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1st ROUND QUALIFYING - Tuesday 13 September 2022

AFC TOTTON                                          1
Ethan Taylor 45mins

SLIMBRIDGE AFC                                 1
Edjidja Mbunga 63mins (pen)

On the first genuinely cold, wet Tuesday night of the 2022/23 season, AFC Totton scraped through to 2nd Round Qualifying in the Isuzu FA Trophy against Gloucestershire-based Slimbridge AFC. But The Stags made hard work of it, squandering a number of opportunities to win the game in normal time and then almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory during the standard penalty shoot-out, before finally winning it thanks to a Lewis Noice save and Jireh Oyebamiji’s successful sudden death conversion.

Michael Green was rested to make way for Jordan Ragguette on the left of Totton’s defence, with Adam Tomasso returning to play in the centre. Eastleigh’s loanee midfielder Seung-Woo Yang made his first start for the Stags since arriving at the club on Thursday of last week, while manager Jimmy Ball also named a full complement of seven substitutes.

AFC-Totton-badge.pngAFC TOTTON
Starting Line-Up

1.  Lewis NOICE
2.  Yemi ODUBADE
3.  Adam TOMASSO
4.  Mike CARTER (Capt.)
5.  Charlie KENNEDY
6.  Luke HALLETT
7.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
8.  Seung-Woo YANG
9.  Brett WILLIAMS
10.  Scott RENDELL
11.  Ethan TAYLOR
14.  Jireh OYEBAMIJI
15.  Jake ADAMS
17.  Freddie READ
19.  Pascal KPOHOMOUH
20.  Enrique RUSSELL

This match was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday 10 September but was postponed due to the passing of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. Before the match kicked-off, both teams and their respective fans and officials observed a minute’s silence, in addition to a short rendition of the National Anthem played through the club’s tannoy system.

Slimbridge got the match underway, clad in their aqua green away kit and, after 6 minutes of general back-and-forth in which neither side threatened the other, they conceded a free-kick about 30 yards out towards the Totton left for a foul on Seung-Woo Yang. Yemi Odubade floated in an in-swinging cross but neither of the two navy blue home shirts descending upon the far post could make a solid connection to trouble Lewis Adams in the Slimbridge goal.

Ethan Taylor, operating in the No.10 role for the Stags, wriggled away from his marker near the centre-circle and found Scott Rendell with a low pass to the inside-right channel. Rendell fed the overlapping run of Odubade down the flank but his low cross was muffled away from goal by the Swans defence. Mike Carter won the ball back quickly in midfield and laid it back for Charlie Kennedy to play Taylor in with a lofted pass, but the flag went up for offside against Taylor before he could set his sights on goal. Before play restarted, Slimbridge’s captain Myron Turner was shown a yellow card, presumably for dissent.

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AFC Totton defender Charlie Kennedy.

A short period of passing possession by Totton had Slimbridge pinned back in and around their own penalty area. Yang tip-toed away from two defenders on his way to a central position before trying a low, right-footed drive from about 22 yards that didn’t unduly worry Lewis Adams but demonstrated the loanee’s willingness to take on shooting responsibility.

By-and-large, the visitors were happy to sit deep and allow Totton to have the majority of the ball. While the Swans defended vigorously, they would often relinquish possession in midfield where Carter and the already busy Yang, aided by Ragguette, Tomasso, Kennedy and Hallett, were quick to snap the ball back into Totton possession.

When Joe Shutt had the ball at his feet in the Slimbridge right-back position, he found himself charged down by Brett Williams. The striker had to stretch to direct the loose ball back to Jordan Ragguette who was able to bring it under control and run at the Slimbridge defence, shifting the ball to the left and striking a low cross-shot that had to be hooked away from within the 6-yard box. Seconds later, Ragguette chased down Shutt to prevent Slimbridge making counter-attacking progress along their right flank, at the expense of a throw-in.

Totton came close again in the 25th minute, when Taylor rolled the ball forward towards a ruck of players. Rendell’s short back-heel presented a brief opening for Williams to attempt a toe-poke shot that flew narrowly wide of the right-hand post. Then, Mike Carter’s glorious cross-field pass dropped over the defender and onto the thigh of Odubade, who raced into the right side of the penalty area but then pulled the ball back too far for his teammates to reach it when a better ball in could well have created a scoring opportunity. Slimbridge threatened to counter but Luke Hallett got across to the right touchline to snuff out the danger.

Clever skill from young Swans striker Ethan Dunbar enabled him to twist away from Kennedy at the right-wing byline and send over a cross that had two Slimbridge players competing for the same ball, to the relief of Tomasso and Hallett who were keeping a watchful eye over them. Totton went up the other end, where Yang chipped the ball to the right of the 6-yard box for Rendell to head across. Williams attempted an acrobatic variation on an overhead kick, but the Referee called the play back, either for offside or for high feet against Williams with Lewis Adams in reasonably close proximity.

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AFC Totton striker Brett Williams.

The next chance also fell to Williams, after Kennedy’s attempted through-ball bounced back to him off a defender’s shin. He nudged it forward for Williams who tried a left-foot snapshot on the turn, but could inject neither power nor precision into his effort. Then, Ragguette exchanged passes with Yang along the left flank to position himself to cross the ball to the edge of the area, where Rendell connected with a header but could only direct the ball against his marker.

Luke Hallett earned himself a yellow card for pulling back Brad Bevan, after the Slimbridge left-winger beat him to a loose ball near half-way and threatened to race clean through. The free-kick delivery was poor, though, enabling Carter to clear as far as Williams near half-way, who released Odubade to gallop down the right wing and centre with a low, angled drive that was knocked behind by a covering defender. Taylor’s corner from the right was initially cleared but the same player was then played into the inside-right channel by a lobbed pass, a heavy first touch preventing him from taking advantage.

As a frustrating first half for the Stags drew to a close, vocal complaints regarding the award of a throw-in brought the Referee to the Slimbridge dug-out, where he waved his yellow card in the general direction of somebody seated on the bench but hidden from the view of the Wessex Heartbeat Stand. And as the match was ebbing towards a stalemate at the break, a momentary lapse in Slimbridge’s compact defensive concentration enabled Williams to put himself under Kennedy’s high ball to nod it into the path of Ethan TAYLOR who was approaching the penalty spot with time and space to swipe the ball into the right-hand side of the goal, unopposed.

AFC TOTTON                                          1
SLIMBRIDGE AFC                                0

The Stags re-emerged for the second half with Jireh Oyebamiji and Jake Adams both being introduced into the fray, with Brett Williams and Yemi Odubade making way.

An early link-up between Oyebamiji and Taylor had the latter darting into the Slimbridge box, only to be brought down by a defender’s outstretched foot. Totton appealed for a penalty but the Referee was content that the defender had made contact with the ball first, turning the home team’s protests away. Jordan Ragguette then had his name taken for a late sliding tackle near half-way, as Slimbridge began to motor forward.

Jireh Oyebamiji’s willingness to hassle players in possession high up the pitch caused enough discomfort to win a throw-in from Slimbridge keeper Lewis Adams, as the Swans continued to be pressed back into their own half. When Ben Prictor did try to lead a breakaway from the left-back position, Taylor slid in to put the kibosh on his attacking ambitions.

Slimbridge carved open the Totton defence 10 minutes into the second half when Edjidja Mbunga received the ball in a central position, mid-way inside the Totton half and played Brad Bevan into a one-on-one situation with Lewis Noice from the Slimbridge left. The keeper rushed out to narrow the angle, successfully smothering the shot at source and diving onto the loose ball, before angrily remonstrating with his defence for leaving him so exposed.

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AFC Totton midfielder Jake Adams came on as a second-half substitute.

James Sunley was then sent on in place of Myron Turner for Slimbridge. Totton won a free-kick about 25 yards out on the right-hand side, for a foul on Oyebamiji as he received Taylor’s pass with Jake Adams screaming for a knock-on to release him on the overlap. Adams took the free-kick and went directly for goal, but his effort was too high, sailing harmlessly over the bar.

Oyebamiji was proving a nuisance to the Slimbridge defence. Ben Hands had to be alert, sliding in to make a well-timed tackle to knock the ball off the former Forest Green Rovers striker’s toe before he could pull the trigger.

The Stags had the Swans penned in at their own left-back corner flag area, eventually resulting in a Totton throw mid-way inside the visitors’ half. Taylor received the ball from the throw-in, turned to move across the pitch and picked out Jake Adams on the left-wing. Adams stood up the defender, feinted one way and darted the other before driving a low shot that Lewis Adams saved at his near post. Then, Yang found Jake Adams who this time drove infield from the left flank before squaring the ball to Taylor on the edge of the box, his first-time shot on-target for the bottom-right corner but lacking the power to elude the Slimbridge keeper.

