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MATCHDAY 15 - Saturday 03 December 2022

BISHOP’S CLEEVE                               1
George Box 90mins

AFC TOTTON                                          2
Scott Rendell 57mins; Ethan Taylor 89mins

DESPITE BEING ON COURSE for a what looked like a routine two-nil win, AFC Totton were made to battle their way to victory by a late Bishop’s Cleeve rally that saw the home side halve the deficit and The Stags go down to 10 men at Kayte Lane in Gloucestershire yesterday (Saturday). But Jimmy Ball’s team fought to the bitter end to record their second consecutive away win in the Southern League Div.1 South following their 4-2 success at Bristol Manor Farm on Wednesday night.

His one-game suspension having been served at The Creek in midweek, Charlie Kennedy came back into the starting line-up at centre-back. Adam Tomasso was not involved in the matchday squad due to work commitments, so Jimmy Ball named only four from a permitted five substitutes.

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

1.  Lewis NOICE
2.  Benny READ
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
4.  Mike CARTER (Capt.)
5.  Charlie KENNEDY
6.  Luke HALLETT
7.  Conor WHITELEY
8.  Charlie DAVIS
9.  Scott RENDELL
10.  Ethan TAYLOR
11.  Matty BURROWS
14.  Yemi ODUBADE
15.  Jake ADAMS
16.  Ben JEFFORD
17.  Freddie READ

The Mitres got the game started on their 3G pitch wearing all-green, against an AFC Totton side bedecked in their usual all-blue and white ensemble. The early stages were characterised by both sides playing with a lot of energy but not a lot of quality, with straight passes often bouncing beyond their intended target and running through to the opposition goalkeeper or out of play.

Benny Read got forward down the right flank for Totton and found Scott Rendell in the middle with his cross. The centre-forward held the ball up long enough for Jordan Ragguette to provide width on the opposite wing, but he was set upon by two defenders. Charlie Davis intercepted their clearance in midfield but couldn’t find Rendell with his through-ball. Then, Bishop’s Cleeve left-back William Turner had to be clever to head back to goalkeeper Lewis Clayton to prevent Matty Burrows getting in from the Totton right.

Totton were keen to apply pressure whenever their opponents were in possession. Jack Holmes dwelt on the ball inside his own half and quickly found himself surrounded by Conor Whiteley, Ethan Taylor and Mick Carter, all snapping at his heels, at the expense, eventually, of a free-kick against Whiteley. When the home side were able to get the ball down and find some rhythm, they put together a neat move of one-and-two-touch passes that ended only when the ball bounced up and struck one of their players on the arm to result in a free-kick for hand-ball.

Ross Langworthy wore the No.10 shirt for The Mitres and he was the one pulling the strings during the early exchanges, but like several other players on the artificial surface, he tended to play his passes with a little too much weight to allow teammates to run onto them.

A rare mistake by Lewis Noice, attempting to pick the ball up after his opposite No.1 Lewis Clayton had sent it the entire length of the pitch from a goal kick, had The Stags’ goalkeeper fumble at the extreme right edge of his penalty area, leaving him with little choice but to punt it off the premises over the fence on the far side, as forwards closed in.

Burrows ran onto Luke Hallett’s pass down the right wing to win a corner off the covering defender in the 14th minute, but the home side dealt with the cross easily enough. They attempted to counter but Hallett was well-placed to deal with it, clearing over the main stand, while his centre-back partner Kennedy was still making his way back into position.

A glorious cross-field pass by Ethan Taylor picked out Burrows on the right-hand side. He controlled the ball and came infield before switching the play back to the left where Ragguette had motored forward to join the attack, and attempted to go past Joseph Jeremiah before the full-back managed to divert his cross wide for another corner. Taylor sent his cross towards the back post where Kennedy came hurtling in, getting above his marker to head his effort narrowly over the crossbar from about six yards.

Charlie Kennedy-2_AFC Totton vs Bishops Cleeve_SLD1S-01_Sat13Aug2022.jpg
SURVIVED HAND-BALL SHOUT: Returning from suspension, Charlie Kennedy played his part in another valuable away win for The Stags.

A few minutes later, Kennedy survived a potential penalty award against him when a square pass from Noice flicked up off the defender’s foot and hit the underside of his arm. Bishop’s Cleeve fans and players alike loudly appealed for a spot-kick but the Referee wasn’t interested.

