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AFC Totton vs Hythe-Dibden_SDFA SSC Final_Sat18May2024.jpg

Ticket prices: Adults £10; Over 65s £5; Under-16s FREE
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Car parking at the ground is limited but free parking is available on Calmore Industrial Estate, just 5-minutes' walk from the Snows Stadium. Set your Sat Navs to SO40 3SA.

AFC TOTTON WILL HOPE TO SALVAGE one trophy from a season that briefly promised so much more, when they take on Hythe & Dibden in the Final of the SDFA Southampton Senior Cup at the Snows Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was only a fortnight ago that The Stags were eyeing up a second successive treble, of sorts, casting greedy glances at a potential Play-Off promotion to Step 2, a first Hampshire Senior Cup trophy for more than a decade and their third consecutive Southampton Senior Cup success. But roll on two weeks and two penalty shoot-out defeats, and retaining the local City cup is the only piece of silverware still on offer.

However, after a difficult week last week, Totton enjoyed a cathartic 5-0 win over Brockenhurst in the Semi-Final tie at Blackfield & Langley’s Gang Warily ground on Tuesday night. Though largely dominant in the first half, only Tony Lee’s 42nd minute free-kick blast separated the two sides at the break. But further goals from Ethan Taylor and Matty Burrows, together with a Scott Rendell brace, ensured The Stags extended their unbeaten run in this competition to 15 games.

Totton last experienced Southampton Senior Cup defeat at the hands of Bush Hill – who have since changed their name to Millbrook – in a surprise Semi-Final defeat before the competition was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its return in the 2021/22 season, The Stags have dominated the competition and now stand to match Sholing’s record of three-in-a-row (from 2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08), if they can overcome Hythe & Dibden on home soil.

The Cup Final was originally scheduled to take place at Southampton FC’s St. Mary’s Stadium. But, The Saints’ Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg tie at home to West Bromwich Albion meant that a women’s cup final that was arranged for Friday night got bumped into the Saturday slot, prompting the Southampton Divisional Football Association to go on the hunt for a new home for their showpiece final.

Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium was briefly under consideration, until the decision was made to host the match at the Snows Stadium. While some Hythe & Dibden fans will understandably question the impartiality of holding the Final at their opponents’ ground, home advantage is no guarantee of success. Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in their own Allianz Arena to lift the European Champions’ League in 2012, and Eastleigh were undone on penalties by Farnborough at the Silverlake in the Hampshire Senior Cup Final of just two seasons ago.

Nevertheless, Totton will come into the Final as firm favourites. They began this season’s defence of the trophy with a 3-1 home win over Downton, having received a bye through the First Round. The Winsor United Green team that visited the Snows Stadium for the Third Round tie was made up largely of Totton residents, who did very well to hold their own in a 4-0 Stags win.

The Quarter-Final tie with Folland Sports was switched from The Planemakers’ Folland Park home due to the extended period of wet winter weather. Goals from Owen Pelham, Zidan Akers and Ethan Taylor saw Totton progress to face Brockenhurst in Tuesday night’s aforementioned Semi-Final showdown under the shadow of the remaining chimneys at the old Fawley Power Station site.

Hythe & Dibden finished their Wessex League Premier Division campaign in 15th place, having won 10 of their 38 league games. In the Southampton Senior Cup, they also benefited from a bye in the First Round. They needed penalties to overcome Hedge End Rangers after being held to a goalless draw at home, and scraped past Hamble Club by the odd goal in seven in the Third Round.

In the Quarter-Final, Hythe were originally beaten and knocked out of the competition by Sholing. But an administrative error saw The Boatmen field an ineligible player, leading to their disqualification and the reinstatement of the team from the Waterside. Another penalty shoot-out was required to beat Fawley AFC in the Semi-Final, following a 1-1 draw.

Hythe & Dibden’s only silverware to date has come in the form of three divisional titles in the Hampshire and Southampton leagues, the most recent coming in the same 1975/76 season that a then-Second Division Southampton won the FA Cup against overwhelming favourites, Manchester United.

If the Clayfields-based outfit are to walk away with the City’s Senior Cup trophy on Saturday, it will require an upset of similar proportions to the triumph that Lawrie McMenemy’s men pulled off at Wembley Stadium 48 years ago.

By Ben Rochey-Adams

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