LATE LATE SHERBY!
Mangotsfield United 1 AFC Totton 1
By Sean McGlead
After a very wet last 24 hours the ground staff at Mangotsfield did a tremendous job on getting this game on today. The pitch was very sticky, especially in the goalmouths and down the flanks. The home side seemed to be prepared for the surface and they showed their attacking intent in the first couple of minutes when Connor Jones sent a 25-yard shot over the bar.
Totton were also trying hard to not let the pitch affect them and on a couple of occasions Toby Adekunle was looking quite threatening for the Stags who had their first shot at goal when Craig Feeney had his back to goal before playing the ball to Sherbs who lifted a shot well over the bar.
Mangotsfield No 10 Kailan Gould skipped past a challenge and fired low at Murphy who almost let the ball slip under him, but the Stags keeper made a quick recovery to save his blushes, then Charlie Maddison got down the left and played a ball back to the edge of the area and Josh Nelmes sent a low drive wide of the left-hand post.
Totton then got forward and on 13 minutes Toby Adekunle picked up a pass outside of the area and he fired a foot or two over the bar. The game was proving to be an interesting encounter with honours about even so far.
However, that all changed on 20 minutes when John Elliott got down the right and put over a peach of a cross that Kane Simpson met with a firm header unmarked at the back post to give the home side the lead.
The home side were understandably playing with a spring in their step after the goal and they came close to adding a 2nd goal when Jack Masterton uncharacteristically gave the ball away in midfield and this led to Gould having a pop at goal, the effort needed a desperate defensive clearance from the Stags defence from close to the goal line.
Stags keeper Shane Murphy was called into action a moment or two later when Jones let fly with a piledriver that forced him to throw out his right arm to push wide the effort. Maddison then tried his luck with a shot from distance that went over the Stags crossbar.
The home side had definitely been getting the better of things since their goal, but Totton had their first meaningful effort for a while when Feeney picked up a pass with his back to goal and he moved to his left and looked up and tried his luck with a decent shot that caught a deflection before Mango’s keeper George Dorrington had to turn wide for a corner.
The home side then very nearly added a goal before the break when Simpson touched a right-wing cross onto the Stags right hand post.
The Stags then came back with Dave Allen heading wide from a left-wing corner and this was followed by a Feeney 20 yarder that went narrowly over the bar.
Half time: Mangotsfield United 1 AFC Totton 0
The Stags had been finding the sticky surface a hindrance to their passing game with passes not always reaching their intended target,
Curtis Young was looking really fired up at the start of the 2nd period, the tricky Stags No 7 collected a pass around the edge of the box before shooting wide of the right-hand post. The Stags wide man also got down the right a few times early in the half on each occasion he put in a cross without anybody in a yellow shirt able to get on the end of them.
Totton had had the better of it since the break, albeit without creating too much in front of goal. the home side likewise hadn’t really created much to get the fans overly excited. The commitment from the home side was commendable, their work-rate was first class.
Substitute Charlie Gunson was starting to have a bit of an impact for Totton and he played a one/two with Sherborne before firing over. Then Sherborne himself had a pop at goal shortly afterwards, but his shot was saved easily by Dorrington.
Gunson was again involved for Totton when he had a shot deflected over the bar then Totton had a glorious chance to steal a point when the 3rd Stags substitute Jack Smith, who was put up front to try and make something happen, almost toed home an equaliser from close range, but his effort was cleared from the goal line with some people thinking it had actually crossed the line, after the game a couple of Totton fans who were in a better position to judge said that the clearance was from right on the goal line.
The late introduction of Alfy Whittingham, who was making his 50th appearance for the Stags, seemed to give the Stags a bit of extra impetus and they were pinning the hosts back in the closing stages. The late pressure paid dividends when Totton snatched a 91st minute equaliser through SHERBORNE. A right-wing cross caused panic in the area before falling the Stags stalwart who stabbed home from close range to secure a point that left the home side totally deflated.
In all honesty it was starting to look like one of those afternoons for Totton. The pitch was heavy after all of the rain this week and there is no doubt that the surface affected the Stags passing game more than Mangotsfield. The home side may be struggling this season, but they showed all of the battling qualities that should see them secure safety with a bit to spare come April.
Once again, the character of these young Totton players was bang on. They didn’t throw the towel in, despite things not going for them at times, they kept going and they got themselves a valuable point in the end.
Full Time: Mangotsfield United 1 AFC Totton 1