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MATCHDAY 14 - Wednesday 30 November 2022

BRISTOL MANOR FARM                  2
Owen Howe 32mins; Steven Kingdon 77mins

AFC TOTTON                                          4
Scott Rendell 21mins; Ethan Taylor 26mins, 86mins; Conor Whiteley 90mins

JIMMY BALL’S TITLE-CHASING AFC TOTTON quickly recovered from the disappointment of relinquishing a two-goal lead to hit back with two more goals of their own and take all three points in the fog at Bristol Manor Farm on Wednesday night, taking them up to 2nd place in the Southern League Div.1 South table with two games in-hand over several of their promotion rivals.

Charlie Kennedy’s suspension after his red card against Hamworthy United last Tuesday meant he sat out the 125-mile roundtrip to The Creek, leaving the versatile Adam Tomasso to slot into central defence alongside Luke Hallett, in the only change to the starting line-up that thrashed Cinderford Town at the weekend. AFC Totton Academy player, Brenno Narezzi - who is dual-registered with Totton & Eling and has impressed with his performances for The Millers throughout the season to date - was named on The Stags’ bench in a competitive match for the first time.

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

1.  Lewis NOICE
2.  Benny READ
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
4.  Mike CARTER (Capt.)
5.  Adam TOMASSO
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
18.  Brenno NAREZZI

Situated between a canal at one end and an active railway line behind one side of the ground, a layer of fog hung over the pitch at the 1,700-capacity BS3 Services Stadium as AFC Totton - in their changed kit of fluo yellow shirts, black shorts and yellow socks - got proceedings underway. Bristol Manor Farm wore red shirts, white shorts and black socks.

The match took a little while to settle, with both teams initially trying to turn their opponents back towards their own goal with direct passes to the front men and out to the wings. An early advance by Bristol Manor Farm began with the left-back Aron Robbins finding the imposing figure of centre-forward Owen Howe in the centre-circle. He spread the play out to the right wing for Jayden Nielsen, who was quickly closed down by Jordan Ragguette.

Ethan Taylor managed to get forward down the left wing, his cross being blocked for a corner. He took it himself and the ball was headed back to him; he controlled and sent it across the home side’s penalty area, but his delivery was too long. Possession was retrieved on the right and worked to Matty Burrows who whipped the ball back into the danger zone, the bounce taking it narrowly away from Taylor as he arrived at the back post.

Central defender Joshua Ford did well to deal with a high bouncing ball, as Conor Whiteley was chomping at the bit to race in-behind him. Then, Burrows took advantage of Frankie Artus dwelling on the ball in midfield, though a robust challenge from Steven Kingdon stopped him in his tracks.

Over-eagerness put paid to a Totton attack down the middle, Taylor having to run wide to chase Whiteley’s heavy pass when the opening was ahead in the inside-left channel. Shortly after, Burrows drew a free-kick despite hurdling Robbins’ lunging tackle on the Totton right. Taylor’s high in-swinging delivery had Luke Hallett leaping high to meet it, but he couldn’t direct his header at goal. Then, Charlie Davis received Scott Rendell’s lay-off mid-way inside the Bristol Manor Farm half with yellow shirts flooding forward, but the midfielder’s chip into the penalty area hit Taylor on the shoulder and ran safely through to goalkeeper Ben John.

Mike Carter-1_Frome Town vs AFC Totton-_SLD1S-03_Sat27Aug2022.jpg
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE REAL MIKE CARTER?: The AFC Totton skipper has now gone three consecutive games without a yellow card.

Totton successfully defended a Jake Gosling free-kick from deep before edging forward with a succession of left-wing throw-ins, from which Burrows was eventually able to sneak unnoticed to the byline and play the ball across goal but there was an absence of Stags in front of goal, allowing the home team to smuggle to ball away on the opposite flank.

The home side fashioned their best early chance in the 18th minute, when Owen Howe received the ball on their right-hand side from a throw-in level with the edge of Totton’s penalty area. He controlled and fired across the box, the ball flashing beyond the reach of Hallett but also eluding Jayden Nielsen who was descending upon the far post.

Hallett then headed on a Davis free-kick from half-way, allowing Benny Read to win a throw-in high on the right. Burrows received the ball and sent an in-swinging cross into the box where Taylor managed to head at goal but only straight at John, who saved comfortably.

Bristol Manor Farm attempted to mount meaningful attacks but found their ambitions frequently dashed against the Yellow Wall of the AFC Totton defence with captain Mike Carter patrolling the area ahead of them. And in the 21st minute, the visitors sprang forward down the left flank with Jordan Ragguette galloping forward and driving in a low centre that wrong-footed a recovering defender and fell kindly for Scott RENDELL to slot past John into the bottom-left corner with the inside of his right foot. The goal took The Sunburnt Assassin’s tally to 15 goals so far this season.

