This National League South fixture was played on a warm but cloudy Autumn Saturday afternoon in Tonbridge.
The petrol shortage left me looking as close to home as I could find for today’s fixture. I chose this tie at a ground I had never visited before and was looking forward to, what I predicted would be, a hard fought encounter between two competitive sides.
Dorking Wanderers sat in tenth place with 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses from their first six games. Tonbridge were as low as 17th, although just a game behind, they sat with 5 points, following a win and two draws and two defeats, from their opening five league fixtures.
Tonbridge play at the Longmead stadium, where they moved to in 1981. The stadium holds a capacity of 3,000, with 760 seats. They are currently managed by Steve McKimm.
The ground was obviously in a state of transition, with lots being built and developed. So on first impressions the stadium lacks a sense of vision. However once the crowd came in you realise that the main stand is impressive and provides quite an atmosphere. The admission to the ground was well managed and on the turnstile the man said my name (from the e-ticket) and personally welcomed me. Refreshment stand provision in the ground was okay but it’d be nice if there were toilets and refreshments on both sides of the ground.
Dorking Wanderers are managed by Chairman of the club, Marc White, who himself formed the club in 1999, since when they have made a rapid rise through the football pyramid with 11 promotions in 19 years. In the season curtailed last year through Covid, Dorking had topped the table by five points after 18 matches and had looked well set to gain promotion to the National league.
The teams came out for kick off to the sound of “Country Rose” in front of a decent crowd of 682. Dorking chose to kick off having won the toss. The game started well with both teams probing the attacking space available and testing the opposing defence.
On 20 minutes Tonbridge broke free and took the lead through their number seven, Doug Loft, with a fine angled header, after a cross from the left.
On 27 minutes Dorking had a goal chalked off for offside. Tonbridge went straight up the other end and saw a long range shot palmed away, in a brave save by the Dorking keeper.
On 35 minutes, Tonbridge failed to deal decisively, with clearing a free kick and Dorking’s number 29, Callum Kealy, pounced to punish them and equalise at 1-1.
Tonbridge Angel’s player’s heads didn’t fall and on 43 minutes their number 4, Tom Parkinson, followed up from a corner, to send the Angels 2-1 up into the half time break, raising a large cheer from the home crowd.
The second half started as well as the first half ended, for Tonbridge. On 49 minutes Tonbridge’s number ten, Ibraham Olutade, followed up, after an error by the keeper and finished well, to make it 3-1 to the home team.
It required a fine save on 69 minutes by the Tonbridge keeper, Henly, to deny Dorking Wanderers. Minutes later the Tonbridge goalscorer, Olutade, missed with a chance when he was through on goal.
The remainder of the game saw Dorking push forward, with much of the possession, while Tonbridge had chances on the break. tonbridge played out the game well and at the final whistle it was Tonbridge Angels who left as 3-1 winners.