STAGS UNDONE BY TWO FANTASTIC STRIKES
AFC Totton 0 Cirencester Town 2
The Stags knew they had a tough game on their hands this afternoon against a free scoring Cirencester side. Prior to today’s game the Centurions had scored 93 goals in 33 league games with their front two of Ben Whitehead and Alan Griffin netting 54 league goals between them. So you can imagine the relief amongst the Totton fans when the teams were announced and there was no Whitehead who was injured.
As for the Stags they made one change to the eleven that started in the 3-0 win at Melksham Town last week. Callum Chugg came in for Ollie Bradley with the Stags boss switching to a 3-5-2 formation. Bradley dropped to the bench alongside Jason Brookes, Connor York and Adam Wilde.
The Stags started brightly with Alex Haynes having a shot blocked by a Cirencester defender in the very 1st minute and the loose ball almost fell to Stuart Green, but the Centurions mopped up and the danger was averted from their point of view.
Cirencester managed to get down the Totton right and Ellis Dunton whipped a dangerous ball across the face of the Stags goal with none of his team mates able to get in and connect with it.
Totton had a half chance on 8 minutes when Jack Masterton’s cross from the left hand side was met by the head of Justin Bennett but the Stags strikers header was straight at the Cirencester keeper Sam Ayres.
Alex Haynes was penalised for a foul on Ciren defender Dunton on 12 minutes and referee Barrie Small awarded a free kick to the visitors around 30 yards from the Stags goal. Michael Pook took the kick and nobody was able to get on the end of it and thankfully for the Stags the ball drifted harmlessly wide.
The Stags lost possession in midfield on 16 minutes and and Cirencester managed to get the ball down the left and Owen Windsor put over another cross that once again, no Centurions player was able to connect with.
The game was proving to be an interesting tussle with the Stags giving as good as they got, Louis Langdowns side then forced a corner on the right which Jack Masterton took and Stags centre half Callum Chugg managed to get his head to it, but he glanced his header well wide.
The Stags were really defending well when Cirencester attacked them. There was a few crucial blocks denying the visitors and it wasn’t just the Totton defenders getting blocks in with Justin Bennett getting back to block following a free kick on the right then Callum Chugg made a last ditch block close to the Stags goal when Will Christopher’s dangerous ball in looked as if it might cause a problem.
The Centurions big No 9 Griffin managed to connect with a cross, getting in a header, but Stags keeper Murphy managed to hold on to the Ciren captains effort.
Totton then went on the attack with Stuart Green picking up the ball around 40 yards from goal, he ran into a pocket of space and when he got to the edge of the box he unleashed a fierce shot that Ayres managed to parry away, this was probably the best chance of the game so far.
The Stags then had another corner on 36 minutes and this time Dave Allen connected with it, heading wide at the near post. The end to end theme continued because just a minute later a poor defensive clearance by the Stags was almost punished as Ciren’s Aiden Bennett let fly with a 20 yard shot that went inches wide of the left hand post.
Totton were awarded a free kick on the right, about 35 yards out on 40 minutes. Jack Masterton floated the ball towards the far post where Ciren’s Dunton only half cleared, the ball fell to Dave Allen, just inside the box and Allen sent in a rasping shot that went inches over the crossbar.
Just before half time Griffin was denied by a brave block from Callum Chugg, the resulting corner came in and Griffin met it with a firm header that Murphy did well to hold.
Half Time: AFC Totton 0 Cirencester Town 0
The 2nd half continued as the 1st ended with Cirencester’s Christopher getting in an inviting cross that nobody took advantage of, a few minutes later a Masterton corner was met by Bennett and his header went over the bar for the Stags.
Masterton was having a decent game for Totton and he picked up a loose ball in midfield and drove towards the Cirencester box and he sent a powerful shot a foot over the visitors bar.
Then just after the hour mark the away side were awarded a penalty when Owen Windsor went down on the left hand side of the area following a challenge by Callum Chugg. Griffin stepped up to take the kick and his penalty hit the top of the crossbar and went over to great cheers from the Totton fans.
Then on 71 minutes Dave Allen was harshly adjudged to have committed a foul close to the half way line, from the free kick Cirencester lofted it towards the Totton box, the ball ended up on the left and it was whipped into the centre of the area and Centurions No10 Windsor met it with a wicked scissor kick that left Murphy with no chance as it hit the back of the net with such ferocity, it was a finish of the highest quality.
Totton were not beaten yet as they went about searching for an equaliser and Bennett had a chance to level things when Mastertons ball came into him got caught up in his feet and his shot lacked the power to trouble Ayres.
The Stags were putting in a really good shift with a work rate that was top notch, the performance was typified by Alex Haynes who chased and harried all afternoon, that’s not to say that others didn’t because they did but Haynes was outstanding.
With Louis Langdown making two substitutions (York for Perrett and Bradley for Chugg) Totton were taking the game to Cirencester in the quest to get level, but they were getting little change out of the Centurions back line, However, on 81 minutes the visitors scored another stunning goal when a ball over from the right came to Griffin who was at the back post with his back to goal. Griffin just hooked the ball over his shoulder with an overhead kick that flew past Stags keeper Murphy.
Totton never let their heads drop and they nearly reduced the arrears in the dying moments when Craig Feeney chased a ball downfield, he held off a Centurions defender before he fired a shot a few inches over the bar.
Full Time: AFC Totton Cirencester Town 2
On the balance of play I think a draw would have been a fair result but the fact is Cirencester produced two goals which would have graced any game of football. The pity from their point of view is that to my knowledge there were nobody at the game recording them. If there was then you would be seeing these goals all over twitter because they were that good.
Next up for Totton is a Hampshire derby at Winchester City on Tuesday evening (7.45pm).