STAGS HAVE TO SETTLE FOR A POINT
AFC Totton 0 Basingstoke Town 0
As the scoreline suggests this was not a classic. The Stags found it hard to get going, failing to reach the heights of the last few outings. There were reasons for the Stags failing to fire, the absence of Pip Nolan in midfield was certainly one of them, the loss of Mitchell Byrne and Rob Bradley to injury in the opening 45 minutes did not help matters.
Louis Langdown made four changes to the side that beat AFC Portchester 4-1 in the Hampshire senior Cup last Tuesday evening. Pip Nolan was one player who was unavailable, as was Will Archer, Matt Hartmann and Ollie Bradley were the other two who dropped out of the starting eleven. Hartmann and Bradley had to settle for a place on the bench alongside Lewis Beale, Silvano Obeng and Matt Simm.
Although the performance wasn’t the best Totton still had chances to have won the game, in fact they were given the perfect opportunity to get off to a flying start when Referee Adam Baker awarded them a 3rd minute penalty after top scorer Craig Feeney was tripped in the box. Club captain Dave Allen stepped up to take it, Allen put the ball down to the right of Basingstoke keeper Chris Rackley but Rackley got down and pushed it away. If that had gone in I am certain the game would have panned out differently.
The visitors were understandably lifted by the penalty miss and after 8 minutes it was them left disappointed after Reece Rusher’s shot was saved by Alex Cull, the ball fell to Claudio Herbert close in and he finished it, only for his goal to be ruled out for offside.
The game didn’t have a great flow to it, in fact it was a pretty scrappy affair, but the visitors were the ones edging it. There had been a long speculative shot from Rusher that was saved comfortably by Cull and there was a wild effort from Herbert that went a long way wide of goal, the warning signs were there for Totton that they needed to improve.
There was a worry for Totton when Rob Bradley was on the end of a heavy challenge, the Stags No 10 needed treatment before he could resume.
The visitors then had a golden chance to take the lead when Adam Everiss got down the left and tried his luck with a shot that Cull saved, the ball then fell to Herbert who blazed the rebound over the bar from 10 yards.
With the game almost on the half an hour mark Louis Langdown was forced into making a change, Rob Bradley was struggling to get around following the challenge he received five minutes earlier and Langdown replaced him with Lewis Beale.
Totton were struggling to create anything and on one of the occasions that they did get forward, thanks to a long ball downfield by Cull, Feeney entered the box from the right and his attempted cross looped up off of a defender and came down centrally in the box with no Totton player able to come in and get on the end of it.
Basingstoke had a couple more efforts with Harrison Cliff shooting narrowly wide and Herbert dragging a shot wide.
Totton then suffered another injury blow when Mitchell Byrne pulled up with a calf injury and he had to be replaced by Matt Simm.
Two more Basingstoke chances came with Herbert curling a shot wide and Rusher had a shot saved down by the post by Cull.
Then on 43 minutes Totton forced a corner out on the left and Bakary sent it into the box where Dave Allen headed against the crossbar, if that had gone in it would have been harsh on the visitors, who had been the better side in the first half.
Half Time: AFC Totton 0 Basingstoke Town 0
The Stags certainly began the 2nd half better and the best move of the match by a country mile came from them just one minute after the restart. The move ended with Feeney being played in one on one and unlike last Tuesday evening he was unable to finish, firing straight at keeper Rackley.
Feeney was played in again on 57 minutes and he held off a defender before firing low at goal, but Rackley got down to save. Totton were playing much better than they did in the 1st half but they were by no means playing as well as they had over the last couple of weeks.
Basingstoke then had a pop at goal from Ben Wright but his shot was well off target then the Stags had an opportunity and again it fell to Feeney who fired in an effort from a reasonably tight angle and he forced Rackley to save with his legs.
With the game now entering the last few minutes Totton were awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal in a central position following a foul on Liam Callaghan. Sub Silvano Obeng stood over the ball with Feeney and Robin Nicholls. Obeng ran towards the ball as if he was going to take it but Nicholls touched the ball to Feeney whose shot flew off the wall and went out for a corner. The Stags did get forward again with Obeng on the right and he put a ball right across the face of goal with nobody able to get on the end of it.
Full time: AFC Totton 0 Basingstoke Town 0
Next up for Totton is a trip to Bideford next Saturday 28th Sept (3pm).