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

Monday 01 January 2024 | Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub, Walton-on-Thames | Att: 581


WALTON & HERSHAM             2
Harry Pointing 57mins;
Taurean McDonald-Roberts 89mins

AFC TOTTON                                  2
Joe Oastler 90+2mins;
Matty Burrows 90+4mins

AFTER GIVING UP a two-goal lead to settle for a point in the Boxing Day clash with Basingstoke, it was Totton’s turn to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat at Walton & Hersham at Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub in Surrey on New Year’s Day, courtesy of a stunning late cameo goal from injury returnee Matty Burrows.

Adam Tomasso returned to central midfield in place of Charlie Kennedy. Luke Bennett was handed his first Southern League start for The Stags, with Alfie Egan making way.

AFC-Totton-badge.pngAFC TOTTON
Starting XI

1.  Lewis NOICE
2.  Benny READ
6.  Luke HALLETT
15.  Sam MAGRI
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
8.  Adam TOMASSO
10.  Luke BENNETT
17.  Leon MALONEY
9.  Scott RENDELL (Capt.)
18.  Joe TURNER
5.  Charlie KENNEDY
11.  Matty BURROWS
12.  Jordan CHIEDOZIE
14.  Alfie EGAN
16.  Alfie STANLEY

Totton wore their changed strip of gun metal grey with fluo yellow socks and trim, while the hosts, who were missing several first team players and handed debuts to two new additions, were in all-red. The pitch was of the 3G variety, with the black plastic crumb.

The Swans made the brigther start. Edward Simon crossed beyond the far post for Taurean McDonald-Roberts to head back across goal, before Totton headed out. No.10 John Gilbert then had to scuttle back into his team’s left-back area to prevent Maloney and Read creating a chance from close to the touchline.

Hallett found himself put under pressure when receiving a pass from his goalkeeper, and Noice had to kick clear from the edge of his box when a through-ball was threaded between Hallett and his central defensive partner, Sam Magri. Simon and one of the debutants, Hugo Few, burst beyond the Totton defensive line with some neat footwork before a lack of control from the new man took the sting out of the move.

Totton had a free-kick cleared. Ragguette hooked the ball back into the box, over-hitting it slightly and almost catching out goalkeeper Tyla Dickinson who tipped over the bar with Rendell closing in to gobble up any scraps. Maloney’s corner was headed back to him by a defender, and his follow-up cross was cleared.

Walton & Hersham had a golden opportunity to open the scoring when Few was played into the inside-right channel with red-shirted options available in the middle. His cross was poor, though, and Noice gratefully claimed the ball at his near post.

Turner gained an advantage by playing to the whistle on the left-wing touchline when the home team players though the ball had run out play. Turner advanced to the byline before his attempted cross was turned behind for a corner. Maloney’s cross was taken off Oastler’s head before Totton regained possession and sent it back into the middle. Rendell teed up Oastler, whose 22-yard shot flew wide of the right-hand post.

Read and Maloney attacked down the right. Maloney’s cross from the byline saw two defenders get in each others way. Gilbert tried to remedy the situation before Read nicked the ball off his toe, but the full-back’s low cross was smothered by Dickinson.

Rendell gave valiant chase to press the Walton & Hersham defence in and around their own penalty area. However, when a misplaced pass did occur, there were no Totton players close enough to capitalise. Then, Hallett did well to head the ball away when two opponents were all set to sprint clear behind him.

Gilbert was afforded enough room to advance upon the Totton box from the Walton & Hersham left, with plenty of Stags defenders between him and the goal. Gilbert bided his time and shifted the ball to his right foot and tried to curl a shot from the edge of the area, but he couldn’t get enough bend on it to seriously trouble Lewis Noice.

A foul on Adam Tomasso gave Totton a free-kick on the right, midway inside the Walton & Hersham half of the pitch. Joe Turner’s cross flew beyond the penalty spot where Sam Magri headed back across goal but there was nobody there for Totton to direct a header at the target.

Luke Bennett was tripped by Joe Hicks, as he ran through the middle. A short free-kick broke down but Oastler won the ball back and crossed from the right, finding Magri in the box whose header was well-wide. Then, a cross from the left was knocked on by Rendell and fell to Turner to strike from a tight angle at the right-hand post, his shot flying high over the bar.

