THE BUILDBASE FA TROPHY
2nd Round | Aspect Arena, Canvey Island
CONCORD RANGERS 0
AFC TOTTON 5
Ethan Taylor 13mins; Sam Griffin 23mins, 25mins;
Hisham Kasimu 48mins; Adam Tomasso 52mins
Drawn against opposition from two divisions higher in the English Football League Pyramid, Dan Sackman’s Stags upset the odds and stampeded into the 3rd Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy for the first time in the club’s history with an emphatic 5-0 thrashing of National League South outfit Concord Rangers, yesterday (Saturday).
Something in the region of 80 AFC Totton fans made the 260-mile roundtrip to Concord’s Aspect Arena ground on Canvey Island, on a bitterly cold winter’s day as Storm Arwen battered much of the country.
Captain Harry Medway returned from suspension to take his place at the heart of Totton’s defence, after missing last week’s defeat to Plymouth Parkway, partnering Ade Olumuyiwa. Midfielder Adam Tomasso made his first start since September, having now completed his dual-registration loan with AFC Portchester; he took the No.4 shirt with Jack Masterton dropping to a strong 7-man bench. Hisham Kasimu retained his place up front, despite having not hit the back of the net for five consecutive matches.
A flock of seagulls visibly struggling to contend with the strong wind above one corner of the pitch were an early indicator of the need for both teams to get to grips with the elements and carefully watch the flight of the ball. Totton were the first to threaten with a Hisham Kasimu header flying over the bar from an Ethan Taylor free-kick.
EYES ON THE PRIZE: Skipper Harry Medway leads the Stags out for their FA Trophy 2nd Round encounter with Concord Rangers at the Aspect Arena on Canvey Island.
Harry Medway’s heart was in his mouth in just the 2nd minute when his slip allowed Concord centre-forward Temi Babalola to get free on the right of the penalty area. He squared for Lemar Reynolds who shot straight at Amadeusz Skryzniarz with the goal at his mercy, a bobble on the pitch possibly coming to Totton’s rescue. But Skryzniarz did get to showcase his excellent reflexes a minute later, diving full length to his left to palm away a low shot from Joe Payne, who got forward from left-back to take aim at the far corner of Totton’s goal.
The first yellow card of the encounter was shown to Sam Griffin in the 9th minute, for a sliding challenge on the halfway line that the referee deemed illegal. It proved to be a sign of the visitors warming to their task and starting to press Concord throughout the midfield and in their own half of the pitch, as evidenced by Kasimu stealing the ball from a defender and attempting to feed Ethan Taylor on the right-hand side. The move didn’t come off on that occasion but Kasimu linked up with Callum Baughan a minute later to get down the right flank and pull the ball back to Taylor just inside the penalty area, who shimmied away from his marker and curled a left-footed effort narrowly over the crossbar.
Concord failed to heed the warning and found themselves behind on 13 minutes. As the Beach Boys tried to play out from the back, Griffin darted in to intercept the ball and fed Taylor through the centre. With a defender blocking his forward progress, Ethan TAYLOR flicked the ball into the open space to his left and smashed a low shot across Watford loanee goalkeeper Myles Roberts into the bottom-right corner to give the underdogs from the Southern League Div.1 South an early lead.
The swirling winds favoured Totton, the ball getting held up when Concord attempted direct attacks but also providing a boost whenever the Stags were on the front foot. Taylor and Baughan earned a corner on the right wing in the 15th minute and Medway was within a whisker of extending his side’s advantage with a back-post header from Taylor’s cross, but could only direct the ball wide.
Ade Olumuyiwa kept the back door firmly shut and fed Jordan Ngalo in midfield, enabling the marauding midfielder to zig-zag his way past three home players on his way to winning another corner, which Roberts did well to catch. Then, Medway and Griffin combined to feed Kasimu in the inside-left channel to win a corner on the left flank, as Totton began to assert dominance. Concord initially cleared but Jack Hoey hooked the ball back into the box and Franklin Domi had to be alert to prevent Taylor capitalising.
Hoey came close to doubling the Stags' lead from distance on 20 minutes, after Roberts had raced out of goal to beat Kasimu to Ngalo’s through-ball and left his goalmouth unguarded, but a Concord player spotted the danger and threw his body in the way to make an important block.
But the visitors were more lively and energetic all over the pitch and they did go 2-0 up in the 23rd minute. Ngalo picked the ball up in midfield, midway inside his own half, and advanced into Concord territory down the right-hand side before finding Taylor in the middle with a low pass. He made a diagonal run at the retreating defence and spotted Griffin in space on the edge of the area, to the left. A horde of Concord defenders managed to get goal-side but Sam GRIFFIN wrong-footed them all by shifting the ball onto his right and belting it past Roberts via a deflection off a yellow-shirted head.
MAKE MINE A DOUBLE: AFC Totton winger Sam Griffin hepled himself to a brace in an emphatic 5-0 beating of Concord Rangers.
And while the travelling Totton contingent were still pinching themselves to check this wasn’t all a delirious fever dream, Kasimu laid the ball back to Hoey about 30 yards out and he slipped Sam GRIFFIN in behind the defence. His right-footed prod from the corner of the 6-yard box was initially pushed into the air by Roberts but the spin of the ball when it bounced took it away from the recovering defender and into the back of the net for a third Stags goal.
Concord tried to rally and Babalola managed to break through Totton’s defensive line, causing Skryzniarz to come racing out and concede a free-kick, earning himself a yellow card. Concord couldn’t capitalise and their defender Billy Roast soon followed the Totton keeper into the referee’s notebook.
