(Originally published in The Kent & Sussex Courier on 2nd October as part of my weekly ‘Angel Eyed View’ column)
26th September 2015, Leiston 3 – 0 Tonbridge Angels
The away day is a hallowed tradition for football fans across the leagues. Our Longmead ground is brilliant, but variety is the spice of life – and the more obscure and distant the location, the better. So Saturday’s FA Cup game at Leiston, a tiny, picturesque town in the Suffolk backwaters, was the perfect excuse for an away day.
For arduous journeys like this, the club organises a supporters’ coach. It’s nothing like the rowdy buses of beered-up fans that you see on TV: ours is a friendly, civilised group who spend the three hour journey making tea and taking part in a raffle to raise money for the club.
It’s the game that we’ve come for, though. There’s immediate joy as Tom Phipp heads in on 58 seconds, but he falls awkwardly and is stretchered off. Losing one of our best, most creative players early on is a huge blow, especially as we’re already missing Tom Parkinson and Jerrome Sobers, and Leiston equalise soon after.
We hold our own, but there are concerned mutterings among our ranks as Tommy Whitnell, Phipp’s replacement, also goes off injured.
There’s plenty to think about on the journey home. Although the FA Cup dream is over for another year, the real concern is the number of injuries sustained. We’ll need our squad to be fighting fit to move on from this and get more league wins – so we’re all hoping that the boys are ready to play again soon.