EMIRATES FA CUP, 2nd Round Qualifying
Saturday 16 September 2023 | TigerTurf Stadium, Gloucester | Att: 681
RENDELL STRIKES THREE AS STAGS TAME TIGERS ON THEIR OWN TURF
GLOUCESTER CITY 0
AFC TOTTON 3
Scott Rendell 28mins, 51mins, 89mins
AFC TOTTON MADE THE FIVE-HOUR roundtrip to Gloucestershire at the weekend to both take on and take down higher division opposition in 2nd Round Qualifying for the 2023/24 Emirates FA Cup with an emphatic 3-0 away win at Gloucester City (Saturday 16 September 2023).
A Scott Rendell hat-trick proved enough to tame the 10-men Tigers, who had defender Jamie Reckford sent off for a second bookable offence shortly before half-time. The home team’s manager Tim Flowers, the former Southampton, Blackburn Rovers and England goalkeeper, was taken ill on the morning of the game so handed match day responsibilities over to his assistant, Yan Klukowski.
For the second game running, Jimmy Ball made changes to his back four. Benny Read was dropped to the bench with Charlie Kennedy shifting to right-back, making way for new signing Joseph Oastler to partner his former Havant & Waterlooville teammate Sam Magri in the middle of the defence, meaning that 10 games into the 2023/24 season Jordan Ragguette and regular No.1 Lewis Noice are the only ever-presents in the Stags’ starting line-ups. Adam Tomasso, the AFC Bournemouth U21 loanee Ben Winterburn and Leon Maloney all returned to the midfield, with captain Scott Rendell restored up front after sitting out the majority of the midweek win at Hartley Wintney in the 2nd Round of the Servio Hampshire Senior Cup on Tuesday evening. Recent injury absentees Luke Hallett and Mike Carter were both named among the substitutes, together with young goalkeeper Nico Trojanowski and the Peterborough United loanee defender, Harry Thomas.
1. Lewis NOICE
5. Charlie KENNEDY
15. Sam MAGRI
7. Joseph OASTLER
3. Jordan RAGGUETTE
8. Adam TOMASSO
14. Ben WINTERBURN
17. Leon MALONEY
10. Ethan TAYLOR
9. Scott RENDELL (Capt.)
16. Alfie STANLEY
2. Benny READ
4. Mike CARTER
6. Luke HALLETT
11. Matty BURROWS
13. Nico TROJANOWSKI
18. Jake SCRIMSHAW
20. Harry THOMAS
The two teams walked out onto the 3G pitch at the Tigerturf Stadium to the tune of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor. Gloucester City wore red-and-yellow hooped shirts with red shorts and red socks featuring two yellow hoops - a kit worthy of Roy Race’s famous Melchester Rovers. For the third consecutive match, Totton wore their changed kit of all-white with blue features on the shirt sleeves.
The visitors made a bright start to the cup tie. Jordan Ragguette and Alfie Stanley worked the left flank and although Gloucester cleared the initial danger, Adam Tomasso intercepted the ball in midfield and played Stanley in to try a shot from a tight angle that goalkeeper Zach Jeacock left to fly into the side-netting behind his right-hand post.
One win in nine league games since the start of the season has Gloucester City sitting just one place above rock bottom in the National League North table, and there was something of a mixed atmosphere with many fans trying to get behind their team early on in contrast to several messages of dissent that some AFC Totton supporters had come across online, prior to the match. The home side’s nervy start continued when an under-hit back-pass enabled Ethan Taylor to cause mischief in the Tigers’ box, racing onto the ball and nutmegging the keeper, although the ball took a kind deflection off Jeacock’s inside leg to take the weight off it and wrong-foot Taylor, who was looking to nip around the other side of his opponent and apply the finishing touch.
A late challenge by Jamie Reckford on Charlie Kennedy near the halfway line had the Referee reaching into his pocket to produce the game’s first yellow card as early as the third minute. Nothing came of the free-kick, though, and new arrival Jamie Oastler was given an opportunity to demonstrate his defensive prowess by shrugging a forward off the ball to prevent a fast Gloucester breakaway attack.
