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MATCHDAY 27 - Saturday 11 March 2023

AFC TOTTON                                   8
Josh Carmichael 14mins; Scott Rendell 25mins, 40mins (pen); Charlie Davis 48mins; Matty Burrows 60mins, 74mins, 90mins; Tommy Wright 80mins

BIDEFORD AFC                               1
Lewis Brooks 23mins

SHARP-SHOOTING AFC TOTTON BANGED EIGHT GOALS past one of the highest-rated goalkeepers in the division at the Snows Stadium yesterday (Saturday) to become the Southern League Div.1 South’s leading goalscorers and further reduce the gap at the top of the table to just three points, on another day when Sholing faltered against Devon-based opposition of their own at Tavistock AFC.

The Stags recorded their sixth consecutive league win to move themselves to within three points of their title rivals, while still holding four games in-hand. An overhead kick by new man Josh Carmichael got the ball rolling and despite a Lewis Brooks equaliser for The Robins, a Scott Rendell brace had the home side 3-1 up at half-time. Charlie Davis extended the lead with a ferocious volley three minutes into the second half, before winger Matty Burrows stepped off the bench to strike a hat-trick, punctuated by a Tommy Wright tap-in for a landslide result that not even Adam Seedhouse Evans - the Bideford goalkeeper who was the unanimous Man of the Match in the 1-1 draw at Bideford in January and who saved four penalty kicks against Exeter City’s U23s during the shoot-out that decided the Devon St. Luke’s Bowl Final at the end of last season - could prevent.

An important accumulated yellow card deadline passes this week, which meant that dropping Mike Carter to the bench would enable Jimmy Ball to protect his skipper from incurring a two-match suspension going into the rest of the campaign. Adam Tomasso - one of the heroes of The Battle of Cullompton when The Stags beat Willand Rovers with only 10 men at Silver Street a fortnight ago - returned to take the No.4 shirt, while central defender Charlie Kennedy wore the captain’s armband. Carter was named among the substitutes, with young Owen Pelham stepping aside in a squad that was otherwise unchanged from that which beat Bashley by a single goal, last weekend.

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

1.  Lewis NOICE
2.  Benny READ
4.  Adam TOMASSO
5.  Charlie KENNEDY (Capt.)
6.  Luke HALLETT
7.  Charlie DAVIS
9.  Scott RENDELL
10.  Ethan TAYLOR
11.  Tommy WRIGHT
14.  Mike CARTER
15.  Matty BURROWS
16.  Freddie READ
17.  Marcus DAY
18.  Jake ADAMS

An 8:30am pitch inspection gave the go-ahead for the match, despite some snow having been forecast overnight, and when the game kicked-off on Saturday afternoon, the temperature was cold but more than bearable. Bideford wore their customary all-red with white trim.

The first action of note was a lunging tackle by Ethan Taylor inside the opposition penalty area, the winger arriving just a little too late and earning himself a yellow card with just 90 seconds on the clock. Taylor went some way to redeeming himself by picking out Josh Carmichael on the right of the area, as Totton swept forward, and the new man in midfield stood a cross to the far post where Charlie Davis met it with a header that he flicked just wide of the top-left corner.

Charlie Kennedy-1_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
MAN IN CHARGE: Charlie Kennedy took the captain's armband in the absence of Mike Carter, who was rested in order to avoid suspension.

Totton steadily settled into their usual possession game, with Lewis Noice and his defenders seeing plenty of the ball to feet. Rendell came close to connecting with a Davis cross, which Totton managed to keep in play. Then, Carmichael tried to dink the ball over the defence for Tommy Wright to run on to, but it ran through to Adam Seedhouse Evans in the Bideford goal.

Good work from Ethan Taylor down the Totton left earned his side a corner in the 14th minute, which Davis took. He angled a cross towards the far side where the Bideford captain Aaron Taylor, standing in front of Luke Hallett, headed the ball upward rather than out. The ball went high enough to give him time to readjust his feet and take a second bite of the cherry, but the spring-heeled Hallett leapt above him to nod back into the crowded middle where Josh CARMICHAEL improvised an overhead-kick on the volley, steering the ball beyond the reach of Seedhouse Evans into the bottom-left corner of the goal to put The Stags ahead.

