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Saturday 03 February 2024 | Webbswood Stadium, Swindon, Wiltshire | Att: 289


Joe Tumelty 49mins; Harry Williams 90+4mins

AFC TOTTON                                  2
Joan Luque 13mins, 53mins

ON-LOAN SPANISH FORWARD Joan Luque took his tally to three goals in as many AFC Totton games since his arrival from Worthing, but The Stags’ recent knack of snatching draws from the jaws of victory cost them once again at Swindon Supermarine’s Webbswood Stadium in Wiltshire.

An injury sustained during the 3-3 draw at Hendon in mid-week caused Lewis Noice to miss a league match for the first time this season. His replacement was England U18 international goalkeeper Tommy Reid, who joined the club on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion at the eleventh hour of last Thursday's transfer deadline. Ethan Taylor was restored to the starting line-up, with Scott Rendell dropping to the substitutes' bench. Joe Oastler captained AFC Totton for the first time.

AFC-Totton-badge.pngAFC TOTTON
Starting XI

13.  Tommy REID
2.  Benny READ
6.  Luke HALLETT
15.  Sam MAGRI
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
7.  Joe OASTLER (Capt.)
8.  Adam TOMASSO
10.  Ethan TAYLOR
12.  Jordan CHIEDOZIE
19.  Zidan AKERS
5.  Charlie KENNEDY
9.  Scott RENDELL
11.  Matty BURROWS
14.  Ben JEFFORD
20.  Luke BENNETT

Ragguette was forced back into early defensive duties, as Supermarine tried to send right-back Sam Turl forward. The Totton left-back won the ball back via a throw-in, finding Akers who sent Taylor into space on the wing, but his cross was too high.

Both teams had young, on-loan goalkeepers were making their debuts. Swindon’s Fiachra Pagel displayed nerves by dropping Read’s high cross into his box, before gratefully snatching the ball at the second attempt. Then, Taylor scurried back to help his defence after Turl rode two challenges to mount an attack for the home team.

Turl was seeing plenty of the ball. His pass was flicked on for Joe Tumelty, who then found Henry Spalding in the middle. He took aim at the Totton goal but Read came across to charge down the shot, taking the weight off it so Tommy Reid, the ‘keeper on loan for AFC Totton from Brighton & Hove Albion, could comfortably claim.

Turl was involved again, attacking down the right and passing infield to Spalding. A short pass found Levi Irving, whose shot on the turn smacked the post and bounced clear. Then, at the other end, Matthew Liddiard performed a diving header to knock the ball back to his goalkeeper to prevent Taylor nipping in ahead of him.

Against the run of play, Totton took the lead on 13 minutes. Taylor pressed and tussled for possession high up on the left wing, unsettling the Swindon defence enough to force them back to Pagel. But a moment’s hesitation between the goalkeeper and his defender was all Chiedozie needed to dart in and make a tackle to loosen the ball at the edge of the area, where Joan LUQUE ran in and fired low into the empty net.

Swindon tried to attack down their left but Tomasso headed the ball away. Luque took control and picked out Akers with plenty of space as he approached the Swindon area. He tried to shape his body as though to curl a shot into the top-right corner, but he got it all wrong and sent his shot flying into the conifer trees that tower behind the goal.

Usually content to sit back, Oastler took advantage of an opportunity to spring forward when he caught David Sims-Burgess napping on the ball in the centre-circle. The Spitfires defence backed off as Oastler advanced, inviting him to have a crack which Pagel did well to tip over the bar. The corner was initially cleared and, when Taylor tried to attack the left byline, former Paulton Rovers midfielder Liban Ibrahim made up a lot of ground to block the cross and claim a goal-kick via a ricochet off Taylor.

Ragguette was booked for a foul on Irving. The free-kick found Ioan Richards in the Totton box, but the ball bounced off his thigh and dropped kindly for Tommy Reid. But the young ‘keeper almost gifted the home side a goal soon after, when Magri passed back to him and he scuffed his clearance straight to Spalding on Swindon’s right. He took the chance on himself, advancing on Reid’s goal before blasting over the top from a tight angle, much to the relief of the AFC Totton contingent.

Ethan Taylor committed a foul close to the half-way line that brought sharp intakes of breath from around the ground, earning himself a yellow card. Then, Reid showed his own nerves with a poor goal-kick that Hallett had to run back and tidy up so Reid could launch the ball upfield at the second attempt.

Akers held the ball up at half-way, allowing Luque to take up the running as Totton poured forward. Luque drove wide to the left and crossed low; the ball elduded Chiedozie and Akers before Taylor collected on the right and fired in a shot that Richards did extremely well to block. From the resulting corner, Luque’s corner was headed out; Taylor tried to keep it in play on the left-hand side, but to no avail.

Chiedozie shot for glory with a 20-yard effort that flew almost as high over the bar. Then, Adam Tomasso was penalised for a push about 35 yards out, left of centre. Tumelty lifted the ball into the box and Irving headed over the bar.

Swindon won a corner on their left, which Reid did well to punch away with players congregated around him on his goal line.Tumelty picked up a yellow card for an off-the-ball foul on Taylor, while Akers led a left-wing raid. Luque stepped up to strike at goal from the free-kick, pulling a smart save out of Pagel at the foot of his left-hand post.

Chiedozie was struggling with a knock, so he was substituted with Charlie Kennedy replacing him. In the remaining five minutes before half-time, Sims-Burgess fired a shot over the Totton bar and Taylor had his free-kick effort blocked by the Supermarine captain James Edge, after Akers was brought down as he ran at goal on the counter-attack.