Totton were soon on the offensive, again, which Kingdon tried to combat by smothering Rendell inside the centre-circle, at the expense of a free-kick. Davis prompted a rapid shift of the ball from right to left, where Ragguette charged forward menacingly before running out of pitch.

Bristol Manor Farm came back with an attack of their own, Howe trying to burrow a path through a cluster of yellow shirts surrounding him on the edge of the Totton area. Adam Tomasso got the crucial touch to end his forward progress, and Carter managed to nick the loose ball away from the inrushing Artus. The spritely Conor Whiteley took up the running, and suddenly The Stags were on the charge. Davis found space on the right-hand side and Whiteley promptly shifted the ball to him, with Burrows already scampering ahead down the wing. Davis’s beautifully weighted pass allowed Burrows to run wide of Robbins and clip a first-time ball across the face of the Manor Farm goal. A defender’s foot caused the ball to loop beyond the reach of his colleague coming in behind him and Ethan TAYLOR beat Harry Lucas to it at the far post, firing across John at close range into the right-hand side of the goal to put Totton two goals up with 26 minutes on the clock.

Ethan Taylor_Larkhall Athletic vs AFC Totton_FATr3R_18Dec21.jpg
AMONG THE GOALS, AGAIN: Ethan Taylor's brace at The Creek takes him to 11 goals in all competitions for the season to date.

Manor Farm looked at their most dangerous from set-pieces. Gosling struck a deep free-kick out to the left wing. Benny Read blocked the first cross but the second made its way to the far post where two red shirts went up for the ball, Howe getting the decisive touch but only managing to loop the ball over the crossbar with an untroubled Lewis Noice calmly monitoring the situation.

Tomasso got another crucial block in to prevent Manor Farm profiting from a quickly-taken free-kick. Then, Davis rapidly covered the ground back towards Totton’s right corner flag to block Gosling’s attempt to supply quality from the home side’s left wing.

On the half hour, Jordan Ragguette was adjudged to have charged the Manor Farm No.10 Mason Winter with a little too much shoulder, and became the first player to be shown the yellow card. Gosling lined up the free-kick, about five yards in from the right touchline, level with the edge of the penalty area. His high, curling cross was aimed at Joshua Ford, who got his head to the ball only to see it ricochet off a yellow shirt and land at Noice’s feet, allowing The Stags’ goalkeeper to fall on the ball.

But the home side kept pushing and probing, and they got their reward in the 32nd minute with an emphatic strike out of nowhere. The ball was played up to Howe, about 25 yards from the Totton goal in a central position. Totton defenders converged upon him and as Tomasso tried to clear the ball he miss-kicked it, causing the ball to spin high in the air. As it dropped, Owen HOWE controlled the ball on his chest and then unleashed a thunderous right-foot volley that scorched the tip of Lewis Noice’s right glove on its way into the far corner. An unstoppable shot from The Stagslayer to bring the home side back into the game.

Bristol Manor Farm’s renewed confidence was tangible in the way they began to zip the ball around the pitch, despite the grass being slightly longer than might have been expected. Carter conceded a free-kick for a strong shoulder, presenting Gosling with another opportunity to provide good service into the box. Ford was in there again, but his header was too high.

Totton kept their nerve and continued to test the resolve of the Manor Farm defence, but The Stags were let down by their own final ball on a couple of occasions. Then, Gosling and Winter combined down the Manor Farm left to win a throw-in near the corner flag off Benny Read. Hallett headed clear from the long throw and when the ball was sent into the Totton box again, Tomasso did likewise.

A few minutes before half-time, Whiteley received Rendell’s knockdown from Noice’s goal-kick, midway inside the opposition half. Spotting the winger’s run, Whiteley lobbed the ball over Robbins to put Matty Burrows clean through at inside-right but Ben John reacted quickly, rushing off his line to narrow the angle. Burrows tried to lob the ball over the keeper but had to rush it, causing him to send the ball wide of the near post.

Totton hearts were in mouths for a moment when an unfortunate ricochet landed at the feet of Howe in the middle of their penalty area, but the flag was already up for offside. Then, Kingdon put an end to a well-constructed move between Rendell and Read down the Totton right. He tried to clear the ball but Davis intercepted about 20 yards out and drove his shot over the bar.

Hallett did well to keep his eye on the ball among the mist and the glow of the floodlights at The Creek, with Howe sniffing around him, looking to find space in-behind, the former Forest Green Rovers defender heading the ball safely back to Noice. Then, a high cross from the left by Taylor proved just a little too high for Burrows as he arrived unmarked at the right-hand post.

A shove by Aron Robbins on Burrows, level with the edge of the 18-yard line on the Totton right, earned the Manor Farm defender an entry into the Referee’s little black book. Taylor sent in a high, in-swinging cross towards the far post which Ben John met with a firm double-fist to punch clear, at which point the fog was penetrated by the shrill of the Referee’s whistle to signal half-time.