In the 63rd minute, somewhat against the run of play, Bevan and Mbunga linked up again with a quick one-two that freed Bevan to charge behind the Totton defence, into the inside-left channel. Being the wrong side of his man, Charlie Kennedy pulled Bevan down and the Referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot, from which Edjidja MBUNGA’s powerful right-foot spot-kick levelled the scores.

Ragguette’s header just behind half-way, returning a free-kick from deep inside the Slimbridge half, set Oyebamiji on a chase but Lewis Adams raced out of his goal to kick clear. Then, Ethan Taylor had two defenders throwing themselves in front of him to stop him unleashing a shot from the edge of the penalty area.

It had been a theme on the night that for all Totton’s possession, they would often overhit passes, making it difficult for teammates to bring the ball under control with defenders nearby or difficult to catch up with the ball before it bounced out of play. Jake Adams and Ethan Taylor tried to find a way through the middle of a packed 8-man defence. When it looked as though they might have overplayed, Mike Carter came bustling through from midfield, shrugging off one challenge and sliding in to divert the ball under the keeper and into the back of the net. But, the Referee had seen something in the build-up to take umbage with and ruled the goal out.

Biships Cleeve Mike Carter_stretch.jpg
GOAL RULED OUT: AFC Totton skipper Mike Carter had a goal chalked off.

Adam Tomasso latched on to Taylor’s flick on to charge into the box from the right-hand side, driving a left-foot shot that Lewis Adams was able to deal with. Then, Tomasso found himself on the end of a promising move initiated by Adams from deep on the left. Taylor received the ball in the middle and squared to Rendell at inside-right, his flick putting Tomasso in again but the diminutive midfielder-cum-defender sent his cross over the bar when it needed to be pulled back along the deck for incoming blue shirts arriving in the 6-yard box.

Slimbridge brought on Marley Thomas and Dylan Lewis; Brad Bevan and Ethan Dunbar made way. Seung-Woo Yang’s AFC Totton debut came to an end, as he was withdrawn in favour of Freddie Read.

Luke Hallett had to turn the ball over his own crossbar to prevent Slimbridge capitalising from a rare attacking foray down their right wing. The corner was initially cleared but the ball looped high enough to invite James Sunley to attempt a spectacular long-range volley that flew a long way over the bar.

Totton applied pressure again, with Slimbridge players blocking several shots around the edge of their penalty area. Ragguette and Tomasso were both quick to regain possession when the visitors tried to mount counter-attacks but, once more, the Stags struggled to find a way through the massed ranks of defenders clad in aqua green.

Left-back Ben Prictor was shown a yellow card for diving, trying to draw a free-kick from Taylor near the half-way line. Then, Lewis Adams was in sweeper-keeper mode again, beating Taylor to a through-ball after Rendell and Read tried to capitalise on Hallett’s defensive header.

Jake Adams forced a corner on the left-hand side, despite his namesake Lewis Adams trying to keep the ball in play. From the resulting corner, the ball struck a defender in the face, causing him to go down and the Referee to call another halt to proceedings. Shortly after, Taylor slipped away from Prictor where the right-wing touchline intersects with the half-way line, before striking the ball cross-field for Jake Adams to take on his man and drive in a low shot, that was diverted wide for another corner. Hallett met the high cross at the back post and headed back across goal for Carter to volley, but the Totton captain caught Mbunga in the face and was penalised with a yellow card.

With time running out, Totton were showing greater urgency, trying to find the right combination of passes and movement to unlock the Swans defence. Jake Adams and Freddie Read picked a path inward from the left-wing touchline across a still crowded Slimbridge defensive third. An Adams shot was charged down by Marley Thomas but the ball came to Ethan Taylor, 25 yards out, right of centre, and he curled a delightful shot that struck the top-left corner of the post and crossbar before bouncing back into play, but Totton couldn’t scramble quickly enough to convert the rebound.

FA Cup Ethan Taylor V Melksham.jpg
KNOCK ON WOOD: Ethan Taylor hit the woodwork with a long-range curling effort.

Jireh Oyebamiji almost decided the cup tie on 90 minutes, running through at inside-right to get his shot away from Taylor’s reverse pass before Prictor could get his challenge in. Lewis Adams parried low to his left, and as the ball spilled loose, Oyebamiji looked favourite to gobble up the rebound but Lewis Adams somehow got strong arms behind the follow-up effort to redirect the ball out for a corner.

