Slimbridge 2 AFC Totton 0 – Match Report
SWANS QUICK-FIRE DOUBLE TOO MUCH FOR THE STAGS
Slimbridge AFC 2-0 AFC Totton
Attendance – 64 (including 5 Totton)
The Stags travelled to Gloucestershire on the back of a 0-0 draw away at Wantage, but knowing a win would secure their survival in the Southern League Division One South & West. Manager Louis Langdown had a significantly under strength squad to pick from with Nathaniel Sherborne, Mike Gosney and Mark Gamble all unavailable, while Cherries loanee Connor York could only start on the bench.
Slimbridge got the game underway on a blustery evening in the South West and after just 4 minutes they were the first to cause problems, a half hearted penalty appeal waved away instantly by referee Simon Shaw. After that early warning The Stags then seemed to take control of the tempo of the game, forcing two corners in quick succession shortly afterwards, culminating in Sam Roberts firing over from a tight angle around eight yards from goal. Totton continued to have the lions share of the play until the 21st minute when Slimbridge registered their first real effort at goal with Joe Stokes firing wide after an attempted over-head kick. Just before the half hour mark, Curtis Young picked the ball up on the edge of the area, but could only fire his shot narrowly wide of the right hand post.
However, just moments later and what seemed to be against the run of play, Slimbridge struck the opening goal in the 34th minute. A menacing run down Slimbridge’s right from Adam Mace saw him cross for Joe TWYMAN who steered home beyond Pat O’Flaherty. Just two minutes later, the hosts doubled their advantage to leave The Stags somewhat shellshocked, after they’d been more or less in control of the opening half an hour of the game. As Totton struggled to clear their lines, the ball winded up with Adam MACE on the edge of the area and the talented winger finished off nicely, fizzing his left footed shot across O’Flaherty and into the far corner, from 18 yards out.
The Stags could certainly count themselves unlucky not to have halved the deficit just a few minutes before the break. As Totton looked to push forward and regain some of the rhythm they’d had before the hosts’ quick fire double, Alfy Whittingham – in excellent form – did well to turn and shoot in the area, only to see his effort chested off the line by Ryan Thwaite. That proved to be the last real action in a half where The Stags would have been wondering how they’d found themselves 2 down at the interval. HT 2-0
After the break, Slimbridge assumed the initiative in the second half and would’ve extended their lead through Twyman again, if not for a good one-on-one save from O’Flaherty. And the Stags stopper pulled off an even better save from point blank range to deny Adam Mace a second goal of the evening aswell. As the hour mark came and went, Totton introduced U-18 starlet Callum Hellyar in the hopes of freshening things up and it wasn’t long before the youngster involved himself in proceedings, playing an inviting ball from the left, looking for Curtis Young who could only fire over in one of The Stags’ better chances of the second period. Totton again had the lions share of the play in the final 25 minutes or so in the game, but a way back into it continued to be eluisive. After Hellyar chased down a long ball into the area, it seemed as though the youngster was brought down, but the referee was having none of it and waved away the appeals. In other half chances, Dave Allen flicked on for Charlie Gunson, but he could only fire over from distance. Another U-18 starlet then entered the fray in the way of Harry Prisk, coming on for Matt Bozier who’d picked up a knock. Slimbridge also threatened once more as the game entered the final 5 minutes as substitute Jamie Martin headed just wide after a cross from Nathan Payne. But the final passages of play were coming from Totton when Harry Medway and Alfy Whittingham were both kept out by Marcus Beauchamp in goal and finally, deep into into stoppage time, Charlie Gunson was brought down in the area as he advanced towards goal, but the referee deemed it to be a fair challenge and ensure Totton left Thornhill Park goalless aswell as pointless. FT 2-0
Another frustrating trip on the road this week for The Stags. Just as they looked to be knocking on the door at one end, Slimbridge opened it at another – and with interest to leave Louis and the boys to ponder what may have been, had Totton made their early pressure count, or indeed had Alfy Whittingham managed to level up before the break. However, The Stags will secure their survival (Saturday 1st April) should Wantage Town fail to beat Hereford, while Louis and his troops will be looking to take out some of their frustrations when Bideford are the visitors to Testwood Stadium.
Stags Lineup: O’Flaherty, Roberts, Bozier**, Williams, Medway, Allen ©, Young, Gunson, Oliver, Whittingham, Wilde*.
Subs: Hellyar*, Prisk**, York, Jones (gk).
Adi Rose at Thornhill Park.