STALEY CAUSES THE STAGS TREBLE TROUBLE
AFC Totton 0 Taunton Town 4
By Sean McGlead
At the Total branding community Stadium yesterday afternoon AFC Totton and Taunton Town met for the fourth time this season. In the previous meetings between the sides Taunton have come out on top, but the difference between the two sides in these games was marginal. The Peacocks won the league fixture 2-1 at the Viridor Stadium back in September, it was a game that the Stags could have considered themselves unfortunate not to have got a point from. In October the sides were paired together in the FA Trophy at the Viridor, this was a game that ended 1-1. This was very much a game of two halves and Totton really could have won that one, but in the end they had to settle for a replay. However, Taunton won the replay at The Total Branding Community Stadium 2-1 after extra time. The Peacocks were marginally the better side on that evening and they just about deserved their victory.
Stags boss Louis Langdown had a few problems heading into the game with a number of his squad having been unwell this week, one of which was Connor York who was still ill, and he was unable to join his team mates yesterday. Jack Masterton missed the New Year’s Day game at Winchester City through illness, but he came back into the Stags midfield, despite being nowhere near 100%.
Totton made a bright start to the game with Tony Lee firing wide after 23 seconds, the Stags were looking decent in the opening exchanges and they were awarded a free kick out on the left after Tony Lee had been fouled. The free kick was taken by Charlie Gunson and he sent it towards the back post with quite a bit of pace, but Taunton keeper Lloyd Irish was able to collect.
The visitors then went on the offensive and Ryan Brett forced Murphy to turn his shot wide for a corner. Then in the 9th minute the league leaders took the lead when Ross Staley hooked the ball home from 8 yards after a right-wing cross from Dan Sullivan. To concede so early was majorly disappointing for the Stags who could have done better when defending the cross
The visitors then set about looking for a 2nd goal straight away and Ollie Chamberlain played in right back Pierce Mitchell who sent his shot fizzing wide of Shane Murphy’s post. It was already evident that the visitors were in an uncompromising mood.
Taunton are very difficult to knock off of the ball when in possession, they are a big side who can dish it out. The Peacocks offer a major threat from several positions, especially when they get the ball into the wide positions. Totton needed to be switched on because the two full backs Mitchell and Staley capable of doing some severe damage.
It was one of those full backs who had the visitors next chance and that was the scorer of their opening goal, Ross Staley was was played in on the left of the box and he pulled the trigger, but fortunately for Totton Callum Chugg was able to get in a decisive block.
The Stags did their best to get forward when they could and a Gunson cross was met by Stuart Mott but his shot was straight into the keepers midriff. It was only a half chance, but it was good to see that Totton were trying to get forward as often as they could.
The visitors then a few chances to double their lead. Firstly, Matt Buse played in Pierce Mitchell, but Mitchell fired wide, this was followed by a shot from Brett that Murphy turned around the post. Another angled shot from the right was cleared away for a corner by Mott and then the 2nd goal did arrive for the visitors when Matt Buse set up Staley to stab home from close range. The goal, like the first, was a disappointing one to concede from a defensive point of view as the Stags appeared to have enough bodies in the box to deal with the ball from the right before it reached Staley.
Louis Langdowns side tried to get a goal back before the break with Lee setting up Alfy Whittingham who fired over the bar from inside the box. But the half time whistle went leaving the Stags with a two-goal deficit to claw back, which on the evidence of the first half would be difficult to do.
Half Time: AFC Totton 0 Taunton Town 2
The Stags did come out with positive intent as they forced a corner on the right. When the corner came in Jack Barker made a run across the Taunton defenders to nod the ball a few feet wide of the Peacocks goal.
The visitors then got a 3rd goal after 48 minutes that left the Stags with a huge mountain to climb. The goal was another disappointing one from a defensive point of view. The Totton defenders seemed frozen still after a Buse shot that was hit into the ground fell to Matt Wright who nipped in behind the statuesque defence to finish from close range.
Then in the 50th minute any lingering doubts about where the points were heading were quashed as Staley nipped in to claim his hat-trick from yet another right-wing cross. The Stags fans were left stunned as there were still 40 minutes to play and the score line could get worse the way things were going.
A flurry of substitutions took place with the visitors knowing that the points were in the bag. To be fair to Totton though they did pretty well for the remainder of the game with chances falling to Mott whose header was straight at Irish, Gunson who saw a free kick put out for a corner, Sherborne who saw the keeper pull off a decent save after a 1-2 with Feeney. Then there was another Mott header that was saved by Irish. This was followed by another shot from Gunson that Irish got down to save, there was an Ian Oliver shot that went well wide and then Feeney was through on goal, but he was unable to lob irish who rushed out to narrow the angles.
The visitors had one late chance that saw Brett swipe wide in the closing moments. The score line was probably harsh on Totton, but you have to take your hat off to Taunton, they may not always be pretty. but they are VERY effective at what they do. They are big, physically strong and ruthless in front of goal. They are a side that WILL win our Division by a distance and they are a side will do very well in the Evo-Stik Premier. In previous games we did extremely well against them, but today Taunton showed just why they sit well clear at the top of the table.
The Stags need to stand up brush themselves down and learn from experiences like today. We need to look at sides like Taunton and Salisbury and try and be more like them, but this will take time. We are a young side as we all know, and we are very much a work in progress. We shouldn’t get down about today’s game. We have done brilliantly well this season and we will continue to improve under the guidance of Louis Langdown and Adam Wilde of that I have no doubt. We have the opportunity to bounce back on Tuesday when we face Paulton Rovers at The Total Branding Community Stadium (7.45pm).
Full Time: AFC Totton 0 Taunton Town 4