In the 20th minute, Ragguette got back to quash a Bishop’s Cleeve attack by tapping the ball back to Noice, who passed to Davis on the left. The midfielders’ first-time pass sent Taylor scampering towards the left-wing byline, from where he sent in a low cross. A cluster of bodies containing players of both teams seemed to run over the ball and it came to Scott Rendell, arriving in space to the right of the penalty spot with the whole game to aim at, but The Sunburnt Assassin side-footed over the bar, when he might have had time to take a touch and pick his spot.

Both sides were competing robustly, with free-kicks for pushes and slightly miss-timed tackles a frequent occurrence, without the game ever descending into nastiness. There were a series of corners and throw-ins at both ends in which the defensive units asserted their supremacy. Noice made a save at his near post from one cross-shot following a Bishop’s Cleeve corner on the left. His quick distribution sent Burrows away on the right-hand side, with Ragguette sprinting forward in support. The Weymouth slipped the ball to the St. Vincentian U21 international, and he looped it over a defender to Conor Whiteley on the left of the penalty spot. But his first touch was so heavy, it was effectively a shot on goal that Clayton managed to parry away with his left hand. Totton tried to keep the attack alive but The Mitres cleared, then Hallett did well to dispossess Langworthy as he looked to thread the ball into the path of one of his forwards.

Langworthy saw Davis cut out another of his passes soon after, but then managed to combine well with George Box to engineer The Mitres’ top-scorer into space on the right of the D at the edge of Totton’s area, until Kennedy got across to deflect his shot wide for a corner on the home side’s right. Ragguette jumped high at the near post to glance the ball across his own goal. A green shirt brought the ball down on the far side of the six-yard box but his shot flew behind the goal.

A strong defensive header by Ragguette from near the half-way line led to intricate play between Burrows and Taylor, before Read got forward on the overlap to win a corner for The Stags. It was taken short and Taylor was forced to retreat out of the area. He played a one-two with Carter and then chipped the ball to the far post where Kennedy’s header was deflected wide. Both Kennedy and his opponent needed attending to for a clash of heads, but they were alright and when play resumed, Taylor’s corner from the left was flicked away by a green head.

Burrows almost latched onto Rendell’s headed flick on in the 34th minute, but he slipped at the crucial moment and the ball ran through to the fortunate Lewis Clayton. Totton were by now enjoying the lion’s share of possession and had created the better chances in front of goal, during a bitterly cold afternoon on a pitch that, surrounded by countryside, is somewhat open to the elements.

Mike Carter conceded a free-kick in the right-back area, just off the corner of the penalty area, as he scrambled to recover the ball from a momentary lapse of control by Luke Hallett by bundling George Box to the ground. The Totton skipper was well-placed to head the in-swinging cross out of the six-yard box for his teammates to complete the clearance. Then, Benny Read had to put in a strong challenge in midfield to prevent another loose pass exposing The Stags’ defence.

Bishop’s Cleeve won a corner on the right-hand side when Blaine Waugh’s cross was deflected wide. The high delivery flicked off a Totton’s players fringe and out of play for a corner on the other side. Kennedy got his head to the second corner, but the ball still came through to Lorcan Sheehan beyond the right-hand post, whose shot from a tight angle deflected over for a third consecutive corner, which Totton defended more effectively.

Langworthy received the ball near the centre-circle, exchanged passes with Box and then tried an ambitious drive from all of 30 yards, but it was much too high to trouble Noice in the Totton goal.

Clever play between Whiteley and Burrows released Taylor straight through the middle of The Mitres’ penalty area but Clayton was off his line to collect the ball before the Totton winger could get there. Whiteley was involved again shortly after, turning sharply to find Rendell in the middle of the Bishop’s Cleeve half, who spread the play to Benny Read on the right. The full-back managed to win a corner, which Charlie Davis took. Whiteley timed his jump well to leave his marker grounded, but his header looped over the bar, in the last meaningful action of the first half.

BISHOP’S CLEEVE                                0
AFC TOTTON                                           0

Totton kicked-off the second half but their hosts came out of the blocks looking the more lively. From a throw-in on their left-hand side, Isaac Pearce received the ball in the middle and squared to Jack Holmes on the right, whose first-time shot flew narrowly wide.

Holmes then nicked the ball off Charlie Davis on the edge of the Bishop’s Cleeve area, the ball coming to Burrows who did well to win a corner while surrounded by three men in green. Kennedy was agonisingly close to connecting with Taylor’s cross after out-jumping two defenders. But, within a flash, The Mitres were attacking on the counter with Pearce advancing on the left of the area, until Hallett forced him wide and into a now-or-never shot that Noice was able to claim comfortably, low at his near post.

