A month ago, Tonbridge Angels were six points clear at the top of the Bostik Premier Division. This morning there are only three points separating the top four. Before a ball was kicked it was predicted that this would be the most open Premier Division campaign in years, and at the moment it certainly seems to look that way!
Angels remain at the summit, but yesterday a last minute goal condemned them to their second league defeat of the season- both coming at home, and both happening within the last three matches. It would have hurt all the more that yesterday’s reverse came at the hands of Bognor Regis Town, the Rocks now the only unbeaten side in the division and now only two points shy of Steve McKimm’s men. In front of 814 at Longmead all of the goals came in the second half, Bognor took the lead on 51 minutes through Bradley Lethbridge, but a quarter of an hour later Alex Read squared things for the home side, surely earning a point. Burt no! Five minutes from time Angels keeper Jonathan Henly was forced from the field with injury, and during added time Mason Walsh walloped home for the Rocks to take the points back to Nyewood Lane.
Rocks fans must have been delighted, but their delight might have been tempered just a little by the news that their great rivals Worthing still separated them from Angels- two late goals giving the Mackerel Men victory over Kingstonian to the delight of most of the 1320 inside Woodside Road. Callum Kealy put the home side ahead in the first half, before Elliot Buchanan equalised for K’s after earlier striking the bar. It stayed level until fourteen minutes from time, when David Ajoboye- on a bit of a lean run of late by his standards- found the net from a Zack Newton assist. Then in stoppage time Worthing ended a Kingstonian fightback when Alex Parsons made sure of the points.
Dorking Wanderers are fourth, an early Tom Richards goal proving the only breakthrough at Folkestone Invicta, whilst fifth place Enfield Town’s unbeaten run ended at sixth place Margate, where 658 saw a Joe Taylor double earn the points despite a Billy Bricknell goal for Town. A late goal from Eoin Casey gave Potters Bar Town a slender win over Lewes at the Pakex and saw them seventh, whilst a late Isaac Nkos finish from close range gave the ten men of Bishop’s Stortford a point at Merstham, for whom Walter Figueira had scored in the first half. Jordan Westcott was dismissed for the Blues.
Another unbeaten run went at King George’s Field, as Corinthian-Casuals celebrated Non League Day by defeating AFC Hornchurch- a late Gabriel Odunaike strike giving them a 1-0 victory. Carshalton Athletic are twelfth, and the Robins very much enjoyed their battle with the Hawks yesterday, defeating Harlow Town 4-0 at the Arena, two goals in each half from Michael Onovwigun and Bobby Price, then Michael Dixon and Jacob Mendy seeing the home side end the day second bottom.
Harlow now have only a one point advantage over Burgess Hill Town, who are finally giving their supporters something to cheer about under caretaker managers Simon Wormull and John Rattle. Yesterday in front of 651 at the Green Elephants Stadium Kieron Pamment, Lucas Franzen-Jones and evergreen Pat Harding found the net for the Hillians, with Joel Nouble replying for Haringey Borough. It was their first league win of the season, but means the caretaker duo have two wins and a draw from their three matches at the helm since Ian Chapman put himself on gardening leave following an 8-0 reverse at Bognor.
Wingate & Finchley also have a managerial duo, and yesterday Nicky Shorey and Glen Little saw their first game in charge end in victory, a goal from Mark Charles-Smith giving the home side the points despite the sending off of Luke Ifill despite Leatherhead’s best efforts. Finally, 565 headed to Whitehawk for Non League Day, and until the very last minute most would have been cheering a Hawks victory, Ky Marsh-Brown giving them a lead which they held for 56 minutes. But right at the death Billy Hunt sent a spot kick home to give Brightlingsea Regent a share of the spoils.
North and South Central Divisions
With most of our clubs in FA Trophy action we had only four other league matches.
In the North Division Reece Harris ruined the Felixstowe and Walton United party, stunning must of the 663 in attendance to give AFC Sudbury a 1-0 win; whilst Julian Dicks was watching his Heybridge Swifts side continue their new found momentum at Scraley Road, Harrison Chatting and Nicholas Brown giving them a 2-0 win against Bury Town. The match of the day was undoubtedly at Romford (well, East Thurrock United), as the Boro and the Seed Growers shared eight goals. Sadly for the home side they didn’t share them equally, as Coggeshall Town got five of them; a Sam Bantick hat trick and two from Ross Wall more than enough to win despite a late fight back from the home side, for whom Ayo Olukoga (2) and Nick Reynolds scored in the last fourteen minutes.
Cheshunt went second in the South Central Division, but they left it late- an Ali Chantery double and a goal from Ricky Sappleton making it three-nil against Tooting & Mitcham United, with all the goals coming in the last nineteen minutes. That was the Ambers third victory in eight days, as sees them unbeaten in the League since 18th August. Three hundred and forty five turned out to watch.