Hallett almost undid his good work, losing possession inside his own half, mid-pirouette. Carmichael scurried back to dampen the threat, making use of Noice in goal to complete the clearance. Then, Benny Read tussled for and emerged with possession near the corner flag in his right-back area. Totton came forward quickly and Seedhouse Evans had to rush out of his goal to boot the ball high over the Wessex Heartbeat Stand.

Bideford were choosing to stand off Totton, allowing the home side plenty of possession, with the intention of hitting them on the break. Totton put together a swift move, instigated by Scott Rendell dropping deep and playing other blue shirts into attacking areas, that was unfortunately halted when Ethan Taylor strayed offside. Then, Bideford darted forward through the middle, Lewis Brooks pushing the ball to the left for Joe Wragg to take possession on the corner of the penalty area. Benny Read showed him inside, inviting him to let fly with his right foot. Noice reacted sharply, pushing the ball away to safety.

But, The Robins drew themselves level just a few minutes later. From a right-wing throw-in, right-back Kyle Paine found captain Aaron Taylor who threaded a pass between two Totton defenders to play Lewis BROOKS into the inside-right channel, the forward maintaining his composure and slotting his low shot inside the near post.

Parity lasted barely 90 seconds, though. Ethan Taylor latched onto the ball about 35 yards out along the inside-left channel, with red-shirted defenders flanking him on either side. Opting to deliver early service into the box, he clipped the ball between them, towards the edge of the six-yard box where the predatory figure of Scott RENDELL swooped between two defenders of his own to head past Seedhouse Evans into that same bottom-left corner, the centre-forward jumping high to connect with the ball before stumbling to the ground upon landing. His equestrian-themed celebration was a reference to the Cheltenham Festival, where the players have a planned day out this week.

Scott Rendell-1_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
HEADS UP: Scott Rendell heads Totton back in front shortly after Bideford's equaliser in the Southern League Div.1 South encounter at the Snows Stadium.

Totton came forward again, with Benny Read sending in a cross from the right-hand side. Paine casually brought the ball under control about 10 yards from his goal and cleared for Bideford, despite the presence of Rendell just behind him. Then, Bideford put together a slick move that presented Aaron Taylor with the chance to curl a cross into the Totton box, but he struck it too hard for any of his teammates to connect.

Carmichael was penalised for bundling Brooks to the ground, right in front of the Totton dug-out. From Bideford’s right, Alex Byrne’s curled delivery flew directly into the grateful hands of Lewis Noice, with none of the red shirts able to get close to it. A timely challenge by Aaron Taylor at the other end stopped Wright in his tracks, after Masterton had won the ball for Totton and prompted Carmichael and Ethan Taylor to play the on-loan Havant & Waterlooville striker in on the left.

Benny Read put in a strong block on the edge of his own penalty area to repel Jack Winsor’s attempted drive, after Javan Wright and Ashley Mitchell had combined on the Bideford right to provide service into the middle. Then, two strong tackles in midfield by Adam Tomasso kept the visitors at arm’s length while The Stags regrouped in their defensive third.

A crisp passing move had the ball arriving at the feet of Benny Read in an advanced position on the Totton right. He directed his cross to the far side where Davis had done well to get forward with the play and the midfielder centred for Rendell, who with his back to goal needed to affect a back-heel finish, but the chance was quashed by the big defender Ben Gerring before Totton’s top scorer could sort his feet out.

Hallett and Benny Read got into a brief muddle, bumping into one another near halfway. The Bideford No.10 saw his chance and tried to burst away down the left wing, but Read was having none of that and won the throw-in via a sliding tackle off The Robin’s shins.

Jack Masterton-1_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
SET-PIECE SPECIALIST: Jack Masterton takes a corner for The Stags.

