Published: 05:00, 21 January 2022
Manager Steve McKimm has urged Tonbridge to build on their best spell of the season.
Angels beat National League King’s Lynn on penalties last weekend to reach the FA Trophy last 16 for the first time in their history.
They backed that up by winning 1-0 at Chippenham in National South on Tuesday night, completing back-to-back league wins for the first time this season after their late comeback victory over Hungerford a fortnight ago.
The midweek success, secured by Tommy Wood’s fourth goal in three games, moved them six points clear of the relegation zone and Tonbridge bid to keep their resurgence going at home to Hemel tomorrow.
“As soon as it turns, it can stop again but the boys are in a good place at the minute after a bad spell,” said McKimm.
“We’ve now got to keep this start of a run that we’re on going, we’ve got big games coming up and we still need the points.
“Back-to-back wins is something we’ve ticked off and we’ve got to keep going with it, especially with Billericay and Braintree winning, we had to win those games otherwise we’d be right in it.
"Credit to the boys. They’ve got to continue with the hard work and the faith and the belief they’ve shown.
“Nothing’s changed around the place, the only difference is the happiness after games because we’ve won and not lost.
“The performances have been the same, in terms of the endeavour, organisation and - at times - quality, but when you win you feel a lot better, it makes your weekend.
“Woody’s got four in three games now.
“As we said, we need players to stand up and be counted and he’s doing it.
“He’s never not enjoyed his football but the same as when you win you smile, when you’re a striker and you score, you smile and you’re happy.
“Players are their own worst critics nowadays, they beat themselves up quite bad about stuff, so I’m pleased for him and the boys.
“We’ve got to keep going. Just because you win a couple, it doesn’t mean you’re safe.
“We’ve got lots more hard work to do, as I said a few weeks ago, to get out of this relegation battle we’re in.”
Wood’s late equaliser took the FA Trophy tie to penalties, with on-loan AFC Wimbledon defender Luke Jenkins scoring the winning kick.
Ibrahim Olutade, Joe Turner, Craig Braham-Barrett were also successful from the spot, while Jonny Henly saved two King’s Lynn penalties.
“We were like rabbits in the headlights for periods of the first half but we played really well in the second half,” said McKimm.
“The boys stepped it up, we put them under pressure and hit the post.
“They’ve scored a good free-kick but we’ve shown character to come back and take it to penalties.
“It was only ever the second penalty shoot-out Tonbridge have won in a competition like that, to get the club the furthest it’s ever been, so maybe it was written in the stars.
“Maybe someone was looking down on us on Saturday.
“I’ve got to commend the bravery of the boys who took the penalties because when you step up, you’re a hero or a villain, and Jonny as well for doing his work.”
Victory set up a third successive home tie against National League opposition in the competition, with Tonbridge hosting Bromley on February 12.
“As a club we wanted someone different who we haven’t played before and so did the supporters, whether it was home or away,” said McKimm.
“On the flipside we’ve got a team who are flying high in their league, they may have a new manager by then (Andy Woodman is in talks with Gillingham) and hopefully there will be a big crowd.
“It’s another big, big game for us because they’re a full-time side who are flying high in their league.
“We’ve had the full spectrum of sides in that league now, mid-table in Torquay, bottom in King’s Lynn and top in Bromley.
“It’ll be great for the lads to play in and a great occasion for the club. We’ll be trying our best, as we have done in every game.”
McKimm has been impressed with new recruit, midfielder James Taylor, who’s joined on loan from Premier League Crystal Palace for the rest of the season.
He looked the part against King’s Lynn and Chippenham, with McKimm once again making good use of the loan market.
“He’s 19 and he’s got a bright future ahead of him,” said the Angels boss.
“We’ve got him until the end of the season and if he plays as he has done in the last two games, he’ll be a very good signing for us.”
Tonbridge have also moved to extend Jenkins’ loan move from AFC Wimbledon into a second month.
The defender has taken to National South football in his first loan spell away from Plough Lane and set up Wood’s winner at Chippenham.
“We’ve got Luke for another month, and we’re pleased with that,” said McKimm.
“He’s done well and he put in a tremendous cross for the goal at Chippenham.
“He’s another exciting young player and when you look at our squad we’ve got a lot of young players. I don’t think people realise how many we’ve got.
“Luke Jenkins is 19, James Taylor 19, Harry Hudson 21, Jamie Fielding 21, Adam Lovatt’s 22 or 23, Tommy Wood 24, Ibz Olutade is 23/24, Jake Embery 22.
“Yes, we’ve got a few old heads but we’ve got quite a few young boys, so it’s a good blend.”