AFC Totton AFC Totton Pitching In - Partners with Southern Football League

Saturday 17 February 2024 | Skyex Community Stadium, Hayes, Middlesex | Att: 265



AFC TOTTON                                        1
Leon Maloney 69mins

LEON MALONEY’S LONG-RANGE STRIKE midway through the second half - his 12th goal of the season - gave AFC Totton victory against 10-man Hayes & Yeading United at the Skyex Community Stadium yesterday (Saturday 17 February 2024), to maintain The Stags’ challenge at the business end of the Southern League Premier Division South table going into the final third of the campaign.

Injuries, suspensions, and recent departures and arrivals had manager Jimmy Ball shuffling his pack. Goalkeeper Lewis Noice continues to miss out due to concussion protocol, following the injury he sustained at Hendon; he was passed fit enough to take a place on the substitutes’ bench while young Brighton & Hove Albion loanee Tommy Reid made his third AFC Totton appearance. Sam Magri reported in sick on the morning of the game, and with Joe Oastler suspended due to his accumulation of yellow cards, the back four had a decidedly circa 2022/23 look about it, with Luke Hallett and Charlie Kennedy renewing their central defensive partnership, flanked by Benny Read on the right and Jordan Ragguette on the left. Adam Tomasso was joined in central midfield by Leon Maloney, playing a slightly deeper role than usual, with Joan Luque, Zidan Akers, captain Scott Rendell and striker Tony Lee - beginning his third stint as an AFC Totton player, following his midweek signing from Poole Town - occupying the more advanced positions in an aggressive-looking starting XI.

AFC-Totton-badge.pngAFC TOTTON
Starting XI

13.  Tommy REID
2.  Benny READ
6.  Luke HALLETT
5.  Charlie KENNEDY
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
8.  Adam TOMASSO
17.  Leon MALONEY
9.  Scott RENDELL (Capt.)
18.  Tony LEE
19.  Zidan AKERS
1.  Lewis NOICE
10.  Ethan TAYLOR
14.  Ben JEFFORD
16.  Luke BENNETT
20.  Owen PELHAM

The Skyex Community Stadium features an impressive, large main stand alongside one touchline. While there is little else around the other three sides of the ground, there is plenty of room for future development. The grass pitch looked to be very well-maintained and in good condition, on a mild, dry afternoon in North West London.

Hayes-Yeading United_Skyex Community Stadium-2_Feb2024.jpg

THE VENUE: The main stand at Hayes & Yeading United's Skyex Community Stadium.

Hayes & Yeading kicked-off, wearing all-red with white trim, while Totton wore their away kit of gun metal grey with fluo yellow trim. The visitors had much of the early possession but the home side fashioned the first opening, attacking down their left wing via a neat lay-off to Charles Hagan, who cut infield dangerously before dwelling on the ball a little too long to evade a cluster of grey shirts that closed in around him.

Tony Lee showed clever control to bring down a high ball under pressure near the touchline on Totton’s left wing. He directed the ball to Joan Luque who immediately fed it inside to Scott Rendell. His first-time touch threaded the ball between the two Hayes centre-backs but it was a little too far ahead for Leon Maloney to latch on to.

Rendell then brought down a high diagonal pass from Luke Hallett, looking to put Lee into the left-hand side of the Hayes penalty area. Hayes & Yeading captain and right-back Cole Brown intervened, and managed to remove the threat despite Maloney halting his attempt to drive his team forward.

The home side were soon on the attack, though, and Ragguette did well to intercept a cross towards the Totton penalty spot as United’s attack moved from their left flank into the middle. Then, at the other end, Lee tried to drive in a low cross from the left corner of the box, but it was turned away by a covering defender.

Hayes were forced into an early change, with Will Salmon having to leave the pitch injured. He was replaced by Jerry Wiltshire. Totton came forward down the left wing, again, this time Charlie Kennedy’s pass inviting Ragguette to run at Brown before curling a low cross into the six-yard box, which was cleared by the sliding figure of Marvel Ekpiteta.

