Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Tonbridge Angels 2 v 4 Maidenhead United

Tuesday 4th March 2014
Conference South
Longmead Stadium, Tonbridge
Admission: £12.00
Programme: £1.50
Attendance: 332
Match Rating: 4




For this evening's game, I decided to watch my second Conference South game in four days, again at the home of a team currently occupying a relegation position, but this time against a club also involved in a relegation scrap.

Longmead Stadium is a stadium I have visited many times in the past, most recently last April when neighbours Tunbridge Wells lifted the Kent Senior Trophy on neutral territory. As this evening's game was one of many that have been rearranged following postponements, the club sold the original programme produced for the game in December at the reduced price from £2.00 to £1.50, and with a four page black and white insert providing updated stats and welcome messages from the manager and chairman.

Although there is still a month and a half of the season remaining, this match had the feel of a six-pointer, with Tonbridge in 20th place out of 22 teams, a point adrift of safety and 19th place currently occupied by tonight's visitors Maidenhead United. Tonbridge do have two games in hand on Maidenhead, and games in hand against all teams immediately above them. Tonbridge were not in good form though, winning just one of their last six games, although that win came against promotion chasing Eastleigh. On Saturday, they suffered an embarassing 7-0 defeat at Boreham Wood, who going into the game were only one point ahead of Tonbridge. Maidenhead also haven't been in the best of form recently, winning once in their last five games. The two teams had not yet met this season in the league.

On a relatively mild evening, with the pitch predictably fairly heavy with sand in patches, Tonbridge made a flying start to the game. Nathaniel Pinney took control of the ball on the right and drove towards the byline, but with no team mate in the box, he just kept going and going, eventually driving powerfully across the keeper and into the net. However, it proved to be a rare highlight for the home side in the first half, as Maidenhead increasingly dominated the game and fashioned the best chances, as Tonbridge seemed to put up painfully little resistance in midfield and displayed some shambolic defending at times. On 7 minutes, a fast break by the visitors saw the ball crossed from the right wing to Harry Pritchard, completely on his own in the centre of goal, but the keeper saved the eventual shot. However, on 15 minutes, Maidenhead did get back on level terms. Tonbridge's defence was cut open by a Maidenhead attack, they couldn't clear the ball and the ball eventually fell to Danny Green 12 yards out, and he fired home across the keeper and into the net. On 34 minutes, the visitors went into the lead. Adrian Clifton drove the ball across the penalty area, finding a completely unmarked Green, who drove the ball into the net. The home side managed to create some reasonable chances before half time to get back on level terms, but in truth it was a poor performance in the first half by the home side.

However, Tonbridge showed much more urgency after the break, piling on the pressure and forcing five corners in quick succession, the final one resulting in an equalising goal on 55 minutes. A high looping corner by Nathan Green was headed goalwards and probably was over the line before a defender slice the ball high into his own net. The momentum was all with Tonbridge now, and they had a goal disallowed for offside on 59 minutes. They couldn't find the goal to give them the lead, and on 80 minutes, the visitors went back in front. Daniel Brown saw his shot deflect invitingly into the path of Green to nod the ball inside the keeper's near post to claim his hat-trick. Maidenhead sealed the three points a minute from time, when they were awarded a penalty for a push in the box. Green was the man again to find the back of the net, firing down the middle to score his fourth of the night. That was game over, and Maidenhead deserved the three points for a solid performance, whilst Tonbridge, apart from a very strong quarter of an hour at the start of the second half, just seemed too pedestrian in midfield and were opened up far too readily by an average team, and a desperate relegation struggle surely beckons for them until the end of the season.

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