Harry Mills and Ed Simon worked the space at the left-wing byline to create a shooting chance for Gilbert, whose effort was deflected wide for a corner. It was taken short; Read came out to confront McDonald-Roberts, who tried a cross-shot that went behind on the near side.

Totton should have taken the lead in the 26th minute when Magri’s forward pass from halfway was cleverly flicked on with his heel by Rendell to feed Bennett’s run into the penalty area through the centre. Bennett showed neat control to turn the defender and give himself a yard of space inside the box with the whole goal to aim at. He tried to pick his spot in the bottom-right corner but Tyla Dickinson read his intentions and made an impressive stop, diving low to his left.

Ragguette got caught upfield, enabling Maliq Morris to get in down Walton & Hersham’s right wing, but his cross was too strong. Then, Ragguette raced on to a loose ball to lead an attack down the Totton left, before Hicks cut-out the cross.

The match became untidy for a while, with both teams opting to go direct but often hitting inaccurate passes that bounced out of play or presented possession back to the opposing team’s defenders. Magri went in hard on Mills to disrupt one attack, then Totton had the chance to attack when the ball fell to Tomasso in the centre-circle with teammates charging forward around him. The midfielder hooked the ball out to the left where Rendell took control, while Turner burst into the box. Rendell’s cross to the six-yard line required Turner to get across his marker and try to improvise a finish with his right knee, but he could only divert the ball over the crossbar.

Bailey Lamb showed immense confidence in his own ability to nick the ball off Maloney’s toe and loop the ball over him right in front of his own goal, after Rendell had hooked the ball into the danger zone. Walton & Hersham progressed up the field to put Mills in a crossing position on the left-hand side. Totton struggled to clear and it fell to Few, who blasted over from about 22 yards out.

Turner ran on to Ragguette’s left wing throw-in to advance on goal along the byline, forcing Dickinson to parry for a corner. Magri climbed high at the back post to get above his marker but headed Maloney’s cross over the bar. The Totton central defender was booked shortly after for a late sliding challenge close to Totton’s left touchline; Hallett did well to head the danger away despite a decent free-kick delivery from Morris.

Magri carried the ball deep into the Walton & Hersham half and fed the marauding Read on the right wing. The full-back swapped passes with Maloney to get himself further forward but dilligent defending from Gilbert ensured the two teams went in level at the break.

WALTON & HERSHAM           0
AFC TOTTON                                0

Matty Burrows was re-introduced to the Totton line-up at the break, for his first involvement since the late-October 7-1 thrashing of Didcot Town, replacing Luke Bennett.

The young winger was keen to make an impact but perhaps snatched at a couple of his earliest opportunities to make his presence felt. Rendell was called up for an overly-robust use of his shoulder while making an aerial challenge near the centre-circle. The hosts tried the long ball approach, which Magri and Hallett were both comfortable dealing with, and then one long ball ran through to Noice who collected on the edge of his area and bowled it out to Ragguette on the left, who played Burrows in behind right-back Harry Pointing. Burrows collected the ball at the byline and shifted on to his right foot and, with a shimmy and a stepover, created half an opening to shoot for the near post, his effort hitting the side-netting without taking a deflection off either of the two Walton defenders who had come across to close him down.

Oastler got his body in the way to block a shot from Taurean McDonald-Roberts from just outside the Totton box. The ball rebounded to Burrows, temporarily decamped into the left-back position, but for once his control let him down and the home side switched possession to the opposite flank. They were patient in their build-up and when the ball came back into the middle, the clearance was intercepted by Harry POINTING who, from 25 yards out, controlled with his right foot and let fly with his left to send an unstoppable shot past Lewis Noice and just inside the left-hand post.

Ragguette was brought down after having already passed the ball infield. Maloney’s free-kick ricocheted between two red-shirted defenders, before it was cleared. Ragguette had to be on his toes to stop McDonald-Roberts making a one-man raid from the Walton & Hersham right on the counter.

Oastler and Maloney linked up to send Read down the right wing, before his low cross from the byline was turned away for a corner. Maloney took it short, exchanging passes with Burrows before picking out Magri with a cross to the far post. He headed down but Turner’s attempt to shoot was closed down before he could make a solid connection.

Burrows showcased his less celebrated defensive qualities to chase back and disposses Simon with a last-ditch sliding tackle after the forward had broken through at inside-left, prompting optimistic appeals for a penalty from the home crowd that the Referee ignored.

