By Jim Rowe
Loss means no home advantage in playoff semi final.
Angels will play Haringey Borough away in the Bostik Premier semi final playoffs next Thursday 2nd May with a 7:45pm kick off.
Victory at Potters Bar in the final league game of the season would have given Tonbridge home advantage but the hosts with little to play for except pride were the better side and fully deserved their 2-1 win.
A bumpy pitch and Storm Hannah did their best to destroy the game as a spectacle but put simply the Scholars adapted to the conditions far better than the Angels, in fact Tonbridge never really settled and looked vulnerable throughout most of the game.
It was a strange affair for the 160 away supporters who made the trip round the M25. After the euphoria of last Monday when the playoff participation was confirmed there was a distinct feeling of anticlimax. There had been hopes for a league victory to wrap up the campaign not only for the home advantage it would have provided, but also confirmation of a final placing of runners up in the Bostik Premier.
What they witnessed however was something of a lacklustre performance when pretty much the entire team for whatever reason decided to have an off day.
Angels boss Steve McKimm decided to start with Alex Read up front in place of Tom Derry, Tom Beere was preferred to D’Sean Theobalds in midfield and Liam Smith replaced James Folkes at right back.
The opening minutes of the game appeared hopeful for the visitors and in the 4th minute a cross from Chinedu McKenzie found Joe Turner who somewhat fluffed his lines and the chance was gone.
Potters Bar then gave notice that they were not simply there to make up the numbers and a mazy run by Marvin Morgan was a sign of things to come. In fact the Tonbridge defence never really dealt effectively with the big No 10.
The Angels cause was certainly not helped when the unfortunate Tom Beere only just back from an ankle injury was stretchered off in the 24th minute.
Jared Small did provide a quality cross in the 26th minute with Alex Read a whisker away from converting.
Five minutes later Potters Bar were deservedly ahead. Despite Angels having chances to clear the attack the home forward line chased a series of lost causes and eventually Morgan had the relatively straightforward task of forcing the ball past Jonny Henly.
The Angels on 44 minutes did have a chance to draw level when Jack Parter’s Cross was fumbled by goalkeeper Berkeley Laurencin but - and this was typical of the away side all afternoon - there was no one able to anticipate the moment.
There was another enforced substitution at half time for Tonbridge with Craig Stone forced to retire and Adem Ramadan replacing him. Not a straight swap of course with Joe Turner moving to midfield and Ramadan to the left flank.
The hammer blow for the Angels came in the 52nd minute. A Potters Bar attack down the left wing where much of their offensive play came and with Morgan once again involved the ball was slipped to Nana Kyei who made no mistake from close in.
The visitors with a mountain to climb huffed and puffed but it was Potters Bar who always looked the likelier to add to the goals tally. In fact Jonny Henly was the busier goalkeeper with a series of important saves from the lively Scholars forwards.
In the 67th minute the Angels did manage to pull a goal back. Joe Turner’s corner fell loose in front of the Potters Bar goal and Sonny Miles saw his effort go via a post and into the goal.
By now results from elsewhere meant that Tonbridge really needed the win and while there were more frequent attacks from the men in blue they never looked convincing with the strikers unable to stamp their authority on proceedings.
On 85 minutes a Joe Turner free kick just outside the area forced Laurencin to punch the ball out and McKenzie fired in the rebound but the goal was disallowed for offside. Late on D’Sean Theobalds went on a run deep into the Potters Bar final third but his shot was just over and that sealed the result in favour of the Scholars.
Afterwards, McKimm confirmed that Tom Beere, Craig Stone and Joe Turner were all possibly doubtful for that semi final against Haringey Borough. “They will all be assessed, receive treatment as appropriate and hopefully they may be able to play at least a part. We shall just have to wait and see. Today Potters Bar deserved the win, they adapted to the conditions better and our players didn’t respond to our instructions.”