Stoppage time goals the undoing of Angels

Tuesday night saw a trip to East Sussex and down to Priory Lane, home of Eastbourne Borough as guests of the Boro’ Chairman David Blackmore, another first for Gaz but a return trip for me.

Last season though my visit was to watch the now defunct Langney Wanderers whose matchday programme I was writing for but I also managed to speak to David that afternoon for the first time instead of via Twitter and text!

A couple of weeks ago the chairman appeared on our Premier Non-League Podcast to talk about the leadership issues the club was facing and thankfully resolved within a few days, but a great insight into the way their club is run.

The visitors were Tonbridge Angels, managed by a good friend of mine in Steve McKimm, and on the back of a fine away win at the weekend ending Dorking Wanderers 10 game winning run. Borough themselves are having another very good season and are firmly in the hunt for a play-off place.

It was the Angels who got off to a fast start and were in front inside five minutes, Ibrahim Olutade timed his run perfectly onto a ball over the top before setting up Adrian Coombes to curl the ball past Lee Worgan for the game’s opening goal.

There was a frantic pace about the game with both sides keen to break quickly when in possession and there wasn’t much surprise when the equalising goal arrived soon after.

Dom Hutchinson drifted in from the left hand side and after seeming to evade a couple of tackles he managed to find a way past Jonny Henly and the ball nestled in the far corner to give us two goals before ten minutes were on the clock.

The Angels were looking the more likely to score during the rest of the half, but you knew you couldn’t rule out Borough at any stage and whilst actual chances being created were at a premium there was plenty of attacking intent to keep the crowd occupied.

Just as it appeared the sides would go in level; the home side snatched the lead in first half stoppage time. Charley Kendall, who secured a move to Lincoln City this coming summer before the January transfer window ended, was fed a lovely ball by Charlie Walker and after beating Sonny Miles Kendall slipped the ball passed Henly for a Borough half time lead and Tonbridge possibly wondering how they weren’t level at a minimum.

The visitors were very much on the front foot at the start of the second half but it was the hosts who almost went further ahead four minutes in, Henly racing out from his goal to thwart Kendall outside of the penalty area only to see Hutchinson return the ball towards the net, Harry Hudson with a headed goal-line clearance to keep the deficit at one goal.

Tonbridge were still pressing hard for a way back into the game but found the Borough defence not very giving despite a lot of probing and were cautious at the same time of the hosts breaking fast and sealing the game.

As it was Eastbourne did finally put the game to bed in stoppage time as Joel Rollinson broke clear of the Angels backline to lift the ball over Henly cool as you like to ensure the points stayed in Sussex and Tonbridge went home empty handed.

The result meant Danny Bloor’s men moved back into the top seven and as David put it on Wednesday morning, one point from safety! Different targets for different clubs of course but Borough most definitely back in the thick of a promotion race.

Steve McKimm on the other hand bemoaned getting punished for their mistakes once again despite dominating the game. Whilst Borough were clinical with the few chances they did have, Tonbridge certainly looked the more threatening going forward, attention for them though turns to a Kent derby in the FA Trophy this coming Saturday as Bromley visit Longmead.

Impressive performance from Aaron Smith-Joseph down the Angels left hand side, a real handful and fantastic delivery into the box all evening meant the Borough defence couldn’t rest for a moment whilst for the home side the sharpness of Kendall made you see why he’s earned his move, good to see Chris Whelpdale get some more minutes under his belt, a key figure in last season’s halted campaign.

One final note, David was expecting a crowd of around 500 so to see the figure at 710 was pretty good given the cold night and of course football on the box as well.

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