Lorcan Sheehan read the situation well when Whiteley tried to pounce on a loose touch, as the choo-choo of a passing steam train momentarily took us back to a previous era. Burrows won a free-kick for being wrestled to the ground WWE-style by Turner, after beating two defenders on the right wing. Turner was shown the yellow card and then Taylor took the free-kick but his delivery was too strong, and floated over everyone for a goal-kick.

Scott Rendell-1_GOAL_AFC Totton vs Westbury United-SLD1S-10_Sat12Nov2022.jpg
SWEET SIXTEEN: Scott Rendell added another goal to his tally with AFC Totton's opener against Bishop's Cleeve at Kayte Lane.

Totton made the breakthrough in the 57th minute. Ragguette latched onto Whiteley’s pass down the left-hand side and centred. The ball was slightly behind Rendell but Taylor took control on the edge of the box and drove in a shot that was deflected beyond the right-hand post. The corner was taken quickly and short, then a cross went beyond the far post to where Kennedy hooked it back into the left side of the six-yard box. Whiteley’s close range shot was parried down by Clayton but Scott RENDELL was on-hand to swipe the rebound into the net for his 16th goal of the season in all competitions.

Benny Read and Conor Whiteley both put in strong challenges to force the home side further back from the restart, and a mistake by Sheehan lead to another corner on Totton’s right, which The Mitres headed out. Then, Whiteley tried to put Taylor through on goal but a touch by Sheehan made sure Clayton got there first as the keeper rushed out to the edge of his area to kick clear. Clayton was required to go walkabout again shortly after, emerging from the left side of his area to clear into touch as The Stags built the play down their right flank.

On the hour mark, Jimmy Ball withdrew his leading goalscorer Scott Rendell in favour of Freddie Read. Burrows then went down under pressure as he was chasing a long ball forward but the Referee waved play on. Undeterred, Burrows kept running at the opposition defence and found himself free in the inside-left channel from Kennedy’s ball out of defence. He had time to set himself and pick his spot but Lewis Clayton stood up well and made a smart save with his feet. Before the resulting corner could be taken, Mike Carter had to be attended to, laying mid-way inside the Totton half. The Referee consulted his Assistant on the far touchline and then produced a yellow card for the Bishop’s Cleeve captain Archie Haskayne. The corner, once taken from the Totton left, was smuggled out of the box on the opposite side by the home team.

Luke Hallett chased Langworthy to Totton’s right-wing defensive byline. Langworthy switched the ball to his right foot and crossed but Kennedy was there on the cover to head clear for The Stags, Burrows dropping deep to help Carter see off the threat. When Bishop’s Cleeve came again with a free-kick from their own half, Carter sent Pearce to ground with a strong tackle.

Pearce was back on his feet and created an opening in the 68th minute, popping up on the left corner of the Totton penalty area to play the ball across to Holmes coming in on the right. Jordan Ragguette appeared from nowhere, sliding in to make a goal-saving tackle and smothering the ball sufficiently that Noice was able to step forward and safely scoop it into his grateful arms.

Clayton showed some fancy footwork inside his penalty area with Whiteley trying to close him down. Then, Kennedy and Hallett were lining up to head home from Taylor’s free-kick from mid-way inside the Bishop’s Cleeve half, after Whiteley was fouled. Kennedy headed wide but the flag was up for offside, anyway.

Taylor delivered a 76th-minute corner from the left-hand side. Hallett leapt head and shoulders above the green shirts and thumped his header at goal, but Lewis Clayton saved with his left hand. The follow-up shot was deflected wide for another corner but Totton couldn’t capitalise.

Ragguette sold his goalkeeper a little short with an underhit back-pass but Lewis Noice was alert enough to come out and kick clear for Totton. Carter then met Clayton’s goal-kick with a strong header at the half-way line to set Whiteley on a forward run. He shifted the ball to Taylor who was pulled down by Jack Dovey, whose name was next to be entered into the Referee’s book. Freddie Read and Taylor combined for a short free-kick and Taylor’s high curling effort had Clayton back-pedalling before he punched the ball away one-handed.

Blaine Waugh tried to carry the fight for The Mitres, even as one of his teammates went down amongst screams of blue murder among the home fans at that end. Totton managed to defend it but just as Burrows threatened to launch a counter-attack, the Referee halted play so the prone player could be attended to by the physio. Carter was spoken to in the aftermath but The Stags skipper managed to keep his run of almost four games without a yellow card in tact.

Jordan Ragguette wasn’t so lucky, though, incurring the Referee’s wrath for an over-zealous shoulder charge in the 85th minute, as Totton dug in to protect their slender lead. Despite the number of bodies in the Totton penalty area, the free-kick delivery somehow managed to bounce near the edge of the six-yard box and away to the home side’s left wing, where Waugh took it under control before Charlie Davis clattered into him, to add his name to the Referee’s collection. The free-kick was taken right-footed. Noice read it and confidently stepped forward to claim the ball about eight yards from his goal line.