The home side’s first sight of goal came in the eighth minute, when a well-constructed move down their left wing ended with a chipped ball into the penalty area being nodded down for Joe Parker, who rather dragged his right-footed volley across himself and well wide of the left-hand post. Gloucester were then forced into an early substitution when Kartell Dawkins came off worse from a collision with Scott Rendell. Dawkins was replaced by Brandon Smalley, who scored against Dan Sackman’s AFC Totton in a 3-3 draw at Evesham United in November 2021.
Gloucester won themselves a corner on their left wing, which Ragguette headed away. Smalley tried to make an instant impact, dribbling down the left flank before Sam Magri came across to usher him and the ball out of play at the left-wing byline.
A quick throw at the other end by Taylor put Stanley in behind the defence but he had to turn back and try to return the ball to Taylor on the edge of the area, who was crowded out by several red-and-yellow shirts. Then, imposing central defender Ben Richard-Everton reached out a long leg to scoop the ball off the toe of Stanley, who was threatening to sprint through on goal.
Having operated mainly down the left wing, Taylor took up a position on the right flank to clip a cross to the far side of the box which Rendell nodded down. Maloney controlled the ball before it could cross the left-wing byline, then picked out Stanley in a dangerous position, but he was closed down before he could pull the trigger.
Totton were dominating the early exchanges. Taylor exploited space to take the ball into the left-wing corner. Stanley received his cross and lofted it over his marker, only to be beaten to the bounce by the scooping arms of Jeacock.
A Gloucester attack down their left was successfully defended, Stanley and Ragguette able to carry the ball forward down the Totton left before it was diverted out for a corner. Leon Maloney’s placement of the ball, seemingly well outside of the corner quadrant, irked several fans located around that corner of the ground. But with no Referee’s Assistant on that side of the pitch, the former Pompey playmaker got away with it - and how. Maloney’s cross towards the penalty area was met by the head of the leaping Joe Oastler, climbing above his marker to nod the ball forward where the inexplicably unmarked Scott RENDELL spun to steer The Stags into a 28th-minute lead from close range.
Gloucester came close to grabbing a quick leveller when Parker got in from a throw-in down the right-hand side, and his low cross was laid back for Harry Pinchard to take aim with his left foot, firing across Lewis Noice’s goal and wide to the right. A few minutes later, a goal-kick from Noice played Taylor into space on the wing, from where he was able to win another corner for The Stags, but Maloney’s cross was headed away.
Despite the struggles his team were experiencing in their attempts to impose themselves on the cup tie, central defender Richard-Everton continued to dominate in his personal battles, using his considerable frame to keep Alfie Stanley in check in a style reminiscent of the former England international Sol Campbell; Richard-Everton has been capped at England ‘C’ level.
Ben Winterburn made a timely intervention when there was space for Gloucester to exploit behind him. Then, Richard-Everton did likewise when Stanley and Taylor were both already running in behind him in anticipation of latching onto Maloney’s attempted through-ball.
A foul by Jordan Ragguette gave Gloucester a free-kick a few yards from the right of the Totton penalty area. They took the chance to send their taller players forward and Pinchard’s in-swinging cross caused havoc in the box. Sam Magri got his head to the ball and would have been relieved to see it bounce back of the crossbar, before Oastler rushed out to smother the follow-up from the edge of the area.
Taylor made an optimistic appeal for a penalty when he felt he was tugged down while trying to latch onto a through-ball towards the left-wing corner flag. Then, Ragguette made an important interception when Reckford’s cross from the left was headed at goal by Harry Williams. When Totton went forward again, Taylor tussled with his marker on the wing before sending in a low cross that Rendell was inches away from connecting with just a few yards from goal.
A minute before the scheduled half-time break, the ball broke loose from a midfield challenge, a few yards inside the Totton half. Tomasso reacted quickest, knocking the ball into space towards the right wing but before he could scamper after it, Jamie Reckford came in with a late sliding tackle, hooking Tomasso’s ankles and earning himself a second yellow card and, therefore, his marching orders from the Referee to send Gloucester City down to 10 men.
The board then went up to indicate three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half, during which Jeacock was quickly off his line to beat Stanley to a loose ball after Totton had defended the home side’s left-wing corner. When the half-time whistle sounded, there was audible discontent among many of the home contingent behind the goal that Totton had been attacking during the first 45 minutes.
