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MATCHDAY #03 - Saturday 27 August 2022

FROME TOWN                                  0

AFC TOTTON                                      1
Scott Rendell 88mins

At a potential top of the Southern League Div.1 South table clash at Badgers Hill in Somerset yesterday afternoon (Saturday), in which the stand-out performers had, for the majority of the match, been the two opposing goalkeepers, it took a skilful cameo appearance from mercurial young playmaker Jake Adams to carve out the match-winning opportunity to enable centre-forward Scott Rendell to send AFC Totton on their way back to Hampshire with all three points in the bag.

Yemi Odubade recovered from the injury that forced him to limp off against Melksham Town last weekend, thanks in large part to some treatment in midweek from the club’s Sports Therapist and Vice-Chairman Dave Penny. Jordan Ragguette was given the nod ahead of Michael Green on the left of defence. Adam Tomasso was recalled and Freddie Read, who missed training while he was working as an intern in London, came into midfield for his first start of the season. Jireh Oyebamiji was also reinstated into the starting line-up, with Jake Adams dropping to the bench.

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

1.  Lewis NOICE
2.  Yemi ODUBADE
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
4.  Mike CARTER (Capt.)
5.  Charlie KENNEDY
6.  Luke HALLETT
7.  Adam TOMASSO
8.  Freddie READ
10.  Scott RENDELL
11.  Ethan TAYLOR
14.  Brett WILLIAMS
15.  Callum BAUGHAN
16.  Jake ADAMS
17.  Michael GREEN
18.  Pascal KPOHOMOUH

Once The Wurzels had stopped warbling through Frome Town’s inexplicably loud tannoy system about their Brand New Combine Harvester and Morecambe & Wise had been satisfied that Saturday afternoon had, in fact, already brought them sunshine, AFC Totton got the football match underway, wearing their away kit of fluo yellow shirts, black shorts and yellow socks, with the Robins head-to-toe in their traditional cherry red.

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Not a lot happened, in all honesty, during the first 10 minutes. Mike Carter breathed new life into one waning Totton attack in the 4th minute by lofting the ball high for Ethan Taylor to try and position himself under for a header or volley, but Frome Town goalkeeper Kyle Phillips gathered the ball before the Totton man could inflict any damage. Then, an enterprising run from Jordan Ragguette, from the left wing-back position over to the right flank, attracted a swarm of red shirts. An exchange of passes with Luke Hallett enabled the latter to aim a cross into the box but the home side’s central defence stood firm.

Both sides tried to settle in possession and move the ball around midfield but neither was prepared to allow their opponents any room to manoeuvre, resulting in the two teams cancelling each other out for long spells.

Owen Humphries managed to escape the grasp of Carter on the Frome left wing around the 10-minute mark, before advancing and skipping past Hallett’s challenge, too. Humphries whipped in a cross but Adam Tomasso was well-placed to head clear for the Stags. Ben Withey put in a strong tackle near the half-way line to prevent Jireh Oyebamiji striding away with the freedom of Frome to exploit in the opposition half.

Lewis Noice, decked out in claret and blue like a Burnley forward, had to rush out of his penalty area to head clear a long kick from his opposite number, Phillips. From the resulting throw-in, Frome worked their way forward and created the best opportunity of the match so far when Jonathan Davies, once of AFC Totton, got to the right-wing byline and pulled the ball back for Jamie Adams who could only strike directly at Noice’s midriff, enabling the Stags stopper to catch the ball.

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DON'T BLAME IT ON THE SUNSHINE: Stags keeper Lewis Noice blames it on the boogie.

A clever one-two between Humphries and Ben Starr on the edge of the Totton box appeared to have opened up the visitors’ defence, until Tomasso threw himself into the line of fire at the last moment, somehow managing to win a goal kick with a fortunate rebound off the legs of Humphries.

Ragguette headed wide at the far post from Taylor’s in-swinging cross but was pulled up for pushing. A clash of heads had Ethan Taylor and Frome's Warren Maidment receiving treatment on the pitch, which the Referee allowed to become an impromptu water break for those still standing. When play resumed, George Rigg’s attempt to intercept a forward pass from Hallett only resulted in playing Oyebamiji into the inside-right channel, from where he was able to win a corner. Taylor’s in-swinging cross was allowed to bounce in the middle of the area but the Stags were again penalised for pushing.

Totton were awarded a free-kick deep on the left for a high foot by Samuel Teale on Scott Rendell. Odubade’s dipping delivery towards the near post was headed out for a throw-in by Withey. Ragguette took it, throwing the ball into the near post area, where Odubade tried to nod for goal from a tight angle, sending the ball high and wide to the left of the target.

