The U12's Tornado team finished their season in emphatic style on Sunday with an extraordinary result against their Tonbridge opponents. The match and the result rather summed up the season and raised the question of “what might have been?” had the breaks gone for them better at times.
This game matched much of the game at Hailsham on Sunday where Sevenoaks had the lion’s share of the possession especially in the second half and plenty of chances but just couldn’t convert them and what should have been a convincing victory turned into a shattering 2-1 defeat.
Sunday was different. Much, much different. Tornado had a strong squad with lots of options on the bench so the perfect opportunity for the team photo.
They were set up with three at the back and two wing backs to bomb up and down the wings however it didn’t work out as Tonbridge started very strongly and looked dangerous as Sevenoaks struggled with defensive shape and even getting possession so it wasn’t a great surprise when they took the lead. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be but it did serve to shake Sevenoaks out of the lethargy. Some subs and a switch to a back four provided more security and more in midfield provided a better link to the front line. Tornado were seeing more of the ball and pushed Tonbridge further back. Marcus Overd was tying their defenders in knots as he wriggled his way into the box and the pace Kai Okulaja and Joe Ryder was scaring the rest of them. A number of chances were spurned, usually through delaying the shot but eventually the goal came with Ryder putting the ball over the line following a cross from the left. After that the home team didn’t look back. In less than ten minutes they were four goals up. Kai put the hosts in front with a good finish from the middle of the box and then Ryder scored his second with a trademark burst through the high defensive line and with a good finish past the goalie. Teddy Pearson then came on after missing recent games through injury and with his first touch found himself on the end of a smart move from left to right to finish smartly with a clever shot back across goal to make it 4-1. Within a couple of minutes it was five and Teddy with a second finishing with a similar shot.
There was still time to play in this breathless first half for Tornado to add to their total but they turned down the wick a little and reverted to previous form by being a bit to tentative in their shooting, a comment which might appear churlish given the scoreline but practice makes perfect. Tonbridge had a couple of chances but determined defending kept them out, Mylo Winter tracking back and getting in a decisive block as the forward cut in by the goal.
The second half began with Tonbridge getting more into the game as Sevenoaks pushed forward. A break down the right and a run into the box one on one ended with the Tonbridge forward going to ground and the referee awarded a rather harsh penalty which they duly converted to reduce the deficit.
Undeterred, Sevenoaks pressed forward again looking to add to their total and when they did so they never looked back. Joe Ryder completing a well deserved hat-trick to restore the gap to four. However moments later Tonbridge had another penalty. Eddie Adams tussled with the forward but although he got the ball the other player tumbled over his leg and the referee pointed to the spot to the bemusement of everyone else. Tonbridge converted the chance again and edged closer but that was as far as it went for them.
After a brief loss of shape Tornado re-asserted their authority. Conor Gilmartin, in a rare appearance, was at the centre of most things from the centre of midfield. His inventiveness and vision was making things tick and all of a sudden the flood gates opened.
It was all Tornado now and the opposition were simply blown away in the last 15 minutes. Every attack looked like it could lead to a goal. If the visitors got it away it didn’t go far and the home defence would simply begin the assault again. Overd down the left, Okulaja and Chambers down the right and Ryder and Gilmartin down the middle, the wolf pack were hunting down goals. Ryder could do no wrong, and his fourth came along with a nice half volley. Overd got a well deserved goal for all his efforts for the past few games and then the best goal made it eight. The ball was floated into the box and over the defenders. It went towards Gilmartin who was offside but he ignored it and in the confusion Ryder intelligently ran through the static defence to pounce on the ball and score his fifth goal, such smart play from both players. There was still time for Conor to add to the tally as Tornado made it double figures. More chances followed, Ty hit the bar from a difficult angle but ten it was to be and a stunning result to mark the end of the season.
Tornado have had a number of games where they have had the chances but their opponents have come away with the points. On this occasion they took those chances and the result was inevitable. It marked the end of a long season where they have never given less than 100% and the team are to be commended for the endeavour, team spirit and reliability. Well done to the team.