SOUTHAMPTON DIVISIONAL SENIOR CUP
AFC TOTTON 1
Jack Hoey 41mins
Dan Sackman's AFC Totton progressed in the Southampton Divisional Senior Cup last night (Tuesday), despite a muted display against one-time arch rivals Bashley on a freezing cold evening at the Snows Stadium.
The two former Wessex League clubs, both nicknamed the Stags, locked antlers in a competitive match for the first time since 2016, and were both semi-finalists the last time the Southampton Senior Cup was staged during the 2019/2020 season before the pandemic prevented the final from ever being staged.
Totton’s starting line-up included six changes to the team that lost in the FA Trophy at Larkhall Athletic at the weekend. Goalkeeper Lewis Noice and forward Shaquille Gwengwe both came back into the side to continue their returns from injury. Lewis Waterfield and Jordan Ragguette filled the full-back berths, Freddie Read returned from compassionate leave to operate in the midfield, and Brett Williams led the line up front. There was also a first place on the bench for teenage goalkeeper, Josh Jefferies, a product of the Pro:Direct Academy squad managed by Williams and Ade Olumuyiwa.
1. Lewis NOICE
2. Lewis WATERFIELD
3. Jordan RAGGUETTE
4. Adam TOMASSO
5. Harry MEDWAY (Capt.)
6. Callum BAUGHAN
7. Jack HOEY
8. Freddie READ
9. Brett WILLIAMS
10. Ethan TAYLOR
11. Shaquille GWENGWE
12. Sam GRIFFIN
14. Hisham KASIMU
15. Jordan NGALO
16. George BRITTON
GK. Josh JEFFERIES
The Stags - Bashley will hereafter be referred to by their other nickname, “the Bash” - began the game on the front foot. Ethan Taylor fed Shaq Gwengwe on the right-hand side and then latched onto his returned cross, shooting over the bar from close to the penalty spot while under pressure from two defenders. Then, Taylor tried to lob the Bash keeper Sam Thompson from near the half-way line, after a Brett Williams header was only partially cleared and the visiting side survived half-hearted appeals for a penalty with Gwengwe going down.
Ollie Bradley, Bashley’s left midfielder, is a former AFC Totton player and whenever he got on the ball, he was keen to carry the fight to his old club, running at Lewis Waterfield in the right-back position, but there was no obvious target for his deliveries. Jordan Ragguette, meanwhile, was enjoying the opportunity to roam from his left-back berth to instigate a swift passing move involving Taylor and Read to provide Gwengwe with the room to cross to the far post, where Taylor headed narrowly wide.
But despite some purposeful moves by the home side, Bashley settled into the game and demonstrated a willingness to attack that appeared to promise a lively, end-to-end cup tie. Sam Thompson read the situation well to dart out of his penalty area and clear before Gwengwe could race through down the Totton right. Then, Jack Hoey stole the ball in the centre-circle with Bash defending a high line; Williams did well to check his run and stay onside but the through-ball was just too far ahead of him and allowed Sam Thompson to gather on the edge of this area.
Gwengwe did well to dig the ball out of his feet when one raid down the right-hand side was halted to lay the ball back to Waterfield who found Taylor in the inside-right area and his low, drilled shot was narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jordan Ragguette received the Man of the Match award for his performance against Bashley in the Southampton Senior Cup.
As the mid-point of the first half approached, Ragguette was required to demonstrate his defensive qualities with a well-timed sliding tackle to prevent Marcello Ross getting behind the Totton defence on the Bashley right wing. Then Williams, surrounded by gold-shirted defenders in a central position outside the visitors’ penalty area, laid the ball off to Taylor whose left-foot strike was heading for the top-right corner until Sam Thompson got his hand to it and pushed over the crossbar.
There was then a prolonged period where both sides passed the ball efficiently enough in midfield but their attempts to raise the tempo or play penetrating passes failed to produce the desired results, eventually leading to Taylor trying another long-range shot which Sam Thompson saved with his feet. Fortunately for him, the ball rebounded between two Totton players to allow centre-back Dan Thompson to clear. And then the goalkeeper was swiftly off his line to deny Gwengwe, again, whose pace was causing problems for Jack Smith at left-back.
On 33 minutes, defender Liam Farrugia, another ex-Totton player, made an impressive sliding clearance inside his own penalty area to cut out a low cross from the lively Taylor, after Freddie Read had intercepted the ball mid-way inside the Bashley half. Then, Gwengwe twisted his way through two defenders on the right wing to make space for a cross, for which Hoey pirouetted near the penalty spot to flick the ball towards goal, but didn’t get enough of a connection to trouble Sam Thompson.
