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SEMI-FINAL - Thursday 16 March 2023

HAMBLE CLUB                             0

AFC TOTTON                                  1
Matty Burrows 16mins

AFC TOTTON BOOKED THEIR PLACE at St. Mary’s Stadium for a second consecutive Southampton Senior Cup Final, by beating Wessex League Premier Division outfit Hamble Club by a single goal at Sholing’s Imperial Homes Stadium on Portsmouth Road last night (Thursday).

In what proved to be hardly a classic encounter, Manager Jimmy Ball opted to field a much-changed side with Saturday’s important Southern League Div.1 South trip to Slimbridge AFC in mind. Last weekend’s hat-trick hero Matty Burrows took the positives from a mixed bag of an evening, when he could have been walking away with another matchball, spurning an early penalty-kick and a late open goal but nevertheless still making the crucial difference with the moment that mattered most to produce a 16th-minute winner.

Ball made six changes to the side that started Saturday’s 8-1 mauling of Bideford AFC, with several senior players taking a rest. Owen Pelham, the 18-year-old who played in central midfield against Alresford Town in the Quarter-Final, was eligible to start for The Stags, despite his recent red card dismissal while playing in the Wessex League Division One for Totton & Eling. Ben Jefford came in at centre-back, having played the first half for The Millers in their 1-0 win at Verwood Town on Tuesday night. Benny and Freddie Read were both named in the starting line-up, making this the first time the two brothers have ever started a match together at any point in their footballing careers, including childhood. Jake Adams started in midfield, with Marcus Day on the left wing and teenager Burrows leading the line through the middle. As he was at Alresford, 16-year-old midfielder Zach Earley was named on the bench.

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

1.  Lewis NOICE
2.  Benny READ
4.  Owen PELHAM
6.  Adam TOMASSO (Capt.)
7.  Jake ADAMS
8.  Freddie READ
9.  Matty BURROWS
10.  Marcus DAY
11.  Tommy WRIGHT
14.  Ethan TAYLOR
15.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
16.  Luke HALLETT
17.  Charlie DAVIS
18.  Zach EARLEY

On a cold and occasionally wet night on the other side of the Itchen Bridge, Hamble Club wore their home strip of yellow shirts, black shorts and yellow socks. The Monks were the first team to mount an attack, building the play down their left side and whipping in a cross that Owen Pelham intercepted inside the Totton area and played away from danger. Within a few passes, Marcus Day burst through two challenges on the Totton left, near the halfway line, before slipping the ball into the space behind the Hamble defenders for Matty Burrows to run onto. As he connected with the ball, he also bumped into the Hamble goalkeeper Henry Newman and went down. There were some appeals for a penalty but the Referee gave a goal kick.

Hamble won a corner on their left-hand side, when The Stags’ stand-in skipper Adam Tomasso headed a high bouncing ball behind with forwards buzzing around him. Pelham headed the cross away at the near post.

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KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY: Freddie Read (left) and his brother Benny were both named in the same starting line-up for the first time in their footballing careers.

Freddie Read played the ball forward from midfield and Burrows went down under another challenge from Newman in the Hamble Club penalty area, this time with a stronger claim for a penalty, the goalkeeper - who played for Folland Sports against AFC Totton in last year’s Southampton Senior Cup Final at St. Mary’s Stadium - having bundled the winger to the ground from behind while attempting the clear the ball from his right-hand side byline. The Referee awarded a corner to Totton, which was belted away from the edge of the area, requiring Lewis Noice to come out of his goal at the other end to volley the ball clear before Baily Honeysett could get there to steer it past him.

As the pattern of the game became apparent, it was clear that Totton, with no recognised centre-forward type in their line-up, were looking to exploit their pace against a physically bigger and stronger Hamble defence, while The Monks were attempting to play off their No.9, Will Gange, who was dropping deep and helping to spread the play wide as much as possible. But the passing from both sides was often wayward, leaving the forwards chasing lost causes more often than incisive through-balls.

After a period of Totton possession, a poor kicked clearance by Noice came straight back at The Stags defence, the ball sneaking under the left foot of Ben Jefford to give Honeysett a run on goal before he tried a low, angled shot that he dragged too far to the left, across goal and wide of the far post.

It proved third time lucky for Matty Burrows in the 13th minute, when he raced in behind the Hamble defence to latch onto a long ball at the inside-right channel, bringing Newman off his line to challenge him for a third time. This time, the Referee saw enough contact to warrant awarding a penalty. Burrows picked himself up to take the spot-kick and, although his attempt was on-target, Henry Newman got down sharply to push the ball onto the post before defenders scrambled the ball away.

Hamble took confidence from the moment and soon won themselves a free-kick midway inside the Totton half. A high delivery into the box found the head of Gange, but he couldn’t direct the ball any closer to Lewis Noice’s goal.

Just as it looked like it might become a difficult night for The Stags, they took the lead in the 16th minute. Hamble were trying to play Trey Moore in down their right, but the pass enabled Noice to collect the ball on the left side of his area. From his long kick, the ball bounced high in the Hamble half, encouraging Newman to dart off his line to challenge at the edge of his area. Matty BURROWS got there first, stretching out his right leg to nudge the ball beyond the keeper and into the empty net behind him, atoning for his missed penalty just three minutes earlier.

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IN THE GOALS, AGAIN: Matty Burrows' 16th-minute winner was his 12th goal in all competitions since joining AFC Totton in November.

Burrows got through on the left-hand side of the area soon after the restart, from Jack Masterton’s sweeping pass from the intersection of halfway line and touchline. Burrows managed to force the nearest defender to back pedal towards his own goal, but he waited too long to pull the trigger and had to settle for a corner, which Hamble defended effectively.

Pelham did well to win the ball in the middle of the park in the 21st minute, but an uncharacteristically loose pass from Masterton released Honeysett to attack the right-wing byline. Noice was alert enough to make it difficult for him and when the shot came, it was from a tight angle and Tomasso was able to nip in behind his goalkeeper to shepherd the ball away at the far post.

Marcus Day took possession on the left-hand side, a few yards outside the Hamble box, with yellow shirts blocking his path. With Burrows making a run outside him, Day shifted infield and let fly with a low right-footed shot that flashed narrowly wide of Newman’s near post.

Tommy Wright was tripped on the opposite flank just two minutes later, about 25 yards from the byline. Masterton floated a high ball into the penalty area that Hamble turned away, and his follow-up cross was caught by Newman.

It had by this time become a scrappy game with lots of long balls and little of Totton’s customary possession football. But it meant that Burrows was able to test the Hamble defence for pace at regular intervals, and Joel Ghosh did well to track him deep into his own penalty area and make a well-timed tackle to bring the ball out and put his side on the front foot.

On 27 minutes, Owen Pelham’s name was taken by the Referee for a late tackle on Will Gange that left the centre-forward laying across the halfway line, in need of treatment from the physio. Noice met the lofted free-kick by leaping high amongst a cluster of players to palm the ball away with both hands. Hamble came close to equalising two minutes later. Tomasso headed out from the edge of his own area, but the ball fell to The Monks’ captain Matt Casey about 30 yards out, who struck a ferocious volley that Noice had to get up quickly to tip over the crossbar for a corner. From the cross, the ball made its way to the far post where it was headed upward and went out of play before it was hooked back into the crowded middle.

A strong tackle from Brad Johnson kept Totton at bay as another long kick from Noice threatened to put Wright and Burrows through. Then, Burrows scurried after another through-ball played behind the Hamble defence, but Newman came out and cleared the ball out of the ground on the far side.

Jake Adams was unfortunate to receive a yellow card for what looked like a fair challenge on halfway, as Hamble moved the ball infield from the right-hand side amid a chance to launch a counter-attack. Again, the ball was sent high into the Totton box from the resulting free-kick. It dropped behind the defenders but the only Hamble touch nudged it well wide of the target. And likewise, from Hamble’s next free-kick near the halfway line, Honeysett sent another high delivery too long for his teammates to connect with it, the ball going harmlessly out of play on the far side.

The first half ended with both sides being wasteful in possession. Hamble were building a promising attack, until a misplaced pass allowed Benny Read to step out of defence and intercept, before carrying the ball forward and playing a pass that put Jake Adams under unnecessary pressure in the centre-circle. Hamble tried to sweep forward, looking to play Moore into space on the right-hand side. But the pass was rushed and Noice collected easily, just before the Referee drew the first half of the cup-tie to a close.

HAMBLE CLUB                                       0
AFC TOTTON                                            1

Jimmy Ball made four of his permitted five changes at the break. Adam Tomasso, Jack Masterton, Benny Read and Tommy Wright all departed the contest, while Luke Hallett, Jordan Ragguette, Charlie Davis and Ethan Taylor came off the bench.

Totton looked much livelier in the early part of the second half. Day found some space near the left-wing corner flag, slipping the ball and himself past his marker and standing up a cross to the middle where Ethan Taylor jumped well but couldn’t get a meaningful connection with his head to trouble Newman. The same combination linked up again, shortly after, this time Day’s cross tempted Taylor into trying a flying scissor-kick volley, but his marker was too close and smothered the effort at source, making for an easy save for Newman.

A dangerous cross from the Hamble left by Honeysett was caught by Noice, who distributed quickly to allow Totton to counter-attack. They worked the ball to the left wing, where a few passes were exchanged, before Burrows got the ball out of his feet, surging between two defenders and striking a dipping 20-yard effort that Newman did remarkably well to push over his crossbar with both hands.

In the 52nd minute, Day’s pass into the inside-left channel had Burrows racing towards goal with his marker at his right shoulder. He got his shot away, but Newman saved with his feet and the ball was cleared. Jake Adams showed some neat skills on the ball, but his cross was well-defended. Then, Jefford had to be strong in the air to head the ball away from the Totton box with Hamble’s forwards looking to make their size advantage count.

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MIDFIELD MAESTRO: Jake Adams made his return to The Stags' starting line-up for the Southampton Senior Cup Semi-Final against Hamble Club at Sholing's Imperial Homes Stadium.

Burrows’ persistent dribbling won his team a throw-in, high on the left flank, which was quickly traded up for corner. Jake Adams took it short to Charlie Davis and took the return pass just off the corner of the penalty area, before hitting a curling delivery into the box that Newman took in his midriff. Another corner from the same side, shortly after, was crossed to the far post by Davis. Hallett’s movement in the box wasn’t enough to shake off his marker, though, who managed to deflect and then clear the former Forest Green Rovers defender’s effort upfield.

A Totton throw on their right in the 62nd minute enabled Davis to find Ethan Taylor, who shrugged off the attentions of Jack Barnes about 30 yards out to set himself up for a long piledriver, but Casey threw himself into the line of fire to smother the chance.

Honeysett tried to attack down the left wing for Hamble, but he couldn’t get away from Charlie Davis, operating at right-back, who stuck to him like glue until he ran the ball out of play. Then, Pelham miss-kicked a clearance from inside the centre-circle upward rather than forward. He tried to win the ball back quickly but couldn’t prevent Hamble advancing down the left wing. Davis tried to shepherd the ball out but Honeysett poked it to the feet of Casey, who fired across goal and wide of the far post.

Freddie Read got away with a nudge on an opponent in the centre-circle, then the busy midfielder followed the play forward as Marcus Day tried to put him in through the middle. Newman got out sharply to claim the ball at Read’s feet.

Jefford, who had taken the captain’s armband for the second half after the departure of Tomasso, had to react quickly to Honeysett’s fierce low cross from the left, to clear the ball from just a few yards in front of Totton’s goal. Then, when Burrows was dispossessed just as he was about to set off on a forward run, Ghosh received the ball, charged his way past two blue shirts in midfield and let fly, but his shot was high and wide.

Ben Jefford_AFC Totton_Oct2022.jpg
BIG BEN: Returned from suspension, Ben Jefford operated at centre-back for AFC Totton.

Totton gained a throw-in from an advanced position on the right-hand side, and Jake Adams almost tip-toed unnoticed towards the near post, where Davis’s throw found him. But when Adams tried to centre, the ball deflected off a defender and the momentum was gone.

Noice had to rush out of goal to head the ball clear just outside his box, and he probably could have done without Pelham heading it back the way it came, but out for a throw-in from which left-back James Johnson tried an angled cross-shot that sailed over the heads of several players on the far side and away from goal.

Totton were struggling to impose themselves on the game, and a misjudged header by Freddie Read put Jefford into a difficult spot that he resolved by shoving his opponent to the ground, conceding a free-kick about 30 yards out on the left. With two players standing over the ball, Jaydon Douglas crossed high to beyond the far post. Former AFC Totton defender Mitch Byrne headed back across goal but Noice caught the ball under pressure.

Having been booked earlier, Jake Adams was lucky not to see red when he kicked the ball away after the Referee awarded a free-kick against The Stags near the halfway line. The Hamble players protested and the official did have a word with the midfielder, but gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Marcus Day continued to test the Hamble defence’s resolve by making dribbling runs down the right wing, earning throw-ins and the occasional corner. Then, Jordan Ragguette, who was making his return from a recent muscle injury, was caught out by a high bouncing ball and ended up with his name being taken for holding. Once again, though, with the opportunity to play the ball into the Totton penalty area, the delivery was too strong; even though a Hamble player did manage to get his head to it, he was stretching so much that the ball just looped almost apologetically into Noice’s grateful hands.

Burrows won a free-kick just off the left corner of the Hamble penalty area, for a push in the back. Charlie Davis went for goal, but slammed the ball against the defensive wall. Day retrieved the rebound towards the right-hand side and clipped it back into the box, where it was headed out and although Totton regained possession quickly, they couldn’t fashion another chance.

Pelham won a header in the centre-circle, enabling Adams to hit an early pass into the inside-left channel for Taylor to chase, but Newman was alert to deal with it. The Hamble keeper had to rush out and kick long again soon after, as the end of the game dissolved into a series of long balls going up and down the pitch like a game of Pong.

Marcus Day-2_AFC Totton vs Bideford AFC_SLD1S-27_Sat11Mar2023.jpg
LIVEWIRE WINGER: Marcus Day was a constant thorn in the side of The Monks, as AFC Totton progressed to the Final of the Southampton Senior Cup for the second consecutive season.

Day was dispossessed on the right wing but Hallett was on-hand to make an agricultural clearance over the fence along the side of the stadium. Once a replacement ball was sourced, James Johnson’s long throw into the Totton box prompted a messy scramble from which the boys in blue managed to scrape the ball away. Johnson took control again and tried another angled drive, but it faded harmlessly away from goal.

Lewis Noice took a goal kick from which Matty Burrows suddenly found himself racing through on the left. His shot was repelled by Newman’s feet and when the rebound fell to the in-rushing Taylor, there was a defender two yards from the goal line to block that effort, too.

Hamble were launching the ball into the Totton box at every opportunity, but they rarely made a crucial connection on the ball. Ragguette punted one away, and Day bought his team a breather by winning a free-kick midway inside his own half.

Hamble substitute Prendergast had a brief sight of goal when he cut in from the left wing. He hesitated and defenders filled up the space in front of him, so he shifted the ball to the right where Ragguette mistakenly stepped over it, and had to chase it out of play near the corner flag. From the throw-in, Totton knocked the ball out but it was fired back in and wide via a deflection. The cross caused mayhem in the Totton box, first being headed back across goal with Jefford having to make a block on the line. Then, when it dropped to the ground, there were several players trying in vain to make a meaningful connection before Hallett eventually belted it away.

Prendergast was booked for a rash challenge on Taylor near Totton’s right-wing touchline.

Day tried to take the ball to the corner flag to run down the clock, but he was swiftly shoved out of the way and Hamble came forward, again. Douglas made progress towards the inside-right channel and drove in a low shot that was turned behind for a corner by Jefford. With the tie three minutes into stoppage time at this point, Hamble goalkeeper Henry Newman came forward for the corner, which had to be retaken after the Referee spotted some pushing and shoving from players of both teams. When the ball eventually came across, Noice punched it out to the edge of the area, where Taylor was able to hack it clear just as Newman was closing in to shoot. The ball looped over the only two yellow shirts who’d stayed back, and Burrows took the ball down on his thigh inside the centre-circle, and set-off on a run into the clear green acres of the unpopulated Hamble half of the pitch. Two defenders made a valiant effort to get back but Burrows was running away from them at inside-left while advancing upon the empty net. But when he tried to finish, he side-footed his effort against the foot of the left-hand post, the ball pinging back to where the second covering defender could launch it to well beyond the touchline. At that moment, the Referee blew the final whistle, rendering the last minute miss irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.

Jimmy Ball-1_AFC Totton Manager_Sat23July2022.jpg

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

“It wasn’t a great performance but the only thing that mattered tonight was to win the game and get to the Final. We now have something for the fans and the players to look forward to at the end of the season, which is what we wanted to get out of today. There was fatigue in some of the players out there today, which is understandable given how many games some of them have played recently.

“Winning feels good but you only get there by demonstrating the right mentality during matches, and while it wasn’t pretty tonight, the mentality and the willingness to fight for the ball was there throughout. Hamble had a right go and had a few half-chances, but our players are hungry and still angry from the last time they came to this ground. They’re prepared to fight for everything.

“It was always the plan to make changes tonight and to make several substitutions at half-time. I would have liked us to have been a bit more comfortable in the game, with a wider margin of victory so I could bring young Zach Earley into the game for his debut. But with the scoreline tight, I didn’t think it was the right time to introduce him. He’s a talented young player and I’m keen to get him involved at some point, so hopefully there will be an opportunity to do that soon. In the meantime, we immediately change our thoughts to Slimbridge on Saturday, when I will again be impressing upon the players the need to adopt the right attitude and mentality going into the game. We can’t think we’ve won it just because they’re currently bottom of the league. They’ll be fighting for their lives and we’re going to have to find a way to cope with that, impose ourselves on the game and come out on top.”

Southern League Div.1 South | Matchday #28 |
Thornhill Park | Saturday 18 March 2023 | Kick-Off 3:00pm

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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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