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Home arrow Conference Premier & South arrow Tonbridge Angels 2-1 Hitchin Town - I'm more than happy with what I've done here,says Tommy Warrilow
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Tonbridge Angels 2-1 Hitchin Town - I'm more than happy with what I've done here,says Tommy Warrilow PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 10 November 2012

The FA Carlsberg Trophy Third Qualifying Round
Saturday 10th November 2012
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium

TOMMY WARRILOW marked his fifth anniversary as the manager of Tonbridge Angels by guiding the club into the FA Carlsberg Trophy First Round for the second time in five years’.

The eleventh-placed Blue Square Bet (Conference) South side made hard work to get past a decent Hitchin Town side, who faced the Angels for the very first time sitting in thirteenth-place in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier League.

The Angels got off to a flying start, taking the lead with only 179 seconds on the clock, when striker George Purcell ended his five-game run without a goal.

But Hitchin Town then dominated proceedings and they deservedly drew level after 29 minutes when John Frendo fired home a penalty after he was fouled by Ben Judge, who was booked.

Tonbridge Angels grabbed the winning goal just six minutes later, courtesy of Chris Piper’s sixth-goal of the season, but they were reduced to ten-men after Judge picked up his second yellow card for a foul, but the Hertfordshire side couldn’t force their way back into the game and they too finished the game with ten-men after central midfielder Louis Lee was red-carded during a melee with eight minutes left.

Warrilow, who has guided his side to three wins on the bounce, but admitted he wasn’t happy with his side’s first half performance against a team who play one division lower.

He said: “It was an important game to us, back-to-back wins, we’ve picked up a bit of form, but first half, apart from the last ten minutes of it, we made it very difficult for ourselves giving the ball away.

“I wanted to get them in at half-time. I gave them a real volley at half-time because they wanted to win the game more than us in the first half and that was down to ourselves.  We were playing in the wrong areas, giving the ball away, not working back but second half I can’t really fault it!

“I thought we were far, far better. We’ve hit the woodwork twice, how he’s kept Georgie’s shot out I don’t know. We could’ve had a few more but all the time that happens you’re thinking are they going to go to the other end and nick one?

“When we lost Judgey I thought it’s going to be backs against the wall but I can’t fault their work-rate today on that pitch, which was difficult. I commend them for it.”

Tonbridge Angels went close with only 92 seconds on the clock after Lee Browning swung in a corner towards the near post and Gary Elphick came up from the back and hooked the ball across goal, which rolled wide.

But the Longmead faithful were celebrating after Purcell scored his fourth-goal for the club since arriving from Dover Athletic in the summer.

Ross Treleaven, who was playing out wide on the right before he was sacrificed for central defender Ollie Schulz following Judge’s sending off, played the ball inside to Purcell, who took a touch before smashing a left-footed drive towards goal, which was initially blocked by the diving keeper Martin Bennett, but the ball looped up off his body and dropped inside the bottom right-hand corner of the Hitchin Town net.

Warrilow admitted he isn’t bothered about Purcell’s goalscoring form because he offers more to the team than putting the ball into the back of the net.

He said: “That’s not bothered me that.  He can go as many games as he wants as long as if he keeps playing and working like that!  I’ve told George I’m not bothered about who gets goals here. I know the forwards are but the pair of them will be up there or there abouts at the end of the season.

“It was a great move because the pair of them worked together.  It was a good little leave by Fran for George and he got the set back and then Ross has put him in. He’s hit it but it’s gone in!

“last week George was involved in all four goals. He was probably our best player on the pitch so. I’ve got no qualms about it. Even if he didn’t score today he’s come here, he’s worked hard and I’ve been more than happy with him.”

But instead of going on, Tonbridge Angels were pegged back onto the back foot as Hitchin Town started to dominate the game.

Warrilow admitted: “Listen, I didn’t expect anything different. I spoke to a few people that have played them. They beat Whitehawk 5-0 (in the FA Cup) so it’s on the day and today we could’ve so easily lost that game.”

John Frendo unleashed a left-footed drive which only just cleared the top of the near post past Lee Worgan’s despairing dive before the keeper made a fine save at his near post after Frendo released winger Callum Donnelly.

Tonbridge Angels almost hit Hitchin on the break when Judge swept a ball upfield and visiting keeper Bennett advanced outside of his box to head the ball towards the touch-line, but the ball went straight at Frannie Collin, who looked up and saw the keeper was out of his goal, and from 35-yards swept his right-footed shot wide.

Hitchin squandered an excellent chance to equalise in the thirteenth-minute when striker Stewart King beat the offside trap and played a reverse pass to left-back Josh Bickerstaff on the overlap.  His cross from the by-line floated across the face of goal and found Jack Beckett unmarked at the far post but he skied his right-footed volley over the bar.