Totton increased their lead five minutes before half-time. Wright received the ball midway inside the Bideford half and lofted it over the defence for Ethan Taylor to run onto in the inside-right channel. With a defender tracking his run, Taylor got to the byline and tried to chop infield towards goal, and as he did so the defender made a sliding tackle. Taylor stumbled over the defender’s torso and the Referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Adam Seedhouse Evans got a hand to the ball but Scott RENDELL’s spot-kick found the corner of the net for his 22nd goal of the season in all competitions.

More good work from Benny Read down the Totton right fed Tommy Wright, who decided to try his luck from distance. Seedhouse Evans parried the bouncing shot and grabbed the ball at the second attempt, before Ethan Taylor could pounce on the rebound.

Kyle Paine crossed from deep on the right for Bideford, Hallett heading away as far as Reay, who slipped the ball to the left for Wragg to attempt a cross-shot that Noice claimed confidently. Then, play had to be stopped while Charlie Davis received a treatment after a clash of heads near the halfway line.

On the stroke of half-time, Rendell popped up on the right-wing touchline to keep the dropping ball in play from Noice’s free-kick, with a short pass infield to Wright. Buoyed by one lucky ricochet to get him past the first red shirt, Wright set off on a bustling run that saw him shuffle his way through three challenges before firing over the crossbar, left-footed, from about 30 yards, prompting the Referee to blow the half-time whistle.

AFC TOTTON                                         3
BIDEFORD AFC                                     1

There were no changes to either side as they emerged for the second half. And within three minutes of the restart, The Stags went further ahead. Ethan Taylor ran onto a ball down the right flank and, with two defenders hovering in front of him, turned to his left foot before floating a cross to the far side. Having already arrived just inside the edge of the box, Charlie DAVIS had time and space to adjust his feet, side-stepping Ashley Mitchell’s attempt to block, while meeting the cross full on the volley with the laces of his right boot, slamming the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net before wheeling away in jubilant celebration.

Charlie Davis-2_Goal Celebration_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
THUNDERSTRIKE: Charlie Davis celebrates his ferocious volley that put AFC Totton 4-1 up, shortly after half-time at the Snows Stadium match against Bideford.

Bideford restarted the game from the centre-circle but The Stags nicked possession back almost immediately. Ethan Taylor and Tommy Wright exchanged passes down the right-hand side, Taylor again turning away from two defenders to supply Wright for a chipped cross-shot that Seedhouse Evans had to claim quickly with Rendell lurking.

Lewis Brooks tried to drive his team forward down the Bideford left, taking advantage of some sloppy Totton play near the halfway line. Luke Hallett did enough to force Brooks to rush his effort and fire past the near post. Then, Ben Gerring made an important block to stop Wright capitalising on the service of Ethan Taylor from Totton’s right wing.

Rendell’s impressive hold-up play enabled Wright to take up a position on the right touchline in the 52nd minute, and the striker curled a cross towards the near post where Ethan Taylor hurtled in at pace, sending a diving header narrowly past the post and into the stanchion that holds up the goal net. It was another fast, purposeful attacking move that brought vocal admiration from the crowd.

Attacking at will, Totton swept forward, again. Wright played a square pass to Tomasso in the middle and, with an opponent closing him down over his left shoulder, Tomasso played a first-time pass to pick out Ethan Taylor on the left corner of the penalty area. Taylor shimmied away from Paine but his shot flew way over the top, perhaps taking a bobble just before he pulled the trigger.

Matty Burrows-3_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
OFF THE BENCH AND ON THE SCORESHEET: Second-half substitute Matty Burrows runs at the Bideford defence, amid notching a hat-trick for The Stags.

Bideford were struggling to offer any kind of threat, but they did win a free-kick when Hallett stepped out of the defensive line to make what proved to be a slightly miss-timed tackle in a central position about 23 yards from the Totton goal. Lewis Brooks curled a right-footed shot over the wall but it kept on climbing and continued over Lewis Noice’s crossbar.