GLOUCESTER CITY 0
AFC TOTTON 1
The Gloucester City mascot Roary The Tiger showcased his goalkeeping skills during a half-time penalty shoot-out with some of the club’s younger youth team players. Tigers, it transpires, do not make great goalkeepers. Who knew?
Gloucester made a second change as the teams came out for the second half, with the earlier oncoming substitute Brandon Smalley being withdrawn in favour of Harry Emmett. Totton’s first foray forward saw Scott Rendell fall foul of the offside flag. Then, Taylor was bundled off the ball as he tried to launch a raid into the Tigers’ half, the Referee deeming the challenge a fair one before Jeacock kicked the ball out of the ground.
Ragguette provided service into the box from the left flank. His cross was over-hit, so Maloney had to wrestle possession back on the opposite wing before Gloucester could clear their lines. The Stags began to knock the ball around at will, making use of their numerical advantage to make their opponents wear themselves out running back-and-forth across the 3G surface.
Six minutes into the second half, Totton doubled their lead. Sam Magri had the ball at his feet close to the halfway line and sent a high pass towards Rendell on the left corner of the Gloucester penalty area, where a deft flick off the centre-forward’s head allowed Ragguette to surge into the box from the left and pull back to Alfie Stanley. Jeacock got his body in the way of Stanley’s effort but the rebound fell to Scott RENDELL to fire high into the net above the prone goalkeeper.
Chants of “Sacked in the morning!” rang out around the ground, even as a determined run by Parker had Lewis Noice coming out to the edge of his area to head the ball clear, but only as far as Pinchard, whose attempt to lob the Stags’ keeper dropped wide of the right-hand post.
Richard-Everton stopped Stanley’s one-man raid down the Totton right at the expense of a corner, that Totton didn’t capitalise upon. Stanley was then substituted by Jake Scrimshaw.
A tired challenge by Harry Pinchard on Ragguette earned the Gloucester No.11 the game’s third yellow card. Maloney’s delivery from close to the left-wing corner flag was too long, neither cross nor shot. Goalkeeper Jeacock then needed some treatment for an apparent thigh injury, before a Gloucester attack ended with a long-range effort blazing over the Totton crossbar.
Taylor and Maloney worked an opening for Maloney to cross from the left. Scrimshaw narrowly missed the ball with a diving header, and as it dipped towards the back-post, Rendell was a toe’s length away from completing his hat-trick. On a rare occasion when Gloucester City managed to get several players forward at once, a poor cross from the right made Charlie Kennedy’s job easy.
Gloucester rallied for a while around the 70th minute, when they had a couple of corners in quick succession. Richard-Everton made his considerable presence felt in the Totton box, but The Stags defended intelligently and saw to it that his knock-ons only found white shirts. Then, Lewis Noice confidently claimed Parker’s cross from a left-wing corner, despite the number of players surrounding him.
Ragguette was enjoying the freedom afforded him by Gloucester’s reduced numbers, exploiting space on the left wing to drive forward and curl a cross towards Scrimshaw, who managed to get a glancing header on the ball but could only direct it wide of the right-hand upright. Kennedy intercepted a clipped pass from Richard-Everton, who was trying to put Emmett through.
Scrimshaw was denied what would have been his second AFC Totton goal since joining the club in the summer when he pulled away from his marker at the back post to meet Leon Maloney’s right-wing cross. Scrimshaw made a strong connection with his header, only to see the ball strike the post. Tomasso ran onto the rebound but his shot was blocked by a defender, then it fell to Taylor on the left corner of the box and his chipped shot was tipped over the bar by Jeacock, who did well to adjust his feet quickly enough to make the save. Maloney’s corner was headed away by Richard-Everton.
Gloucester then replaced their captain Joe Hanks with Elliott Durrell, while Jimmy Ball took off Leon Maloney and sent on the winger, Matty Burrows.
Ragguette carried the fight forward for Totton, again. A short lay-off to Taylor enabled him to send a cross towards the edge of the six-yard box where Jake Scrimshaw was unmarked and really should have scored, but headed over the bar. The underemployed Lewis Noice was then required to save a speculative long-range shot from Gloucester’s stand-out player, Ben Richard-Everton, the goalkeeper saving comfortably while diving to his left.
Emmett made a darting run, looking to connect with a pass that had brought Noice to the edge of his area. Emmett got there first but Magri was on the scene and took charge of the situation to help maintain The Stags’ clean sheet.
