We have suffered our first loss of 2024 after we were defeated 2-1 to Tonbridge Angels yesterday at Woodbridge Stadium.
The result was most certainly a harsh one for our players and one that was not reflective of our superior level of possession and high-quality chances.
It also marks a disappointing end to our four-game unbeaten run in the National League South, which began last year on December 16th.
Our spark was at its most bright during the second half, despite the hosts scoring a goal at our expense when Kodi Lyons-Foster found the winner 19 minutes from time.
Before that, both sides had earned a goal apiece courtesy of former Terra Jordan Greenidge and our skipper Tom Bearwish, both of their strikes coming before halftime.
This result still leaves us in 20th place, five points above the relegation zone.
However, with all the nearby teams either losing or drawing their games, the repercussions of our loss are somewhat softened.
Only one change was made from our home match versus Weston-Super-Mare, Calvin Brooks replacing Jordon Thompson in our backline.
There was also a place for new loanee Malachi Linton on our bench, who joined us from arch-rivals Yeovil Town for the remainder of the season.
We took a little while to impose ourselves in the game, with our first big chance not coming until 19 minutes.
Brandon Goodship managed to free himself some space inside the box when he had the opportunity to fire towards Jonathan Henly’s goal.
The in-form man very nearly gave us the lead, striking just left of the target.
Another chance came our way two minutes later, this time through a more speculative attempt from Alfie Rutherford.
The loanee managed to twist away from Ethan Sutcliffe on the edge of the box before looking to test the Tonbridge shot-stopper.
Henly, however, stood firm and was able to reach both his hands towards the ball.
Our early chances suggested that a goal would soon come.
It would, although not for us.
It was after 34 minutes when Lewis Gard managed to carry the ball past much of our defence down the left-hand side and into the box.
The midfielder then picked out Greenidge, who was presented with a close-range tap-in to put us a goal behind.
Whilst we were, once again, the first to concede, it would only take eight minutes to re-display our abilities of coming back from behind.
It all began with some liquid football from our attack when Harry Parsons managed to beat two opposition players in quick succession with a piece of skill.
Parsons then picked out Rutherford with an accurate long-ball who then threaded the ball into Bearwish, the skipper timing his late run to perfection to make it 1-1.
Bearwish’s sixth goal of the season proved vital, as his equaliser allowed us to enter the break level with the hosts.
The second half could have started with a second goal from our captain, had he not fired wide on the edge of the box five minutes in.
Benfield then was called into action to deny halftime substitute Paris Lock, our shot-stopper smartly keeping the ball out with his left boot.
Parsons then saw his long-range shot fly over the bar after 69 minutes, by which time we were enjoying more possession with the ball at our feet.
However, once again, the hosts took the lead once more against the run of play.
It was two minutes after, following a series of unsuccessful Tonbridge corners, when Lyons-Foster ran onto the delivery to head past Benfield to put us behind with 19 minutes to go.
With the hosts now in front, they managed to defend their lead until stoppage time as we found chances harder to come by.
In fact, it would be The Angels that came closest before the game’s close.
Benfield rushed off his line in an attempt to clear the ball to safety, only to be beaten by Lock, who luckily hit the side netting from long-range.
With no more chances for either side, the match ended in defeat, perhaps an undeserved result with all things considered.
Our next chance to pick up points comes this Saturday, at home to Slough Town [15.00 GMT].
By Jack Webb