NOLAN GIVES THE STAGS A HUGE BOOST
AFC Totton 1 Willand Rovers 0
For the 1st time this season the Stags have the sweet taste of victory after a hard fought 1-0 win over Willand Rovers at the Testwood Community Stadium last night.
The Stags gave a home debut to former Saints U23 player Mohammed Richard Bakary, who wore the No 11 shirt and midfielder Pip Nolan made his 2nd debut for the club. The 3rd debutant was Robert Bradley, a recent signing from Wimborne Town. There was a total of 5 changes to the Starting eleven with the other changes seeing Matt Bozier return to the No 3 shirt, whilst Mitchell Byrne also came in, wearing the No 2 shirt. Totton were without Jack Masterton and Alex Haynes through injury, whilst Matt Simm, Matt Hartmann and Liam Callaghan dropped out of the starting eleven with Hartmann and Callaghan being named onb the bench. The other three subs were Liam Farrugia, Gowan Stares and Ollie Bradley.
The game started at quite a pace with Willand going straight on the attack and they forced a corner which Jack Smith put out for a 2nd corner and when that arrived the Totton defence managed to deal with it.
The Stags went straight up the other end and Craig Feeney forced Willand keeper Mike Searle to parry away a firm shot from the Stags striker. Willand then tried to carry the ball forward and Pip Nolan just stole the ball off of a Willand defender and he strode forward and fired low past Searle to give the Stags a 3rd minute lead. This was the 1st time Totton have the lead in a game this season.
Willand reacted well to going behind and they played a long ball downfield for Dean Stamp who almost got in on goal, but Totton managed to clear the danger.
The end to end theme continued with Bakary showing some lovely footwork out on the left and he fooled a couple of Willand defenders before cutting in and trying an audacious lob over Searle from a tight-ish angle but the Willand keeper plucked the ball from the air.
Then the visitors almost got Stamp free again down the left, but Stags defender Mitchell Byrne got in to put the ball out for a corner.
It was still end to end and Alex Cull very cleverly spotted Lewis Beale in space and he quickly bowled the ball out to him, Beale had lots of space to run into and he bore down on the Willand defence before he let rip with a shot that Searle got down to save.
The Stags then almost scored when a bit of a mix up in the Willand defence saw the ball hit the back of Feeney’s leg and it rolled close to the goal line before being cleared.
The game then went through a stage where it became niggly and there were a few tackles flying in and as a result there were bookings for Byrne and and Feeney as well as Rob Norrish. The chances became fewer during this niggly spell but with 10 minutes of the half left Willand suddenly had a spell where they were on top and in that time there were chances for Josh Searle whose low cross/shot was saved by Cull, then Ryan Guppy crossed for Luke Mortimore and he pulled another save out of Alex Cull, in fact that man Mortimore was looking very lively sending a low 20 yard drive inches wide, then he fired in another low drive that Cull gathered.
Totton then had a free kick around 25 yards out on the right, it was floated towards the back post by Bakary, the ball avoided everybody but it ran out to the left where Matt Bozier hooked it back into the 6 yard box towards Beale and a desperate header by centre half Joe Curtis put the ball just over the bar for a corner. Then not long after Rob Bradley had a shot from distance that was deflected wide.
Willand went back on the attack in added time and they earned themselves a free kick out on the right, it was taken by Mortimore and the kick whistled across the face of the Totton goal.
The last chance of the half saw the Stags earn a throw in on the right, Nolan threw the ball into the area where Craig Feeney got his head to it, only to see Searle make a save.
Half Time: AFC Totton 1 Willand Rovers 0
After a breathless 1st half Totton came out with a real intent and Feeney got in a cross from the right that was not too far away from sub Ollie Bradley, who was just out jumped by a Willand centre half.
Lewis Beale was impressing, and he sent in a strike that forced Searle into making a save. Totton then put together a good move that ended with Rob Bradley showing some good skill before he played in Feeney and Feeney was denied when his shot from a tight angle was saved by Searle.
Willand then had a shot on goal in the 58th minute that was not too far wide for the visitors. The game was still breathless, there was no let up in the action at all.
Lewis Beale then made a terrific run before he let fly with a shot that forced Searle into making a save. Totton then moved forward again and Bozier got down the left before he put in a low cross that a Willand defender very nearly put into his own net, but the Stags had to settle for a corner.
How the game was only 1-0 I don’t know, there had been so many chances for both sides. It really was a great watch for the spectators.
Willand made a double substitution with Douglas Camillo coming on for Dean Stamp and Ben Bickie coming on for Rob Norrish and suddenly Willand looked even more dangerous than before, for around 10 minutes or so they really gave the Stags some problems.
That man Camillo, who had not long been on the pitch sent in a thunderous shot that forced Alex Cull to make a terrific save at full stretch. Then the other substitute Ben Bickie was creating a bit of havoc out on the left and he worked his way into the Totton area before he sent in a thunderous shot that smacked against the Totton crossbar.
Totton went back on the attack and forced a corner from which Dave Allen headed over. Then another Totton Sub Liam Callaghan played in Feeney whose deflected shot was saved by Searle. Liam Callaghan then got in a shot that was charged down.
Then the visitors really did finish strongly with Mortimore pulling a save out of Cull and sub Bickie had two shots saved in quick succession by Cull in added time.
It was a bit nerve wracking in those dying moments but the Stags held on!
Full Time: AFC Totton 1 Willand Rovers 0
I have to say that this was a terrific game. Both sides went for it and it is amazing how the game only finished 1–0, there was so many shots on goal!
I thought Willand Rovers were excellent and I find it very surprising that they have not won a game yet. Manager Louis Langdown said in his post-match interview that they will not be near the bottom come the end of the season and I have to say that I totally agree.
As for the Stags they gave plenty to the game, having their fair share of the chances. It was great to see Pip Nolan grab a goal just 3 minutes into his 2nd debut. Pip had a good game as did a number of other Totton players. The Wessex Heartbeat MOTM was given to AFC Totton keeper Alex Cull who pulled off some good saves, The best of which was the one he pulled off at full stretch from Douglas Camillo.
These 3 points for the Stags will hopefully see them now kick on and climb up the table.
Next up is a trip to Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday September 14th (3pm).