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Tonbridge Angels to play their final home game on grass before switch to 3G

It’s the end of an era as Tonbridge prepare to play their final home game on grass.

Angels, beaten 1-0 at Bath yesterday, host Eastbourne Borough on Bank Holiday Monday, needing a point to be absolutely certain of survival in National League South.

Tonbridge's grass pitch at Longmead will be dug up and replaced by 3G after the Eastbourne Borough game
Tonbridge's grass pitch at Longmead will be dug up and replaced by 3G after the Eastbourne Borough game

They're six points clear of bottom side Billericay, with two games remaining, and boast a far superior goal difference over the Essex side.

It's the last match at Longmead before contractors start work on the new 3G pitch.

Tonbridge have made plenty of memories over 42 years of football at Longmead, since moving there from the old Angel ground.

But times move on and 3G is the way forward.

Assistant manager Barry Moore said: “You ask any player past the age of 27 and you’d love a perfect grass pitch but nowadays in modern football, and especially non-league, you need the income a 3G pitch provides.

“On top of that, it brings the community together, the youth teams play their games there and the kids are more involved.

“You then get them coming along to watch first-team games and it brings more supporters in.

“One of the most important things is you know on a Tuesday and a Thursday you’re definitely going to be training.

“Without your own facility, all it takes is a downpour and you could be calling training off at six o’clock.

“It also attracts players because the lads in their early 20s have been brought up on it.

Tonbridge Angels are switching to 3G for next season
Tonbridge Angels are switching to 3G for next season

“I’d say a high percentage of Conference South players have been at pro clubs as kids and trained on that surface.

“This is a new chapter for the club and a lot of people have worked so hard behind the scenes to make it happen.”

Tonbridge have won only five of their 19 league games at Longmead this season.

But crowds are up and they’ve been treated to FA Trophy wins over National League outfits Torquay and King’s Lynn, which are among Moore’s favourite Longmead memories in his eight years as Steve McKimm’s No.2.

Moore said: “I suppose you’d have to look at the play-off final against Merstham as my favourite game on the grass, but beating Torquay and King’s Lynn in the Trophy would be up there.

“Torquay are only one league above us now but they’ve been a big club in the bottom end of the Football League, so that was special to beat them.

“It was great to play Bradford in the FA Cup but I don’t think that can come into it because the fans weren’t there to help us due to Covid.

“I don’t think it would have been the same score (Angels lost 7-0) if we’d been allowed fans in.

“It’s been good having the fans back this season, I don’t think we’ve dipped below 600 for a while, which is fantastic, especially considering our home form isn’t great.

“That’s one thing we need to do next year - improve our home form.”

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