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

Wednesday 28 February 2024 | Snows Stadium, Salisbury Road, Totton | Att: 1,113


AFC TOTTON                                  4
Tony Lee 17mins, 80mins;
Luke Hallett 43mins; Scott Rendell 59mins (pen)

DORCHESTER TOWN                4
Olaf Koszela 61mins; William Spetch 66mins;
William Fletcher 75mins (pen); Shaquille Gwengwe 88mins

PROMOTION PLAY-OFF CHASERS AFC TOTTON coughed up a three-nil lead at home to relegation-threatened Dorchester Town last night (Wednesday 28 February 2024), eventually having to settle for a point in an exciting eight-goal Southern League Premier Division South encounter at the Snows Stadium, despite going back in front with 10 minutes of the regulation 90 remaining.

Tony Lee gave The Stags the lead in his first home match since returning to the club, and Luke Hallett doubled Totton’s advantage shortly before the break. Scott Rendell’s penalty just before the hour mark appeared to have wrapped up the three points for Jimmy Ball’s men, but The Magpies swooped upon a defensive error to give themselves a foothold in the game through Olaf Koszela’s goal before Will Spetch reduced the deficit to one just five minutes later. A penalty enabled Will Fletcher to level the scores, before Tony Lee’s second goal of the game edged Totton back in front. But there was yet another sting in the tail for the home side when ex-Stags striker Shaquille Gwengwe converted from close range to ensure the points were shared.

Tommy Reid continued in goal for The Stags, the Brighton & Hove Albion youngster making the fourth appearance of his loan spell from the Amex Stadium club. Sam Magri, who missed the win at Hayes & Yeading United due to illness, made his return to the centre of defence, which facilitated Charlie Kennedy’s redeployment in midfield, with Zidan Akers dropping to the bench. Joe Oastler was suspended.

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

13.  Tommy REID
2.  Benny READ
6.  Luke HALLETT
15.  Sam MAGRI
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
8.  Adam TOMASSO
5.  Charlie KENNEDY
17.  Leon MALONEY
9.  Scott RENDELL (Capt.)
18.  Tony LEE
1.  Lewis NOICE
10.  Ethan TAYLOR
14.  Ben JEFFORD
16.  Luke BENNETT
19.  Zidan AKERS

The threat of rain in the hours preceding the match meant both teams were on tenterhooks when the Referee conducted the final inspection shortly before kick-off, but the Snows Stadium pitch passed with a clean bill of health and it was the visitors, sporting black-and-white striped shirts, black shorts and black-and-white hooped socks, with Totton in their usual home kit of all-blue and white.

Tony Lee had the game’s first chance, getting his head to an early cross but Dorchester goalkeeper Jameson Horlick plucked the ball out of the air. Then, Leon Maloney found space towards the right flank from which he drove an effort narrowly wide of the right-hand post.

Dorchester responded by attacking down their right wing. A low cross was turned away by the Totton defence but kept alive by Corby Moore at the edge of the box. He ushered the ball back out to the right for Olaf Koszela, whose low cross-shot pulled a smart reaction save out of Tommy Reid at the foot of his near post.

Totton should have gone ahead in just the third minute. Maloney picked up the ball on the right and, with a couple of shuffling side-steps, danced his way around his marker before running at the Dorchester defence. Lee peeled off towards the right to enable Maloney to play a quick one-two and go clean through the middle with only the goalkeeper to beat and the whole goal to aim at, but his low shot was well-saved by Horlick’s feet.

Moore’s free-kick from the Dorchester right was headed away by Luke Hallett, at the expense of a corner. The cross arced over everyone except Will Spetch, who headed back into the middle. Oliver Haste’s snapshot was stopped by Reid, using his right bicep to parry, before his defenders scrambled the ball clear. The Magpies forced another couple of corners but were unable to take advantage of either.

Former AFC Totton favourite Jordan Ngalo made his considerable presence felt when he controlled the ball on the right side of the Totton box and turned between two defenders before firing in a low cross that was stabbed away from the danger zone. Then, Joan Luque found himself surrounded by black-and-white shirts mid-way inside his own half, losing possession to a swift Dorchester move that ended with a cross from the left wing striking Koszela on the heel and bouncing harmlessly wide.

