STAGS EDGED OUT IN HAMPSHIRE DERBY
Winchester City 2 AFC Totton 1
Going into last night’s local derby everybody knew it would be a tough game, it is never easy playing City who have a decent side full of quality. The Stags have a predominantly young side, containing a number of as yet un-proven young players. It was just a question of how these lads would handle the pressure of a local derby.
In the 1st half Totton struggled to get to grips with the occasion, too often conceding possession in bad areas. This allowed City’s rapid attack to often outnumber us when they picked up a wayward Totton pass. If it had not been for the Stags on-loan Keeper Archie Matthews Totton could have been dead and buried by half time.
Matthews pulled off a number of saves in the 1st half to keep City at bay, some straight forward and some not so straight forward. There was a low shot from Simba Miambo that Matthews gathered early on then Matthews saved from the same man again when he sent in a downward header from Ollie Balmers cross.
Totton made sporadic breaks without creating anything clear cut, for eg on 13 minutes Feeney got in down the left and he sent in a low cross towards the arriving Liam Callaghan, but City snuffed out the danger.
It wasn’t just Matthews to thank for keeping the Citizens at bay, some poor finishing also prevented City from taking an early lead and it was that man Miambo who somehow headed over from a couple of yards out from an inviting left wing cross.
Matthews was called into action once again to deny Ollie Griggs on 17 minutes, then he denied Dan Williamson who picked up a ball on the right and ran at the Totton defence before shooting low towards the right hand post.
Just prior to Williamson’s shot Craig Feeney got in down the left before he put over a cross that Alex Haynes was close to meeting, but good City defending prevented him from getting in a decent connection.
One of Archie Matthews best saves of the evening came from Griggs on 24 minutes, Matthews managed to get across to push wide a fierce effort from the City No 7.
Then one of those sporadic Totton attacks came on 26 minutes when Matthews long kick downfield was nodded down by Robin Nicholls into Feeney who shot wide. However, if Feeney did manage to find the target it would not have counted as the linesman had his flag up.
City came back at Totton again with yet another attack the resulted in a save from Matthews to deny Miambo, this was followed a few moments later by Danny King firing in a shot that went just wide.
The 1st half was pretty breathless and most of the attacks were coming from City who break at speed, and on 33 minutes Balmer sent in another effort that went wide for the home side.
On 38 minutes came a free kick for Totton that was taken by Liam Farrugia, the ball ended up at the feet of Nicholls who sent a low shot wide for the Stags.
With 43 minutes on the clock it looked as if the Stags had somehow kept City at bay. Then from a Totton corner, which was very poor, failing to beat the 1st man, City cleared and yet again they broke at pace, Alex Haynes managed to put the ball out for a throw on the Totton right, but the throw in was quickly taken by City and Totton were slow to react. Jamie Barron then got down the left and crossed into the box where Miambo finished to give City a deserved half time lead.
It is a cardinal sin in football to end up conceding a goal that emanates from your own corner, I am sure a few stern words were spoken in the Totton dressing room at half time regarding that.
Half time: Winchester City 1 AFC Totton 0
Conceding just before the break is never good and some of us were fearing the effect it could have on our younger players. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the reaction we get from them.
Right from the off Totton grabbed the bull by the horns and started attacking with a real purpose and it was now us asking questions of City. We were knocking the ball around quickly and looking dangerous, this was chalk and cheese when comparing it to the 1st half.
The Stags 1st effort of the half came from a free kick that Liam Callaghan sent a foot or two over the City crossbar.
City had a free kick of their own a couple of minutes later and when it arrived in the box former Stags centre half Rob Flooks headed across the face of the Stags goal, but fortunately for us nobody was there to connect with Flooks header.
Totton went about City again and twice in quick succession Liam Callaghan put over decent crosses that nobody was able to get on the end of. Then the Stags forced a corner and it resulted in Nicholls pulling a save from City keeper Ryan Pryce.
City then rattled the Totton crossbar with a Jamie Barron free kick that was somewhat generously awarded.
The improved 2nd half performance was rewarded with an equaliser on 66 minutes, Craig Feeney sent a lovely ball down the Totton right for Liam Callaghan and Callaghan put over a decent low cross that Lewis BEALE met and it was 1-1!
City went about trying to restore their lead and Balmer pulled a save from Matthews with a stooping header. The game could have gone either way at this point with both sides looking capable of winning the game.
Totton forced another corner out on their left and when it came into the box, it was right under the crossbar and City keeper Pryce needed two attempts to gather the ball under pressure.
Ollie Bailey then tried to get his name on the score-sheet but he sent a shot fizzing wide, this was followed by Kieron Douglas heading wide from a corner.
Totton came again with Feeney dragging a shot wide before Lewis Beale made a forceful run into the City box before a last ditch tackle sent the ball out for a corner.
With 5 minutes left on the clock the Stags were looking well placed to get a point but City had other ideas and Danny King managed to put over a looping cross that saw Miambo rise above Ben Scorey to restore City’s lead.
With the Stags committed to looking for a late late equaliser City hit Totton on the break with Griggs pulling a save out of Matthews.
Full time: Winchester City 2 AFC Totton 1
Everybody in and around AFC Totton understands that this season is going to be one of transition. When you lose players such as Shane Murphy, Stuart Green, Connor York, Eddie Perrett, Callum Chugg and Justin Bennett, you are losing over half of last seasons starting eleven and they are not just average players, these were quality players. Any club would find it hard to adjust losing that many decent players in one hit.
Obviously frustrated at losing this sort of quality Louis Langdown and Adam Wilde spent most of Pre-season scurrying around trying to find good young players that will fit within the playing budget. When you bring in players in these circumstances you may unearth a couple of little gems, but what you are doing in many cases is taking a gamble, in an ideal world most managers would prefer to go down the route of bringing in replacements who are ‘proven Southern League quality’ but we are where we are at this moment in time. As I said in the main match report there were definite signs of hope. The way we reacted after half time was highly encouraging.
Next up is Blackfield & Langley away in the FA Cup on Friday evening (7.45pm).