Williams doubles up in Angels’ brave fightback

Turner's strike cancelled out by windy gust
Tonbridge Angels

Angels manager Steve McKimm has assembled a team that is capable of doing the ugly stuff and then turning to a more creative style of play which can catch out the opposition.

On a questionable surface, it was a credit to both sides that they managed to serve up so much quality, though it was a relatively quite first half.

Billericay had a strong appeal for a penalty but the referee turned it down, choosing instead to caution the alleged victim, striker Jake Robinson.

In the 40th minute there was a genuine sight of goal for the hosts’ Ossama Ashley and his well-struck shot was on target but Jonny Henly pulled off a fine block.

Three minutes later at the other end the excellent Christ Tiehi forced Nathan Harness into a fingertip save over the crossbar.

The start of the second half saw an immediate sequence of scoring, much to the delight of the 831 spectators.

Angels started the goal rush with Jason Williams heading home after just 47 minutes. But just two minutes later Billericay were awarded a penalty which Robinson safely dispatched.

On 54 minutes Billericay’s other impressive forward, Femi Akinwande, finished a good run down the left with a shot into the far corner of the goal.

Then a minute later the stunned Angels conceded again, Alfie Potter finding the net with the Tonbridge defence in disarray. 

But the Angels showed character, determination and quality to haul themselves back into the game at a ground where they have never won.

On 73 minutes Billericay only half-cleared a Tonbridge attack, Tiehi picked up the loose ball and fired an unstoppable 25-yard effort past Harness. 

Just four minutes later Williams claimed his second goal to put his side on level terms.

Both sides went for the win and chances were created at both ends. In a nail-biting conclusion Billericay were awarded three corners in quick succession but couldn’t make them count. 

Manager McKimm said: “I was very pleased with the character of the team, the way they fought back to take the draw.

“Should we have been 3-1 down? Well that’s another matter but a point at this place has to be a good one.”

Angels, in 19th place in National League South, now entertain runaway leaders Wealdstone on Saturday (February 1, kick-off 3pm).

Heavy weather: Why heavy rain takes toll on Longmead

THREE matches having been postponed at Tonbridge Angels’ Longmead Stadium in the wake of the heavy rain over the last month.

The local derby against Maidstone on Boxing Day fell victim to the weather, as did the National League South fixture against Hampton & RIchmond on January 18 and a Kent Senior Cup tie.

The games have been rearranged but there is a downside to the club’s cash flow since the league games must be played in midweek, which usually means a lower attendance.

The Angels chairman Dave Netherstreet explained why the ground is prone to flooding, saying: “The club is located in a low-lying area of Tonbridge and part of it is designated a flood risk area by the Environment Agency.

“This does make the pitch very susceptible to periods when there is excessive rainfall over a period of time because the river levels rise and surface water is unable to drain away through the drainage ditches.

“When the water cannot drain away via the land drains under the pitch and more rain falls, the surface of the pitch becomes waterlogged.

“It turns into what can only be described as a sodden area of mud which, if played on, will cause injury to players. Some areas of the pitch are worse than others.”

While the surface may seem playable, under the grass and topsoil a thick layer of clay prevents the water from draining away.

Mr Netherstreet added: “In normal circumstances any rainfall will drain from the pitch in 48 hours but unfortunately this year the south east has experienced nearly continuous rain since last November and there is nowhere for the water to drain to.”

The club has said it could invest in new underground pitch drainage, though initial estimates for the work are around £20,000.

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