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Tonbridge Angels preview

Wingate & Finchley kick off the 2016-17 season with a tricky trip to Tonbridge Angels on Saturday afternoon. Last season's visit to the Longmead Stadium ended in an agonising 4-3 defeat for Keith Rowland's men, whilst Tonbridge were also Wingate's first conquerors of the campaign, beating then Simon Lane's side 1-0. However, much has changed for both sides over the summer and the season opener promises to be a cracker. Wingate's pre-season was a successful one, with five wins, a draw and a narrow defeat, the latter coming against a strong Wealdstone side. An influx of players arriving at Summers Lane has allowed Rowland to shape his team to his style and a new injection of pace into the side will make it an exciting season for the fans. The additions of Shane Gore, Ola Williams and Steve Wales add experience to the squad whilst Tommy Smith, John Mbamarah, Luke Ifil, Reece Beckles, Tanashe Abrahams and Rob Hastings all add flair and quality to the side. Conversely, the Angels' pre-season saw two victories, three draws and three losses, albeit many of these games came against stronger opposition. However the squad will be hoping for a repeat of their successful 2015-16 season under Steve McKimm, where they reached the play-off semi final after finishing 4th in the league. They went on to lose 3-0 to East Thurrock United but the season as a whole gave fans much hope and confidence of another promotion push in 2016-17. Speaking after the final game of pre-season, Wingate midfielder, Tommy Tejan-Sie said this of Tonbridge, "We're expecting a very physical game. They're quite a direct team so they'll get the ball into the box early. We've got to be ready for that, get the knockdowns and just be strong." By Nikhil Saglani

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