AFC TOTTON                                    1

Luque stung Pagel’s palms at the near post with a well-struck angled effort from the left, after a clever link-up with Akers. Then, Luque, Read and Akers combined to create a half-chance for Kennedy, whose shot was charged down.

Despite Totton’s energetic start to the second half, the home side drew level in the 49th minute. Read stopped left-back Ryan Campbell’s progress on the Swindon left by putting the ball out for a throw. But it was taken quickly and Campbell popped up at the byline to centre for Joe TUMELTY, who swept the ball home beyond Magri’s lunge.

It didn’t take long for The Stags to restore their lead, though. Three minutes later, pressing from Read and Hallett forced Swindon into their own half. An underhit pass-back allowed Joan LUQUE to pounce and wrestle the ball off the defender to the left of the D, before passing into the back of the net.

Kennedy was busily racking up the fouls, which the Referee made it clear he had noticed. Then, Joe Oastler had his name taken for a mistimed lunge near the centre-circle.

Hallett was kept busy blocking crosses from Spalding, before making a diving headed clearance from a corner that fell to Tumelty, whose shot was wayward. Reid claimed the ball under pressure when it was crossed back in.

Ibrahim was exerting greater influence upon the game from central midfield. Kennedy was booked for an accumulation of fouls since his introduction shortly before half-time.

In the 63rd minute, the hosts sent on Harry Williams, who was making his second Supermarine debut after a short spell at Salisbury. Henry Spalding was the player to make way.

Liddiard reached out a long leg to prevent Luque running clear from Reid’s long kick upfield. Then, Ragguette went it alone to drive infield at two defenders, setting himself for a shot from a tight angle that flashed wide of the near post.

Benny Read was withdrawn in the 66th minute, with Scott Rendell stepping off the bench. In the ensuing reshuffle, the right-back slot was filled by Adam Tomasso.

Luque’s headed flick-on briefly set Zidan Akers away into Swindon territory, until Supermarine got players back to crowd him out. Then, Kennedy intercepted a square pass in the midde of Totton’s half with Akers making a run out to the right wing. Kennedy gave him the ball and the man recently signed from Beaconsfield Town charged towards goal and struck a fierce shot that cannoned back off the crossbar, with Luque running in to try to jump and volley, but he couldn’t contort his body into the necessary shape to pull that off.

Luque added his name to the Referee’s evergrowing naughty list by pulling back an opponent who dispossessed him on Totton’s right touchline. Ibrahim took possession when the free-kick was headed away, and played Campbell in down the left to send in a dangerous cross that Hallett, Rendell and Kennedy all had to contribute to getting away from their goal.

Taylor won a corner on the left. Luque’s cross carried all the way to the opposite flank, where Akers retrieved and crossed to the left-hand side; Hallett met it on the volley with his right foot and Pagel pushed the shot over the bar. Luque’s next corner was cleared at the near post, and Ragguette was called up for a foul as he tried to regain posession, for which he was given a talking to by the Referee.

That was Ragguette’s last contribution to proceedings, as Ben Jefford came on to replace him. The new man tested Pagel with an angled shot towards the near post, after Luque laid off from a right-wing Akers cross. Then, Magri went close to converting from the subsequent corner, after Hallett flicked on to present his central defensive partner with a chance that he directed over the top.

Kennedy cut out a low cross from Campbell inside the Totton box, but he could only watch on as the ball fell to Irving, who fired his effort across goal and wide of the left-hand post, with Tommy Reid at full-stretch flying across his goal.

Akers and Taylor started a move that brought Kennedy, who was operating in midfield, into the game. Already on a yellow card, he was fortunate not to get another one for a blatant push on a defender that had home fans up in arms but the Referee appeared not to notice, as he awarded Totton a corner that they were unable to take capitalise upon.

Tomasso was caught in possession, but a combination of Hallett and Reid tidied up without allowing the ball to run for a Swindon corner. Then, Luque went hat-trick hunting when he received the ball to the right of the Swindon goal. He was quickly closed down and tried to manouevre his way across the edge of the box for a better shooting angle, before opting for a one-two with Rendell that was interrupted by Ibrahim.

Jefford’s positioning enabled him to intercept a pass that would have seen a Swindon forward given the freedom of Wiltshire in the Totton half. Then, Tomasso popped up in the middle of defence, as Totton fell back into their defensive shape, just like they had at Hendon in the previous match.

Harry Williams got on the end of a right-wing cross to head at goal, but he had to settle for a corner due to Charlie Kennedy putting himself in the way. Ibrahim crossed into the box; it was headed out by Kennedy, then Taylor controlled on his chest and just smashed the ball upfield into the empty half of the pitch that Swindon Supermarine had all but vacated.

Jefford and Kennedy had to team up to stop Irving dribbling into the box through the middle. Then, Luque got free at the other end to side-step his marker and fire a low angled shot narrowly wide of the far post.

As Totton fell back, they conceded too much ground on the wings; Hallett headed away Ibrahim’s cross from the left but the ball fell back to him, and he advanced to the corner of the box. With defenders retreating, Campbell darted to the byline and receive the pass and centred low. Reid tried to intercept but couldn’t get a clean contact and Harry WILLIAMS poked home six minutes beyond the 90 to deny Totton victory.

By Ben Rochey-Adams

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