Jim Coopers side continued their positive start to the season with another determined & resolute display against Tonbridge Angels. Our visitors have seen a considerable rebuild around their club both on & off the pitch in the summer. Their management team are well known to us and despite yesterdays result I am sure they will succeed in their ambitions for the Angels. It is always a pleasure to welcome friends and we had an abundance of welcome visitors to the game yesterday. In addition to Tonbridge, we had some of the committee from Sutton United as they were without a game this weekend. There was a real friendly atmosphere around the ground for this fixture and it was a great advert for football at this level.
In respect of the game itself, the Met were without James Aldred, who picked up an injury on Tuesday, Steve Sutherland, (injured last Saturday at Maidstone) and Tyron Smith who was injured in pre-season. Back into the squad came Matt Pattison & Mitchell Gutteridge who both missed Tuesdays win and were on the bench for this one. Ryan Watts made his debut for the Met against his former club & completed a great week personally after Jessica gave birth to their son on Thursday.
The Met were straight into their stride & picked up from where they left off against Hendon within the opening few minutes. After just two minutes Bradley Hudson-Odoi was sent through on goal and was brought down by a tackle from behind as he raced into the box. To the astonishment of most watching the referee waved away appeals for the penalty. I can only think it was too early in the game or he was too far from the incident to see it clearly. The Met continued to press & Bradley Hudson – Odoi should have opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Michael Charles delivered a great cross from the right into the six yard box, but the Met front man managed to side foot the ball up & over the bar from all of two yards out.
The second & possibly clearer penalty shout came after 16 minutes when Billy Crook lobbed a shot over the keeper that came back off the bar and fell to the feet of Michael Charles some 12 yards out. As he controlled the ball he was brought down with a challenge from behind but once again the referee waved away the penalty appeals. Even the Tonbridge bench queried why if it wasn’t a penalty then why was there no caution for it being a `dive`.
The opening goal inevitably came for the Met after 30 minutes from a corner although arguably the initial chance should have been converted. Bradley Hudson – Odoi turned provider for Michael Charles after beating a defender down the left and crossing low across the six yard box but Michael couldn’t convert the chance & it was turned out for a corner. Charlie Collins delivered another quality cross into the penalty area and Bradley Hudson –Odoi rose unchallenged to head home into the far corner.
Tonbridge came into the game & the Met needed a well-timed defensive header away at the far post by debutant Ryan Watts as the forward was poised to tap the ball home. The first half ended with Tonbridge creating several great chances and the Met needed two quality saves by Stuart Searle including one at the feet of the onrushing forward to keep the lead into the break.
Half Time Met Police 1 Tonbridge Angels 0
The first chance of the second half fell to man of the match, Reece Hall as he was put through by Charlie Collins, but he lifted his shot just over the bar. Tonbridge had raised their game & were pressing the Met back from the start of the half. They equalised after 65 minutes with a through ball that sent Billy Medlock away with the Met back four vainly appealing for offside. It looked a good decision by the linesman and Billy rounded Stuart Searle before slotting home into an open goal.
Jim Cooper made two changes as the Met went looking for the lead again. Matt Pattison replaced Michael Charles as Charlie Collins moved up front and Ed Adjei replaced Bradley Hudson-Odoi. A minute or so later Reece Hall went on another of his weaving runs down the left and after beating a defender he lifted a cross into the penalty area. Charlie Collins was unmarked in the six yard box and rose unchallenged and looped a header back over the keeper towards the far post. The ball took an age to drop towards the goal and looked like it was drifting wide but clipped the inside of the post and into the net. Not even a hair out of place for Charlie as he celebrated a well-deserved goal.
The Met should have increased their lead when Reece Hall raced into the box in the 80th minute but his right foot shot was well blocked by the keeper & cleared away. Tonbridge pressed on and the final ten minutes were like a cup tie as both sides attacked almost with abandon. The Met required a last minute block in the penalty area by Ricardo Joseph on a shot that looked goal bound to secure the victory.
Excellent support throughout by the travelling loyal Tonbridge Angels fans and the players will surely turn their results around. We wish Steve, Barry & all the management team all the best for the season and the Met now move onto Canvey away on Tuesday.
1. Stuart Searle 2. Elliott Taylor 3. Ryan Watts 4. Billy Crook 5. Will Salmon © 6. Ricardo Joseph 7. Michael Charles 8. Ryan James 9. Bradley Hudson-Odoi 10. Charlie Collins 11. Reece Hall
Subs: 12. Matt Pattison (replaced 7 – 65 mins) 14. Ed Adjie (replaced 9 – 68 mins) 15. Matt Males (replaced 10 – 84 mins) 16. Mitchell Gutteridge 17. Dave Smalley