsmeadow, but they went there with hopes of playing in a higher league next season anyway.

They stay in fourth place breathing down the necks of Needham Market, who are only a point ahead.

The title may elude them but a third-place finish is on, and that would give home advantage in a semi-final play-off.

It was to be another comfortable victory for the Angels. As against Enfield in midweek, they out-played Kingstonian in midfield areas and that provided the springboard for victory.

Manager Steve McKimm opted for an unchanged team, but in the 13th minute striker Alex Akrofi had to go off with an injury.

He was replaced by crowd favourite Nicky Wheeler who, as the top of McKimm’s continuing diamond formation, was to have an excellent game, proving virtually impossible to mark.

If the Manager was hoping for a reaction from his hitherto out-of-favour winger, now playing in an unfamiliar position, then he certainly got one.

The best chance of the first half fell to the visitors on 18 minutes, when Wheeler’s fine cross from the right was somehow not converted despite Tonbridge players queuing up to score. The final effort from Tom Phipp was blazed over the bar.

The Angels emerged for the second period in far more positive mood. They took the lead just a minute into the half, when a loose ball came out to Luke Allen lurking with intent on the edge of the penalty area to sidefoot into the net.

The visitors certainly weren’t content to sit back and defend their lead. During the next ten minutes chances fell to Allen, Nathan Elder and Wheeler, whose screamer forced a terrific save from Rob Tolfrey.

Just when it seemed that Kingstonian might have weathered the storm, the Angels struck again. Just inside the home side’s half there was contact between two players, and momentarily the Ks were expecting a whistle.

But the referee waved play on, and suddenly Tonbridge had players in the box with Kingstonian back-peddling.

It fell to full-back Jack Parter, who cut in from the left and got a shot away that took a deflection and looped over the keeper into the net.

On 73 minutes, Kingstonian had their one big chance to get back into the match. Substitute Tom Derry cut inside from the right and looked odds on to score. But somehow, between them, Tom Parkinson and keeper Anthony di Bernardo just did enough to usher the ball to safety.

The game was slipping away from Kingstonian as the visiting defence took an iron grip on any incursion into the Tonbridge final third.

In the 90th minute, a Wheeler corner was conver- ted by the head of leading scorer Elder to put the final gloss on a more than satisfactory performance.

Manager McKimm said: “It wasn’t a great first half for us, but we sorted out a few things at the interval and the response in the second period was excellent.

“Nicky did well in a withdrawn role, but that is typical of my team – they always want to play and will do their best, even if it’s not their favourite position.”

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