Aveley 2, Tonbridge Angels 0 FOOTBALL: THE Millers will attempt to continue one of the finest success stories of the non-league season tonight when they host Boreham Wood in the play-off semi-finals.
Aveley, having gained promotion by winning Division One North title honours last term, started the campaign aiming for a 50-point total they felt would keep them in this division.
But a magnificent second half of the campaign run has seen the troops of manager Rod Stringer and his assistant Eddie Crace, former Concord Rangers boss, now in sight of going up to Blue Square South. They went into Saturday’s home affair with a Tonbridge Angels side themselves not completely out of the promotion mix needing a point to make certain of a play-off spot.
And there was never any real doubt that they were going to achieve it — particularly when Angels’ keeper Lee Worgan was sent off just before half-time for handling top scorer Martin Tuohy’s effort outside the area.
By that time Millers were already ahead through a 38th-minute Sam Lechmere headed goal.
Aveley had gone close early on when Tuohy’s effort from former Great Wakering Rovers colleague Steve Butterworth’s pass was put behind for a corner by Worgan.
Angels countered with Meshach Nugent’s header being deflected onto the bar.
And home keeper Ollie Morris-Sanders pushed a Kirk Watts’ inswinging corner over.
Butterworth was the architect of Lechmere’s opener before Worgan’s dismissal for handling Tuohy’s attempted lob outside the area.
Tuohy wrapped up the points and started Aveley’s celebrations when he fired home his side’s second in the second-half past stand-in keeper Scott Kinch.
Sonny Miles was thwarted by Morris-Sanders and substitute Jamie Cade fired off-target when well placed as Angels saw their own play-off hopes disappear.
Overjoyed home boss Stringer praised his side’s efforts not only on the day but for their exceptional form in a marathon finish to the campaign.
He said: “My players have been superb all season and we’re in the play-offs because we deserve to be.”