AFC Totton AFC Totton Pitching In - Partners with Southern Football League

Wednesday 29 November 2023 | Snows Stadium, Totton | Att: 328


AFC TOTTON                                  3
Alfie Stanley 46mins; Jordan Chiedozie 61mins;
Ashton Pickles 87mins

DOWNTON                                      1
Joe Smith 59mins

WESSEX LEAGUE DIVISION ONE side Downton gave AFC Totton a fright in a tightly-contested Southampton Senior Cup Second Round tie at the Snows Stadium last night (Wednesday 29 November 2023), spurning two golden opportunities to take the lead before The Stags took control with an improved second-half display to book their place in the Last 16 and maintain their chances of making it three SDFA Southampton Senior Cup titles in a row.

Manager Jimmy Ball made several changes from the side that won at Beaconsfield Town at the weekend. Teenaged pairing Owen Pelham and Ashton Pickles came into central midfield, with Luke Bennett making his full AFC Totton debut. Jordan Chiedozie led the forward line, with Alfie Stanley and Remus Nixon completing the front three.

AFC-Totton-badge.pngAFC TOTTON
Starting XI

1.  Lewis NOICE
2.  Benny READ
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
4.  Owen PELHAM
5.  Charlie KENNEDY (Capt.)
6.  Luke HALLETT
7.  Ashton PICKLES
10.  Luke BENNETT
12.  Jordan CHIEDOZIE
16.  Alfie STANLEY
20.  Remus NIXON
8.  Adam TOMASSO
14.  Leo TAYLOR
17.  Leon MALONEY
18.  Zach EARLEY
19.  Sa-Sean LUTUMBA

The Robins, dressed in all-red with a white feature on the chest that gives their kit a distinct Middlesbrough vibe, kicked-off attacking towards the construction site beyond the AFC Totton car park. The home side, in their all-white cup kit, were quick to gain possession and Jordan Ragguette made rapid progress down the left wing from a Jordan Chiedozie knock-on, crossing to the far side for Alfie Stanley to take aim with a shot that was blocked and then scraped clear by the Downton defence.

The visitors worked a neat triangle in an advanced position on the left-hand side, with an over-hit pass letting them down in the crucial moment. Then, sloppy passing and miss-control in the Totton defence presented a potential opening that Downton were unable to capitalise upon.

Ashton Pickles fed Stanley in the box, but once again his shot was charged down at close quarters. Totton regained the ball, going backwards to go forwards with Charlie Kennedy chipping out to the left for Ragguette to centre with a low cross that was turned away from the middle. Downton defender Tom Rafferty, who was a member of the League & Cup Double-winning AFC Totton Sunday team of two years ago, did well to head away Kennedy’s long ball with Stanley poised to sprint clear off his shoulder.

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FIRST STAGS GOAL: Young midfielder Ashton Pickles scored his first goal for the club in the Southampton Senior Cup victory over Downton.

A Pickles cross from the right found Pelham at the far post, whose header was deflected wide for a corner on the Totton left. Luke Bennett’s cross was partially cleared, came back to him and he forced another corner. From the second delivery, goalkeeper Will Betts punched the ball out to send former AFC Totton player Ollie Davies away on the counter-attack. He advanced down the middle of the pitch with white shirts in hot pursuit, and when Pelham made a challenge, it only succeeded in diverting the ball to the feet of Freddie Ingram on the right of the area. He advanced on Lewis Noice’s goal and then dinked the ball past the Totton goalkeeper. Just as away fans began to cheer a goal for the underdogs, Benny Read got back in the nick of time to hook the ball off the goal line, before Kennedy booted upfield.

A short corner on the Totton right broke down with the ball being cleared and immediately returned into Downton’s defensive third. Betts appeared to have the situation under control, despite Stanley’s attempt to run on to the ball, but loose control and a poor pass gave the ball to Chiedozie about 35 yards out, with the ‘keeper stranded. Chiedozie went for the long-range chip as Betts scampered back towards his goal, but the shot floated over the bar.

