Southern League Challenge Cup
AFC TOTTON 0
LYMINGTON TOWN 1
Freddie Bullard 87mins
AFC Totton’s Southern League Challenge Cup campaign met an abrupt end on Tuesday night, as the warmth and joy of Saturday afternoon’s FA Trophy Qualifying victory over Dorchester Town gave way to a bitterly cold evening at the Snows Stadium that saw the Stags stutter and stumble to their third defeat in all competitions so far this season, at the hands of Lymington Town.
Taking charge for the second time since the surprise departure of Glenn Howes and James Wood, Interim 1st Team Manager Dan Sackman opted for a 3-5-2 system with Jordan Ragguette coming in at left-wing back, while central defender Ade Olumuyiwa and centre-forward Brett Williams both returned to the starting line-up for the first time since the 4-1 win at Sholing in the previous round of this competition. Ben Jefford, Freddie Read and Sam Griffin dropped to the bench, together with Jack Hoey.
To commemorate the observance of Armistice Day, the home side took to the pitch wearing limited edition Remembrance shirts; a blue-and-white hooped design featuring a poppy in the centre of the chest. The Stags will wear the shirts in all of their fixtures throughout November, colour clashes with opposition teams notwithstanding, and then the shirts will be auctioned off to the highest bidders with the proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.
Lymington got the match underway and posed the first meaningful threat in the 4th minute, when Toby Bailey forced Stephane Zubar into a strong block challenge inside the Totton penalty area. Zubar was the first to trouble Ross Casey in the Linnets’ goal, flicking Ethan Taylor’s corner from the right wing towards goal but without the power necessary to beat the ex-Totton goalkeeper.
A patient Totton build-up down the right-hand side after 8 minutes culminated in Callum Baughan delivering a low cross into the penalty area. A heavy touch by a Lymington defender allowed Hisham Kasimu to steal the ball and strike on the turn, narrowly missing the left-hand upright.
A few minutes later, Sam Shearer picked the ball up near the half-way line and went on a surging run through the heart of the Totton midfield, before letting fly with a left-footed shot from 25 yards out, but Amadeusz Skrzyniarz made a clean catch to deny what would have been a spectacular solo goal. Then, Kasimu played a smart one-two with Taylor to make his way into the inside-right channel, but Casey reacted quickly, sliding out to claim the ball.
Dominic Thelan collected the ball on the left-wing for the visitors and cut infield to find himself confronted by Ade Olumuyiwa. After a couple of stepovers, Thelen managed to shift the ball onto his right foot and fire in a low shot, to which Skrzyniarz got down low and pushed the ball away from the danger zone. Totton responded with Jordan Ngalo charging through the midfield before playing a precision pass to pick out Brett Williams in the inside right channel, with the flag staying down. Casey was out to him quickly, so Williams moved the ball further to the right before attempting to shoot inside the near post, striking the ball, instead, into the outside netting.
SEE YA: Brett Williams sidesteps ex-Totton keeper Ross Casey but couldn't convert the chance (Image courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography).
Then, Stephane Zubar carried the fight to the Linnets, combining well with Baughan on the right flank before moving across the 18-yard line and laying the ball off to Kasimu, who worked some space between himself and his marker before shooting wide. And Casey was alert again, a few minutes later, rushing out of his area to beat Kasimu to a clipped through-ball from Harry Medway.
Having begun the game quietly, Jordan Ragguette linked up with Williams to progress along the left wing, only to be clattered in a heavy challenge. The ball bounced loose and Ngalo picked out Kasimu with a chipped pass, which the striker brought down and aimed toward the bottom-left corner, but Casey read the situation well and made the save. Then, a one-two with Taylor in the 27th minute enabled Olumuyiwa to adopt the role of attacking centre-back, marauding down the inside-right before laying the ball off to Kasimu on the edge of the penalty area, from where the striker again tested Casey at the goalkeeper’s bottom-right. From the resulting corner, Williams connected with Taylor’s cross but his firm effort was smothered by a Lymington defender.
Williams was the next to create an opportunity for Kasimu, darting down the right-hand side and picking out the Stags No.9 to the right of the penalty spot, but his side-foot shot was too high.
Totton were on top in terms of possession and territory but Lymington carried some menace about them whenever they had the chance to launch counter-attacks, the skill of Thelen in particular requiring the close attention of Baughan and Olumuyiwa to prevent him getting in down Totton’s right. Dylan Walker was able to evade Medway to connect with a Thomas Man pass on the edge of the area to the left of goal, before shooting low and hard for the far corner where Skrzyniarz got down to push it away. Then, at the other end, Ethan Taylor received the ball with his back to goal and had to go the long way round two defenders to shoot on the turn, sending the ball narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
5 minutes before half time, Medway pinged a long diagonal pass out to Ragguette on the left-wing. He found himself up against two defenders but jinked between them and then showed them a clean pair of heels but his cross was diverted away at the near post. Then, Zubar demonstrated his vast experience by getting his body between Walker and the ball, as the Linnets striker attempted to bear down on Amadeusz Skrzyniarz’s goal.
TOP STOPPER: AFC Totton defender Ade Olumuyiwa, sporting the Stags' Remembrance shirt (Image courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography).
The Stags ended the half on the front foot. A moved between Williams and Baughan managed to earn a corner on the left-hand side, which Taylor took short and received back to feet on the left corner of the penalty area, from where he curled a right-footed shot for the top-right corner, forcing Arshia Sheibatzadeh to head away from under the crossbar, ensuring the teams went in level at the break.
