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Tuesday 06 February 2024 | Snows Stadium, Totton | Att: 344


AFC TOTTON                                 5
Remus Nixon 23mins; Leon Maloney 32mins (pen), 67mins;
Ethan Taylor 51mins; Luke Hallett 56mins

ROYAL NAVY FA                         0

AFC TOTTON BREEZED into the Semi-Finals of the Servio Hampshire Senior Cup with a comfortable five-goal home win over the Royal Navy FA in their Quarter-Final encounter at the Snows Stadium on Tuesday night.

AFC-Totton-badge.pngAFC TOTTON
Starting XI

13.  Tommy REID
2.  Benny READ
6.  Luke HALLETT
15.  Sam MAGRI
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
5.  Charlie KENNEDY (Capt.)
4.  Owen PELHAM
16.  Luke BENNETT
17.  Leon MALONEY
10.  Ethan TAYLOR
20.  Remus NIXON
8.  Adam TOMASSO
9.  Scott RENDELL
11.  Matty BURROWS
19.  Sa-Sean LUTUMBA

Jimmy Ball took the opportunity to give some of the younger squad members a run-out against a well-organised and combative Navy side that, nevertheless, lacked the cutting edge to pose The Stags many problems.

Remus Nixon, who has recently been on loan at Bemerton Heath Harlequins, could have opened the scoring in the first minute when Pelham won the ball on the edge of the Navy’s area and found the young centre-forward in space to the right of the penalty spot; goalkeeper Loz McCormack made an impressive save in the driving rain.

Totton dominated the ball and made several half-chances, Bennett going closest with a shot straight at McCormack from the edge of the area. But the home side’s patience and perseverence paid off in the 23rd minute. A strong tackle by Ragguette earned a corner on the left. It was played short to Taylor, who dribbled along the byline and pulled back for Bennett to drive a shot that cannoned off a defender and fell kindly for Remus NIXON to make amends for his earlier miss by prodding into the bottom-right.

Royal Navy almost equalised immediately. Midfielder Kieran Feeney lifted the ball over Ragguette to give himself space to aim a low cross to the edge of Totton’s box, where Elliott Holmes took a touch before striking a right-footed shot against the upright.

But Totton took control of the game when Maloney dribbled into the box at the right-wing byline and was tripped for a penalty. Leon MALONEY dusted himself off and fired an unstoppable shot past McCormack to double AFC Totton’s advantage.

A short corner routine from the right gave Taylor a sight of goal from the corner of the area. The winger used Kennedy as a decoy before unleashing a left-footed effort that sailed over the Navy’s crossbar.

Taylor was not to be denied for long, though. Six minutes into the second-half, Nixon and Bennett combined on the left; Bennett’s cross was met close to the penalty spot by Ethan TAYLOR’S header, which bounced and went in off the inside of the left post.

Magri tried to repeat the long-range exocet he scored against Gosport; McCormack reacted well to push his 35-yard strike over the bar. It was Magri’s central defensive partner who scored Totton’s fourth goal; Taylor received a short pass from Maloney’s right-wing corner and sent a high cross to the far side of the six-yard box. Magri used his strength to wrestle the ball away from his marker and squared for Luke HALLETT to tap home his second goal of the season.

Owen Pelham put in a number of robust challenges in central midfield to confirm that his development as a potential AFC Totton first team player of the future continues to go very well. He was unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet when McCormack pushed Maloney’s cross into the air and the young midfielder sliced wide to the left.

On as a substitute, Scott Rendell tried to create an opening from the left, as too did Nixion. The ball came out to Leon MALONEY on the edge of the box, who side-stepped one challenge and struck a fierce right-footed shot over McCormack’s head and just under the crossbar to complete the scoring in the 67th minute, for his 11th goal of the season in all competitions.

Jimmy Ball-1_AFC Totton Manager_Nov2023.jpg

After the match, AFC Totton Manager Jimmy Ball (pictured) commented:

"It was a really good exercise against a spirited, combative fit side who worked extremely hard throughout the whole game. We looked like we found a bit of our rhythm again, which we've not had over the last four or five games - our performances have been decent, even if we haven't got the results.

"The young lads Remus Nixon and Owen Pelham came into the team and both did very well. That's three goals in three games for Remus, which I think he can take great confidence from. He's been on loan at Bemerton Heath Harlequins, which has been a good learning experience for him, and he played well and took his goal well, tonight. Owen is a player we've had around the club for a couple of years now, and he is continuing to develop into a very, very good player. He's got bags of ability, lots of energy, he's aggressive and works hard. He'll probably go out on loan again, soon, but we have to find the right environment to set the right challenge for him at this point in his development.

"We couldn't really scout the Royal Navy team - we knew a little bit about them, but not as much as we usually do going into league and cup games. So, we had to focus on our own game and make sure that we got things right and delivered on what we wanted to do, and the players did that. The rain and wind wasn't great for either side but I was pleased to see a decent turn out amongst the fans, who stayed and cheered on their team, and I hope they enjoyed their night.

"Plymouth Parkway will be a tough one for us on Saturday but if we put in the kind of performance we did at Swindon Supermarine at the weekend, where we could have won the game 5-2 if we'd been more ruthless in front of goal, then I think we'll be very competitive."

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Image courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography

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