Ragguette’s battle with Downton right-back James Clark continued to simmer, with the full-back employing a strong shoulder charge to prevent the St. Vincentian whipping the ball in from the left wing, at the cost of a corner. Bennett’s cross came back to him via Chiedozie, and his follow-up cross was punched out by Betts for a throw-in on the right. From there, Totton worked the ball back into the box with Read finding Chiedozie near the penalty spot. He twisted past his marker but then got into a grappling match with Betts, which ended with the Referee’s whistle.

Rafferty played the ball out of defence to Harrison Clarke. Remus Nixon engaged, trying to wrestle possession from the physically more imposing midfielder, and Ingram came away with the ball down the right flank, before he checked and Ragguette pulled him to the ground. The free-kick gave Regan Mason the chance to curl a cross into the Totton box, but Kennedy headed clear.

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DRIVING FORCE: Owen Pelham carries the fight to the opposition.

Another Ragguette foray down the left earned a corner from the hard-working Clark. Bennett crossed to the far post where Luke Hallett got above his man and headed towards the bottom-right corner, Betts responding well to push the ball around the post. Bennett drilled the right-wing corner across and again found Hallett, who headed at goal from about 9 yards out but couldn’t keep it down.

Back on defensive duty, Hallett missed his kick and allowed the ball to escape under him. Joe Smith scurried clear, clean-through on Lewis Noice’s goal. As Noice came out to narrow the angle, Smith fired past him, only to see the ball strike the underside of the crossbar. Some players in red claimed the ball had bounced goal-side of the line, while one of their teammates regathered possession on the left and laid it back to Davies, who blazed over the bar from the edge of the area.

Luke Bennett was booked for a foul just in front of the Downton dug-out. Then, Pickles found Chiedozie in the centre-circle, who pushed the ball out to the right-hand side for Stanley. After carrying the ball forward about 10 yards, he clipped it into the D where Chiedozie received it with time and space enough to take the ball down and fire narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

On the half-hour mark, Noice caught a cross from the Downton left and immediately hurled the ball out to set Bennett away down the left. Clark did enough to halt his forward momentum, so Bennett checked and played a firm, square pass to Pickles in the middle, who relayed the ball on to Stanley at inside-right. The striker took a touch and blasted a shot just over the top.

Totton won a free-kick on the left when Harrison Clarke brought down Chiedozie, but got bogged down among a cluster of red shirts when Pelham clipped the ball to the right of the penalty area. Then, some loose passing in their own half led AFC Totton’s No.1 Lewis Noice to make a sliding tackle just outside his area to prevent Downton getting in behind The Stags defence.

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COMING AT YOU: Luke Bennett takes on Downton right-back James Clark.

Pickles cleared a free-kick from the Downton left but the ball fell to James Clark. His high cross-field pass had Hallett trying to nod back to his ‘keeper, but his contact wrong-footed Noice, who then had to run and stretch to beat Smith to the loose ball with the wide open goal inviting a finishing touch.

With Downton having had the two clearest chances to open the scoring, it was becoming apparent that Totton needed a goal to settle themselves into the game but much of what they attempted to do was rushed and lacked precision. Read released Stanley to sprint down the right wing, before sending in a low centre. Chiedozie wrestled with Downton skipper Ryan Osman and as the ball broke loose, Pickles fired home only for his effort to be ruled out for a foul by Chiedozie.

About 10 minutes before half-time, Will Mackie and Ingram combined well on Downton’s left wing before Kennedy cleared at the near post for Totton. Right-back Clark rode a challenge from Bennett to charge towards the middle from the halfway line, before hitting a well-directed cross-field pass to Ingram on the left corner of the penalty area. He tried to find an angle to squeeze a shot through the massed ranks of white-shirted defenders, before laying it back to Clark who fired over from about 25 yards.

Totton’s attempt to attack down the right was frustrated when Read fouled his opponent at the byline. Then, James Clark was booked when he caught Chiedozie’s heel as the striker tried to move the ball infield from the Totton left.

Despite pressure from Chiedozie, Betts caught a cross by Pickles after a short corner on the Totton right. Then, Ragguette tried to thread a curling through-ball on to Stanley’s toe, as the striker made a darting diagonal run behind the Downton defence, but the pass was a fraction too strong.

