SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIV.1 SOUTH
AFC TOTTON 4
Ben Jefford 17mins; Jack Hoey 40mins; Jordan Ragguette 63mins; Shaq Gwengwe 78mins
CINDERFORD TOWN 0
Dan Sackman’s men enjoyed a good day at the office by chalking up a comfortable win against a limited Cinderford Town side at the Snows Stadium yesterday (Saturday), while results elsewhere in the Southern League Div.1 South conspired kindly to inject new impetus into AFC Totton’s bid for the title and promotion.
After ringing the changes in mid-week for the Southampton Senior Cup mauling of lowly Durley, the Head Coach returned Lewis Noice to the No.1 jersey and Callum Baughan to the right-back slot. Ben Jefford retained the captain’s armband while regular skipper Harry Medway was named among the substitutes. Ade Olumuyiwa returned to partner Pascal Kpohomouh, making his league debut for the Stags, at the centre of defence. Freddie Read, Jack Masterton and Jack Hoey continued in midfield behind a front three of Jordan Ragguette, Hisham Kasimu and Sam Griffin. Although Ethan Taylor scored five goals against Durley on Tuesday night, he was forced to sit this one out to complete his three-match suspension for the red card he picked up in the FA Trophy match at Larkhall Athletic.
AFC Totton were escorted onto the pitch by members of the Club’s Under-10s team, who were enjoying a Matchday Experience at the Snows Stadium shortly before Cinderford Town, decked out in their away kit of all green, kicked-off on a mild winter’s afternoon.
The visitors were the first to mount a meaningful attack when Owen Taylor and the Foresters’ top goal-scorer, Zachary Drew, linked up down the right-hand side, forcing Ade Olumuyiwa to make a sliding block at the near post to diver the ball behind for a corner, which Lewis Noice comfortably claimed. And it was Olumuyiwa who initiated Totton’s first attack of note, stepping out of defence to take control near the half-way line and pass to Jordan Ragguette, who had moved infield into a pocket of space in the inside-left channel. He slipped the ball through to Hisham Kasimu, who eluded the defender but was closed down quickly by goalkeeper Nicholas Jones, the ball then bouncing off Kasimu for a goal kick.
CAPTAIN'S DUTY: Skipper Ben Jefford leads out the Stags, accompanied by members of the AFC Totton Under-10s team.
A well-timed tackle by Ben Jefford prevent Ben Brooks from roaming free down the Cinderford right. Sam Griffin took up possession and fed Kasimu on the right touchline. The French striker ran at the Cinderford defence, shifting the ball onto his favoured left foot, but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
For a side that likes to press the opposition the way AFC Totton do, there were plenty of early signs that Cinderford could be caught on the hop. Jack Hoey’s quick free-kick almost put Ragguette through on goal, but poor control let the Stags’ wide man down. Then, Kasimu robbed the ball from a lackadaisical Marcel McIntosh before running into another defender mid-way inside the Cinderford half.
On 14 minutes, Callum Baughan and Sam Griffin played a one-two down the right wing before Griffin’s low cross narrowly eluded Kasimu. Then, Hoey played a cross-field ball out to Griffin near the right-wing corner flag and, after a neat exchange of short passes also involving Freddie Read, Baughan took aim with his left foot from 25 yards out, shooting narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
Ben Brooks managed to get between the two Totton centre-backs and get his shot away at the culmination of a rare Cinderford attack, but Lewis Noice had come out to his penalty spot to narrow the angle and made a smart reaction save. Then, at the other end, Kasimu’s hold-up play earned his side a free-kick mid-way inside the Cinderford half. Jack Masterton played it short for Kasimu to run onto, and his attempted cross-shot was deflected wide for a corner on the right.
As the first corner was cleared for another, Dan Sackman could be heard barking new instructions from the sidelines; he was seemingly unhappy with the way his players had positioned themselves for the set-piece. Whatever he told them worked wonders, because Freddie Read’s delivery was met on the edge of the 6-yard box by Olumuyiwa, whose header hit the back of Jamie Bremner and spun into the air, where Ben JEFFORD reacted quickest to nod the ball past Jones and in, via a deflection from a defender on the goal line. A captain’s goal for the Stags left-back in the 17th minute.
Cinderford centre-back and captain Dion Molyneux was shown a yellow card for an obstruction on Kasimu, as the striker threatened to spin in behind him and advance on the visitors’ goal. But his side should have equalised shortly after, when Drew got away from Jefford down the Cinderford right wing, made his way to the byline and pulled the ball back to Karnell Chambers in a central position, who missed his kick and saw his effort bounce wide off Baughan’s ankle, with the whole goal at his mercy.
Noice caught the ball from the corner and quickly threw it out to Ragguette, who in turn fed Masterton on the left-wing touchline. The Stags veteran had the pace to beat his man, so Bremner cynically pulled him down to earn himself a well-deserved yellow card.