Our FA Trophy Preliminary Round ties actually began on Friday evening, Aveley- in second place in the North Division- proved that league leaders Basildon United aren’t unbeatable, defeating them 2-1 at Parkside. Thomas Richardson got one in each half, whilst Eljay Worrell replied for United. Elsewhere a Sam Ashford goal was giving Witham Town a fabulous away win at AFC Dunstable.
A number of our sides ran up big scores yesterday- but sadly they tended to do it against other teams from the Bostik League.
Perhaps the accolade for performance of the day goes to Sevenoaks Town. Oaks travelled to Grays Athletic and went 2-0 down within a quarter of an hour, a Joao Carlos double- but they bounced back in style during the second half, Frankie Sawyer firing a hat trick and Alec Fiddes getting another in a 4-2 victory.
Whitstable Town also continued their recent impressive form, scoring four at Bedfont Sports. They all came in the first half, a double from Ricky Freeman, one from Jordan Wright and an own goal making them comfortable. Abdeen Temitope Abdul scored a last minute consolation. Greenwich Borough also got four, all in the second half, as they came from behind after Sean McCormack had given Egham Town the lead. Kayne Roberts, Teshuane Tyreece-Walters, Reece Deakin and Ryan King-Elliott found the net for Borough.
The theme of four continued at Hastings United, but the quartet of goals came to visitors Whyteleafe, for whom Bryan Akongo, Eddie Dsane (2) and Bentley Graham found the net, Jack Dixon and Daniel Ajakaiye replying for the home side in front of 460 at Pilot Field. Brentwood Town were our final side to score four, a strong second half performance seeing the Blues pull away after the first half had ended 1-1. Alfie Hinton had put the home side ahead only for Charlie Samuel to reply for Marlow just before the break, but Tony Stokes, Charlee Hughes and Kojo Apenteng wrapped it up after the break.
Haywards Heath Town and Bracknell Town shared five goals at Hanbury Park, with the home side getting their two- through Melford Simpson and Kieran Rowe- after Adam Cornell (2) and Liam Ferdinand had seemingly given the Robins an unassailable lead, whilst elsewhere in Sussex another side were scoring three, but this time it was the home side- a Charlie Harris double and one from Will Hoare giving Horsham a 3-1 victory over Ware, for whom Dom Njoya replied.
VCD Athletic also found the net three times, Charlie MacDonald (2) and Ali Fuseini providing enough to defeat Hanwell Town, for whom Ibrahim Olutade got a consolation.
Ben Gorham and Jake Embery gave Herne Bay a 2-1 win at Aylesbury, whilst Lee Barney got the only goal as Hayes & Yeading United won at Barking. Two late goals from Frankie Merrifield gave Canvey Island victory over Cray Wanderers- Wanderers losing for only the second time this season, both in cup competitions- whilst goals from Matthew Briggs and De-Carey Sheriff gave Maldon & Tiptree a 2-0 win at Chalfont St Peter.
Chipstead came from behind to win at home to Welwyn Garden City, a double from Izzy Bademosi overturning a half time deficit, whilst Sittingbourne won 2-0 at Faversham Town, a goal in each half from Nathan Elder and Harrison Hatfull the difference. A goal from George Landais gave East Grinstead Town victory at Great Wakering Rovers, whilst second half strikes from Jack Sammoutis and Zak Ansah fired Hythe Town to success against FC Romania. Molesey won for the first time this season, a goal from Athan Smith-Joseph at Three Bridges the difference between the sides.
Ashford Town and Westfield played out a goalless draw, whilst Phoenix Sports and Ramsgate also need a replay, Tarik Ibrahim for Sports cancelling out a first half Rory Smith goal for the away side. Soham Town Rangers and AFC Mansfield also have it to do again after their match ended goalless.
On a not so positive note, South Park went down 5-1 at Berkhampstead- Andrew Herring with their goal- whilst Dereham Town lost 3-1 at home to Kempston Rovers (Daniel Beaumont). Hertford Town fell two behind in the first seven minutes at Didcot Town, and whilst Elliott Bailey reduced the arears in the second half it wasn’t enough. Northwood fell 2-0 at Dunstable Town, whilst, finally, Tilbury succumbed 4-1 at home to Bedford Town, despite Abdus Salami giving them a half time lead.
Today, Mildenhall Town travel to Aylesbury United.
The headline image today is from Corinthian-Casuals victory over AFC Hornchurch, and comes from the lens of the award-winning David Bauckham. One of his magnificent photo-essays will be here soon, and you won't want to miss it.