Keeper’s error hands Angels first victory on road

Keeper's error hands Angels first victory on road
Football - Tonbridge Angels

Braintree Town 0: Tonbridge Angels 1

The three points on the road came as a relief after they had come close in recent weeks at Hemel Hempstead Town and Maidstone United.

With injury, illness and suspension taking their toll, two  players made their debuts, loanees Bilel Hinchiri from Dover in central midfield and Joshua Ajayi from Crystal Place up front. 

It was almost a dream start after one minute for Ajayi but he scuffed his shot after Ben Greenhalgh’s effort was parried by Braintree stopper Billy Johnson. 

Two minutes later Sonny Miles had a free header which had to be clawed out of the air by Johnson.

Braintree were poor, though Liam Smyth forced a good save from Jonny Henly after 20 minutes.

On 27 minutes the Angels should have made their dominance tell when James Folkes’ cross left Greenhalgh with a clear sight of goal but he blazed over the bar.

A move involving Ajayi, Greenhalgh and Hinchiri saw the latter get the final touch but just fail to score, and just before half-time Rian Bray’s header went over the bar.

If Angels had nothing to show for their dominance at the interval, they only had to wait one minute into the second period to go ahead, albeit in unusual circumstances.

Folkes put in a cross which looked a straightforward gather for Johnson but inexplicably the young keeper saw the ball ricochet off his body into the net. 

Johnson was to partly atone 10 minutes later when Greenhalgh made a surging run into the penalty area and forced a very good save.

On 64 minutes another cross from Folkes was drilled across the goalmouth but nobody in a blue shirt could take advantage.

In the closing stages Braintree threw caution to the wind and put genuine pressure on the Tonbridge goal.

They won a series of corners but the Tonbridge rearguard kept their concentration and held out for the precious three points on their travels.

Manager Steve McKimm said: “I am very pleased for the players that they got over the line with that first away win, which removes that potential psychological barrier.

“We’ve put a little run together and we shall be doing all we can to carry that forward.”

The Angels move up to 17th place and now face Hampton and Richmond Borough at Longmead on on Saturday (January 18, kick-off 3pm).

The local derby at Longmead against Maidstone United, which was postponed on Boxing Day due to a waterlogged pitch, has been rearranged for Tuesday January 28 (kick-off 7.45pm).

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