Clark and Davies made good progress down the right-hand side for the visitors, until Ragguette tugged Clark back to concede a free-kick. Totton struggled to clear Mason’s in-swinging cross, with Harrison Clarke nicking the ball away from in front of Noice, but when he tried to turn the ball back for a teammate in a better shooting position, Pickles was able to intervene and clear Totton’s lines. A counter-attack briefly looked to be on until a misplaced pass put the kibosh on it and the Referee blew the half-time whistle.

AFC TOTTON                                     0
DOWNTON                                         0

Jimmy Ball made three changes at the break; Adam Tomasso, Leo Taylor and Sa-Sean Lutumba all came on while Luke Hallett, Jordan Ragguette and Benny Read made way. And within 30 seconds of the restart, The Stags were in front. Totton kicked-off and moved the ball out to Leo Taylor on the right, whose forward pass released Chiedozie down the side of the penalty box. He fired in a low cross that flashed past Nixon close to the penalty spot, wrong-footing the Downton defence long enough for the unmarked Alfie STANLEY to take a touch and strike into the bottom-right corner.

Totton regained possession quickly from the restart and Sa-Sean Lutumba, playing at left-back, got forward down the flank and tried to pick out Nixon with a low cross at the near post, but the ball bobbled out of the young centre-forward’s reach at the edge of the six-yard box. Then, quick-fire passing between Stanley and Chiedozie amid a crowd of Downton defenders at the edge of the box almost opened them up, until Stanley’s forward pass escaped Chiedozie’s reach.

Ashton Pickles was becoming increasingly influential in central midfield, acting as a lynchpin between defence and attack, receiving a pass from Tomasso to feed Chiedozie on the right, who attacked the byline and then sent in a cross that Betts saved at his near post. Then, Pickles picked out the same player to the right of the D. Chiedozie sidestepped his marker and attempted a curling left-footed shot from the edge of the box, but he couldn’t get the necessary bend on it and the ball flew well wide.

Rafferty tried to hit a cross-field pass out to the Downton left, but didn’t get a clean strike on the ball. Pelham intercepted in the centre-circle and played Chiedozie in down the right. He took on the left-back Regan Mason but then slipped on the white chalk along the right side of the penalty area and hit the deck. Then, the AFC Totton Media team located at the back of the SFS Main Stand had to duck for cover when an agricultural clearance claimed at least one laptop and the screen of a mobile phone.

Sa-Sean Lutumba-3_Downton_SSC2_Wed29Nov2023.jpg
MY BALL: Left-back Sa-Sean Lutumba shields possession away from a Downton forward.

A foul on Chiedozie by Joe Smith gave Totton a free-kick just off the right corner of the Downton box. Chiedozie’s cross was headed out by Rafferty on the six-yard line. The visitors progressed as far as their own manager’s dug-out, on their left-wing, when Kennedy was penalised for a push. Mason’s out-swinging cross bounced just outside the Totton six-yard box, where Joe SMITH got ahead of his marker to bundle the ball over the goal line with his right thigh to level the scores, just shy of the hour mark.

Incensed, Totton were straight back on the attack. Chiedozie’s cross from the right took a deflection and Betts was able to snatch up the loose ball before Nixon could get a decisive touch. But it proved to be only a temporary reprieve. A foul by James Clark on Stanley at the Totton left-wing touchline gave Bennett the opportunity to curl the ball into the penalty area. Stanley flicked on, it bounced and then Jordan CHIEDOZIE stooped to nod the ball beyond Betts into the right side of the goal to restore AFC Totton’s lead.

The goal was Chiedozie’s last contribution to the game, as he was immediately replaced with Leon Maloney, with Jimmy Ball shouting instructions to his team to “Give him the ball!”

Lutumba did well to break up a Downton attack when he was briefly isolated two-on-one. Then, Clark took the ball off Maloney’s toe, charged forward and looked for Ingram with a low cross that was blocked by Kennedy.

Totton almost extended their lead in fortuitous circumstances when Stanley received the ball on the left flank, drifted infield to side-step his marker and then tried to lay the ball into the run of Pelham from midfield. The pass was over-hit, inviting Betts to come out and kick clear but he smashed the ball against the knee of the incoming Pelham, leaving the goalkeeper stranded with his goal gaping as the ball rebounded narrowly over the bar.

Remus Nixon-6_AFC Totton vs Downton_SSC2_Wed29Nov2023.jpg
READY, AIM, FIRE: Remus Nixon lines up a shot from outside the box.