Ethan Taylor fired a powerful snapshot across Gloucester’s bows from the left of the area, narrowly missing the target to the right. Then, another combination between the marauding Ragguette and Taylor opened up the home defence for another dangerous ball from the left which Rendell met at the far post but stabbed his shot wide with the goal gaping.
Gloucester tried to get bodies forward but their service into the box did little to trouble Magri and the impressive debutant Oastler, ably backed up by Rendell, lending his height to defending set-pieces.
THE SUNBURNT ASSASSIN STRIKES AGAIN... AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN: Scott Rendell added three more to his AFC Totton goals tally with a hat-trick that knocked Gloucester City out of the FA Cup.
Totton wrapped up the win with a third goal in the 89th minute. Jordan Ragguette used his pace, direct running and physical strength to brush the hitherto unbeatable Ben Richard-Everton aside as he made a beeline for the inside-left channel, before pulling the ball back for Scott RENDELL to finally complete his hat-trick with a shot off his right instep; the ball squeezed under Jeacock and trickled over the goal-line, as the keeper clawed at it in vain. The goal confirmed Gloucester’s exit from the FA Cup, which was matched by the immediate march of several fans towards the various exits around the ground, while many of those who remained joined in the chorus of displeasure against the club’s existing regime.
The luckless Jake Scrimshaw thought he had added a late fourth goal from an Ethan Taylor cross, after industrious work by Matty Burrows to reclaim possession from Jeacock’s headed clearance on the edge of his area. But the offside flag denied the man from the Isle of Wight. There was a very late substitution with Harry Wood coming on for Joe Oastler, only a couple of minutes before the Referee blew the final whistle.
On Sunday, Gloucester City put out a club statement confirming that manager Tim Flowers and his assistant Yan Kluklowski had been relieved of their positions at the club.
After the match, AFC Totton Manager Jimmy Ball (pictured) said:
“That was a thoroughly professional performance from the lads, today. They set about the game in the right manner, worked hard from the start to get hold of the ball and play our brand of football. There were some questions during the week about how well we can cope on a 3G pitch, and as I said then these players are used to training on pitches like this one and they showed what a good footballing side we are.
“I was aware that Gloucester City were coming into this one in a poor run of form but you can’t be distracted by things like that. You never know when something that is said during the week or something that happens in the warm-up changes the situation and helps your opponents to solve whatever problems they may have had. So, you just have to prepare your own team in the right way and make sure you give the right kind of performance on the day.
“Joe Oastler came in for his debut and I don’t think he put a single foot wrong in the whole game. His signing was something that happened very quickly. He was Player/Assistant Manager at Havant & Waterlooville until the recent change in management at Westleigh Park, and I would like to thank Havant & Waterlooville for helping us and allowing us to get the deal done quickly so Joe could come straight into the side.
“Jake Scrimshaw was desperately unlucky not to score today but as his manager, I am very pleased with the work-rate I’m getting from Jake. He will run and run all day long, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he bags another goal and I’m sure that will be the first of many more. He’s been playing very well and I’m happy with what he’s bringing to the team.
“As far as the FA Cup is concerned, I don’t care who we get in the next round. Whoever it is, we will prepare fully once again, and give ourselves the best possible chance of being competitive and we’ll try to win the game and keep going in the competition for as long as we can. We’ve got an important league game coming up on Saturday, against a Swindon Supermarine team who will be fighting to get their season on track after a difficult start. Again, we can’t afford to be complacent; Supermarine were only one place outside the play-offs in this division last season, so we have to expect an improvement and perhaps a backlash from them at some point. We have to make sure that we’re ready for that and have the necessary answers on the day. I’m sure it will be a good game and I hope to see Stags fans showing up in their numbers to support the team at the Snows Stadium.”
On Monday afternoon, AFC Totton were drawn at home to Berkhamsted in 3rd Round Qualifying. The match will take place at the Snows Stadium on Saturday 30 September 2023.
Next Up: AFC TOTTON vs SWINDON SUPERMARINE
Southern League Premier Division South | Matchday#8 | Snows Stadium, Totton SO40 2RW | Saturday 23 September 2023 | Kick-Off at 3:00pm | Save money by purchasing tickets in advance online
By Ben Rochey-Adams
Images courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography