Jay Saunders probably knew it wasn’t going to be Tonbridge’s day in the FA Cup when his new signing was blocked from playing over a £17 fine.
Depleted Angels signed Portuguese forward Ruben Soares-Junior, who’d been training with the club, in time for Saturday’s Second Qualifying Round tie at Binfield.
But there was a surprise in store when they learned he couldn’t play due to an outstanding fine.
Tonbridge, missing 13 players, went on to lose 4-0 to their Isthmian South Central opponents.
“An FA ban came through from a fine picked up in 2018 for £17, so they wouldn’t let him play,” said manager Saunders.
“It’s one where the club he played for at the time didn’t pay his fine to the Essex FA, so they put a ban on him. That probably sums it up.”
Tonbridge got through to half-time without conceding before Binfield ran riot against the patched-up visitors who had players out of position and a bench made up entirely of academy boys.
Saunders is keen to move on quickly from the defeat with eighth-placed Tonbridge facing National South away games against Cheshunt this Saturday and Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday.
The good news is he’s set to have Craig Braham-Barrett, Jamie Fielding, Louis Collins, Jeremy Santos, Tommie Fagg, Soares and Tushaun Walters back available this weekend.
A combination of injuries, suspension and ineligibility ruled them out at Binfield, while the other absentees remain sidelined.
Saunders said: “It was always going to be tough with the players we had out but I don’t want to make too many excuses because I don’t want to take away from what Binfield did.
“It wasn’t a good performance and we got what we deserved.
“When you’ve got that many players missing you need your senior players to stand up and be counted and probably four or five of them were off their game.
“But I can’t knock them too much because they’ve been excellent so far this season.
“Maybe it was a game too much for them after playing Saturday-Tuesday and they’ve all been playing 90 minutes where we’ve had injuries and haven’t been able to make changes.
“Sometimes these things all come along at once during a season and we’re in that position at the moment.
“It hurt the boys a lot going out of the FA Cup, it hurt me a lot, but we can’t dwell on it.
“We’ve got to forget about it now and concentrate on two big league games.
“It’ll be a big bonus to have these seven players back on Saturday.
“We’ll have no game next weekend now we’re out of the FA Cup but if we can pick up good points against Cheshunt and Hemel, we could find ourselves in the play-off positions and that’s got to be the focus now.”