A combination of Odubade and Oyebamiji on the right of the Frome penalty area enabled the former Forest Green Rovers striker to force his way past his marker to move across the edge of the area, before driving in a low left-footed shot that Phillips got down quickly to push around the post for a corner. The keeper then punched Taylor’s cross out of his box, although the Referee pulled play back for more pushing by Totton forwards.

The Badgers Hill pitch is infamously undulating, somehow managing to slope in three different directions at once in various locations across its surface, most notably in one particular corner. Neither side was able to get the ball down and impose any kind of possession-based dominance over the other. Frome’s main tactic involved pitting the vertically advantaged Laurent Davis-Wilson in aerial duels with the diminutive Tomasso but they hadn’t reckoned with the defensive midfielder’s dogged determination and willingness to throw his body in the way of anything that threatened the Totton goal from the ground.

Perhaps a key turning point in the game occurred around the half-hour mark when Frome’s playmaker Jonathan Davies ran through the centre of Totton’s defence to try and control a clipped pass from Rigg on his chest. As he strode forward, he appeared to run over a divot and his leg seized up, prompting him to fall and immediately signal to the bench that he needed to be substituted, with what looked like a hamstring injury. Luke Hopper came on to replace him, taking up a position as striker.

Odubade was penalised for a lunging tackle on the half-way line, where he appeared to play the ball but the Referee may have deemed it to be dangerous play given the close proximity of Rigg, who went down clutching his ankle. Frome were unable to capitalise on the free-kick, though.

A lapse in concentration by Rigg as he received the ball from his defence after one Totton attack had been halted, enabled Taylor to pick his pocket and exchange passes with Oyebamiji to work the striker into a shooting position. His effort was blocked and when the ball rebounded to Odubade, his attempt also bounced back off red-clad shins. Rigg redeemed himself with a defence-splitting pass from the centre of the pitch into the inside-left channel, where Starr ran onto it behind the visitors’ defence but Hallett managed to assert enough presence to make Starr rush his shot without troubling Noice.

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TWO-ON-ONE: Jireh Oyebamiji (No.9) leads the attack from the right flank during AFC Totton's valuable away win at Frome Town in Somerset.

Five minutes from the break, Jamie Adams headed out a cross from Odubade from the left-hand side. Tomasso re-directed the ball to Oyebamiji on the right of the penalty area. He turned his man and pulled the ball back across the area for Charlie Kennedy to strike with venom, Phillips pulling off an exceptional save at close range, with his defenders able to scramble the ball away before Totton could react.

But Totton sensed blood in the water, Ragguette firing in another cross from the left which Maidment had to stoop to head away for a throw-in. Then, Withey had to commit himself to a sliding tackle to stop Ragguette getting to the byline. Phillips then demonstrated his prowess in the air, leaping high to intercept Ragguette’s left-wing cross while Rendell lurked with intent near the penalty spot.

Rendell lost possession trying to drive forward but Carter was backing him up and found Odubade with a pass out to the right. As he prepared to take on two Frome defenders, he appeared to stumble. But as one of the defenders tried to take the ball, Odubade suddenly sparked back into life and darted between them, setting himself for a shot to the near post but his effort was underpowered.

After successfully navigating a period of Totton pressure, Frome ended the half in the ascendency by winning a free-kick outside the Stags’ box to the left of the D, for a foul by Carter on Humphries. George Rigg curled a shot around the three-man defensive wall and into the midriff of Lewis Noice, who gratefully held onto the ball.

FROME TOWN                                       0
AFC TOTTON                                           0

The start of the second half was delayed due to a fan being taken ill at half-time. Fortunately, those administering First Aid were able to help him and it was confirmed at the end of the game that he had recovered and was being closely monitored on the premises.

The Stags took to the pitch with Michael Green having replaced Freddie Read, with Green lining up on the left of defence and freeing Ragguette to go further forward. There was an increased air of aggression from both sides during the early exchanges of the second half, with players conceding free-kicks throughout the midfield and often preventing one another taking them quickly, prompting the Referee to calm the situation a couple of times.

Five minutes into the second period, Carter gave away a free-kick on the Frome right, 25 yards out. It wasn’t clear whether the right-footed Rigg would opt to cross or shoot. He chose to deliver a cross into the box where Davis-Wilson ran under the flight of the ball but Sam Teale met it with some force from the edge of the 6-yard box, heading firmly at Noice who did well to catch and hold on.