BRISTOL MANOR FARM                    1
AFC TOTTON                                            2

Both sides remained unchanged when they emerged for the second half, with the temperature having taken a noticeable drop during the break. Manor Farm kicked-off and immediately found themselves under pressure by first Rendell and then Taylor charging the ball down to prevent the home side launching it into The Stags’ half of the pitch.

Totton enjoyed a let off when Luke Hallett misjudged the flight of an in-swinging cross on the edge of the Totton box. As he stepped forward to volley the ball upfield, it dropped under his foot and escaped into space behind him. Fortunately for the visitors, it surprised the home side’s forwards as much as it did those in fluo yellow, resulting in a corner on the Manor Farm left. The ball was crossed towards the edge of the area, where Davis was able to hook the ball away.

Howe went down on the corner of a crowded Totton penalty area soon after, bringing loud appeals for a spot-kick. The Referee was nearby and waved play on. Totton shifted gears quickly, with Carter freeing Taylor to race down the left wing. He advanced into the final third and, with the Manor Farm defence stretched, picked out Burrows on the far corner of the area. He took a touch and that was just enough for Steven Kingdon to make an excellent last-ditch tackle, deflecting the shot over the crossbar.

Marcus Day replaced the Manor Farm right-back Harry Lucas on 56 minutes. And Day immediately found himself pressed back by Ragguette, who crossed from the Totton left. Rendell knocked the ball down to Taylor to the left of the area, who aimed his volley at the far corner. Joshua Ford threw his body in the way and was rewarded by the sight of the ball looping out for another corner, which the home side managed to head away.

Jordan Ragguette-3_Slimbridge vs AFC Totton_SLD1S_23Apr22.jpg
COOL HEAD: Jordan Ragguette set-up Ethan Taylor for AFC Totton's third goal at Bristol Manor Farm, in the 4-2 win that takes The Stags up to second in the table.

Howe got another sight of the Totton goal from a tight angle on the left-hand side on the hour, after receiving the ball just off the corner of the six-yard box from a throw-in. He managed to turn his man and strike left-footed towards the near post but Noice was well-positioned to parry the ball to the ground and gather it at the second attempt.

The home side made their second substitution on 65 minutes by sending on Michael Bryant in place of Joshua Ford. Then, Taylor was caught offside as he raced through the middle for Totton. Rendell’s protests earned him a talking to by the Referee, but the Totton centre-forward was pressed into defensive action shortly after, heading the ball clear from Manor Farm’s right-wing corner.

As Conor Whiteley tried to shepherd the ball out of play near the touchline, Jayden Nielsen nipped the ball past him and scampered to the Manor Farm left-wing byline. Whiteley was beaten all ends up, so he took one for the team with a cynical foul before the winger could progress into the penalty area, earning himself a yellow card in the process. Gosling’s delivery was too long, but Hallett’s effort to carry the ball forward on the Totton left was abruptly ended by Winter’s strong challenge, sending the ball out to touch.

Ragguette and Carter tried to combine on the Totton left but Marcus Day read the situation well and managed to put himself in the way. Then, Ethan Taylor pounced on a defender’s heavy touch to force a corner on the left. Taylor’s delivery was into the six-yard box but Howe was back there to head the ball over his own crossbar and into the creek behind the goal. From the subsequent corner, Tomasso managed to get a shot away, which was hooked out by a defender. Then, Manor Farm countered. Davis made a challenge near halfway but couldn’t stop the home side’s advance. When the cross came in from the right, Totton managed to scramble the ball out of their box for Taylor to eventually clear.

Totton thought they had restored their two-goal lead in the 74th minute, when Carter intercepted Howe’s pass near the halfway line and played Burrows into space at inside-right. John came out to narrow the angle, so Burrows put the ball on a plate for Ethan Taylor in the middle, who rolled it into the empty net - but Taylor had moved a fraction too early, triggering the offside flag on the far side.

And just two minutes later, Bristol Manor Farm were level. From a free-kick near the touchline on their left-hand side, about 22 yards from the byline, Gosling curled a cross into the Totton box. The ball dropped between Taylor and Steven KINGDON who, despite having lost track of the flight of the ball and inadvertently turned his back on it, still managed to divert it past Noice from close range.

Jimmy Ball decided to send Jordan Ragguette further forward down the left-hand side, bringing Matt Burrows off and sending substitute Ben Jefford into the left-back slot. Carter and Davis worked the ball out to the right flank where Benny Read was ever-willing to offer additional width. But the right-back’s cross struck a defender, rebounded back off him and ran through to Ben John.

