STAGS STILL IN THE BOTTOM TWO AFTER CINDERFORD LOSS
AFC Totton 3 Cinderford Town 4
Its been said many times by people in football that things often go against you when you are near the foot of the table, and that was the case again today at the Snows stadium for AFC Totton. The Stags were on the end of a ‘controversial’ refereeing decision that had a huge effect on the final outcome of this game.
The team news saw Louis Langdown make three changes to the starting eleven that lost 6-3 at Yate Town in the FA trophy last week. In came Alex Cull, Jack Smith, Adam McWilliam and Silvano Obeng they replaced Thomas Boyle who returned to Hampshire league side ‘Infinity’, Matt Simm, Matt Hartmann who dropped to the bench and James Granger who is injured. The Stags substitutes were Richard Bakary, Liam Farrugia, Liam Callaghan, Mitchell Byrne and Matt Hartmann (as mentioned above).
The Stags started Ok with Craig Feeney almost getting in on an under hit back pass but Cinderford keeper Andy Hannah arrived just in the nick of time to clear. Then Adam McWilliam managed to put a ball into the Cinderford box and that was also cleared.
On 8 minutes though, the Stags were a goal behind when Jack Smith’s challenge on James Harding saw the Cinderford No 10 stumble and referee Brian White pointed to the spot. Andy Lewis made no mistake and the visitors had an early lead.
The Stags did retaliate when Ollie Bradleys cross was just out of reach of Adam McWilliam. For the next 10 minutes or so Cinderford looked in control albeit without creating anything much in terms of chances, that was until the 19th minute when a nice move down the Cinderford right saw Blaine Waugh play a ball to Ben Watkins and Watkins put over a cross that was headed over by Harding.
Totton tried to get forward and Ollie Bradley put two crosses into the Cinderford box but their back line just cleared up quite easily.
On 28 minutes the Stags shot themselves in the foot when Matt Boziers pass was intercepted and suddenly the Stags were in trouble Harding found himself inside the box with Cull attempting to narrow his angles, but Harding calmly slipped the ball past the Totton keeper and it was 2-0 to the Foresters.
To be fair to the Stags they reacted well and Feeney got down the left and he put over a low cross that was just out of the reach of Silvano Obeng. Then a quickly taken free kick by Bozier played in Feeney inside the box, but the Stags top scorer tried the stick the ball into the far side of the net but the ball just rolled the wrong side of the post from Totton’s point of view.
Cinderford went back on the attack and fortunately for the Stags Harding headed wide once again.
Then Totton reduced the arrears on 41 minutes when Ollie Bradley’s left wing cross skimmed off of the head of a Cinderford defender and the ball went out towards the Totton right where Alex Haynes picked it up and Haynes put in a cross, come shot and the ball was touched home by the outstretched leg of OBENG from 6 yards, despite the close attentions of Cinderford’s Andy Lewis. Totton were really looking lively and they finished the half really strongly with Pip Nolan’s deflected cross being volleyed into the keepers arms by Feeney, then after Bozier was fouled a couple of yards outside the box, McWilliam stepped up and sent his free kick low towards the left hand post, but keeper Hannah got down well to save. Then in added time at the end of the 1st half Feeney sent in a shot that lacked sufficient power to trouble Hannah.
Half time: AFC Totton 1 Cinderford Town 2
At the start of the 2nd half Totton looked as if they meant business and the 1st chance of the 2nd period saw Bradley drag a shot wide from just outside the box.
Cinderford were not offering much in attack but chances were generally rare in the 1st quarter of an hour of the 2nd half. Although it must be said that despite trailing Totton were looking capable of getting something from the game.
Then came that controversial incident that suddenly changed the complexion of the game. As i said in my opening notes, when you are struggling for results and you are near the foot of your table things often go against you, and that certainly was the case on the hour mark. Trailing 2-1 and looking very capable of getting at least a point from the game the Stags were on the wrong end of a decision that left them suddenly chasing a two goal deficit. Cinderford were on the attack when their right back Waugh picked up the ball on the right, roughly 18 yards out, he played the ball towards the penalty spot where Harding was arriving and the Foresters No 10 just got ahead of Alex Haynes and Harding touched the ball allowing Cull to get down and touch the ball out to his left and as he touched the ball away Harding went over him and referee Brian White awarded a ‘spot kick’. The Totton players, management and supporters were incensed by the decision and despite their protests the penalty award stood and Lewis stepped up to finish with aplomb.
For a while things looked like they could turn nasty, especially after a challenge in front of the away dugout that lead to a bit of pushing and shoving between both sets of players. The penalty award had suddenly changed the atmosphere and the Stags goalkeeping coach Steve Hollick was sent from the dugout.
From facing a huge task the Stags were now left with a absolute mountain to climb after another mistake allowed Waugh to send over a cross from the right that Totton keeper Cull failed to deal with and the ball was touched home at the back post by Harding.
At this point many of us were fearing a real thrashing as it looked as if the Totton players minds were all over the place since the 2nd penalty award. However, credit where credits due, on 75 minutes they got themselves a free kick around 30 yards from goal and MCWILLIAM sent the kick over the wall and into the top left hand corner of the net. It was a brilliant free kick that would have graced any game at any level of football.
Cinderford had a half chance when Harding’s attempted lob went over the bar, but Totton came again and Feeney headed over from a corner on the right. Then in the dying moments Totton pulled another goal back when a ball over from the left was met by sub Liam CALLAGHAN who swiveled and shot into the roof of the net from 6 yards out. It was a great finish, it reminded me of David Platts goal for England v Belguim in the 1990 word cup (The older fans will remember that). Unfortunately for the Stags, it counted for little as time ran out, preventing them from making a miraculous comeback.
Full time: AFC Totton 3 Cinderford Town 4