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AWAY GAME BRISTOL MANOR FARM 08.10.22(News content_story) 752x450px.jpg

Due to England's World Cup tie against Wales, The Stags' midweek trip to Bristol Manor Farm has been moved to Wednesday.

Venue: The Creek, Portway, City of Bristol BS9 2HS

Bristol Manor Farm_600px.pngWHEN ETHAN TAYLOR SCORED AFC Totton’s third goal, eight minutes from the end of the final regulation Southern League Div.1 South match at Slimbridge AFC last season, there was a brief glimmer of hope among the considerable travelling Stags faithful that the boys had done enough to sneak into the last of the Play-Off spots to continue competing for promotion to the Premier Division South.

Bristol Manor Farm, The Stags’ main rivals for that invaluable fifth-place finish, were trailing 1-2 at home to Winchester City, whose place in the Play-Offs had already been secured. Then, enter The Stagslayer, Owen Howe, to continue his one-man wrecking ball demolition of AFC Totton’s hopes of climbing the English Football Pyramid.

Not enough that the former Salisbury striker had scored both of The Farmy Army’s goals with two thunderous free-kicks in the 2-2 draw at The Creek in early-September to deny Totton an away win. Nor, that during a season in which he returned for a brief stint at another of his former clubs, Tiverton Town, he then popped up at relegation-threatened Barnstaple Town in time to come off the bench at the Snows Stadium to clear Sam Griffin’s goal-bound shot off the line with the very last kick of a frustrating goalless draw against a side The Stags had stuck 14 goals past in league and cup earlier in the season.

Not done spoiling Totton’s party yet, Howe then returned to Bristol Manor Farm and once again came on as substitute, this time to score the winning goal with just five minutes to go of a game in which Totton were undone by their own inability to convert the several chances they had created.

No sooner had the match at Thornhill Park restarted, with Totton 3-1 to the good, than news filtered through from The Creek that Howe had struck within a minute of Ethan Taylor’s goal to level the scores with Winchester, arriving at a result that was good enough to take both The Farmy Army and The Citizens into the Play-Offs and leave Totton to lick their wounds and make do with the consolation, 12 days later, of lifting the Southampton Senior Cup for the first time in 40 years.

But what a difference almost half-a-season makes. Howe’s wanderlust appears to have abated for now, but not even last season’s second-top goalscorer in the Southern League Div.1 South has been able to arrest a slide that currently sees Bristol Manor Farm sitting in the relegation zone, having suffered the same number of defeats in just 14 matches that they experienced during the whole of the regulation season last term.

Lymington Town’s dramatic recent upturn in form is certainly not helping the BMF cause but, ironically, it’s their inability to score goals that has hampered them most this season while their Goals Against tally is comparable with teams in mid-table.

Bashley got Bristol Manor Farm’s season off to a stinker with a 2-1 win in the New Forest on the opening day of the season, prompting a run of eight matches without a win until they finally overcame Cinderford Town away by three goals to one. A 4-2 win at Lymington followed and a Jake Gosling penalty against Westbury United made it three consecutive wins. But just as things seemed to be looking up for the team also known as The Portwaymen, they slumped to a 0-4 thumping at Willand Rovers on Saturday 12 November, in which The Devon All-Whites’ Oliver Bray struck a hat-trick. Bristol Manor Farm have since lost 1-5 at home to Melksham Town and 2-3 at Wimborne Town, to leave themselves facing a potential relegation dogfight if they can’t improve their form quickly.

Their interest in the Emirates FA Cup was curtailed by Aylesbury Vale Dynamos of the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division at the Preliminary Round stage. They beat Wimborne Town, Bideford AFC on penalties, and Southern League Premier Division South strugglers Gosport Borough to reach the 1st Round Proper of the Isuzu FA Trophy, before succumbing 1-3 to Plymouth Parkway in Devon.

For his part, Owen Howe has five league goals to his name so far this season, although he has failed to find the net in his last three matches, coinciding with those three league defeats since 12 November. Before that, he was absent from the side for three games, which – judging by the match details provided on the Southern League’s website – appears to have been a suspension following a red card in the home defeat to Bishop’s Cleeve on Tuesday 11 October, in which he still found time to score a 35th minute equaliser before receiving his marching orders, with The Mitres striking twice in the last eight minutes to wrap up a 3-1 win.

Adam Tomasso_AFC Totton vs Bristol Manor Farm_SLD1S_19Mar22.jpg
GROUND ASSAULT: Adam Tomasso fights for possession during last season's home encounter with Bristol Manor Farm in the Southern League Div.1 South.

In the historical head-to-head, last season’s smash-and-grab win at the Snows Stadium is the only victory Bristol Manor Farm have tasted against Totton since the earliest meeting we have on record from the 2017/18 season. Totton won all of the first seven encounters until the 2-2 draw at The Creek last September, in which Callum Baughan was sent off for The Stags. Totton’s most recent away win at Bristol Manor Farm was in the curtailed 2020/21 season when a goal from Ethan Taylor and two from Brett Williams gave The Stags a 3-0 victory.

By Ben Rochey-Adams and Malcolm Tombs, Club Historian

Image courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography

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