A foul on Lewis Waterfield gave Ethan Taylor, who will begin a three-match ban with Monday’s home game against Lymington Town after being sent-off late on at Larkhall on Saturday, a free-kick opportunity in an advanced position on the right flank. He struck a firm in-swinger towards the far post; whether it was intended as a cross or a shot, it was too strong and flew out of play for a goal-kick. Taylor then forced Sam Thompson into a very good close range save, but the Assistant Referee had raised his flag for offside, anyway.
In a match where several players were lining up against their former club, it was an ex-Bashley player who gave AFC Totton the lead shortly before the break. Brett Williams tussled for possession with two Bashley players mid-way inside their half when the ball popped loose in a central position. Reacting first to run onto the ball and clean through the centre with three gold shirts in hot pursuit, Jack HOEY kept his cool, picked his spot and slammed the ball into the bottom-left corner to put his side in front with his 9th strike in all competitions, this season.
AFC TOTTON 1
Although they hadn’t produced a single shot during the first 45 minutes, Bashley had their tails up from the whistle at the start of the second half. Callum Baughan, playing at centre-back rather than his usual right-back slot, managed to get his body in the way of an Ollie Bradley effort after Bashley got forward down their left wing. From the corner, Farrugia’s header was flicked away at the back post. Then, Adam Tomasso had to intervene to clear when Bradley threatened to get in, again.
Bashley’s Lewis Ross drew a foul on the left-hand edge of the penalty area, in the Totton right-back zone. Ross took the free-kick himself but his right-footed curler was too high to trouble Lewis Noice in the Stags goal. Then, Brett Williams took control of the ball just inside the Bashley half and, spotting the goalkeeper off his line, launched a long-range shot that flew over the crossbar.
GET YOUR HAIR CUT: Brett Williams led the line for AFC Totton at home to Bashley in the Southampton Senior Cup match at the Snows Stadium.
Shaquille Gwengwe’s long road back to recovery continues. He was substituted 10 minutes into the second half, youngster George Britton, who has been on loan at Wessex League side Baffins Milton Rovers, coming on to replace him. And a short time later, Sam Griffin stepped off the bench to replace Ethan Taylor.
Bashley tried to launch a counter-attack just after the hour mark, but Ragguette intercepted a pass and ran at them down the Totton left, earning a corner. It was taken short and came out to Hoey near the corner of the penalty area. He stood a high cross up to the far post looking for Williams, but the centre-forward couldn’t reach it. Then, Sam Griffin made his first meaningful contribution by taking the ball in space about 30 yards from goal, forcing his marker to retreat and shooting low and hard for the near-post area, where Sam Thompson got down to save smartly.
Buoyed by their second-half substitutions, the Stags’ superior fitness began to tell as they began to dominate possession. George Britton had a shot blocked on the edge of the area, after a sweeping move from left to right via Griffin and Williams. Then a low, long diagonal pass by Read picked out Britton again, in space on the right wing, who this time toyed with his full-back a little before slicing a left-footed shot wide of the far post.
Some of the visiting fans thought they had a penalty shout when Ollie Bradley trod on the ball inside the Totton penalty area and fell quite heavily, but the referee had a clear view of the incident and allowed play to continue. And as the match ticked over into its final 15 minutes of normal time, the Bash started asserting themselves more effectively. A cross from the left-hand side was turned away by Medway but Marcello Ross fired it back in and brought a save out of Lewis Noice in the Totton goal.
The Bashley captain Brad Morris started pulling strings in central midfield, and his side grew in confidence with more of the possession in their opponents’ half of the pitch. Totton, meanwhile, became disjointed with none of the earlier fluency in their game. Another Ross free-kick from the left brought defender Lewis Aimson forward but only, as it transpired, to clatter his namesake Waterfield and leave him writhing on the freezing cold pitch.
Bashley intercepted a one-two between Read and Williams, quickly diverting the ball out to Bradley on the left wing, whose cross required a flying punch from Lewis Noice to prevent a gold head steering it towards goal.
Hisham Kasimu came on for the luckless Brett Williams for the last 5 minutes, who had toiled valiantly in the lone striker role without enjoying any of the kind of service that he thrives upon. Then, Griffin fought his way past one defender to work his way in field and fire a shot over the bar from the edge of the area.
Kasimu took four Bashley players for a late run with some skilful dribbling but, within a few seconds of the Stags striker eventually conceding possession, Noice had to save at the other end to deny a long-range shot from Ross. Kasimu received a painful-looking whack right near the end, but got back to his feet to continue, shortly before the referee called time on proceedings.
The Stags will entertain Durley FC from the 13th tier of the English Football Pyramid in the 2nd Round of the Southampton Senior Cup. That match, which will take place at the Snows Stadium, has yet to be scheduled but will be played before the end of January. Their next outing is a Southern League Div.1 South match at home to Lymington Town on Monday 27 December, which kicks-off at 3:00pm.
Match report by Ben Rochey-Adams
Images courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography