MISSED OPPORTUNITIES PROVE COSTLY
Street Fc 1 AFC Totton 0
With just three games to go in the 2018/19 campaign the Stags were looking to finish on a high, starting with today’s game at Street. There may not be a lot to play for in reality, but Louis Langdown will not allow the players to slack off in these remaining fixtures.
However, boss Langdown was up against it a little today, as he was without Craig Feeney, Eddie Perrett and the suspended Jack Smith. Jason Brookes was recalled to the starting eleven from the bench and Jack Masterton and Robin Nicholls also returned after missing last week’s win over Bideford.
Totton started brightly and in the opening five minutes Connor York almost played in Justin Bennett, then Ollie Bradleys Cross was tickled wide by Stuart Green.
The home side started to find their feet and their first effort came from David O’Hare, who saw Shane Murphy off of his line, he tried an audacious lob that went over the bar, then Jamie Short shot straight at back peddling Shane Murphy after the Stags keepers headed clearance fell to him outside the box.
The home side were looking the more dangerous with Short shooting over and Steve Murray also firing over from 25 yards for the home side.
Street hit Totton on the break with Steve Murray making a run down the left that saw him work his way into the Stags box, before he sent a cross fizzing across the face of goal with none of his team mates able to capitalise.
In the 20th minute the Cobblers took the lead when the Stags could only half clear a ball into the area, the ball was headed back into the box and Murray got in behind the Totton defenders to stroke the ball home from 8 yards.
The next chance came after Jason Brookes released Stuart Green down the right, Green took the ball on one of those characteristic runs of his into the Street box and as he reached keeper Liam Kingston, he seemed to lose control of the ball and the chance was gone.
Street then had another chance when Short wriggled his way into the box before shooting low, forcing Murphy to get down and save.
Totton were not creating a great deal, there were one or two breaks where crosses were put into the box with nobody able to get on the end of them, one of their rare efforts that Totton did have came when a Jack Masterton free kick was headed wide by Dave Allen.
There was a controversial incident involving Justin Bennett who was brought down, earning the Stags a free kick, from my low vantage point at the other end of the ground I couldn’t really tell whether of not the incident was in or outside of the box, there were a couple of Totton players who looked infuriated by the ‘decision’ and the eventual free kick came to nothing. At half time I found out from people who were close to the incident that Bennett went down well inside the penalty area, some people said it was by as much as 3 or 4 yards!!! Manager Louis Langdown said to me at the end of the game that the referee initially pointed to the spot before he changed his decision and gave a free kick.
With a few minutes to go before half time, good play by Alex Haynes saw him release Green who again got his head down and headed into the box, Green got close to goal before he shot, and Street keeper Kingston made a decent save to keep his side ahead.
Then there was another ‘controversial’ incident when Callum Chugg was adjudged to have committed a foul on Streets Murray inside the box a minute before half time, from where I was sat the decision looked ‘harsh’ on Chuggy, but referee Scott Robinson was ‘adamant’ that it was a penalty. Cobblers centre half Leigh Bailey stepped up to take it and Shane Murphy made a great save to deny him. What was extra pleasing about this incident was that that on this occasion Totton managed to get to the rebound first to prevent Street from doing so ‘unlike’ recent penalties that Murphy saved at Slimbridge and Winchester City when our opponents scored from the rebounds.
Then in added time at the end of the first period Connor York went on a driving run towards the Street penalty area, and he was brought down a few yards outside the box. On this occasion Callum Chugg took the free kick, but Chuggs shot went well over the Cobblers cross bar
Half time: Street Fc 1 AFC Totton 0
Totton came out in the 2nd half looking very determined and they came close to scoring within a minute of the re-start when Ollie Bradley’s ball from the left came to Jason Brookes on the right of the area and from a tight-ish angle Brookes let fly with a shot that Kingston pushed over the bar.
On 52 minutes Totton had another great chance to level the scores when Green latched onto a through ball and he quickly found himself in ‘another’ one on one with Kingston and ‘again’ Kingston saved to deny Green.
There was a nice Totton build up on 54 minutes and the move ended with Green firing high and wide of Kingston’s goal.
Totton were now by far the better side and Alex Haynes was crudely brought down by Dave O’Hare, O’Hare had his name taken by the referee and the resulting free kick from Jack Masterton ended with Dave Allen shooting just over the bar.
Totton kept pouring forward and Bradley sent a cross into the area that Bennett rose to head against the cross bar.
Slowly the game edged back towards the home side and Street right back Josh Bennett sent a low rasping shot towards goal and Murphy touched it wide, Cobblers substitute Phil Ormrod then ‘thundered’ a ball across the face of the Totton goal, with none of his team mates able to get a touch to it.
Another Street sub Oscar Latas chased down a ball into the area with Stags keeper Murphy rushing out to try and beat him to it, Latas seemed to go in a bit to forcefully for the referee’s liking and he received a yellow card for doing so.
Totton hadn’t mustered a worthwhile attack for over 15 minutes, but they did have a half chance with only a few moments to play after Shane Murphy’s free kick from deep inside the Totton half was met by the head of Bennett, but his effort drifted wide.
Then in added time came an unbelievable moment that left the Totton fans ‘stunned’. One of the two Stags subs Matt Wotton played a lovely reverse pass into Bennett who strode past the Street defenders with only Kingston to beat, Bennett then rounded Kingston and somehow with an open goal the ball bobbled up just as Bennett was going to tuck it away and the ball rolled harmlessly wide from Street’s point of view. I think everybody knew that it was never’ going to be Totton’s day after that, I am still shaking my head and asking, how was that possible?
The final action of the game saw Street’;s Ormrod denied by Shane Murphy.
Full time: Street 1 AFC Totton 0
Next up for Totton is the Stags final home game of 2018/19 v Thatcham Town on Easter Monday (3pm).