In the 56th minute, Jimmy Ball made his first substitution, giving Ethan Taylor a well-deserved rest and bringing on Matty Burrows. Then, Adam Seedhouse Evans had to rush a long way from his goal to beat Wright to a through-ball and clear into touch. Josh Carmichael got caught in possession just inside the Bideford half, but chased back eagerly to atone for his error, conceding a free-kick inside the centre-circle which allowed his team to get plenty of players back.

Just four minutes after coming on, Matty Burrows got his name on the scoresheet. Lewis Noice took a placed goal-kick that bounced near halfway and appeared to deceive two defenders, who were caught in a moment’s hesitation. Matty BURROWS needed no second invitation to run straight through the middle of The Robins’ defence, taking a touch to settle himself and, with Seedhouse Evans trying to narrow the angle from the edge of his six-yard box, calmly slotting the ball inside the left-hand upright. While there’s nothing wrong with the teenager’s finishing, he might want to work on his celebratory knee-slide.

Totton were relentless. Charlie Davis shot from 30 yards to keep Seedhouse Evans on his toes. Then, a lucky ricochet almost played Rendell in, the Bideford defence able to clear in the nick of time.

Javan Wright and Jack Winsor tried to inject some energy into the Bideford attack, and did well to find some space in the inside-right, but Hallett read the situation and nodded the ball back to Noice to tidy up for Totton.

A dribbling run by Burrows on the left-hand side had the Bideford defence backtracking, until Gerring put in a well-timed tackle at the corner of the penalty area to give some respite to the team in all-red. The visitors then made two substitutions, while Marcus Day also came on for the boys in blue, replacing Scott Rendell.

Marcus Day-2_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
TOP MARC-US: Winger Marcus Day played a significant role in the creation of two goals after coming off the bench for AFC Totton.

One of those Bideford subs, Joe Charles, looked lively when running at the Totton defence, until Jack Masterton’s sliding tackle put the ball out of play. From the throw-in, Bideford managed to work the ball to the edge of the area for Archie Reay to attempt a curling shot, which flashed wide of Noice’s right-hand post. Then, Adam Tomasso came off to a warm reception from the home crowd, with Freddie Read coming on in midfield.

Great skills by Burrows had the winger nutmegging Paine, as he advanced towards the right-wing byline, but his cross was cut-out at the near post for a corner, which the home side didn’t capitalise upon. That was the first of a short burst of corners that culminated in Masterton crossing one from the right in the 74th minute, only for the ball to be returned to him via the head of Alex Byrne. Masterton took a touch and shifted the ball short to Davis just off the corner of the area, who was able to bend a cross for Tommy Wright to leap high and glance a header towards the far side of the goal from eight yards. Seedhouse Evans dived to his right to make a one-handed save but before the ball could trickle over the byline, Charlie Kennedy retrieved and knocked it short to the dancing feet of Matty BURROWS, who skipped around Archie Reay’s attempt to close him down and launched a rocket into the top-right corner that threatened to rip the net off. As The Stags peeled away to celebrate their sixth goal of the game, Adam Seedhouse Evans remonstrated with his defenders at the ease with which Totton were being allowed to pepper shots at his goal.

Bideford tried to attack down their right, but Freddie Read was well-placed in the middle to remove the danger for the home side. Then, from a set-piece, the largely-built defender Ben Gerring, who recently scored for Bideford at Frome Town, got his head to a cross but couldn’t get any power behind his effort, making it easy for Noice to catch.

Tommy Wright-1_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
TOMMY WRIGHT, WRIGHT, WRIGHT: So good, they named him three times, the Havant & Waterlooville loanee striker notched his fourth Stags goal in the match against Bideford.

Tommy Wright got in on the goalscoring act in the 80th minute. Benny Read was one of three blue shirts surrounding Javan Wright at the touchline near halfway, and the full-back came away with the ball before passing short to Burrows, who moved infield and arrowed a low pass out to Marcus Day on the left corner of the penalty area. Threatening to cut inside on his right foot and shoot, Day gave Mitchell the slip by shifting the ball back to his left and driving a low cross-shot that took out Seedhouse Evans and left Tommy WRIGHT free to stab home with his right foot from the six-yard line.

