OFF DAY FOR RUSTY STAGS
AFC Totton 1 Larkhall Athletic 2
AFC Totton had the chance to push into the play off places prior to today’s visit of Larkhall Athletic, However, the visitors had other ideas, and left the Testwood community Stadium with all three points.
It’s been three long weeks since the Stags last game at home to Fleet Town, the Icy and wet British weather saw both the Paulton Rovers (Home) and Winchester City (Away) games called off.
There was some excellent news from a Stags point of view with Shane Murphy starting a game for the 1st time since he suffered a fractured skull in the Hampshire Senior Cup tie versus Horndean on September 18th. This meant that Max Harris dropped to the bench. Craig Feeney finally started his three match suspension for the sending off he received v Fleet Town on January 26th, manager Louis Langdown gave a start to young Ollie Bradley in place of the Stags leading scorer, Bradley came off the bench last time out and bagged his 1st goal for the club in the 5-3 win over Fleet. These were the only changes to the eleven that started that game. On the bench today was Robin Nicholls who has been out injured since the 5-0 win over Melksham Town in early January, James Matthews who is a promising youngster from the U18’s who recently signed 1st team forms, Dave Allen, Adam Wilde and of course keeper Max Harris.
In a niggly affair chances were very few in the opening 45 minutes. The 1st opportunity of sorts came on 6 minutes when Larkhalls Lewis Hunt play a ball out left to Alex Lambert and Lamberts cross evaded everybody and drifted out of play on the far side.
Nice link up play between Stuart Green and Justin Bennett saw Green almost in with a chance but a great tackle by Larkhalls Jack Dancey denied the Stags nippy number seven.
On 16 minutes came a decent bit of play from Bennett who played a ball over the top for Green and Green was away on goal, but quick thinking by Larkhall keeper Shaun Semmens saw him come out and kick the ball away just before Green could get to it.
Larkhall had the first shot at goal on 18 minutes when Lambert out on the left cut inside before he unleashed a shot that was too high and wide to trouble Shane Murphy.
On 24 minutes came a controversial incident that saw Larkhall keeper Semmens come outside of his box and handle the ball on the Stags left. The referee took his time and thought about things before giving Semmens a yellow card. The resulting free kick by Jack Masterton was floated into the box and the ball ended up at the feet of Stags centre half Jack Smith who stabbed at the ball at the back post and Semmens pulled off a fine save that went out for a corner.
Larkhalls 1st shot on target saw them take the lead on 25 minutes. Totton lost possession in midfield and Matt Britton played the ball to Alex Lambert who had space out on the left and Lambert headed into the box before he fired low past Murphy.
On 38 minutes Larkhall had a free kick out on the left which was taken by Mason Winter and Winters wicked effort hit the right hand angle of bar and post.
Half Time: AFC Totton 0 Larkhall Athletic 1
The Stags came out looking a bit more purposeful after half time and Ollie Bradley levelled the scores with an excellent finish from the left-hand side of the box on 49 minutes. BRADLEY coolly stroked the ball past Semmens and into the far corner.
A minute later and Bradley sent in a low drive that took a wicked deflection off of a defender before the ball drifted just wide of goal for a corner.
Larkhall came close to doubling their lead when a free kick on the left came into the Totton area and ricochet off of Bennett and the ball was heading for goal, but Murphy got down to pull off a decent save.
The game seemed to be littered with free kicks and another Larkhall free kick from Winter caused momentary panic in the Totton area before the ball was hooked away
Then on 62 minutes Lewis Powell scored a 2nd for the visitors when he hooked the ball home from around 6-yards out following yet another free kick. The ball was floated towards the edge of the Totton box, and was headed across the area before Powell’s excellent finish. Powell is one of those strikers who loves to score against Totton, he has done so quite a few times down the years for the clubs he has played for.
The umpteenth free kick of the afternoon taken by Winter almost led to another Larkhall goal but Jack Masterton made a goal-line clearance and from Masterton’s clearance the ball fell to Hunt, who headed wide.
A Totton move saw Bradley cross for Bennett at the back post and Bennetts header was saved comfortably by Semmens, then a few moments later it was Totton’s turn to have an effort cleared off the line with Stuart Greens header being somehow scrambled away when for all the world it looked like Totton had levelled things up.
Then in added time the Stags forced a corner out on the right, Masterton lifted it roughly to where the penalty spot is and Bennett rose to head a foot over the bar.
Full Time: AFC Totton 1 Larkhall Athletic 2