DETERMINED STAGS REWARDED WITH THREE POINTS
AFC Totton 3 Highworth Town 1
After suffering defeats to Bideford and Blackfield in their last two outings, the Stags bounced back with a much deserved victory over Highworth Town in front of 333 spectators at the Testwood Community stadium this afternoon.
Manager Louis Langdown made three changes to the eleven that began against Blackfield with new loan signing from Oxford United Max Harris starting in goal in place of Josh Cotton. Jason Brookes came in for Callum Chugg and Alex Haynes came in for Charlie Gunson. Both Chugg and Gunson started on the bench alongside Charlie Hitchings, Adam Wilde & Josh Cotton.
Totton started the game well, pushing forward from the off, during those early moments Justin Bennett got in a looping header on goal, following Jason Brookes lofted ball into the box, Highworth keeper Connor Johns dealt with it comfortably, plucking the ball from the air. Bennett then got in a decent effort from around 25 yards out in the 6th minute, his shot was not too far away from the target.
In the 12th minute Totton came reasonably close to going in front following a move involving Stuart Green and Craig Feeney, Feeney collected Greens ball on the right before putting a low cross into the 6-yard box that Highworth defender Sean Wood almost helped into the net, thankfully for Wood, keeper Johns was alert and saved his blushes. A short while later Jack Masterton got in a decent effort from the edge of the box that was only a foot or two to high. Totton continued to press forward, showing a terrific desire and a willingness to get on the ball.
Tottons dominance continued with a Jack Masterton free kick almost getting Green in on goal, but Johns was alert to the danger, Johns was then called into action again just after the half hour mark to deny a determined looking Feeney. Another Totton player who was causing Highworth problems was Green who had Totton’s next effort, firing over from just outside the box.
With half time approaching Totton needed a goal to reward a decent showing so far and on 43 minutes that goal duly arrived. Feeney showed superb determination to win a header that went to Jack Masterton, Masterton then carried the ball into the left hand side of the box before floating over a lovely cross towards the back post that FEENEY met with a downward header and the Stags were ahead. It was a fitting way to finish a decent first half from the Stags.
Half Time: AFC Totton 1 Highworth Town 0
The visitors began the 2nd half with more purpose and Toumani Sadibi tested Stags keeper Harris with a shot from a tight angle, Harris managed to save with his legs.
The first 5 minutes of the 2nd half saw Highworth looking more of a threat, but Totton started to get back on the ball and they earned themselves a free kick in their own half that was pumped forward towards the box, the ball bounced about for a few seconds before Bennett eventually sent a shot wide. A moment later, the ever industrious Green also got in a shot on goal, but he was unable to trouble keeper Johns with his effort failing to hit the target. Totton then had another free kick following a foul on the very impressive Alex Haynes, Jack Masterton floated the free kick towards the back post where Jack Smith was lurking, the flight of the ball was inches to high for Smith and his marker managed to connect with the ball, but it hit Smith and went out for a goal kick.
Then ‘out of the blue’ the Stags were stunned when a long punt downfield saw former Swindon Supermarine striker Ashley Edenborough lose his marker Jack Smith. Edenborough saw Harris come out to roughly where the penalty spot is and the Highworth No 9 just lifted the ball over Harris and into the net to level the scores.
It was crazy that the Stags were level in a game that they had pretty much dominated. It was now a question of how they would react to being pegged back. However, the Totton fans need not have worried because within three minutes their side had restored their lead and they can thank Stuart Green for setting up the goalscorer Craig Feeney following a brilliant run from well inside his own half. The Stags No 7 just drove forward with such purpose before he eventually sent in a low ball to FEENEY who with his back to goal at the near post, turned and fired home past Johns. It was a great finish from the Stags striker, but Greens surge forward started from halfway inside his own half, it was a hell of a run and no-one was going to stop him!
The visitors then had a rare effort on goal that came from substitute Matty Grabe, Grabe sent in a wicked effort that fizzed wide from at least 25 yards out.
Totton then had a half chance when Feeney almost got in on goal, but his effort was deflected wide for a corner, then with their next effort the Stags increased their lead when Jack Mastertons corner on the right was floated into the area and BENNETT rose high to powerfully head home past Johns.
That man Feeney was looking for his hat-trick, and a really determined run from the Stags striker saw him power into the area from the right before he fired across goal and his effort was not far wide at all.
Full time: AFC Totton 3 Highworth Town 1
The Stags performance today was excellent and EVERY SINGLE PLAYER did their bit. I would like to mention Stuart Green, who worked his proverbials off and Robin Nicholls who really impressed in the middle of the park and a big mention must go to Alex Haynes who ran his socks off, he never gave up on anything, winning 50/50’s and regaining possession for his side on numerous occasions. His performance typified all that was good about the Stags display. This was easily the best performance so far from the young Stags midfielder. Today just shows what can be achieved with a strong hunger and a desire. This was a really pleasing display from every department of the team.
Next up for Totton is a trip to Thatcham Town in Berkshire on new years day (3pm).