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Matchday #13

PLYMOUTH PARKWAY                  1
Jack Crago 46mins

AFC TOTTON                                        0

AFC Totton made the three-and-a-half hour trip to Devon yesterday (Saturday) and came back empty-handed, after struggling to get into the game against a strong and composed Plymouth Parkway side whose performance belied their mid-table position, going into this match.

Captain Harry Medway was suspended after his red card in the FA Trophy against Frome Town last weekend, so Ade Olumuyiwa, who started against Melksham Town in midweek, continued at centre-back alongside vice-captain Stephane Zubar. The two Jacks - Masterton and Hoey - came into midfield with Freddie Read and Lewis Waterfield dropping to the bench. Adam Tomasso was away, completing the last game of his dual-registration loan agreement with AFC Portchester.

Starting XI vs Plymouth Parkway_20Nov21.jpg

When these two sides met on the opening day of the season, Jack Hoey’s first-half penalty was enough for the Stags to take all three points, so Parkway had revenge in their sights as well as a desire to achieve a consistency of results that their season has lacked, to date. In yellow shirts, blue shorts and yellow socks, the home side were the first to take aim on their opponents’ goal, with Callum Hall forcing a block from Ben Jefford with a drive from the edge of the penalty area.

Goalkeeper Kyle Moore was quickly off his line to prevent Sam Griffin latching onto Ethan Taylor’s pass and, within a minute, Jack Crago was allowed to turn infield from the Parkway left wing, run at the heart of the Totton defence and shoot over.

Totton’s first decent attacking move came after 4 minutes. Callum Baughan instigated it from the right-back position, feeding the run of Hisham Kasimu. He switched the play to Griffin on the left-hand side and his cross back to the far post was met by Taylor’s header which dropped wide of the right-hand post.

The home side were the more comfortable in possession, their playmaking defensive midfielder Jamie Lowry happy to come deep to collect the ball and look for options left and right, in relative freedom between Totton’s midfield and attacking lines. And the long-haired Parkway No.4 came close to opening the scoring when he received a lay-off from Hall to shoot narrowly over from 20 yards out. The Stags were set-up to counter-attack, but were struggling to find their attacking players with their characteristic direct passes into the flanks and channels.

Rhys Shirley was the next to shoot at the visitors’ goal on 16 minutes, from Crago’s lay-off, as Plymouth tried to turn their early territorial advantage into goals. Then, Kasimu was given a talking to by the referee for going in late on Moore when the keeper came 12 yards off his line to claim Taylor’s clipped through-ball. Ethan Taylor conceded a free-kick just outside his own area, on the Plymouth Parkway left. Lowry’s right-footed cross was headed on by Michael Williams, up from the back for the set-piece, but Amadeusz Skrzyniarz made the catch before any other yellow-shirted player could divert the ball into goal.

Callum Hall was spoken to for a high studs challenge on Jack Masterton, then a Totton attack disintegrated when Kasimu and Taylor both tried to latch onto an awkwardly bouncing ball and ended up colliding with one another, when a long-range shot was briefly on for either one of them.

The Totton team coach had made a detour on the way to Plymouth to pick up Stephane Zubar from Dorchester, and they were glad they did on 25 minutes when the central defender got his head in the way of a fierce Callum Hall strike - even if the stand-in skipper didn’t know that much about it. Then, Kasimu collided with Moore again when a short back-header undersold the Parkway keeper, who managed to get there just in time to prevent the Stags striker nipping in.

Lowry continued to conduct proceedings from his deep midfield position and won a corner with a high diagonal pass that Baughan had to head away for a corner. From the delivery, the ball came out to Parkway skipper Michael Landricombe, who fired over from the edge of the area. Another corner in the 35th minute was headed away by Baughan from under his own crossbar and Totton sprung onto the counterattack. Jordan Ngalo charged through the centre and played a one-two with Taylor before becoming the meat in a sandwich of two Parkway defenders. The referee awarded a free-kick about 25 yards out, left of centre. Jack Hoey struck a right-footed curler that whistled wide of the left-hand post with Moore sprawling across his goalmouth in a vain attempt to reach it.

Sam Griffin lost his footing as he tried to run the ball out of his own half, allowing the Parkway left-back Ryan Lane to run at the centre of Totton’s defence, working his way to the right of the penalty spot before driving a low shot with his right foot which Skrzyniarz did well to get down quickly and save.

Totton were still struggling to release runners on the counter, especially with the aerial dominance of Williams and Landricombe in Parkway’s defence and a slightly bare playing surface allowing the ball to bounce away from the likes of Kasimu, Taylor and Griffin as they tried to catch up with it. And their frustration was only amplified when Jack Masterton was shown a yellow card for a sliding tackle, despite winning the ball. From the left-wing delivery, Skrzyniarz made a smart save low to his right to stop a header from Michael Williams. And the Polish keeper was called into action again from the resulting corner to punch the ball away from just above a ruck of players from both sides.

Forward Callum Hall put in the hard yards to track the run of Kasimu from Taylor’s pass, sliding in on his own byline to concede a late first-half corner. Jack Masterton delivered the ball from the left-wing quadrant and Zubar headed over from about 10 yards.

Parkway put the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time, after a right-wing corner from Rio Garside produced a goalmouth scramble. Skrzyniarz made a save low at his left-hand post but as players converged for the loose ball, the keeper took a boot in the face before the ball was kicked into the net. The referee disallowed it and Skrzyniarz received treatment, shortly before the whistle put an end to a frustrating first half for AFC Totton.



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Plymouth Parkway's Bolitho Park ground.

Parkway could have been forgiven for feeling hard done by going in level at the break but within a minute of the restart, they deservedly took the lead. Garside’s left-wing corner was deflected on its way to the back post area and Jack CRAGO climbed highest among a group of four players to head past Skrzyniarz into the bottom-right hand corner, to the delight of the Bolitho Park crowd.

Masterton’s overhit back-pass put Skrzyniarz under pressure a couple of minutes later and before Totton could regain their composure, Ade Olumuyiwa was adjudged to have tripped Crago inside the penalty area as Plymouth attacked down their left wing. The referee pointed to the spot and Rio Garside stepped up. He shot with his left foot but blazed it over the cross bar, with Skrzyniarz diving to his left.

Totton breathed a sigh of relief and tried to get forward to gain some foothold in the match. Ethan Taylor went down as he carried the ball infield from the left-hand side into the penalty area, but the referee signalled that it wasn’t a foul. Then, a strong challenge by Shirley on Masterton right in front of the Totton dugout had Dan Sackman and his assistants pleading with the referee to get a hold of the match.

Shirley and Crago linked up to play Garside in on the right-hand side on 52 minutes. The winger managed to squeeze a left-footed shot through Jefford's legs but Skrzyniarz was well-placed to save.

Ethan Taylor was booked for a foul in midfield, when he went in strong while a Plymouth player was momentarily laying on top of the ball. Then, William Palfrey shuffled the ball onto his left foot and let fly from 25 yards, shooting narrowly wide as the home side looked to extend their lead. Callum Baughan had to be alert to prevent Crago going through after Olumuyiwa struggled to deal with a high bouncing ball that came in from the Parkway left.

Jordan Ragguette came on for the last half-an-hour, replacing Taylor on the left wing, as Dan Sackman tried to find a way past the Parkway back line and Jamie Lowry, who was marshalling the space in front of them from midfield. There was a growing sense among the travelling party that all of the fifty-fifty decisions were going the home side’s way and the Stags continued to struggle to mount any serious assaults on the opposition goal. Direct passes would often find Kasimu or Griffin isolated up front, and although they won a few corners, they created precious few chances.

Skrzyniarz made a save from Shirley, after clever approach play from Garside, the right-back Finley Craske and Crago, pushing the ball out but into a central area, from where the follow-up shot was prodded wide of the left-hand post.

Freddie Read came on in the 72nd minute to replace Jack Masterton. Shortly after, Zubar head out a long ball from Shirley but it fell to Garside, whose low shot was well-saved by Skrzyniarz, who was certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers. Then, Dan Sackman took his final throw of the dice by sending on Brett Williams to bolster the attack, in place of midfielder Jack Hoey.

A high ball into the box from deep on the right-hand side by Baughan caught Parkway defenders ball-watching. Ragguette ducked away from Craske to take the ball down but flashed his shot wide from a tight angle to the left of goal.

The Totton bench vented their frustration at the time-wasting antics of Kyle Moore but the referee didn’t want to know. Read and Jefford were both spoken to as the last 5 minutes of the match approached, for pushing and shoving in midfield. The uncharacteristically ineffective Kasimu managed to wind his way through three defenders in the right corner of the penalty area, the Parkway defenders watching closely but keen not to lunge and possibly concede a spot-kick. Kasimu couldn’t find space for a shot so played the ball across goal. Ragguette had to come backwards to lay it on for the overlapping Jefford, but by the time the ball came to the left-back his shooting angle was impossibly acute and he blasted high and wide.

Kyle Moore caught a high ball from Callum Baughan then threw himself to the ground to waste a few more seconds. Totton complained but they had been second best throughout the match. When the referee blew the final whistle, the majority of the 352-strong crowd celebrated a convincing home win, while the travelling fans reflected on a poor performance and a match that never got going from their point of view.

The defeat enabled both Sholing and Bristol Manor Farm to jump ahead of Totton in the Southern League Div.1 South table, though Frome Town’s surprise first defeat of the season at Highworth Town means the gap between the Stags and top spot remains 5 points.

AFC Totton turn their attentions back to the FA Trophy next weekend, with their 2nd Round trip to Canvey Island to take on Concord Rangers of the National League South in a match that Interim Manager Dan Sackman describes as “a free hit”. The AFC Totton Board of Directors are offering FREE coach travel to the first 50 fans who sign up. More details are available in our Concord Rangers match preview.

By Ben Rochey-Adams

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