AFC TOTTON 0-0 LYMINGTON TOWN
The home side were awarded a free-kick early in the second half, when Taylor and Baughan played their way down the right-hand side before Taylor moved infield and was taken out near the D. Taking the kick himself, he sent an in-swinging ball towards the edge of the 6-yard box where Olumuyiwa was closing in, but Thelen threw his body in the way and managed to propel the ball away, towards the left touchline.
Dan Sackman tried to freshen things up about 10 minutes into the second period, by bringing on Sam Griffin in place of the misfiring Hisham Kasimu and Freddie Read for Callum Baughan. A few moments later, Olumuyiwa showed his strength to block McGrath’s attempt to unleash a shot on the Totton goal. Then, Lymington manager Shaun Coles made a couple of changes of his own, surprisingly choosing to withdraw Dominic Thelen together with Thomas Man, with Ben Satterley and Freddie Bullard coming on to replace them.
Throughout the second half, Jordan Ragguette tried to find a way in down the left-hand side for Totton but Lymington had obviously done their homework on him, with defenders constantly doubling-up to hinder his progress. After he’d earned a corner on the left, Totton found themselves shifting the ball from one flank to the other, with every attempt to cross into the box or play a through-ball being repelled by Linnets defenders. But when the ball fell to Jordan Ngalo about 40 yards out, he aimed a chip towards Ethan Taylor who saw an opportunity for something spectacular. Unfortunately, his overhead scissor-kick didn’t connect and he landed in a crumpled heap on the turf.
COMING THROUGH: Jordan Ragguette leaves two Lymington Town defenders in his wake (Image courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography).
Ragguette almost connected with a Brett Williams cross, which was well-defended by the Lymington captain Callum Davies. Then, Ryan Fuller was booked for a lunging foul on Lewis Waterfield, just outside the visitors’ penalty area. Taylor hit a left-foot curler for the bottom-left corner and Casey got two hands behind it but couldn’t claim the ball, enabling Stephane Zubar to slide onto the loose ball, the loud thud of the advertising hoarding behind the goal confirming that it had missed the target.
After the hour mark, Totton were forced back and made to defend. Griffin headed away a corner, then Skrzyniarz had to be alive to the danger posed by a high ball into the box from Fuller. Then, Toby Bailey got away from Ragguette and Medway to steal in from the right-hand side and shoot narrowly wide.
A Brett Williams shot from a promising position that deflected meekly into the arms of Casey epitomised the kind of night that Totton were experiencing. Even the powerful running of Ngalo through the midfield failed to create openings, Davies doing particularly well on one occasion to fling himself full length across the turf to prevent Griffin going clean through.
A foul by Zubar on McGrath in the 73rd minute led to a free-kick that Totton had to scramble away, then Davies was shown the yellow card for bringing down Griffin in full flight, after the Totton winger had already floated past two players on his way to goal.
Lymington sprung a counter-attack from a loose pass by Ngalo, leaving the home side stretched at the back with Ragguette trying to cover two players at once. Freddie Bullard set himself and shot for the far corner but Skrzyniarz pushed the ball wide. Then, Totton reshuffled their formation with Ben Jefford stepping off the bench to replace Williams, leaving Ethan Taylor up front on his own, in what looked like a 4-2-3-1 line-up.
Around the 80th minute, Totton came close to breaking the deadlock when Casey came out to punch the ball clear of his area only for it to drop kindly for Lewis Waterfield, whose lobbed shot was headed off the line by Callum Davies.
READY, AIM, FIRE: Sam Griffin lines up a shot on the Lymington Town goal (Image courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography).
On an increasingly cold evening at the Snows Stadium, Ragguette was at least finding ways to keep himself warm by constantly running at the Lymington defence. Again, faced by two opponents working in tandem, he managed to break through the middle of them and through to the inside-left channel. But just as he was about to unleash a blunderbuss at Ross Casey, his standing foot slipped out from under him and he scooped the ball up and over the crossbar.
In the 83rd minute, Ngalo played the ball forward to Taylor. With a shimmy of the hips, the forward had Lymington defenders on high alert in a crowded penalty area - then he surprised them all by toe-poking a shot for which Casey had to quickly improvise and kick clear.
Totton’s profligacy in front of goal throughout the evening was punished in the 87th minute. As one Lymington attack stalled and the ball came back to the half-way line, Toby Bailey took possession about 10 yards from the left-wing touchline with the time and space to look up and pick out a teammate lurking behind Ragguette, just outside the Totton penalty area on the far side. Bailey’s glorious 40-yard pass did all the hard work; substitute Freddie BULLARD controlled it and fired under Skrzyniarz into the bottom-left corner.
Having taken the lead so late in the game, the visitors were content to play for time and headed towards the corner flag whenever they could. Ngalo was booked for venting his frustration, and his name was soon followed into the referee’s notebook by Ade Olumuyiwa and Skrzyniarz - in-between which, Sam Griffin had a shot blocked and Ragguette’s follow-up was saved by Casey.
The match ended with Amadeusz Skrzyniarz leaving his goalmouth to join the attack for an injury-time corner. Taylor’s high ball into the box was met by the head of Stephane Zubar but the ball flopped wide of the post as the referee called time on a lacklustre Totton performance.
by Ben Rochey-Adams