Scott Rendell’s persistence won the ball high up the pitch an enabled Luque to advance to the left-wing byline. Two defenders blocked his path so he turned the ball back for Jordan Ragguette to cross. A defender headed away but Totton quickly regained possession, moving the play to the right for Maloney to send over another cross that Rendell nodded forward under pressure, to give Lee a brief glimpse of goal from the six-yard line before Horlick stepped in to claim the ball.

Dorchester had a penalty claim turned down in the 16th minute, when Ngalo forced an opening from the right. Koszela’s shot was saved and as the rebound fell to Jack Dickson, Charlie Kennedy came in with a challenge that appeared to bundle the forward to the ground. All eyes turned to the Referee, who pointed to the six-yard box to indicate a Totton goal-kick, much to the vocal displeasure of the Dorchester contingent behind the goal and those in the away dug-out.

Tony Lee-1_AFC Totton vs Dorchester Town_SLPDS-29_Wed28Feb2024.jpg
OFF THE MARK: Tony Lee celebrates the first goal of his third stint as an AFC Totton player, having put The Stags ahead with a powerful effort against Dorchester Town at the Snows Stadium.

To add insult to injury, AFC Totton took the lead on their next attack. Full-back Benny Read progressed down the right wing and crossed into the penalty area, where Tony LEE took the ball under control, side-stepped a defender and rasped a right-footed finish beyond Horlick and into the roof of the net.

Ragguette shrugged off the attentions of Dorchester right-back Eccott Drew-Young, before charging down the left flank and picking out Maloney at the far post, whose shot was blocked by Spetch. Dorchester dealt with the resulting corner.

Solid defending by Sam Magri prevented Shaquille Gwengwe getting in behind the Totton defence, while Adam Tomasso began to dampen Ngalo’s influence on the game by going toe-to-toe with his former team-mate in midfield.

After a passage of pinball football, Dorchester forced a corner on their right. Tony Lee’s defensive header sent the ball up rather than out, requiring Reid to come out and punch the ball clear. The Magpies regained the ball and won another corner on the same side. This time, Tomasso and Rendell both threw themselves in the way of a shot, after the ball had been knocked down to the edge of the area.

Gwengwe ran into Hallett, who made light work of taking the ball off him and sweeping it forward. Lee latched on to it on the right edge of the penalty area, before he went down under a challenge to earn a free-kick. Maloney chipped the ball into a crowded penalty area, where Magri leapt well but couldn’t direct his header. Tomasso reacted well to prevent Ngalo springing a Magpies counter-attack.

Luke Hallett-1_AFC Totton vs Dorchester Town_SLPDS-29_Wed28Feb2024.jpg
PEEK-A-BOO: Luke Hallett celebrates after catching the Dorchester Town defence on the hop to head home his third goal of the 2023/24 season.

Kennedy intercepted a Dorchester pass, enabling Luque to hit a cross-field pass to Maloney on the right. He ran at his marker, forcing him back into the area, before cutting inside and attempting a left-footed shot that was blocked by another defender before it could reach Horlick. From the corner on the right, the ball flew over everyone and was retrieved on the left flank by Luque. The Spaniard floated the ball back into the box and as Horlick came out to claim, Luke HALLETT appeared from nowhere to beat him to the ball and head inside the near post to double AFC Totton’s lead just two minutes before the half-time interval.

AFC TOTTON                                    2
DORCHESTER TOWN                  0

The visitors made a change at the start of the second half by bringing Will Fletcher on in place of Eccott Drew-Young. Totton remained as they were and Maloney got the game back underway from the centre spot.

Luque had the first shot of the second half, running on to a pass into the inside-left channel and striking the ball first time with an effort that lacked the venom to trouble Horlick.

Maloney’s progress down the right was halted by a robust but fair Ngalo tackle. Then, Dorchester defended solidly to prevent a well constructed move by Rendell, Read and Maloney resulting in a goalscoring opportunity. Substitute Fletcher found a pocket of space on the left flank but Hallett blocked his cross. Fletcher forced the ball back to Haste, who picked out Ngalo close to the penalty spot, but he was crowded out before he could pull the trigger.

Reid had to kick clear while under pressure in his own six-yard box, before the Referee took offence at something said from the Dorchester Town dugout and showed a yellow card to the former AFC Totton Assistant Manager James Wood.