Mason made an important defensive header from Lutumba’s cross, as Maloney lurked dangerously over his shoulder. Then, Totton almost paid the price for a couple of half-hearted challenges near the halfway line when the visitors tried to unpick the defence with a through-ball that Noice had to slide out to claim at the edge of his box.

Downton had an opportunity to break down their right when Kennedy and Lutumba got in each other’s way, but a loose square pass presented possession back to Maloney, whose forward pass set Nixon going through the middle. But the young forward hesitated before making a decision, and was quickly robbed of the ball. He came close to scoring a few moments later, though, when Stanley’s quick feet stole couple of yards on the left of the box and his low cross to the near post had Nixon sliding in to shoot. The ball beat Betts and smacked the underside of the crossbar. Nixon was straight back to his feet to control the ball but it was knocked away from him. Stanley collected and took aim from 20 yards, pulling a fine save out of Betts, who leapt high to tip the ball over his bar. From the corner on the right, Kennedy met Maloney’s cross at the front of the six-yard box but his flick-on carried it across goal and out beyond the far post.

With 13 minutes left on the clock, young midfielder Zach Earley, a product of AFC Totton’s youth set-up, came on to replace Alfie Stanley. Bennett tried in vain to create a shooting opportunity for himself at the edge of the Downton box. Then, Maloney took advantage of a loose ball to charge his way past three players in midfield before nudging the ball out to the right to Earley, whose arrowed cross was headed out. Maloney collected and tapped the ball to Owen Pelham, who turned away from his man and bent a low shot beyond the left-hand post.

Nixon picked Osman’s pocket and advanced upon Downton’s goal, before Rafferty got back to smother the shot. Then, The Robins flew forward and Davies was able to cut inside from the right flank and strike left-footed to test Lewis Noice at his near post, the goalkeeper proving equal to the task.

James Clark’s cross-field pass found Ingram on the Downton left, who brought the ball down but then ran straight into Leo Taylor. Totton soon coughed up possession, though, and Mason diverted the ball wide for Clark to cross from deep on the right, but the full-back got under the ball and sent it harmlessly over the bar with the Totton defence momentarily in disarray.

Totton wrapped up the cup-tie three minutes from the end. Leo Taylor fought past three challenges to advance on the right flank and cross to the far side. The ball was knocked back across and Pelham, dashing into the inside-left channel forced a corner on the left. Bennett’s cross was headed up rather than out by a Downton defender on the near side of the six-yard box. Standing among a cluster of players around the penalty spot, Ashton PICKLES waited for the ball to drop to his right foot and steered it past Betts into the bottom-left corner for his first AFC Totton goal.

Totton came forward again, with Maloney flashing the ball across the Downton box. Pelham retrieved it and pulled back to the edge of the area, where Bennett took aim only for Rafferty to charge it down. Then, Bennett drifted in from the left flank to drive another attempt over the bar.

Davies beat Lutumba to an angled pass and had a clear run on the Totton goal, until Tomasso came across to shut down the chance, ensuring Totton’s two-goal advantage remained unsullied.

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After the game, AFC Totton Manager Jimmy Ball (pictured) said:

“This match was never going to be an easy one. Downton were arguably the better side in the first half, they certainly had the better chances. But we started fast in the second half and done enough on the night. I had told the players at the break to go out and stake a claim for a place in the team for the Chesham United game on Saturday.

“Games like this are a great chance to find out how good players are and whether they are ready to come and play for us. I was quite impressed with a couple of the younger lads and a couple others probably need a bit more time, but overall it was a good exercise. We want that to be part of our DNA as a football club, developing players ourselves.

“Saturday will be a benchmark for us. Whoever finishes above Chesham United this season wins the league, in my opinion. We’re still a new side to the division, feeling our way at this level. We have had some good performances and some indifferent ones, and this match gives us a chance to really test ourselves against a very strong side.”

Southern League Premier Division South | Matchday#16 | Snows Stadium, Totton SO40 2RW | Saturday 02 December 2023 | Kick-Off at 3:00pm | Save money by purchasing tickets online in advance.

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AFC Totton Fixtures 2023/24

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of Michaela Cater Photography

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