Ethan Taylor-1_AFC Totton vs Tavistock AFC_SLD1S-13_Sat26Nov2022_by Tom Phillips.jpg
HE DOZEN MISS: Ethan Taylor struck his 12th goal of the season to help AFC Totton to all three points at Bishop's Cleeve in Gloucestershire.

Bishop’s Cleeve kept pushing and Totton continued to fall back and fill up space. In the 89th minute, the ball once again bounced through to the Totton goalkeeper, who is still sporting his impressive Movember effort and, like a moustachioed Pirlo in gardening gloves, he launched the ball the length of the field to wrong-foot The Mitres defence and send Ethan TAYLOR clean through on goal at the inside-left. Free of the chasing pack, the winger took a touch to steady himself and fired the ball past Lewis Clayton into the bottom-right corner to score his eighth goal in five games.

Jake Adams came on in place of Matty Burrows before the match restarted. But when play resumed, Bishop’s Cleeve came hunting for a way back into the game, forcing a corner on the left which was curled over Freddie Read at the near post and headed out for another corner by Kennedy. From the second delivery, a high cross to the middle was met by the head of George BOX, sending the ball over the crowded six-yard box and into the top-right corner of the Totton goal to reduce the arrears for the home side, with nothing but stoppage time left to go.

The Mitres came forward again down their left wing but a heavy pass let Totton off the hook, and within a few seconds, Ragguette was able to play Adams into possession high on the left wing, the substitute utilising his fresh legs to dance over the ball near the corner flag before whipping it away as a defender tried to swipe it out from under him.

That wasted a few seconds but Bishop’s Cleeve managed to get the ball back eventually and won a free-kick just shy of the half-way line, which Clayton came out of his goal to take so all the green-shirted players could pour forward. Clayton kicked the ball directly forward into the inside-right area, where Conor Whiteley headed it straight into the air, before diligently following the bounce to ensure it didn’t go out for another corner. He tried to kick it out for a throw on the Totton left, but the ball struck an opponent and the two players tussled for the ball near the touchline. At one point, the Bishop’s Cleeve player went down but what happened after that and who did exactly what to whom was lost in a cluster of angry green and blue shirts, pushing and shoving each other on the far side of a dimly-lit football pitch late on a December’s afternoon.

Once the Referee had managed to calm all the players down, amid the vociferous encouragement to the contrary of fans congregated in that corner, he consulted his Assistant and produced a red card for Conor Whiteley, as AFC Totton boss Jimmy Ball implored his team to maintain their concentration and see the job through to the end.

Play finally resumed with a long throw into the Totton penalty area, which Carter headed out. Substitute Kia Newman scuffed his follow-up shot and Carter was able to head the ball away again, and although Bishop’s Cleeve retrieved possession, they couldn’t lay another glove on The Stags, for whom the Referee’s final whistle confirmed another three points and six wins from their last seven league games.

Jimmy Ball-01_AFC Totton vs Bishops Cleeve_SLD1S-01_Sat13Aug2022.jpg

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

“We did what we needed to do today. We’ve had two tough away games this week and, like we did on Wednesday night, we’ve had to scrap and battle to win all three points here today. This is a tricky place to come. The ball never settles on these artificial pitches and you have to be able to adjust your game to it if you’re going to come to places like this and take the three points. And we have done that; the lads have adjusted and coped very well.

“Arguably, we had three better chances before we scored the first goal but I think by then we had shaded it and deserved to be ahead. Then, they had to come out and play to try and get something from the game, especially as the home side, and that enabled us to hit them with a second goal. We could have done without conceding late on. Maybe we switched off a bit, thinking the game was won, but these things happen and it was just one moment over the course of a week in which these boys have had to work very, very hard in two difficult matches. So, overall, I’m pleased with the lads and with the effort they’ve given me this week.

‘Sometimes you have to win ugly and that was the case today. It’s all part of football. We’ll take it as it comes and we’ll try to play our football when we can, and scrap and fight like dogs to hold on when we have to. Being able to do both of these things shows how far this team has come since the end of last season. And now we have a week to prepare for the trip to Melksham, which we’re looking forward to next Saturday.”

Southern League Div.1 South | Matchday 16 | Oakfield Stadium
Saturday 10 December 2022 | Kick-Off 3:00pm

Latest Southern League Div.1 South league table

View AFC Totton’s fixture list for the 2022/23 season

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography

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