During three minutes of stoppage time, Adams played Oyebamiji in at the right-wing byline but his low cross was blocked. And what might under different circumstances have been a clever dummy by Ethan Taylor just before the final whistle was lost on tired legs and tired minds who could only watch the ball roll into the grateful hands of Lewis Adams.

With no extra-time or replays in the FA Trophy, the Referee’s final whistle took the tie straight to penalties. The decision to take the spot-kicks at the end of the Snows Stadium closest to the Calmore Industrial Estate suggests that Slimbridge won the toss, keen not to have the shoot-out play out in front of the majority of the Stags fans congregated towards the other end.

James Sunley went first for the Swans, successfully rolling the ball into the bottom-right corner; Jake Adams matched him with a left-foot finish. Dylan Lewis took Slimbridge’s second penalty, which Lewis Noice saved diving to his right; Luke Hallett’s conversion handed Totton the advantage. Edjidja Mbunga had scored from the spot during the match but he blasted his shoot-out penalty high over the crossbar; and when Adam Tomasso rifled the ball past Lewis Adams, it left Slimbridge needing snookers.

Jack Holmes scored his spot-kick. That left Scott Rendell, AFC Totton’s regular penalty taker this season, with the chance to win it for the Stags. But The Sunburnt Assassin could only drive his effort into the knees of Lewis Adams. Marley Thomas still needed to score to keep his team in it, though, which he did with consummate ease, pinging his shot into the top-right corner. So, Ethan Taylor strolled up with the chance to put the tie to bed; his left-foot strike was powerful enough but for the second time on the night, Taylor was to be denied by the woodwork, his shot bouncing back off the crossbar - taking the shoot-out into sudden death.

Right-back Joe Shutt fired high into the net past Noice; that turned the tables on Totton, with Freddie Read now having to score to keep the Stags in the FA Trophy. The coolest head in Hampshire calmly slotted the ball home to keep the contest going. Pantomime villain Ben Prictor then arrowed his shot into the left corner; Jordan Ragguette responded with a successful conversion. Centre-back Toby Lawrence thumped Slimbridge into a 6-5 lead; Charlie Kennedy restored parity with a well-struck shot into the top-right corner of the net.

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JEEPERS, KEEPER: Two saves by Lewis Noice during the penalty shoot-out saw Totton on their way through, thanks to Jireh Oyebamiji's decisive spot-kick.

Jacob Geddes stepped up to take Slimbridge’s ninth penalty of the shoot-out. He aimed his shot for the bottom-right corner but Lewis Noice was down in a flash to make an excellent save. Slimbridge keeper Lewis Adams got fingertips to Jireh Oyebamiji’s spot-kick, but couldn’t prevent it nestling into the back of the net and taking AFC Totton through to the 2nd Round Qualifying stage.

The Stags will entertain Berkhamsted of the Southern League Div.1 Central, who overcame Exmouth Town with an emphatic 5-0 home win last night. The match will take place at the Snows Stadium on Saturday 24 September, kick-off at 3:00pm.

Jimmy Ball-2_Manager_AFC Totton vs Basingstoke Town_Pre-Season-7_30July2022.jpg

After the match, AFC Totton manager Jimmy Ball (pictured) said:

“We have to start taking the goal chances that our attacking play creates. At the end of the day, football is about scoring more goals than the other team and we didn’t do it. Somebody soon is going to get a proper pasting because we’ve created some fantastic opportunities but for whatever reason, we haven’t been able to put the ball into the back of the net.

“I don’t understand why Mike Carter’s goal was ruled out. Their player has pulled up with cramp, as far as I can see, and the Referee’s decided that’s a free-kick. Referees have a tough job with players screaming and shouting; it’s absolutely hilarious in a way, their heads must be spinning sometimes with all that goes on. The lad’s gone down with cramp and somehow won a free-kick for it. But, we have to take that on the chin and still find a way to win.

“We didn’t train specifically for a penalty shoot-out. The players practice penalties on their own quite often but you can’t recreate the situation of a real-life shoot-out. They all have the ability to hit a pole in the ground from 12 yards, no problem, but a penalty when it matters does something to footballers’ heads. I back their ability, though, and they’ve come through it. Our own goalkeeper was massive for us, tonight. He had one save to make in open play with a one-on-one to deny their No.11, then he pulls off two fantastic saves in the shoot-out. Outstanding - I’m glad we’ve got him.”

Emirates FA Cup | 2nd Qualifying Round | Draper Tools Community Stadium
Saturday 17 September 2022 | Kick-Off 3:00pm

View AFC Totton’s fixture list for the 2022/23 season

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography

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