Totton spurned a golden opportunity to go three-up on 51 minutes, when Rendell received the ball in the centre-circle and sent Tony Lee away in the inside-left channel. The pursuing defender couldn’t catch up with him, but Lee went for a low finish and Horlick was able to spread himself and thrust his left leg in the way to make a crucial save.

Kennedy conceded a free-kick just inside his own half, on the Dorchester left. Moore sent the ball into the box and Lee headed out for Totton. The visitors picked up the loose ball and shifted it to their right flank, where Dickson showed some neat footwork to evade the first challenger before advancing on the Totton goal and attempting a long-range shot with the outside of his right foot, which he got seven different types of wrong, shooting well wide of the left post.

Magri received a pass inside his own half and set off on a run that was immediately reminiscent of the wonderstrike he scored against Gosport Borough recently, but when he tried a one-two with Lee to set himself up for a shot, the striker’s return pass was not forthcoming and the development of that particular opportunity was arrested.

Reid did well to catch a right-wing cross while under pressure from Dorchester forwards. Then, a poorly considered back-heel from Luque high up the pitch gave Dorchester the chance to counter-attack, with Totton stretched across the park. Magri dealt with the initial cross into the penalty area, and when Ngalo returned the ball back into the danger zone, Hallett forced it out to the edge of the box. Corby Moore took it under control and shimmied this way and that before bending a shot on to the precise piece of woodwork where the right-hand post meets the crossbar.

Scott Rendell-1_AFC Totton vs Dorchester Town_SLPDS-29_Wed28Feb2024.jpg
HOME AND DRY: Scott Rendell strokes home his 24th goal of the season from the penalty spot, to give AFC Totton a seemingly unassailable three-goal lead at home to Dorchester Town.

Having gone so close to halving the deficit, Dorchester Town then found themselves three-nil down one minute shy of the hour mark. Maloney attacked the visitors’ box from its right edge, drawing a sliding tackle from Oliver Haste. The defender appeared to make contact with the ball first and his opponent second, so The Stags could be considered fortunate to have been awarded a penalty kick. Never to look a gift horse in the mouth, Scott RENDELL stepped up to register his 24th goal of the season.

And that was where it all started to go wrong for the home team. Within two minutes of the restart, Hallett seemed in comfortable control of the ball when facing towards his own goal with Dorchester forwards at his back. He tried to pass the ball back to Tommy Reid but his pass was significantly under-powered, giving the young goalkeeper little chance of winning a midfield-style tackle with the incoming Marcus Daws, who managed to force the ball towards the open goal for Olaf KOSZELA to pull one back.

Jimmy Ball decided to replace Joan Luque, who had given his least effective display in an AFC Totton shirt to date, in favour of Ethan Taylor. Magri’s composure in defence continued to frustrate Gwengwe, but Kennedy was penalised for a trip on another Dorchester forward, resulting in a free-kick from the visitors’ left. Before it could be taken, though, the Assistant Referee called the senior match official over in response to another verbal missive emanating from the Dorchester dug-out. This time, Manager Tom Killick was booked.

The free-kick was knocked out for a corner on the Dorchester right, and from that delivery, Reid was tempted off his line to try and punch clear but was beaten to the ball by Will SPETCH whose header slashed Totton’s lead to a single goal.

The Magpies’ tail feathers were up, black-and-white shirts flitting this way and that as though they suddenly had extra players on the pitch. They were quicker to every ball and appeared to have a greater awareness of the space around them than they had shown at any point in the first half. Daws was energetic on the right wing, creating a half-chance for Ngalo which had Maloney in unfamiliar defensive territory to block before it could reach Totton’s goal.

Edward James was booked for a foul on Lee, as Totton tried to launch a counter-attack. Then, Olaf Koszela made way for Luke Pardoe, wearing the No.17 shirt.

Haste led a spirited one-man raid down the Dorchester left, exploiting the open acreage to evade Kennedy on his advance to the byline and centre beyond Hallett’s attempt to block, with Magri covering in behind to hook the ball away from the six-yard box. Then, Daws received possession near the left corner of the area, cutting inside to fire right-footed with a shot that veered wide of the right-hand post.