Worgan was called into action in the 20th minute when he got swiftly down to his left to turn Beckett’s right-footed hooked volley around his post after Lee Browning had headed away Donnelly’s corner from the right.

Tonbridge Angels then called Bennett into action when they spread the play from left, middle, right and middle again.

Piper fed the impressive Henry Muggeridge down the left, who used his trickery to cut inside the full-back before playing the ball inside to Piper.  Piper twisted and turned on the very edge of the box but found no way through and decided to play the ball inside to Browning, who played the ball across to right-back Sonny Miles, who slipped the ball to Treleaven, who then played the ball inside to Purcell, whose left-footed shot from 20-yards saw the keeper use both his fists to punch the ball away whilst kneeling.

But Hitchin Town fully deserved their equaliser when Frendo scored his seventeenth-goal of the season.

Judge played a poor pass which was intercepted by striker Frendo, who burst past Judge, who clipped the Hitchin striker on the very corner of the penalty area and Hemel Hempstead based referee Anthony Serrano pointed to the penalty spot.

The referee took a while to brandish Judge a yellow card and Frendo got up and was fortuitous with his right-footed penalty.  Worgan dived to his right and got a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent the ball nestling into his bottom right-hand corner.

But Warrilow claimed the penalty shouldn’t have been awarded

He said: “It was miles outside the box, about two yards outside the box!  Even one of the fans came up who was standing down there but we could see where we were.   I think he landed sort of on the edge of the box so it tells you how far out he was but he’s given it. Worgs has got a hand to it but obviously not a strong enough one.”

He added: “We needed a kick up the a**e, that’s probably what we wanted because we were poor!  We were playing in the wrong areas. It’s slippery out there, the pitch is churned up and we said to the boys we can’t play like we did at Staines (in our 4-1 win) last week. We’ve got to use our loaf!

Hitchin failed to convert a decent chance when Beckett’s through ball released Donnelly but his right-footed chip from 25-yards was comfortably gathered by Worgan.

But Tonbridge Angels scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the 35th minute.

Worgan kicked the ball straight down the middle of the pitch and Purcell’s clever touch found Piper to his left and the midfielder cut inside Daniel Webb, who slid on to his backside after being put under Piper’s spell, who then stroked a right-footed curler, which clipped the near post before nestling into the bottom right-hand corner of the Canaries’ goal.

Warrilow said: “That’s what I mean, George again. Great hold up play, great first touch rolls Pipes in. He gives him the eyes and puts it in off the post!

“Like I said, it wasn’t going to deflect what I was going to say to them at half-time because you can’t get away with playing 20-25 minutes of a half giving opportunities to teams like Hitchin because you’re going to get punished.  For some reason we kept passing to them!”

Tonbridge Angels created another couple of chances before the break.

Muggeridge sped down the left flank before cutting the ball back to Purcell, who played the ball back to Muggeridge, who cut in to the penalty area before setting up Purcell, who stroked his shot agonisingly across the face of goal and Treleaven just couldn’t steer the ball in after he ghosted in at the far post.

Piper then played the ball inside to ten-goal striker Frannie Collin, who cracked wide a speculative righted-footed curler from 30-yards.

Warrilow, however, admitted he wasn’t impressed with his side’s first half performance despite going into the break with the lead.

He said: “All the time it’s 2-1 you’re living on the edge of your box.  You’re just hoping that it’s not going to be one of those days and they nick an equaliser or even the winner.”

However, an excellent save from the Hitchin keeper thwarted Purcell a certain goal within the opening three minutes of the second half.

Tom Davis played a diagonal pass to Collin, whose reverse pass found Piper on the overlap to reach the by-line and he managed to whip the ball in across the face of goal to Purcell at the far post, whose low right-footed shot seemed destined to find the bottom near corner but Bennett managed to get across goal and made a fine block from point blank range.

Tonbridge Angels were reduced to ten-men after 52 minutes when Judge was shown a second yellow and then a red card for tripping Stewart King, who had beat him for pace down the inside left channel.

Warrilow bemoaned the decision to send off Judge after the referee later only booked Dean Gilbert for a last-man foul on Purcell later on in the game.

“If he’s going to do that to Judgey, he should’ve done it to a couple of theirs!  The lad when George is through he’s the last man. It wasn’t even a foul because he lad got the ball but he’s blown up on a foul. If he’s blown up he’s got to walk!

“I said all along you do mind because it’s the consistency of it all. That’s why the managers get the hump, because it’s the lack of consistency.”

With the visiting fans chanting “Conference South, you’re ‘aving a larf,’ Hitchin proved exactly why they’re not playing in that league when Beckett skied a hooked volley over the bar after Donnelly swung in a corner from the left.

