DEFENSIVE BLIPS PROVE COSTLY
AFC Totton 1 Larkhall Athletic 3
AFC Totton’s opening game of the 2019/20 season saw them drop all three points against Larkhall Athletic at the Testwood Community Stadium this afternoon.
Unfortunately for the Stags it was a case of defensive errors that did the damage with Larkhall capitalising on two errors in the 1st half that led to a pair of Lewis Powell goals.
Larkhall took the lead when Powell was gifted the opener after a mix up between Stags keeper Archie Matthews and centre half Gowan Stares and Powell was on hand to put the ball into an empty net.
The Larks 2nd goal also came from that man Powell once again, who cashed in on another defensive slip by Dave Allen to fire home past Totton’s keeper Archie Matthews, who only joined the Stags yesterday on loan from Swindon Town.
Much of Totton’s play was neat and tidy and with a better final ball they could have caused Larkhall a number of problems. However, for all of their nice build up play all they had to show for their efforts was a half chance from Matt Simm, who made a nice run in behind the Larks defence before he cut in from the right, only to see his shot charged down by a defender. Ollie Bradley had earlier sent in a shot that Larks keeper Sean Simmons got his body behind without to much difficulty.
Half time: AFC Totton 0 Larkhall Athletic 2
At half time Stags boss Louis Langdown made a substitution bringing on on-loan Eastleigh striker Lewis Beale for Silvano Obeng.
The 1st meaningful action of the 2nd half saw Stags centre half Gowan Stares shoved in the back following a corner. I think most people in the ground saw it, but the officials waved away Totton’s penalty appeals.
Half time sub Beale made a real impact as the Stags started to look more threatening in the final 3rd. In fact it was Beale who played a huge role in Totton reducing the arrears on 50 minutes.
Robin Nicholls won the ball in the Totton half before he played the ball to Ollie Bradley on the left, Bradley then released Beale who showed real trickery in beating a man, and in doing so he found himself one on one with Larks keeper Simmons as he bore down on goal from the left of the box, I think everybody in the ground thought that Beale was going to try and shoot into the far side of the net, but he was alert to Craig FEENEY who was running in on his right and Beale simply played the ball across to him and Feeney does what Feeney does and the Stags were back in the game.
Just a moment or two later Beale was in on goal again in a similar position to the one where he squared the ball to Feeney, but on this occasion Beale tried his luck and Simmons made a decent save.
Larkhall still remained a real threat but without actually creating any clear cut chances and the Stags didn’t really trouble Simmons as much as they would have liked.
Any hopes Totton had of salvaging a point disappeared in the 82nd minute when Dan Restorick restored the visitors two goal advantage following some scruffy defending from Dale Evans free kick.
This was not a dreadful performance in my humble opinion. In fact there was not that much to choose between the sides, those two 1st half goals were more down to defensive generosity than good Larkhall play. I don’t want to discredit the Larks, They are a more than adequate outfit, with the one of the best strikers in the division playing up front in Lewis Powell, Powell loves to score against us by the way, he has done so on many occasions down the years with the various clubs he has played for.
Let’s not forget. There were FIVE debutants starting for the Stags today, with keeper Archie Matthews only joining on loan from Swindon Town yesterday. There were a further FOUR debutants on the bench, with two of them joining yesterday on loan from Eastleigh, it may take time to bed everyone in but we will get there,
Up next is Winchester City away on Tuesday evening (August 20th, 7.45pm)
Full time: AFC Totton 1 Larkhall Athletic 3