Osanebi Okoh earned the game’s first yellow card for a foul on Rendell, giving Totton a free-kick 30 yards from the Hayes goal. Luque lifted the ball into the area, where a game of head tennis suddenly broke out, before play had to be stopped to enable ex-Southampton youth player Omar Rowe to receive treatment for a head injury.

Space briefly opened up for Zidan Akers to run at the left-back Paul Field, but he ran straight into his opponent and lost possession. Totton quickly regained the ball and Luque fed Ragguette to attack Brown, again, before firing in a low cross from the byline that Rendell dummied. The ball was partially cleared, falling to Luque whose right-footed shot curled into the arms of Jacob Adams in the Hayes & Yeading goal.

Totton passed the ball around, going back to goalkeeper Tommy Reid, who came close to kicking the ball directly at the forward who was closing him down, but despite a deflection on his clearance, the home side did not react quickly enough to take advantage and Adam Tomasso was able to boot the ball upfield by way of a factory reset.

Good teamwork between Luque and Ragguette snuffed out a Hayes attack on their right wing but when The Stags countered, Lee’s lay-off front he centre-circle was too far ahead to enable Akers to continue the attack. When Hayes came forward again, Benny Read knocked the ball out of play for a throw-in to the home side on their left. It was thrown short and when the cross went into Totton’s box, Reid got down low to punch the ball into midfield.

Totton failed to take immediate advantage of a poor kicked clearance by Jacob Adams in the 26th minute, but when Totton came forward down he left again, Ragguette rolled the ball back to Maloney, who was afforded the room to move infield and attempt a curling shot that bounced kindly into the arms of the Hayes & Yeading goalkeeper.

Tomasso picked out Ragguette on the left, giving The Stags left-back another chance to attack Cole Brown, feigning to go one way before darting the other and drilling a low cross towards the back post where Lee slid in and made contact with the ball, but not enough to prevent Adams grabbing it safely into his own possession.

A sharp turn and burst of pace by right-winger Steve Ngunga threatened to expose the left side of Totton’s defence, until Ragguette ate up the ground to make an important recovery tackle, with Kennedy coming across to complete the clearance. Then, Brown carried the ball forward, riding challenges from both Maloney and Luque before Read took matters into his own hands by lumping the ball out of the ground and into a tree beyond the far wall of the Skyex Community Stadium complex. Undeterred, Brown went on another forward foray soon after, exchanging passes with Ngunga to set himself up for a 30-yard left-footed effort, which he fizzed narrowly wide of the right-hand post with Reid diving at full-stretch.

Ragguette, Luque and Maloney combined down the left to feed Lee, but he was held off by a defender to allow the ball to run out for a goal-kick. Once again, though, Adams’s distribution with his feet was less than stellar, putting his team under more unnecessary pressure, albeit without serious incident. The Referee then had to stop play to have a word with the Hayes & Yeading dug-out, who were voicing their displeasure about one previous decision or another.

Maloney injected some urgency into Totton’s attack by turning away from two opponents in the centre-circle and spreading the play to the right. Luque received the pass and drove infield. When the ball was flicked off his foot, Read appeared from nowhere to take up the running, attacking the outside right edge of the area and centring with a low cross that Rendell couldn’t wrap his foot around, sending the ball wide of the top-right corner of the Hayes & Yeading goal, before throwing his face towards the sky in exasperation.

Totton ended the half with a left-wing corner, after more attacking full-back play from Ragguette forced Ngunga to track back and block his cross. But a short corner routine presented little difficulty for the United defence, who cleared comfortably enough before the half-time whistle sounded.

AFC TOTTON                                        0

After the fans were entertained by the musical stylings of Rod Stewart and Lynyrd Skynyrd over the loud speakers during the break, Totton kicked-off the second half at 4:08pm. Neither side had made any further changes in personnel, although an early second-half challenge between Omar Rowe and Charlie Kennedy left the Totton player writhing on the ground in some pain, resulting in a yellow card for Rowe, much to the vocal disbelief of the home crowd. A yellow card was also waved in the general direction of Tommy Reid and Benny Read, who were both engaging the Referee in conversation - according to the Southern League’s website, it was the full-back who got booked.

Brown committed a foul on Tony Lee in the centre-circle, when more poor kicking from Adams presented the ball to the new Totton striker, bringing more cries of derision from the home crowd, their impatience with the Referee’s decision-making steadily building. Play was stopped to allow Okoh to receive treatment, during which time Rendell and Read found time to have some fun with a selection of Hayes fans over where exactly the Totton right-back should take the throw-in to resume the action. Read received the ball back from a short throw and bent in a cross that Ekpiteta turned away. Read regathered and attacked the byline, before trying to find Rendell with a cross that Wiltshire headed out.

Ngunga pushed Read back into his defensive duties by running at him from the Hayes left flank. But he couldn’t shake free of the defender’s attention and Kennedy was able to poke the ball back for Reid to kick clear.

Hallett allowed the ball to run out of play, believing that it was going to be a Totton goal-kick, only for the Referee to award the home side a corner. Tommy Reid pushed Brown’s high delivery away one-handed, and Rendell was back to head away the follow-up cross.

The match took a huge turn in Totton’s favour in the 62nd minute. Tomasso misjudged the flight of the ball as it dropped in midfield, allowing Rowe to collect and set off on a run at the heart of The Stags defence. Kennedy went to make a tackle but without him making contact, Rowe took a swan dive to the ground. Kennedy immediately appealed his innocence to the Referee, who was well-placed to judge that Rowe had taken a dive and promptly issued the Hackney-born winger with his second yellow card and his marching orders to reduce Hayes & Yeading to 10 men. Jimmy Ball reacted straight away by sending on Ethan Taylor in place of Zidan Akers.

A long diagonal pass from the left by Hallett brought Taylor into the game, the Totton winger bringing the ball under control and shifting it to his left foot before curling in a cross that Wiltshire inadvertently sliced over his own crossbar with a clumsy swipe of his left boot. The corner was headed away but Luque managed to win another one from the left-hand side. It was initially taken short before Luque bent a cross towards the edge of the six-yard box, where Tony Lee headed past Adams into the bottom-right corner but the goal was ruled out by an offside flag.

Totton made their numerical advantage count by passing the ball around more rapidly, with Maloney enjoying the greater freedom afforded him in his deeper role by the fact that Hayes were dropping off to condense the space in their own half of the pitch. Tomasso and Read worked possession down the right flank to Taylor, who dragged the ball infield and let fly from the edge of the area, his shot bouncing back off a defender. Then, within moments, Ragguette probed the Hayes defence from the other flank with another darting run and cross from the byline that they managed to hack clear.

Rendell received a forward pass mid-way inside the Hayes half and laid it back to Luque, who brought Ragguette into the action, again. This time, the marauding full-back’s cross tempted Rendell into trying a diving header that Wiltshire deflected wide for a corner. Hayes boss Mark Molesley then made his second substitution of the game, bringing off Okoh and sending on Luke Gambin, who was a teammate of Sam Magri in the international football team of Malta in 2016.

From the 69th-minute corner, Hallett’s header was cleared as far as Read, who clipped the ball towards the left of the Hayes penalty area, where Kennedy got up well but saw his header smothered at source by his marker. The ball came out to Leon MALONEY about 20 yards out, near the angle of the penalty area, who took a touch and then shot for the top-right corner of the Hayes goal. Jacob Adams appeared to have it covered, reaching up his right arm to push the ball over the crossbar; but he didn’t get a strong enough contact and, instead, only succeeded in helping the ball on its way into the net. It was Maloney’s 12th goal in all competitions in his first season with The Stags.

Totton were soon back in possession, and patient approach play enabled Ragguette to win another corner on the left. Hayes defended it and when the ball came out to Benny Read on the right, his attempt to instigate a give-and-go with Rendell broke down, with the two players momentarily not on the same wavelength.

The Referee made another trip over to the Hayes & Yeading bench to deal with some unhappy campers, before eventually wafting the yellow card at two members of United’s management team, prompting chants from the home crowd of “You’ve only got 12 men” aimed at the AFC Totton contingent, who could afford to see the funny side.

Buoyed by his goal, Maloney continued to see plenty of the ball, while Taylor’s fresh energy posed new concerns for the Hayes defence. Ragguette had been a thorn in their side throughout the match, and Wiltshire had to be alert to turn away another of his low crosses into the box, after which Adams went down needing treatment. When play resumed, a swift move instigated by Read on the Totton right swept into the middle where Lee back-heeled to Taylor and his square pass allowed Maloney to step forward and strike another long-range effort that came closer to taking down passing Heathrow-bound aircraft than adding to the scoreline.

Tomasso conceded a free-kick just inside the Hayes & Yeading half which Adams took, pumping the ball long into the Totton box. Rendell’s header caused the ball to drop in a central position about 25 yards out, where Gambin struck it on the volley but pulled his effort wide of the right-hand post.

Ben Jefford was sent on to replace Luque, as Jimmy Ball looked to send Jordan Ragguette further forward while strengthening the defence. Ragguette got in from the left, again; a defender tried to clear his low cross but Rendell charged it down for a goal-kick. Then, a late foul had the home fans demanding a yellow card for Taylor, who got away with it.

A foul by Maloney on the Hayes right, about 40 yards from Totton’s goal, had the vast majority of bodies on the pitch crammed into The Stags’ penalty area, in a scene eerily reminiscent from two recent matches in which they have conceded late equalisers. And travelling fans may have feared the worst when Jerry Wiltshire climbed highest at the edge of the six-yard box to flick the delivery towards goal, but his effort flew wide of the left-hand upright.

Read intercepted a square pass about 10 yards outside the Totton box and carried it forward, linking up with Taylor to progress down the right side of the Hayes penalty area, before the latter had his curling cross-shot repelled. Then, Hallett tidied up after Read’s pass wrong-footed Taylor and briefly allowed Hayes to counter-attack, albeit at the expense of a left-wing corner. Brown’s delivery was good but as it flew across the goalmouth, there was nobody in a red shirt close enough to get a telling touch and the ball went out for a goal-kick.

Six minutes of stoppage time were indicated, just as Jimmy Ball made his final substitution of the game by sending on Luke Bennett for Tony Lee. Tommy Reid dealt comfortably with one high ball into the box. Then, a foul by Ragguette in front of the Hayes dug-out gave Adams another chance to launch the ball forward for the home side. Totton’s headed clearance was unconvincing, but when Hayes tried to get the ball down and advance, an offside flag relieved the pressure for the visitors.

Gambin managed to close down Kennedy in possession, but Totton quickly regrouped and crowded him out. Ragguette took the ball up the other end and forced a late corner from the left. It was headed out, so Tomasso picked it up and played Bennett in on the right, the substitute spinning away from Paul Field and making for the right-wing touchline. The defender did well to catch up and make a tackle as Ethan Taylor came across to block his clearance up the line, just before the Referee blew the full-time whistle to confirm Totton’s slender victory.

Watch Jimmy Ball's Post-Match Reaction on AFC Totton TV

Latest Southern League Premier Division South table

AFC Totton Fixtures 2023/24

Southern League Premier Division South | Matchday#29 | Snows Stadium, Salisbury Road, Totton SO40 2RW | Saturday 24 February 2024 | Kick-Off at 3:00pm | Save money by purchasing tickets online in advance

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Image courtesy of Adi Rose

Get your logo here