Beckett and Donnelly linked up well for Hitchin and Frendo unleashed a left-footed shot from 25-yards, which curled around Worgan’s despairing dive and also narrowly wide of the far post.

But they really should have levelled proceedings in the 63rd minute when King’s pace took him past Elphick to reach the by-line and he cut the ball back to Frendo, who swept his right-footed shot straight at an off-balanced Worgan from eight-yards.

“Everyone’s going to get chances in games of football,” added Warrilow.  “The problem we have when someone has a chance it seems to be a big issue!  You’re going to get chances at this level of football. We had about six chances in the second half. Yes, they had a chance, but they didn’t score!”

The Kent side, however, then began to put their stranglehold on to their plucky lower-league opponents and Purcell’s burst of pace saw him take the ball around the Hitchin defence and from an acute angle lash an angled left-footed drive agonisingly against the top of the near post with the keeper rooted to the spot.

Then a fine sweeping one or two touch move in and around the Hitchin penalty area saw Purcell cut the ball inside to Muggeridge, who cracked a right-footed drive from 25-yards, which took a deflection and looped onto the top of the crossbar.

Warrilow said that Muggeridge is a regular performer in his side since the youngster’s release form Bristol Rovers.

“You can see his fitness levels, he’s up and down that line. We’ve got to get the reigns out on him a little bit but he’s been like that since he’s walked in the door. He’s had a bit of flu’ over the last couple of weeks’.  I’ve got no qualms with H, he’s settled well here.”

Tonbridge Angels went agonisingly close to increasing their lead with twelve minutes remaining when Browning and Collin linked up well and Muggeridge fired in a low left-footed drive from an acute angle which flashed across the face of goal and past the foot of the far post.

Hitchin Town’s hopes of forcing a Monday night replay, however, evaporated in the final eight minutes when referee Mr Serrano showed Lee a straight red-card after allegedly pushing over Davis during a melee.

When asked his thoughts on the incident, Warrilow replied, “I didn’t even see it! I didn’t even know!  What I was more annoyed it was our free-kick and then he’s sent the lad off but they got the free-kick.  They’re the sort of decisions that drive you mad because it’s just unnecessary pressure on us.”

Reflecting on the win, the Angels boss said: “We picked up in the second half and we were the better side and we deserved the win.  We’re in the hat for the next round and that’s the most important thing.

“I thought we defended well second half. We defended much better, no silly mistakes. I thought we defended well as a side, as a team. The second half was a lot better. It was so important that we finished strong because we want to take it into Maidstone on Tuesday.”

Tonbridge Angels, who haven’t won a single FA Cup tie during the past six years, won their first FA Trophy tie since Enfield Town were defeated 2-0 here in the Second Qualifying Round two years’ ago, before they went out to a single goal defeat to Welling United at this stage.

When asked who he wants in the First Round in two weeks’ time, Warrilow said: “I honestly couldn’t care, it doesn’t bother me at all! Luton away then, because you get half the gate, someone big, so we can get some money down here to help us out.”

Warrilow reflected on his five years’ at Longmead Stadium and said: “I’m more than happy with what I’ve done here, Cup football or not. We are pushing in the right way. If we’re winning games poorly I’ll be more concerned. It’s done now. Hopefully it will keep a few people happy for another week.

“I’m happy! Obviously you’d like things better but I’ more than happy how we’ve grown as a club and the type of players that we’ve got here now.  I don’t take it for granted.  We’re winning and pushing up then that’s the main thing for me and the relationship with the board.  The fans’ here are fantastic!”

Tonbridge Angels: Lee Worgan, Sonny Miles, Henry Muggeridge, Lee Browning, Gary Elphick, Ben Judge, Tom Davis, Chris Piper, George Purcell, Frannie Collin, Ross Treleaven (Ollie Schulz 55).
Subs: Rory Hill, Mark Lovell, Aaron Gayle, Danny Walder

Goals: George Purcell 3, Chris Piper 35

Booked: Ben Judge 29

Sent Off: Ben Judge 52

Hitchin Town: Martin Bennett, Daniel Webb, Josh Bickerstaff, Marc Leach, Dean Gilbert, Louis Lee, Callum Donnelly, Jack Beckett (Ian Beckerfield 69), Stewart King (Liam McGovern 81), John Frendo, Ian Burke.
Subs: Luke Gregson, Kyle Lincoln, Bart Pedrycz

Goal: John Frendo 29 (pen)

Booked: Callum Donnelly 18, John Frendo 62, Dean Gilbert 74

Sent Off: Louis Lee 82

Attendance: 513
Referee: Mr Anthony Serrano (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Paul Johnson (London SW20) & Mr Errol Walker (Colliers Wood, London SW19)

Last Updated ( Saturday, 10 November 2012 )
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