Saturday 25th August 2007
By Paul Parsons
Having seen the strength of the Tonbridge 1st team, and a hard fought draw with our first team, I knew this would be a good test of our capabilities for the season ahead. With Danny away on international duty it was left to Paul Tanton and Neil Connelly to steer the ship and an admiral job they did too.
I felt that the side throughout the game played to its strengths. All players seemed more than comfortable in the positions they were asked to play in. This led to an assured passing display and confident running off the ball. The first half ended 0-0, however it was far from boring. With Mark Edwards in goal looking confident and pulling off a couple of very good saves including a miraculous point blank one that left him counting whether there were still two there!
The balance of chances probably fell to Tonbridge, however resolute defending by Michael Seymour at right back, myself and an exemplary display of calmness and assured challenges by Jay Blay at centre back meant that Tonbridge could not get through. Peter Morton was as effective in defence as he was dangerous in attack, pounding up and down the left wing relentlessly. Paul Tanton and Richard Davies also making it difficult for the Tonbridge team to settle on the ball. David Goenaga did well on the right and made it impossible for Tonbridge to attack down the left, and gave Michael excellent cover when needed.
We were in control at the half and knew what was needed to win the game, more of the same. Daragh Nott, Sam Evans and Dan Head made a significant difference in the second half, and Gary Harrigan pushed himself to the limit and continued to link the play well. Bobby Moulson upfront was holding the ball and bringing in others into the play too; he was strong and was unlucky on a couple of occasions not to net a debut second team goal. The goals that we did score were all very good and involved at least four players in the build up to each goal, a great team performance. Dan Head scoring twice, one from close range after good play down the right, the ball crossed in by Sam Evans and it found its way to Dan to smash home from 9 yards out. The other an accomplished finish to the keeper’s right that was unstoppable.
Ricky Stevens made a good debut, challenging for everything in midfield and poking the ball past the keeper after a strong run. Also Gary Harrigan came on for a second spell and with his first touch steered one wide of the keeper and just inside the post to make it four, after a great pass from Richard Davies. Richard also having the best couple (dozen?) chances to finish the game off but decided to get Vic in a really bad mood and lose a few balls in the greenery behind the goal, also a great way to disrupt Biggin Hill airport by skying a few, I didn’t know you were a climate change warrior Rich!
Tonbridge fought hard and were tough in the challenge, however at all times played in a good fair spirit. Their heads were never down, and after the second goal went in, they had a good 15 minute spell in the second half where the pressure was telling and they were peppering the penalty area with crosses, corners and shots but Mark, and the whole defence were up to the challenge and committed their bodies as if a title was on the line. Peter Morton again needing to clear one off the line with a trade mark hip save that he seems to do every game from an impossible angle and with incredible speed of thought.
Passion, commitment and praise, a very good ‘start’ to the league games ahead.