Totton needed to raise their game again but Dorchester swarmed around the home penalty area, stopping The Stags from getting out in possession of the ball. Ragguette was struggling to contain the combinations being played down the Dorchester right, and Magri had to step in again to divert Pardoe’s low cross-shot wide for a corner. From the cross, the ball was knocked down to the right of the penalty spot. Ragguette stooped to head away but fell short of connecting with the ball. In the ensuing cartoonish flurry of arms of legs behind him, the Referee spotted a trip by a Totton defender on a Dorchester player and pointed to the penalty spot. Substitute Will FLETCHER blasted his spot-kick high into the goal, just left of centre, while Reid dived to his left.

Dorchester Penalty-No12_AFC Totton vs Dorchester Town_SLPDS-29_Wed28Feb2024.jpg
ALL SQUARE: Substitute Will Fletcher equalises for Dorchester Town from the penalty spot, levelling at 3-3 in the Southern League Premier Division South match at AFC Totton that eventually finished 4-4.

Dorchester equalising having been three-nil down had a depressingly familiar feel to Totton fans, still reeling from seeing their team recently relinquish winning positions at both Hendon and Swindon Supermarine to late goals. But there was more drama to follow.

Spetch was penalised for an inappropriately rough aerial challenge on Rendell, close to the AFC Totton dug-out. Maloney’s cross found Kennedy on the edge of the box, but he was too far out for his header to pose any problems for Horlick.

Five minutes after Dorchester’s equaliser, a pass from within Totton’s half gave Ethan Taylor the chance to attack down the left wing. With Lee running into position in the centre, Taylor struck a cross that deflected off the defender trying to track him. The looping effect that deflection had on the flight of the ball worked to the advantage of the Totton striker; as Horlick tried to quickly adjust his feet, Tony LEE nodded his head to guide the ball past the goalkeeper into the open side of the goal closest to the left-hand post, putting AFC Totton back in front at 4-3.

Lee took advantage of the light-rain covered playing surface to perform an impressive knee slide in celebration of his second goal of the game, and was then substituted for Zidan Akers; whether the one had anything to do with the other may or may not be revealed at some later date.

In the meantime, Rendell had a sniff of goal when Horlick’s clearance was volleyed back into the box by Ragguette, the Dorchester ‘keeper adjusting his body weight in time to jump and catch the ball before The Stags centre-forward could get a meaningful touch having already evaded his marker.

Marcus Daws was booked for a foul. Then, an ill-considered back pass by Ragguette forced Hallett into evasive manoeuvres near the half-way line, with open space between him and Tommy Reid in the Totton goal.

Benny Read atoned for his own miss-control by hassling and harassing Daws back into his own half, enabling Totton to get numbers back. But Dorchester shifted the play to the opposite flank and won a corner on their right. Moore floated the ball to the area behind the penalty spot where Spetch leapt highest and headed towards the right side of goal. As Reid launched himself to that side of the goal, Shaquille GWENGWE popped up to divert the ball into the space the ‘keeper had just vacated to level the scores once again with a goal against his former club.

The goal came with three minutes left on the clock, which then gave way to six minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game. Dorchester Town looked much the more likely to steal a late winner, and it took a couple of goalmouth scrambles to keep them at bay, Ragguette taking one for the team to block a powerful Ngalo effort as Totton found themselves at sixes-and-sevens.

Zidan Akers-1_AFC Totton vs Dorchester Town_SLPDS-29_Wed28Feb2024.jpg
ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK: Zidan Akers charges forward for The Stags, surrounded by Dorchester defenders with fellow substitute Ethan Taylor in support.

Tomasso had to cover behind Read to stop Daws’ left-wing cross reaching the middle of Totton’s box. It came back to Daws, who prodded the ball to James. He fired in a shot from the edge of the crowded box. Reid went one way, Hallett’s outstretched foot deflected it the other but fortunately for Totton, not by enough to prevent the young goalkeeper grabbing the ball to his stomach, and holding on despite Gwengwe snapping at him for scraps.

Totton ended the game on the attack, with Taylor trying to create another goal from the left wing. When his cross came in, Zidan Akers was crowded out and when Tomasso charged into the box and then hit the deck, the Referee was not sufficiently moved to award the game’s third penalty, his own next action being to call time on a dramatic four-four draw.

Watch Jimmy Ball's Post-Match Interview

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AFC Totton Fixtures 2023/24

Southern League Premier Division South | Matchday#30 | Loop Meadow Stadium, Bowmont Water, Ladygrove, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 7GA | Saturday 02 March 2024 | Kick-Off at 3:00pm

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By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of James Mann

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