Hoey was involved again on the half-hour, linking up with Callum Baughan to get to the right-wing byline and pull the ball back to Ethan Taylor, who led his marker a merry dance before firing a low right-footed effort across goal and narrowly wide of the left-hand post. Then, at the other end, the imposing physical presence of Temi Babalola created an opening when Totton struggled to deal with the ball bouncing awkwardly across their penalty area, but the No.9’s shot from the right of goal was too high.
HERE WE GO: Ethan Taylor takes flight against Concord Rangers in the FA Trophy.
Hisham Kasimu’s recent goal drought has not affected his work-rate. He received a pass from the right wing by Taylor and shrugged off a defender to charge infield before unleashing a shot that had to be deflected over the crossbar. Then, Griffin was denied his hat-trick by a brilliant save from Myles Roberts, as the winger stole in behind the defence to head Baughan’s deep cross, forcing the keeper to take evasive action. Griffin came close again, sliding in to convert another right-wing cross from Baughan but just failing to connect as the ball flashed wide.
Five minutes before half-time, Concord managed a shot on target but Skrzyniarz was equal to it at his left-hand post. Then, Olumuyiwa latched onto a loose ball to hit a spectacular 40-yard drive that Roberts did well to get his body behind. Concord twice threatened down their left flank but Skrzyniarz and Baughan did what was needed to ensure the visitors went in at the break with their clean sheet in tact.
CONCORD RANGERS 0-3 AFC TOTTON
There was a cautious optimism among the travelling fans at half-time, who were naturally delighted with their team’s first-half display but nevertheless wary that the conditions had contributed to their success and may yet have a big say in the second 45 minutes. But despite now playing against the wind, the Stags came out on the front foot and forced an early error from Roberts in the Concord goal when Kasimu took advantage of a lackadaisical touch to steal the ball; the keeper saving his own blushes by diverting Kasimu’s shot wide for a corner.
It proved to be only a temporary reprieve, though. The corner from the right-hand side went across goal and Concord had the opportunity to clear from their right-back position. But the ball cannoned off a leaping Sam Griffin and rebounded back to the 6-yard box, where Ade Olumuyiwa’s strength kept the ball alive amid a desperate defensive scramble. His shot was blocked by an outstretched foot but it squirmed to Hisham KASIMU who evaded the last defender and slipped it past Roberts from close range to render Totton four-goals-to-the-good.
And any hopes the home side may have had of mounting a second-half comeback were dashed in the 53rd minute. A low angled shot by Taylor produced another corner on the right-hand side for the Stags, after more good pressing work in midfield from Jack Hoey. Opting for a short corner routine this time, Taylor worked his way to the corner of the penalty area and floated a left-foot in-swinger to around the penalty spot where Adam TOMASSO ghosted in among a pack of yellow shirts to stoop low and direct his header into the bottom-left corner beyond the reach of the diving Roberts to make it 5-0.
Concord enquiries as to how they managed to give up a free header right in front of their goalmouth were drowned out by Totton celebrations both on the pitch, behind the goal and in the main stand, as the vociferous travelling support and a growing number of home fans deciding they’d seen enough combined to turn this cup-tie into a Totton home match.
YOU SHALL NOT PASS: Ade Olumuyiwa played his part to ensure a clean sheet for AFC Totton at National League South Concord Rangers in the FA Trophy.
The visitors could have been forgiven for taking their foot off the gas and conceding a couple of late goals to their higher division opponents, but Ade Olumuyiwa wasn’t having any of that. He slid in to make a crucial block at the byline to prevent a right-wing Concord incursion and from the resulting corner, Hoey hooked the ball away at the back-post, just as the home side looked likely to get on the scoresheet.
Totton began to fall back into a defensive shape in the knowledge that they could still hurt their hosts on the counter, and that became the pattern of the game for the last 30 minutes, despite some prolonged Concord possession and a few raids down their left wing. Amadeusz Skrzyniarz made a spectacular save to push a 20-yard free-kick over the crossbar. Ethan Taylor was yellow carded shortly after for kicking the ball away in response to the referee awarding a foul against Ngalo.
Skrzyniarz made another save low to his left to stop a free-kick from the Beach Boys’ skipper Danny Green. Then, Kasimu turned sharply to escape two defenders and race through on goal, but Roberts was out quickly to shut down the angle. Kasimu managed to retrieve the ball at the byline and drive back infield but the Concord defence scrambled it away before Jordan Ragguette, who had come on to replace Taylor, could latch onto the pass.
Ragguette tested Roberts with a left-foot shot from the edge of the area after latching onto Kasimu’s lay off and getting away from two defenders. Then, there was a handball shout from the home side when Ben Jefford blocked Babalola’s effort, after the centre-forward had done well to drag the ball back from the left-wing byline and get his shot away.
Totton’s defensive discipline frustrated the home side, who looked like they knew they were well-beaten. Medway, Olumuyiwa and Tomasso stood strong, blocking and intercepting anything Concord tried to launch in behind and, when the regulation 90 minutes were up, the referee decided to forego the formality of injury time in favour of getting himself and the home team inside out of the cold, while the visitors and their fans joined together on the sidelines to celebrate a historic victory.
WE DID IT: AFC Totton players and fans celebrate a historic 5-0 victory at Concord Rangers in the 2nd Round of the FA Trophy.
Images: Craig Hobbs Photography
Match Report: Ben Rochey-Adams