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CAPTAIN CARTER: AFC Totton midfielder and skipper Mike Carter.

As the game’s tetchy edge continued to develop, Carter was shown a yellow card for persistent fouling - if the Referee’s gesture of pointing to several locations around the pitch is anything to go by. And while the number of fouls and free-kicks continued to increase, still neither side could grab hold of the match.

An injury to Ben Starr presented the opportunity for another water break, during which Jimmy Ball introduced Brett Williams from the bench in place of Yemi Odubade. From the restart, Totton gained territorial advantage via a free-kick for a foul on Taylor after a neat turn between two players on half-way and from that free-kick, Williams was able to gather the ball on the right of the area and force a corner. Taylor’s delivery went too far beyond the far post, but Williams was able to regather the ball and win another corner on the left-hand side. This time, Taylor’s cross caused confusion in the Frome box, the ball being hastily hooked out for another corner on the right. Once again, Taylor switched flanks and send the ball in, Kennedy rose well at the edge of the 6-yard box and glanced his header across goal, seeing it bounce agonisingly wide of the far post.

The loss of the widely-respected Jonathan Davies from their midfield had seriously curtailed Frome’s creative potential. Owen Humphries was busy and energetic, trying to fill the void, and he posed problems for the Totton defence at times. One clipped pass released substitute Hopper to raid upon the Totton goal from the Frome left. While some travelling fans were appealing in vain for offside, Hallett got back to dispossess the striker and lay the ball back for Noice to kick clear. Then, an unceremonious shrug of Michael Green’s shoulder landed Humphries in a heap near his right-wing corner flag with nothing more than a Totton goal kick to show for his troubles.

Laurent Davis-Wilson was taken off shortly after, with Joshua Brace coming on to replace him. On 68 minutes, Teale managed to get his head to Humphries’ in-swinging corner from the Frome left, but he had little of the goal to aim for with two defenders on top of him. He did manage to win another corner for his team but Hallett headed powerfully clear. It wasn’t long, though, before Frome were back with another corner on the left, conceded by Kennedy knocking away a cross from deep on the right. This one caused more concern in the Stags area with Noice struggling to reach a very high cross, but the Referee saw a push on the Totton keeper and awarded a free-kick.

Williams earned a throw-in on the right touchline, deep in Frome territory, in the 75th minute. Carter took it and Hallett tried to burst forward along the right side of the area until he was bodychecked to the ground, winning a free-kick. Green fizzed in a low, curling effort that invited a finishing touch at the near post but Phillips got his body behind it and gathered the ball to safety.

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SPOT THE BALL: Frome Town threaten the AFC Totton goal from a left-wing set-piece.

Frome came forward again. Jamie Adams advanced to the right-wing byline and then moved infield to tee-up Luke Hopper in the middle. Despite the number of bodies in the penalty area, Hopper managed to strike a firm, low effort on target which Lewis Noice turned away with a combination of his right foot and right arm. The rebound fell invitingly for an incoming red shirt but the ball was blasted wildly over the bar.

Jordan Ragguette led several Frome players on a merry dance down the left flank, Withey eventually able to block his cross at the expense of another Totton corner. Taylor delivered it low and Rendell took a swipe at the ball with his left foot, rebounds and ricochets coming to the home side’s aid and enabling them to clear their lines once more.

With about 12 minutes to go, Jimmy Ball chose to throw Jake Adams into the mix in place of Jireh Oyebamiji. And Adams was brought into the game almost immediately, when Carter won the ball back high in midfield to find Ragguette on the left, his crossfield pass finding Adams in space on the right. He brought the ball down on his chest and took on his marker, forcing him back towards his own goal. Another defender came across to help but only succeeded in kicking the ball against Adams, enabling him to break through the two red shirts and strike a low snapshot that Phillips saved.

Totton had their tails up, again. Taylor went down the right-hand side and hung a cross to the far post where Rendell met it with some power, his downward header producing another smart reaction save from the impressive Kyle Phillips diving low to his bottom-right corner.

Then, a long kick from Noice was flicked on by Williams to enable Taylor to race between the central defenders and take possession on the edge of the Frome box, to the left of the D. His forward progress was blocked off so he squared the ball infield for Ragguette to the right of the penalty spot, but once again Phillips managed to get something in the way of the shot, possibly with the help of one of his nearby defenders. The ball spun high into the air and had to be headed off the line by the covering Teale, Phillips still having to then tip it over the bar to fully remove the danger.