Totton were awarded a free-kick for hand-ball on their right. Oastler nodded the cross down for Rendell with his back to goal, but he couldn’t turn to get his shot away.

Walton & Hersham were still posing an attacking threat of their own, with Mills sending the ball across the AFC Totton goalmouth but none of his teammates were able to apply the finish. Then, Burrows did something similar after being sent clear down the right wing from Turner, who had claimed the ball in the centre-circle to get Totton on the front foot.

After a period of soaking up pressure, Walton hit Totton on the counter-attack, switching the ball from left to right to push Pointing forward. He shuffled possession on to McDonald-Roberts, who was brought down by Ragguette for a free-kick within shooting range. Mills tried to curl it into the top-right corner but his shot flew wide of the post.

Jimmy Ball then made his second and third substitutions by sending on Charlie Kennedy in place of Adam Tomasso and Jordan Chiedozie for Joe Turner, with about 17 minutes left. Chiedozie had apparently been given explicit instructions to press the opposition, judging by the eagerness with which he immediately got himself up close and personal with Walton & Hersham’s defenders.

Burrows tried to take on two defenders on the right wing. He lost possession and committed a foul, before The Swans captain Joe Pratley-Jones took him out with a late, heavy challenge that left him writhing on the ground. That caused an angry reaction from the Totton players, Benny Read the first to get involved as a shoving match ensued that brought several players and all three match officials to the touchline to regain order. Pratley-Jones was yellow carded and, shortly after play resumed, a run-of-the-mill foul by Read had the Walton & Hersham bench up in arms screaming blue murder, which the Referee responded to by showing the full-back a nevertheless well-deserved yellow card.

Maloney bent a shot over the bar from about 25 yards, after receiving the ball on the left-wing touchline. Then Burrows was fouled close to the right-wing corner flag; Maloney sent the ball high to the far post where Sam Magri headed back across goal, but the home side cleared once again.

Totton continued to press for an equaliser but their crosses from either flank tended to fly too long and too high for any player in gun metal grey to connect. Maloney hit a diagonal pass to bring Ragguette forward down the left. He sent over a cross that took out Dickinson and dropped at the far post, but it was knocked behind for a corner before Rendell could get there. Magri couldn’t get up high enough to reach Leon Maloney’s cross and Walton stood strong as Totton tried to get the ball back into the box.

Kennedy had his pocket picked by McDonald-Roberts as Walton mounted a late attack, which Oastler mitigated by deflecting for a corner. Gilbert took it quickly and the home side suddenly had several players queuing up around the edge of Totton’s box. They worked it to the left and attacked the box. As Stags defenders frantically tried to fill the space, Hallett blocked one shot before a square pass presented Taurean McDONALD-ROBERTS with the chance to fire Walton & Hersham into a two-goal lead on 90 minutes, which he celebrated with an acrobatic backflip flanked by several of his joyous teammates, no doubt celebrating what they believed to be the securing of all three points.

But there was a sting in the tail for the home side. Totton got forward from the kick-off and Oastler’s pass enabled Jordan Ragguette to take aim with an angled shot that was diverted wide for a corner. Maloney’s cross was not properly dealt with by the Walton & Hersham defence, who allowed it to drop at the six-yard line; Joe OASTLER hooked it forward into a ruck of players from either team, none of whom were able to make contact as it squirmed over the line to halve the deficit two minutes into stoppage time.

Walton & Hersham restarted the game but quickly gave up possession, enabling Totton to play the ball out to the right wing where Burrows brought it under control and, with two defenders flanking him, began to advance on the opposition goal. As he progressed into the crowded penalty area, the home side appeared to be alert to the danger but not overly concerned of any imminent threat; then, the mercurial winger switched the ball to his left foot to cut inside the retreating defender in front of him and thunder his shot against the underside of the crossbar and into the bottom-left corner, where the ball got stuck in the net having been hit with such power. The home side could only stand and stare in disbelief as Matty BURROWS performed a knee slide before taking the congratulations of his teammates and embracing the club mascot Stanley Stag standing among the AFC Totton fans behind the goal. It was Burrows’ seventh goal of a stop-start season; his third as substitute.

There was still time for Jordan Chiedozie to pick up a late booking for a foul on Dickinson in the Walton & Hersham goal, before the Referee’s final whistle brought the curtain down on a New Year’s Day match that was as entertaining as it was no doubt frustrating for both managers.

By Ben Rochey-Adams

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