DORCHESTER TOWN 1 TONBRIDGE ANGELS 2
ALL good things come to an end and so it proved at the weekend as Dorchester Town tasted their first home defeat of the season.
The Magpies came into the contest boasting a 100 per cent record at the Avenue but a first-half double from Tonbridge midfielder Chris Piper was enough to end that superb statistic – despite a wonder goal from home winger Jon Garcia just 20 seconds into the second period.
Saturday’s reverse was also Dor-chester’s third straight defeat in Blue Square Bet South, but perhaps more worrying for the hosts was the sight of skipper Mark Jermyn leaving the action at half-time with a suspected fractured cheekbone, following a clash of heads with Tom Davis.
Fortunately though, the injury was not as bad as first feared and the influential figure is hoping to recover in time for this Sunday’s FA Cup date with Plymouth.
With the upcoming first round tie in mind, manager Phil Simkin rested some weary legs for the Angels’ visit.
Ashley Nicholls, Ben Watson and Neil Martin all dropped to the bench with Nathan Walker back in the starting XI, Garcia handed his first start of the campaign and AFC Bournemouth loanee Jordan Chied-ozie making his county town debut.
As part of the reshuffle, Jermyn was pushed into midfield and he almost opened the scoring with an outrageous attempt from all of 40 yards.
Unfortunately, his ambitious drive, with just 55 seconds on the clock, sailed narrowly over.
Chiedozie then met Jake Gosling’s ninth-minute corner but was unable to generate enough power to trouble Lee Worgan in the visiting goal.
The same could be said when the Cherries’ youngster pulled the trigger on the edge of the box moments later.
Dorchester were much the brigh-ter side in the early exchanges and with 25 minutes gone Charlie Clough sent a fizzing drive just past the right-hand post.
Had he looked to his right though, the towering defender would have found Gosling in acres of space and with a clear run at goal.
The Angels had failed to muster a single attempt of note up until the half-hour mark, but when they finally registered a shot at goal it had the desired effect and the visitors took a surprise lead.
Ross Treleaven’s long throw was only half cleared and Piper took advantage by firing home from just inside the Magpies’ box.
Only a last-ditch clearance from Henry Muggeridge prevented Jamie Reid from grabbing an immediate equaliser but it was the visitors, buoyed by their opening goal, who finished the half the better of the two teams.
And in first-half stoppage-time, Tonbridge doubled their advantage thanks to some more slack defending.
Again it came from the away side’s biggest weapon – the long throw of Treleaven. The midfielder’s lofted delivery was flicked on by captain Gary Elphick and headed goalwards by George Purcell.
Jason Matthews reacted well to parry the striker’s effort but with the home defence static, Piper slid in to scramble the ball over the line.
Trailing by two goals at the break, the Magpies looked set to experience defeat on home turf for the first time since April 14.
Simkin responded by bringing on Nicholls, in place of the injured Jermyn, and within 20 seconds of the restart the deficit was halved.
Nicholls played a part in the build-up with the move capped off by a superb strike, with the outside of his left foot, from Garcia, which flew into the top-right corner.
The home side grew in confidence but had to remain alert at the back as a Purcell cross narrowly evaded the boot of a sliding Frannie Collin before Piper’s hooked effort was cleared off the line by Garcia.
By this point in proceedings, Watson had entered the fray at the expense of new-boy Chiedozie.
And his first involvement was to lay the ball off in the right corner for Arran Pugh to cross and Reid to glance a header inches wide of the far post.
Matthews kept out Purcell’s shot on the turn before Dorchester’s appeals for a penalty, after Jamie Gleeson went down under the challenge of gloveman Worgan, were dismissed by referee Richard Hulme.
Clough then nodded the wrong side of a post while at the other end, with time ticking away, Purcell’s fierce free-kick was gathered at the second attempt by Matthews.
Clough was thrust forward as a makeshift striker in the dying moments but it was fellow giant Pugh who came closest to rescuing a late point.
The former Truro City man’s low cross from the right needed only the slightest of touches but no one gambled and the ball rolled agonisingly wide.
Magpies: Matthews, Pugh, Smeeton, Clough, Walker, Gleeson, Gosling (Critt-enden 84), Jermyn (Nicholls 46), Reid, Chiedozie (Watson 63), Garcia. Subs not used: Martin, Symes.
Angels: Worgan, Miles, Muggeridge, Browning, Elphick, Judge, Davis (Walder 89), Piper, Purcell, Collin (Gayle 77), Treleaven (Hill 64). Subs not used: Schulz, Lovell.