In the 28th minute, Jefford played the ball down the left to Hoey in an advanced position. Ragguette made an overlapping run and latched onto Hoey’s short pass, beating McIntosh for pace, leaving him with a clear run on goal. Jones was momentarily off his line, which might have encouraged Ragguette to take an early shot, but his finish lacked composure and flew well wide of the mark.
Shortly after, a drop-kick clearance from Jones in the Cinderford goal put his side on the attacking foot down the left wing, but despite several opportunities in the ensuing move to get their shot away, they were reduced to speculative efforts that ultimately didn’t hurt Totton.
Jones did well to intercept Griffin’s low cross at the toe of Ragguette, after good work down the right flank by Hoey and Baughan to play the winger into space. Then, Olumuyiwa shut down Brooks’ progress as he threatened to take aim from the inside-right.
A miss-hit clearance by Noice enabled Zachary Drew to find Harry Emmett in space on the Cinderford left with a long diagonal pass. He whipped the ball into the Totton penalty area, where Pascal Kpohomouh stabbed it away. Jack Freeman quickly fired back in a low shot towards goal but Noice was well-positioned to atone for his error.
Another Totton raid down the right-hand side saw Griffin feed the ball inside to Kasimu, who gave his marker Molyneux a hefty shove to create space but then leant back and fired his left-foot shot well over the crossbar from just outside the area.
TON UP: Jack Hoey's strike against Cinderford Town was AFC Totton's 100th competitive goal of the season in all competitions.
But Totton’s profligacy in front of goal was put to a welcome end in the 40th minute, with another foray down the right flank. Griffin was heavily involved again, receiving possession with space to run into, before chopping infield to twist the blood of left-back Tristan Haswell. He slightly over-ran the ball but had the presence of mind to toe-poke it into the path of Jack HOEY who calmly swept the ball home from the edge of the penalty area to mark his 13th goal of the season in all competitions and AFC Totton’s 100th.
The Stags were not prepared to rest on their laurels at 2-0. Baughan played Kasimu into a shooting position but his effort was charged down. The ball bounced free to Ragguette who tried to wrap his left foot around it but blasted over the bar from 18 yards. Then, a heavy touch by Haswell presented the ball to Griffin, who whipped a low cross in for Kasimu, with Ragguette also available on the far side, but Jones read the situation and ran out of goal to scoop the ball up.
Cinderford finished the half in and around Totton’s area, winning a couple of corners, but they were unable to trouble Lewis Noice in the Stags’ goal before the half-time whistle.
AFC TOTTON 2
CINDERFORD TOWN 0
Sam Griffin had spent much of the opening 45 minutes tormenting Cinderford defenders with constant raids down the Totton right, and he began the second half as he meant to go on, latching onto Hoey’s threaded pass to go clean through on the goalkeeper. He opted for an early shot when a lob might have brought more joy, shooting straight at Jones from close range.
There was anger in the AFC Totton dugout when Karnell Chambers took Jack Masterton out with a two-footed foul, right in front of them. In the ensuing melee, substitute Harry Medway picked up a yellow card for remonstrating with Chambers, who should consider himself very lucky to have only seen a yellow card himself.
Freddie Read had a shot deflected wide for a corner after good approach work by Griffin and Kasimu created an opening. Then, Masterton played Kasimu in at the right-wing byline and from his pull-back, Pascal Kpohomouh, who was still forward from a set-piece, stabbed the ball wide from 8 yards.
From a free-kick, Jones picked out Zachary Drew on the Cinderford right and he managed to take on Jefford, move infield and get his shot away but sent it wide of the near post. Then, in the 53rd minute, Jones saved with his right ankle to deny Hisham Kasimu a goal when he dribbled in behind the Cinderford defence.
LEAGUE DEBUT: Pascal Kpohomouh made his first appearance in the Southern League Div.1 South for AFC Totton vs Cinderford Town at the Snows Stadium.
Baughan and Read worked the area near the right-wing corner flag with quick, short, accurate passes, enabling Jack Hoey to ghost into the inside-right channel where he latched onto Read’s lobbed pass, letting the ball drop before volleying it over the bar from a tight angle.
Jack Masterton made a charging run through the midfield, riding two hefty attempted challenges before laying the ball off to Ragguette in space on the left, whose cross-shot was redirected out for a corner. Read’s cross was destined for the forehead of Ade Olumuyiwa until Jones got his fist to it. Totton quickly regained possession but when Kasimu tried to tee-up Jefford on the edge of the area, he under-hit his pass and the chance was gone.
Haswell carried the ball a long way forward down the Cinderford left, until Baughan’s sliding tackle halted his progress at the expense of a corner. Griffin headed the cross away.