It was almost eight just three minutes later, when Freddie Read hit a high cross from deep on the left-hand side which Seedhouse Evans come out to around the penalty spot to try and catch. Burrows managed to get in front of him, sending a looping header towards goal that clipped the front of the crossbar on its way down. Tommy Wright was first to the loose ball but when he tried to contort his body into the weird shape required to strike at goal, there was a defender on the line to deflect the ball away for a corner. Masterton took the corner short and Day found Carmichael about 30 yards out, his shot flying over the bar.

Javan Wright took aim at the Totton goal, after a neat turn with his back to goal gave him half-a-yard of space just outside the box, but he dragged his effort narrowly wide of the left-hand upright, with Noice seemingly having it covered with a sharp dive to his right.

Totton were content to knock the ball around without taking too many risks. A nice combination down the right-hand side between the Read brothers forced Javan Wright to head behind for a corner, as Benny Read threatened to get in again from Freddie’s clipped pass. Gerring headed Masterton’s cross away and when Davis sent it into the box again, another red shirt was well-placed to repel it, once more.

Matty Burrows-6_Hat-trick_Matchball_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
TAKING HOME THE MATCHBALL: Super-sub Matty Burrows celebrates his second-half hat-trick for AFC Totton against Bideford.

Goal number eight came on 90 minutes, when Tommy Wright fed the lively Marcus Day on the left corner of the penalty area, for the winger to cut inside Mitchell and shoot right-footed before another defender’s sliding block challenge could reach him. Seedhouse Evans showed good reflexes to get down to his left, but the ball popped up to Charlie Davis on the right of the six-yard box who, with Kyle Paine coming to challenge him, showed terrific awareness to side-foot volley to Matty BURROWS in the middle for the easiest of finishes that completed both his hat-trick and Totton’s eight-goal rout.

With so many goals and substitutions in the second half, there probably should have been more stoppage time than a solitary minute, but the Referee’s final whistle gave The Stags faithful an opportunity to applaud their team off the pitch in the knowledge that not only had their team recorded an emphatic home victory, but their title rivals Sholing had lost 2-3 at Tavistock, courtesy of a hat-trick from the division’s top goalscorer, Liam Prynn, to make it 10 points dropped by The Boatmen from their last available 12.

Jimmy Ball_AFC Totton Manager_04Mar2023.jpg

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

“At half-time, I was a bit disappointed with some of our play, even at 3-1. I didn’t think we were quite at our usual tempo or rhythm as a team, but individual brilliance in those key moments had given us a decent lead. You need that sometimes, for individuals to do things while the team isn’t quite firing on all cylinders. But in the second half, I felt we were much more ourselves, playing with a high tempo and high intensity that enabled us to take full control of the match.

“I’m pleased for Matty Burrows, who has had a tough time recently. He got a silly red card against Lymington on Boxing Day, but with all the cancellations since then, he’s had to wait two months just to serve his suspension. Then, by the time he was available again, he’d lost a bit of match sharpness while the team were doing well in his absence. So, he’s had to be patient, keep working hard in training and wait for his opportunity, and he’s come on today and done fantastically well for us, scoring a hat-trick in less than half a game.

“Of all the goals, my favourite was probably Tommy Wright’s tap-in, which was a great team move. Tommy deserves that goal for all the unselfish work he does throughout the game, running off the ball and joining in the build-up play to put other players in. He’s another one who has worked tremendously hard in the time he’s been with us and I’m pleased to see him get his reward with another goal, today.

“I was a bit surprised by how far Bideford dropped off us, letting us play. I think the lads were a little surprised by that early on, but once we got the speed of our play right, we were excellent and deserved a big win. I’m aware of results elsewhere today, but it doesn’t change anything for me or for the players; we will keep on taking one game at a time and making sure we prepare properly for each one in turn, then we’ll see where we are come the end of April.”

Southampton Senior Cup | Semi-Final | The Imperial Homes Stadium
Gunners Keep | Portsmouth Road | Southampton SO19 9PW

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By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography

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