Corinthian 5 Tunbridge Wells 2
DESPITE the heaviness of their away defeat, Tunbridge Wells supporters left Corinthian with a sense that the scoreline had not reflected the Southern Counties East Football League fixture.
Fans made the journey to Gay Dawn Farm in Longfield with optimism surrounding two new signings – full-back Oliver Black, from Hastings, and an old favourite, Jon Pilbeam, returning from Folkestone Invicta.
Wells opened strongly, and went ahead after 16 minutes through Paul Butler. He picked up a cleared cross, and on the half-volley produced a dipping shot over the keeper and under the crossbar to give the visitors the lead.
In response, Corinthian took a quick free-kick near the corner flag on the left-hand side. Catching the Wells defence off-guard, an unmarked player ran towards the ball and played a one-two that allowed Oscar Housego to run into the box and finish with a shot that appeared initially to be going wide. However, the strike took a deflection that beat Steve Lawrence for the equaliser.
Despite the setback, Wells continued on the front foot, but frustration grew as they tried to press for an advantage and earned two yellow cards. The situation worsened when Perry Spackman was sent off for a foul on the edge of the box before the break.
Just minutes into the second half, Corinthian took the lead when Louis Clarke got in between defender and goalkeeper to plant an unchallenged header into the net. But Wells fought back, Pilbeam chasing down what looked to be a lost cause and crossing for Ryan Crandley to head home.
Wells battled hard with ten men, but went behind after 76 minutes through Brima Daramy. A long ball out of defence saw Clarke out-run Tom Bryant before sending a cross into the box. Black failed to clear, and Daramy robbed him of the ball and slotted it past Lawrence.
After 89 minutes, Corinthian put the game to bed with a disputed penalty converted by Jack Billings for a foul awarded against Black.
Corinthian completed their win when Daramy was left with a tap-in following a breakaway.
Wells boss Jason Bourne said: “We started brightly and the lads worked very hard for 90 minutes, but Corinthian made the extra man count in the later stages.
“We can’t blame anyone but ourselves for the result. For the first half an hour we were in control and could have been two or three up, but we switched off and gifted them three goals.
“It doesn’t matter how well we played when we went down to ten men if we keep giving away soft goals.”