Carter received the ball in central midfield in the 78th minute, zig-zagged past two opponents and played a short pass to Taylor, who fed the overlapping run of Ragguette on the left flank, where he isolated Marcus Day on the corner of the Manor Farm box. Pressing the defender back, Ragguette made an angle to fire in a fierce, low drive that John had to get down quickly to his left to parry clear of the far post.

Annoyed at having given up a two-goal lead, Totton were pressing hard to restore their advantage. Benny Read fed the ball in from the right-hand side for Whiteley to receive in the middle, about 30 yards out. He fed Taylor who tried to dance his way through three defenders before being crowded out. Then, Ben Jefford did well to track Marcus Day’s foray down the Manor Farm right, blocking his cross at the byline to concede a corner. Play was then halted so Charlie Davis could receive treatment from the AFC Totton physio Dave Penny. Davis looked to be walking very awkwardly as he made his way to the intersection between the halfway line and touchline on the Totton left, on the opposite side of the pitch from the dugouts. But he was keen to get back into the action and, as Totton dealt with the corner, he was waved back into play by the Referee.

Totton got their noses back in front with four minutes to go with a swift attacking move initiated by Whiteley feeding the ball out to the right wing for Benny Read to run onto and deliver an early cross, the ball bouncing to the far side of the six-yard box. A less cool head might have been tempted to lash at goal from a tight angle, but Jordan Ragguette had the presence of mind to pull the ball back to the middle for Ethan TAYLOR to smash home from 10 yards.

Jimmy Ball then took the walking wounded Charlie Davis off in favour of Freddie Read, the 22-year-old coming on to play in the same football team as his 25-year-old brother for the first time in their entire lives. Bristol Manor Farm Manager Lee Lashenko responded by sending on Kye Simpson - no stranger to goalscoring at this level - in place of Jayden Nielsen.

Conor Whiteley-3_AFC Totton vs Westbury United-SLD1S-10_Sat12Nov2022.jpg
DID HE MEAN IT? WHO CARES?: Conor Whiteley's Bergkampian goal at the end of the game wrapped up a 4-2 away win for The Stags.

Detailed to maintain a steady ship at left-back, Jefford beat his man to a through-ball and cleared up the line with a high pass that Ragguette was able to bring down before drawing Mason Winter into shoving him to the ground. Manor Farm managed to clear Rendell’s knock down from Jefford’s free-kick, but Totton were quick to regain possession in midfield and push it out to the right flank. Taylor exchanged passes with Benny Read, before finding his forward progress blocked by multiple red shirts. So, Taylor turned infield and played a sharp one-two with Mike Carter to change the angle of attack, before rolling the ball to Whiteley on the edge of the D, with defenders to his left and right. Now, whether he meant to do it or not can fuel post-match discussions in the Monarch Suite for years to come - but what Conor WHITELEY actually did was, with his right foot, flick the ball over the head of Mason Winter to his left, before darting between the two defenders to meet the bouncing ball on the half-volley with a left-footed thump that eluded the fully-stretched figure of Kingdon and arced over the diving Ben John into the middle of the goal, with the clock reaching the 90-minute mark.

Lewis Noice made a brave stop on the edge of his area as Manor Farm made one last push to get something from the game in stoppage time. Whiteley received a warm round of applause from the travelling Totton fans as he made way for a late Jake Adams cameo. Freddie Read’s characteristic tenacity, helping out at left-back, kept the door shut on that side of the pitch, while Scott Rendell also joined in the rearguard effort, stretching full length to block a cross. Adam Tomasso acquired the game’s last yellow card for kicking the ball away to prevent the hosts taking a quick free-kick, before the Referee’s final whistle confirmed a handsome away win for The Stags.

Jimmy Ball_AFC Totton Manager_August2022.jpg

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

“That was difficult. This is a tough place to come and they are tough opposition. They put it on you. Their set-piece deliveries are good and, when we maybe eased off a touch, they punished us to get themselves back into the game. But, our lads showed fantastic character and were brave on the ball - we kept creating chances and we got our just reward in the end.

“They had the momentum in the game for a spell but we changed our shape to disrupt them, and when we attack with the kind of aggression and intensity that we showed tonight, we are very difficult to live with, and we looked good in front of goal, again. Scoring goals and winning football matches is a habit. We have to work for it and fight for it, and we’ve done that recently by amassing 16 points for the month. That total should have been a little bit higher - we arguably created clearer chances in the goalless draw against Hamworthy United than we did tonight, so that was a little splinter, but we’re going well.

“This is a really, really tough league, so we need to have different ways to win. We are developing that well, but we can’t afford to be off it. We have to maintain the right mentality, sense of purpose and play the right way. We’re up to second in the table tonight and, if we’re still up there by February, then we’ll be in a very good position.”

Southern League Div.1 South | Matchday 15 | Kayte Lane
Saturday 03 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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