Totton were knocking on the door and looking the most likely to find a breakthrough. But then Frome suddenly broke away on the counter attack. Hopper escaped the attentions of Carter and burst down the left wing but there were no red shirts far enough forward to connect with his low cross. Ben Starr was then replaced by Callum Evans for the home side for the last six minutes of normal time.

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TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN: The quizzical look on Scott Rendell's face was soon replaced with one of joy when The Sunburnt Assassin headed the 88th-minute winner.

The lively Taylor and the fresh legs of Jake Adams probed down the right-hand side for Totton and fed the ball into the box but the home defence were coping with it. This continued for a few minutes until the Stags took the lead in controversial circumstances. Frome were attacking from their right wing, a high cross invited two attackers to challenge Lewis Noice for the ball. The Stags keeper managed to push it out to the edge of the area where George Rigg closed in, possibly with the intention of striking directly for goal. But he didn’t see the Referee who had his back to him and they collided with one another before Rigg could get to the ball. Totton took possession and were advancing up the field before the official called play back. He appeared to be apologetic to the home side but resumed play with an uncontested drop-ball that Noice kicked upfield towards the right-wing corner, where the pitch slopes away quite starkly. Jake Adams brought the ball under control and skipped one way then the other to beat his man and arrow a cross into the box where Scott RENDELL flicked his header past Phillips and high into the net for an 88th-minute goal.

Frome complained with almost as much vigour as Totton celebrated their potential winner - but the game wasn’t over yet. The Robins went straight on the attack, only to be undone by an offside flag against Hopper. But the same player then displayed an excellent first touch during injury time to scamper in behind Hallett on his way to the left-wing byline. With Totton defenders scrambling, Hopper pulled the ball back to Joshua Brace, just ahead of the penalty spot. He threw off the attentions of Kennedy by switching from his right foot to his left, but in that split second he gave Lewis Noice the chance to close down the angle and pull-off a vital match-winning save with his legs to preserve his clean sheet and ensure a hard-fought away win for the Stags against one of the best teams in the division.

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

“First half, I thought we were excellent. Their goalie’s pulled off a couple of good saves and I was a bit disappointed we went in nil-nil. The second half started a bit sloppy but we changed it a little bit and in the last 20 minutes, I think we were deserved winners. All three subs had an impact; Greener with his quality, Brett with his presence and Jake - you bring players on like Jake to change the game, and he did.

We have to have the mentality that when we go away from home we try and win, and if you don’t win, you don’t get beat. I’ll be honest, I never felt that we were going to get beat today, but it was whether we could take that next step to come to a place like this. These are a top side. These will be up there fighting for the title. Their keeper’s made some fantastic saves and I thought we were better. But to come here and do that and see it out and fight to the end is a bit of a mentality shift, so I’m pleased.

“We’ve had the hardest [Bank Holiday] weekend out of anyone. We’ve played Frome, who I believe will be up there, and I think on Monday we’re playing the best team in the league. They’ve been together a long time, we’ve been together for two minutes and in how we’re trying to play. It will be a real big test for us. I hope we’ll be up for it and we can match it, and we’ll see where it brings us out. But let’s make no mistake - we’re playing against a very, very good side, one I fully expect to win this league or be right there trying to win this league until the last day.”

Watch the full interview with Benjy Rees from AFC Totton TV

Elsewhere in the Southern League Div.1 South…

Sholing, who come to the Snows Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday, maintained their excellent start to the season with a 2-0 victory at Evesham United, courtesy of goals from Charlie Wagstaffe and Lee Wort, who is emerging as the early front-runner for top scorer. Exmouth Town also made it three wins from three with a 2-0 home win over Paulton Rovers, Levi Landricombe on target once again for the Town with a 7th-minute opener.

Bashley went down to a single George Box goal at Bishop’s Cleeve, while Hamworthy United were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Slimbridge. Melksham Town recovered from last week’s elimination from the FA Cup by taking all three points at Tavistock AFC, Jay Malshanskyj’s 4th-minute strike proving to be the only goal of the game. Westbury United registered their first win of the league campaign with Harvey Flippance’s 88th-minute winner making the difference in a 2-1 home win over Wimborne Town.

The match between Willand Rovers and Lymington Town was abandoned after a horrific collision left Lymington’s Freddie Bullard with four broken ribs and a punctured lung. Updates on social media showed him sitting up and smiling in his hospital bed after a successful operation. On behalf of AFC Totton, we wish Freddie a full and speedy recovery.

Southern League Div.1 South | Matchday #04
Snows Stadium | Monday 29 August 2022 | Kick-Off 3:00pm

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

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of Doug Webber

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