Olumuyiwa had to concede another corner, shortly after, on the Cinderford right. From the cross, the ball came out to Drew inside the D and Kpohomouh caught his foot with a forward sliding challenge, gifting the visitors with a free-kick in a dangerous position and earning himself a yellow card in the process. Ben Brooks drove in a low shot, which Noice got down to and pushed away to his right to maintain his clean sheet.
HE'S A KEEPER: AFC Totton No.1 Lewis Noice gets down smartly to push Zachary Drew's free-kick effort against Cinderford Town.
Adam Tomasso came on for Jack Masterton in the Totton midfield. Then, Griffin showed good close control and turned to find himself in a 4-vs-3 situation. He fed Kasimu in the middle as the Stags poured forward, but Kasimu’s pass to Hoey on the right was too strong, and the attack broke down.
Baughan did well on 62 minutes to head clear after a mistake by Ragguette allowed McIntosh to deliver a cross into the Totton box from the Cinderford right wing and, from the resulting corner, the Stags’ right-back put the ball behind again to block Emmett’s cross. Sam Griffin headed out the next corner and then the ball came back to him inside the D. With a crowd of players around him, Griffin picked out Hisham Kasimu at the intersection of the right-wing touchline and the half-way line. Kasimu turned a covering defender and Totton were suddenly in a 3-vs-1 overload. This time, the passing was controlled and precise, as Kasimu played the ball into the path of Jordan RAGGUETTE down the inside-left; the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines international kept his composure as Jones came sliding out to challenge, lifting the ball over the prone keeper with a firm, curled shot inside the left-hand post to make it 3-0 to the home side.
Kasimu was the next player to have his name taken, for kicking the ball away after being caught offside when Ragguette’s pressing had won the ball back high up the pitch. Then, Marcel McIntosh quickly followed him into the referee’s notebook for pulling Kasimu down while the Stags forward was trying to pick out Griffin in a central shooting position.
Ben Jefford had to limp off the field for the second home league match in a row after feeling something go in his left leg. Dan Sackman opted to shift Ragguette to left-back, filling the gap up front with the in-form Shaquille Gwengwe. Then, Ade Olumuyiwa was yellow carded for dissent, for complaining about a foul not given to him for an alleged stamp by a Cinderford player, which led to the bizarre situation of the already-booked Harry Medway coming on to replace Olumuyiwa so that he didn’t get sent off.
LET'S DANCE: There was no goal for Hisham Kasimu but the Frenchman played his part in a comprehensive home win for the Stags.
Kpohomouh and Griffin combined to put a stop to a 78th-minute Cinderford attack, and Griffin picked out Kasimu on the right-wing touchline, again. He advanced down the right wing and, with defenders scrambling to get back, shifted infield and squared to Freddie Read in the centre. Read took a touch and might have fancied his chances with a shot, but the unselfish midfielder demonstrated terrific awareness of the position of Gwengwe in acres of space to his left, and from Read’s short pass, Shaquille GWENGWE was able to open up his body and place a firm right-foot shot across Jones and into the bottom-right corner for an excellent example of a counter-attacking goal.
Totton almost made it five in bizarre circumstances when an attempted drop-kick clearance by Jones hit McIntosh on the back and redirected back to Kasimu. Jones jumped into him, amid loud penalty claims but as play continued, Gwengwe and Read worked it back to Kasimu just outside the area and he curled a left-foot shot around Jones and smack against the left-hand post. As McIntosh tried to control, turn and clear the rebound, he appeared to kick Jack Hoey’s ankle, but once again the referee waved play on.
Griffin, now switched to the left wing, played the ball across the Cinderford area. Hoey stepped over it to let it run but Gwengwe wanted too much time and his shot was closed down. Then, Cinderford keeper Nicholas Jones was added to the referee’s collection of names, seemingly for moving the position of a free-kick in a manner that, frankly, didn’t matter with his team already 0-4 down.
With 5 minutes to go, Ben Brooks hit the defensive wall with another free-kick about 25 yards from the Totton goal. Then, Medway took possession deep in his own defensive left corner and pinged a long pass up to half-way. Hoey flicked it on to put Kasimu through down the inside-left and, travelling at speed while tussling with a defender, he shot low and hard across goal and narrowly wide of the far post. So, Hisham Kasimu, who is the second top goal scorer in the division, didn’t get the goal that his performance warranted but he certainly played his part in a comprehensive home win for the Stags.
Elsewhere, two goals from Nicholas Peare gave Cirencester Town the points in the top-of-the-table clash with Frome Town, sending the Centurions to the top of the Southern League Div.1 South table. They are 6 points ahead of Totton in 3rd place, but the Stags have two games in-hand and travel to Cirencester next weekend, with a trip to Frome in the first week of February. Winchester City are 4th, after their 4-2 win at Barnstaple Town, and Sholing’s surprise 1-1 draw at home to struggling Bideford saw them drop to 5th.
Match Report by Ben Rochey-Adams
Images courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography