T&MUFC
MATCH REPORTS 2021/22 

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Monday 18th April                                  T&MU 3 Staines Town 1

 

A difficult season ended on a positive note as bottom of the table Staines proved the perfect visitors for an end of season celebration. Despite their status as our ‘bogey club’, they were no match for a Terrors side looking to end on a high note, and we duly picked up our first home victory in four months to consolidate a position of safety.

 

There was certainly a carnival atmosphere before the game, as we paid tribute to Dean Hamlin - playing his last game for us in his second spell at the club, and fittingly sporting the Captain’s armband for the day.

 

We started on the front foot, giving our visitors no chance to settle, and were in front after just five minutes play; Enoch Ako-Adjei burst through the centre onto a long ball and crashed an emphatic shot past Alfie McMaster to register his first goal for the club.

 

With confidence visibly flowing throughout the team, Anuar Ceesay made a break down the left and flicked the ball nicely infield to Mark Waters who returned the favour as Anuar broke into the box, but a defender was alert enough to intercept and deflect the ball out for a corner.

 

Waters’ passing skills were evident again as he set Enoch away for a run on goal, but his earlier calm finish was not to be repeated and this time he could only lash the ball high and wide.

 

But on the quarter hour mark, we doubled our lead. Shamal Edwards surged to the byline, and cut back an inch perfect pass for the onrushing Prince Mbengui to bury number two.

 

It was all Tooting, with Staines struggling to put any meaningful moves together, so it was something of a surprise when they hauled themselves back into the game; Yahya Aly took advantage of Nathan Daly’s failure to cut out a cross, and slipped the ball past the exposed Morgan Campbell on nineteen minutes.

 

The game settled into a quieter spell for a time after that, but Ceesay brought it to life once more as another surging run ended in him finding Ako-Adjei whose drive from range was well saved by McMaster.

 

The visiting keeper was in action again moments later, as the impressive Baye Ndiaye made a nice interception in midfield, and found Waters who slipped Enoch through again. His shot from a tight angle was fingertipped round the post for another good save by the busy McMaster.

 

HT : T&MU 2 Staines T. 1

 

The first chance of the second period saw Anuar Ceesay attempt a speculative effort from distance that McMaster fumbled, but managed to grasp at the second attempt.

 

Dean Hamlin was having a fine outing, and looked determined to sign off his Terrors career with a rare goal. Just before the hour he nearly managed it too; Enoch Ako-Adjei’s cross-shot was parried by McMaster, the rebound was gathered by Anuar who laid it off for Deano on the edge of the box. His rasping drive was well hit, but crashed against the bar and came out to deny him the fairy-tale ending.

 

The third wasn’t far away though, and it was Anuar Ceesay - enjoying a fine game - who netted it, driving across McMaster to become the third Terror on the day to net his maiden goal for the club.

 

We could have run out more emphatic winners, with McMaster saving twice from Mark Waters late on, but had done more than enough to seal the points on a satisfying afternoon - for once. All that was left was the presentation of the man-of-the-match award to Dean Hamlin, and this wasn’t just a sentimental choice - he really did have a superb game with which to finish. Thanks for the memories, Deano, and all the best for the future.

 

T&MU : Campbell, Edwards, Hamlin, Waters, Daly, Krokhin, Daniel (Obafemi 66”), Ndiaye, Ako-Adjei (al Haidery 82”), Mbengui, Ceesay (Bassett 73”).

SUBS NOT USED : Walters-Wright, Bangura-Williams.

Attendance : 208

 

Saturday 16th April                                Hanwell Town 3 T&MU 1

 

With survival all but assured, the Terrors gave a very passive ‘end of term’ performance to limp to defeat at Hanwell. The hosts were hoping to cement their place in the play-offs and raced into a three goal lead before we really started to show any signs of competing, by which time it was too little, too late.

 

It took just fifteen minutes for the London Geordies to ease into the lead; Dan Carter's inviting cross from the right was headed against the bar by Ogo Obi, who was alert enough to turn in the rebound with Morgan Campbell stranded. Hanwell continued to dominate much of the possession, and five minutes before the break doubled their lead when Jack Hutchinson shot home from a tight angle.

 

The game might have been beyond us just before the break when, from a corner, Obi's header was handled on the line and a penalty ensued. Campbell made a superb stop, diving to his right to push a firmly struck shot aside and keep us (just about)  in contention.

 

HT : Hanwell T. 2 T&MU 0

 

Unfortunately, Morgan's heroics did nothing to spur us into action and we began the second half with the same lack of urgency with which we finished the first, although Dontai Stewart did manage to at least muster up our first shot of the afternoon - disappointingly well wide of the target. Hanwell continued to make most of the running, and put themselves into an unassailable lead ten minutes into the half when Carter found Obi inside the box; his shot on the turn was parried by Campbell, but the ball fell kindly for ex-Terror Gareth Chendlik who bagged number three.

 

Perhaps it was Hanwell easing off with the game won, but it was only then that we started to spark into some kind of life. Substitutes Enoch Ako-Adjei and Anuar Ceesay combined to create a half-chance for the latter, but keeper Hugo Sobte was quickly off his line to smother the effort.

 

Sobte was involved in the next major talking point as he collided with Enoch and clearly brought the Tooting man down by unfair means; the Hanwell stopper came off worse though, and after lengthy treatment was shown the yellow card for the offence, when some referees may have issued a sterner punishment.

 

With twenty minutes to play, we were back in the game as  Shamal Edwards burst down the left and sent over a looping cross which Billy Brown just managed to squeeze over the line to open his account for the club.

 

Suddenly, we were showing the fight that had been lacking all afternoon and Anuar Ceesay was inches away from a second, but couldn't get the required direction on his header which cleared the bar.

 

Shamal, again, showed good pace - on the opposite flank this time, side-stepped a couple of defenders and whipped over a cross-shot which dropped just wide.

 

The Tooting fightback was snuffed out with fifteen minutes to go though, when Nathan Daly was involved in an off-the-ball incident with Tomas Siemienczuk which left the home player on the floor and Daly dismissed from the field of play. It was a sour end to a disappointing performance, and the game petered out somewhat after that.

 

T&MU : Campbell, Edwards, Hamlin, Waters, Daly, Walters-Wright, Brown, Clarke, Faniyan (Ako-Adjei 58"), Bangura-Williams, Stewart (Ceesay 58")

SUBS NOT USED : Pain, Ndiaye, Krokhin.

Attendance : 249

 

Wednesday 6th April                  Sutton Common Rovers 0 T&MU 2

 

A goal and an assist from the in-form Shamal Edwards bagged the points on a wet night in Leatherhead. After almost four months without a league win, this was our second in quick succession and gave us some breathing space at the wrong end of the table. Another three points from the final home fixture against rock-bottom Staines should ensure survival, and another chance to exit the South-Central Division at the right end next time.

 

With Rovers being our nearest neighbours in the division, it was somewhat bizarre having to make a ten mile-odd journey down to Leatherhead but a sizeable contingent of travelling Terrors made the trip and were well rewarded for their efforts.

 

The pitch was in pretty good condition, despite monsoon-like conditions for much of the afternoon; and a couple of heavy downpours during the first half made it tricky for both sides to get any kind of grip on the game. It was the Terrors who carved out the first chance, though, with Cory Walters-Wright just failing to get a touch to Nathan Gordon's free-kick as the ball dropped harmlessly past the far post.

 

Then a Billy Brown cross from the right-hand side caught on the wind and dipped toward the top corner; Rovers keeper James Dillon managed to just about gather the ball, but there were some claims that he may have carried it over the line. The referee gave the nominal hosts the benefit of the doubt and the game continued.

 

A long ball out from the back was taken nicely by Mark Waters who cut it back toward Edwards, but he was well-tracked by a defender who blocked the effort.

 

Dontai Stewart was finding a lot of space on the left flank, and he did well to get away from his marker before finding Waters who in turn found Brown, but under pressure he couldn't summon the power to dig out a shot and Rovers cleared again.

 

SCR were being forced back for much of the early stages, but emerged from their shell to cause some confusion around the penalty area which almost resulted in our falling behind as Tony Halsey's through ball was flicked on by Mo Amghar with the ball bouncing around the box before Ollie Pain dropped gratefully on it.

 

Three minutes later, Rovers came even closer when they managed to bundle the ball over the line in another goalmouth scramble, but the goal was disallowed for a foul on Pain.

 

Tooting regrouped, and looked the more likely to break the deadlock in the remainder of the half, as Dontai set up Shamal for a long range effort, but he couldn't repeat his heroics of the previous weekend on this occasion and his long-range strike sailed comfortably over the bar.

 

Mark Waters' evening came to a premature end when he departed the field after lengthy treatment for an injury, to be replaced by Sam Faniyan.

 

Jordan Clarke showed good determination after initially missing his kick from a throw-in, as he re-grouped and won it back before firing in a shot which Dillon just about managed to hold on to, under pressure from Enoch Ako-Adjei as we finished the half very much on the front foot.

 

HT : Sutton Common Rovers 0 T&MU 0

 

Thankfully, the interval did not disrupt our rhythm as we began the second period in the same manner we had ended the first. It seemed only a matter of time until the deadlock was broken, as Rovers were finding it increasingly difficult to build any momentum of their own. Just before the hour, Shamal Edwards seized on a wayward cross-field pass from Ryan Healey, side-stepped neatly past Healey who was desperately trying to make amends, and bore down on goal. As Dillon advanced, Shamal kept a cool head and slotted it neatly underneath the keeper's body to spark wild scenes of euphoria behind the goal.

 

And it got better for the travelling Bog-Enders minutes later, as Edwards outpaced Ryan Dacres-Smith down the left and whipped over an inviting cross which was gleefully buried with a towering header at the far post by Sam Faniyan, to give us the breathing space we so richly deserved.

 

Rovers were rattled now, and as they lost their shape and confidence we could - probably should - have added to our tally. Jordan Clarke deserved a goal for another enterprising performance, and almost got it late on; he controlled a difficult ball well, but could only steer his shot wide on the turn. Dillon then saved at full-stretch from a Nathan Gordon free-kick as we kept the pressure on right to the end, to put the seal on our most complete performance away from home all season - just when we needed it most.

 

T&MU : Pain, Edwards, Gordon, Waters (Faniyan 35"), Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Brown, Clarke (Ceesay 70"),Ako-Adjei (Anifowese 83"), Stewart, Ndiaye.

SUBS NOT USED : Daly, Mbengui.

Attendance : 111

 

Saturday 2nd April 2022                Chalfont St. Peter 0 T&MU 1

 

A thunderbolt from Shamal Edwards was enough to finally secure a first league win of the year and put the team in good heart ahead of a crucial trip to Leatherhead to face Sutton Common Rovers on Wednesday evening.

 

It was a strange old day weather-wise, with all four seasons being represented at some point during the ninety minutes; but when the dust had settled, we were able to look back on an enjoyable afternoon for once. Defensively solid, we could - perhaps should - have won by more but after such a lean period, just banking the points was all that mattered. With Chalfont one of only two teams below us at start of play, failure to win here would have opened up the spectre of automatic relegation once again. Having now got the monkey off our backs, we have established a ten point gap between ourselves and our hosts which, barring an extremely unlikely set of results, ensures that - at the very least - we'll get an opportunity to hang onto our Level 4 status by means of a play-off. If we can now build on the momentum engendered by this three points, survival without the need for an extra fixture is still well within our grasp.

 

Chalfont's playing surface is arguably the worst at this level, with bumps and undulations hindering any attempt to play an expansive passing game. Nevertheless, the Terrors did manage to string together some nice passages of play and it was from one of these moves that the deadlock was broken, five minutes before half-time. Jordan Clarke - the game's dominant player  - tried to set Mark Waters free down the middle; his through ball was cut out by the home defence but fell to Edwards who curled an absolute beauty from about thirty yards to leave Ben Parslow in the home goal grasping thin air.

 

It was no more than we deserved, having controlled the game to that point. We were forced into a re-shape early on when Sam Faniyan - scorer of a nicely taken goal in the midweek friendly draw at Merstham - went down heavily on the unpredictable turf, with nobody around him. Mark Waters was a welcome returnee, having missed the previous three matches, and entered the fray as Faniyan's replacement with just twenty minutes gone.

 

Jordan Clarke was running the game up to this point, and Waters slotted in neatly alongside him. With Dontai Stewart a constant menace up front, Shamal Edwards and Billy Brown causing havoc on the flanks and Nikolai Krokhin winning everything in the air at the back, the foundations for victory looked set. All that was needed was a goal.

 

Clarke played a lovely weighted pass down the left, and Enoch Ako-Adjei was quick to seize upon it. Taking the ball to the byline, he cut it back nicely for the onrushing Edwards whose shot just cleared the bar.

 

Clarke continued to cause panic in the home defence, and when he was pulled down on the edge of the box it looked a promising position for a free-kick. However, after much deliberation over who would take it, Nathan Gordon took on the responsibility and steered the ball well over.

 

Chalfont were continually stretched by the Tooting offence, and were beginning to concede set plays in abundance. Another free-kick from the left hand side was floated in but was just too high for both Krokhin and Cory Walters-Wright and dropped harmlessly wide.

 

Dontai was next to craft a shooting opportunity in the crowded penalty area, but his effort was deflected wide by Sean McGuinness for a corner which came to nothing, then Enoch burst his way through the overworked home defence only to drag his shot wide of the far post.

 

Having failed to capitalise on any of the chances created thus far, it looked ominous when Chalfont began to emerge from their shell and they very nearly took the lead against the run of play when Ollie Pain flapped at a corner, and two shooting opportunities were blocked by Krokhin and Gordon, with the third chance being fired over. It was a little reminder that no matter how dominant we were, a sting in the tail was never far away.

 

Thankfully, we heeded the warning, and Shamal Edwards' stunning strike gave us the lead we deserved as half-time approached. Just after the goal, Cory Walters-Wright headed over the bar from a corner; a second goal there, and surely the game would have been all but over at that point.

 

HT : Chalfont SP 0 T&MU 1

 

Having got the bit between our teeth, we looked in no mood to ease up as the second period began. Billy Brown released Enoch Ako-Adjei down the right, he shrugged off a defender and sent the ball towards Mark Waters in the six yard box but Ben Parslow read it well and intercepted the cross before the Tooting man could get to it.

 

A nice long ball from Cory Walters-Wright saw Waters gather, and play a one-two with Ako-Adjei; unfortunately, the latter's momentum caused him to continue his run and inadvertently deflect Waters' shot wide for a goal-kick, but the pressure was good from Tooting now.

 

Jordan Clarke did superbly well to intercept a cross-field pass at full stretch and, even though he fell, was still able to square the ball to Waters whilst he was on the deck. Mark found Enoch out on the edge of the box, but he struggled to get the ball under full control, was crowded out and the chance disappeared.

 

After another good headed defensive clearance from Nikolai, Waters picked it up and tried to set Enoch away but, once again, his intentions were well read by the Chalfont defence who nullified the opening.

 

With Clarke now tiring on the heavy pitch, we took the opportunity to introduce the fresh legs of Prince Mbengui and he was immediately involved, winning a corner from which Dontai Stewart's attempt at a spectacular overhead kick just cleared the bar.

 

It was all Tooting, but without the cushion of a second goal, there was always the fear that Chalfont could yet change the course of the game. We thought we had a decent shout for a spot kick when Enoch was bundled over just inside the box as he attempted to fashion a shooting chance; the referee wasn't impressed though, and waved play on.

 

With time ticking down, Waters attempted to put it to bed as he picked up a loose ball and fired towards goal from distance; Parslow seemed to have read it, but still made a meal of it as he fumbled it round the post for a corner.

 

As alluded to earlier, there was almost the cruellest sting in the tail when Chris Regis hit a speculative effort from long range that looked dangerous from the far end but cleared the bar; it turned out to be the last action of the game as Ollie had no time to even take the goal kick and the referee brought proceedings to an end to huge sighs of relief all round from players and travelling fans alike. Onwards - and hopefully upwards - to Wednesday, and another six-pointer awaits.

 

T&MU : Pain, Edwards, Gordon, Ndiaye, Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Brown, Clarke (Mbengui 75"), Faniyan (Waters 20"), Ako-Adjei (Ceesay 88"), Stewart.

SUBS NOT USED : Daly, Anifowese.

Attendance : 113

 

Saturday 26th March 2022                        T&MU 0 Binfield 2

 

A missed penalty proved costly on this afternoon - and perhaps with it went the Terrors survival hopes as it begins to look increasingly likely that we’ll be featuring in an end of season play-off to try and cling on to our step 4 status for another season.

 

With blue skies and a sizeable crowd encouraging the home side in their efforts early on, it looked tailor-made for a happy ending - with our first league win in fourteen matches imminent.

 

After a shaky start, Tooting settled nicely into the game and began to exert pressure on the visiting defence. With little to play for, Binfield looked as if they might wilt under the pressure and it seemed that way when Enoch Ako-Adjei broke clear of the last line of defence and bore down on goal. As he attempted to round keeper Chris Grace, the stopper’s trailing leg brought him to the ground leaving the referee with no option but to point to the spot. There are many officials who would have doubled Binfield’s punishment by brandishing a red card, but Grace saw only yellow, and was allowed to remain on the field. This proved significant as he pulled off a tremendous save, fingertipping Dontai Stewart’s firmly struck shot onto the bar.

 

This setback didn’t initially seem to undermine our confidence, and we were presented with another opportunity a few minutes later when Enoch was again brought down, this time on the edge of the D to present us with a free-kick from an interesting position. Reece Cave took aim, and shot cleanly enough - the ball finding its way through the defensive wall, but into the arms of Grace who had read it well.

 

Binfield started to exert some pressure of their own at the other end, and Ollie Pain saved well from Gabriel George’s long range strike.

 

It looked like the first period would finish goalless, when the Moles were awarded a free-kick in the dying seconds of the half. Sub Ollie Harris took it quickly, with the Terrors defence slow to react, and his kick nestled in the left side of the goal to - yet again - give us a mountain to climb.

 

We started the second 45 brightly enough, with Jordan Clarke firing an effort wide, and Baye Ndiaye shooting just over. However, as the half progressed, Binfield defended in depth and the home side were finding it increasingly difficult to penetrate their lines.

 

We were already up against it, but when Sean Moore was given the freedom of the Tooting penalty area to head in a second with twenty minutes to go, the task looked beyond a side who’d managed just one goal in the previous three home matches - and that from the spot. And so it proved, another three points dropped leaving us firmly rooted in the danger zone.

 

T&MU : Pain, Figueiredo-Correia (MacKoy Johnson 74”), Gordon, Anifowese (Faniyan 64”), Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Brown, Clarke, Ako-Adjei, Ndiaye, Stewart (Dixon 74”).

SUBS NOT USED : Mbengui, Cave.

Attendance : 219

 

Saturday 19th March 2022                       Marlow 1 T&MU 0

 

On a balmy afternoon in the Buckinghamshire countryside, this match was played out with all the urgency of a typical, end of season affair in which both teams had little to play for other than pride. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for either, with Marlow still in the mix for a play-off berth at the right end of the table, and the Terrors now fearing a similar outcome at the bottom.

 

One goal was enough to settle the issue, and oddly enough it was timed at the exact same minute as Basingstoke’s winning goal seven days prior - the seventeenth to be precise. On this occasion, Charlie Samuel took advantage of some hesitant defending to shoot Marlow ahead.

 

We fielded several new players, including Joshua Anifowese on loan from Oxford United’s academy system - and the teenager showed some nice touches and an eye for a pass from midfield. One of these set Dontai Stewart away for a shot which angled just wide of the home goal.

 

Marlow might have doubled their lead just past the half-hour mark when Samuel headed wide from an inviting cross, but we were perhaps unlucky not to leave the field at half-time on terms; Marlow keeper Joseph Grant - who had turned in a man-of-the-match performance in denying the Terrors at Imperial Fields four months earlier - made a superb save from Dontai’s drive that was curling towards the top left corner, Grant flying across his goal to tip it over.

 

Unfortunately, that was as close as we came to an equaliser and as the second half progressed, Marlow looked the more likely to add a second goal as Devontae Romeo lifted an effort just over the bar and Pain made a superb save to deny substitute Ashleigh Artwell late on. With the news filtering through of Sutton Common Rovers surprisingly taking three points at Basingstoke, it was a long journey home for the increasingly demoralised Terrors and their loyal army of travelling fans.

 

T&MU : Pain, Figueiredo-Correia (Mensah HT), Gordon, Anifowese (Ouaret Sorr 82”), Cave, Walters-Wright, Brown, Clarke, Dixon (Obafemi 73”), Stewart, Mbengui.

SUBS NOT USED : Faniyan, Krokhin.

Attendance : 246

 

Saturday 12th March 2022                              T&MU 0 Basingstoke Town 1

 

Another home defeat, coupled with Sutton Common Rovers’ victory against Chalfont St. Peter in the relegation six-pointer, dragged the Terrors right into the heart of the dogfight at the bottom of the table. With only goal difference now keeping us ahead of our near neighbours, the first week of April looks like being the defining point of our season. Trips to Chalfont on the Saturday, and Sutton in midweek (in all probability a game that will take place further south, and less central, in Leatherhead) could well determine at which level we’ll be plying our trade come August.

 

Yet again, we can feel hard done to by events on the pitch throughout the ninety minutes on Saturday, two pivotal moments summing up the season. Basingstoke’s goal in the seventeenth minute, the culmination of a nicely worked move, saw Stefan Brown’s shot crash against the underside of the bar and bounce over the line; a similar move by the Terrors midway through the second half saw sub Abayomi Obafemi’s effort strike almost exactly the same part of the same bar, and bounce out to safety. Small margins indeed, but the sort of good and bad fortune that separates teams at the top of the table from those near the foot.

 

As we seek to take some crumbs of comfort from the afternoon, we can at least reflect on a markedly improved performance from the previous home game, when Ashford took the points after a dreadful ninety minutes.

 

In the interim, we had restored some pride with a battling display at high-flying Chertsey and many of the qualities we had seen on that afternoon, not least the willingness to roll sleeves up and get stuck in, were in evidence again.

 

Three changes were made from that outing, two enforced after both Ahkeem Belford and Sam Faniyan left the pitch prematurely at Alwyns Lane due to injury - neither having recovered sufficiently to be in contention this afternoon. Shamal Edwards dropped to the bench which meant returns for Marco Figueiredo-Correia and Mike Dixon, along with a start for debutant Enoch Ako-Adjei.

 

It didn’t begin too promisingly, as Ollie Pain misjudged a through ball which left Basingstoke with a chance in the first couple of minutes. Fortunately for us, Bradley Wilson was unable to take advantage of the opportunity, scuffing the ball well wide.

 

A minute later, there was defensive confusion at the other end as Nathan Smart overhit a backpass to his keeper - the ball bounced off Paul Strudley and fell to Mark Waters, but the height was difficult for Waters to adjust his body so quickly and Strudley was able to smother.

 

On twelve minutes Jordan Clarke ran onto a loose ball and struck a powerful effort from outside the area, but wasn’t able to get it on target and his shot dropped just wide.

 

Just past the quarter hour, the visitors went into the lead with Brown’s strike, and four minutes later Pain had to be alert to make a good save from Wilson’s well struck effort.

 

Another 50/50 shout to go against us occurred on the half-hour as Nathan Gordon’s corner was nodded back across the six yard box by Cory Walters-Wright and Mark Waters’ hooked effort was held on the line - or was it just over? - by Strudley. The referee gave the keeper the benefit of the doubt - which was generous as his feet were clearly over the goal-line, and it was that ‘justification’ that was given by the officials at Northwood recently, when Waters appeared to block their late equaliser on the line only for the ‘goal’ to be given on the basis that both his feet were over it; those ‘fine line’ margins again…

 

Another corner minutes later saw the loose ball worked out to Reece Cave who set himself for a powerful drive which was wide of the target, and shortly afterwards Mike Dixon showed good strength to hold off his marker and set up Waters for another shooting chance which was straight at Strudley. This was better stuff from the Terrors - alas without an end product yet again.

 

With the half nearing its conclusion, Billy Brown went on a marauding run to the byline and cut the ball back across; the Basingstoke defence missed a couple of chances to clear it and Ako-Adjei laid it back for Cave, whose effort this time sailed over not just the bar, but the top of the terrace and came to rest on the bonnet of an Audi in the car park beyond, much to the surprise of its owner, sitting in the driving seat.

 

HT : T&MU 0 Basingstoke T. 1

 

The Terrors began the second period on the front foot, and Cave again shot over to re-commence proceedings. Brown went on another of his pacy runs down the right, and centred for Waters whose shot was deflected out for a corner.

 

Dixon showed determination to retrieve a ball that looked to be going dead, and managed to toe-poke it back to Billy on the edge of the box but his shot was too close to Strudley who gathered comfortably.

 

We were pressing hard, and it looked like a matter of time before the equaliser came, but Obafemi’s shot that crashed against the bar and came out as the game entered the final twenty minutes began, once again, to engender a feeling that it wasn’t going to be our day.

 

We continued to press though, in the hope that the footballing Gods may take kindly to our pleas, and Waters had a chance ten minutes from time when his glancing header from Zaid Ouaret Sorr’s corner floated just wide of the post.

 

As time wound down, the Terrors camped in the basingstoke half, and Nathan Daly’s long-range throw caused some confusion before falling to Walters-Wright, but his attempt to work it back into the corridor of uncertainty proved fruitless.

 

The final whistle was blown shortly after, as the dejected Terrors trooped off despondently. We couldn’t have asked for much more on this occasion - except, perhaps, the one thing that seems to be in terminally short supply at the moment : a little bit of luck.

 

T&MU : Pain, Figueiredo-Correia (Stewart 79”), Gordon, Waters, Daly, Walters-Wright, Brown (Ouaret Sorr 68”), Clarke, Dixon, Cave, Ako-Adjei (Obafemi 60”).

SUBS NOT USED : Ndiaye, Edwards.

Attendance : 280

 

Saturday 5th March 2022                           Chertsey Town 4 T&MU 2

 

The promotion-chasing hosts predictably took the points at Alwyns Lane, but only after a determined Tooting side pushed them all the way; when the dust settled, we can look back at two key refereeing decisions going against us at crucial times. But for these, it might have been a different story.

 

We made four changes from the disappointing display against Ashford seven days earlier -  the most welcome being the return of Ahkeem Belford following a long injury lay-off, with Baye Ndiaye dropping down to the bench to accommodate him.

 

Just five minutes were on the clock when referee Nicholas Metcalfe made his first significant intervention of the afternoon - Nathan Gordon’s innocuous challenge on Gary Abisogun being adjudged an unfair one, and the hosts were awarded a penalty. Ollie Pain guessed the direction correctly, but there was sufficient power on Ashley Lodge’s shot to find its way past him and we were already up against it.

 

The response was magnificent, and within seven minutes we were back on terms. Jordan Clarke caused havoc on the edge of the penalty area, and squeezed the ball out to Mark Waters whose long-range effort arced away from home ‘keeper Nicholas Jupp and nestled in the bottom corner.

 

Ahkeem Belford’s afternoon came to a premature end; following lengthy treatment after a collision, he was unable to continue and new signing Abayomi Obafemi emerged from the bench for his debut in black and white.

 

It was nip and tuck for the rest of the half, with the Terrors more than holding their own; both sides were playing some pleasing-on-the-eye football, with solid defending to back it up. With a little more luck, we could have found ourselves carrying an advantage into the second period; instead, we were once again chasing the game after another decisive intervention from the man in black. With the break imminent, a Chertsey attack was broken up by the Tooting defence who looked to launch a counter of their own. However, Gordon’s attempted cross-field pass clearly struck the arm of a Chertsey midfielder, and the travelling fans duly awaited a blast on the whistle from Mr. Metcalfe. It wasn’t forthcoming as play was waved on and the ball fell to Bryan Taylor whose shot from distance was deflected past Pain to rub salt into the wound.

 

HT : Chertsey Town 2 T&MU 1

 

We started the second half in positive mood; Shamal Edwards ran at the home defence, but couldn’t make room for a shot and was crowded out. Sam Faniyan showed some nice footwork on the edge of the area before setting Waters up in a similar position from which he had earlier scored, but this time his effort was wide. Waters again had a half-chance when Clarke’s looping free-kick bounced around amongst a mass of bodies; Mark had to attempt a hooked shot at an awkward height, and couldn’t garner sufficient power to trouble Jupp, but Tooting were well in the game at this stage.

 

Chertsey were still dangerous, though, and almost doubled their advantage midway through the half. A free-kick was curled in and Pain had to be alert to tip it onto the bar, before the Tooting defence were able to clear it away. Gary Abisogun found himself in space on two occasions in quick succession, but could make neither of them count.

 

It seemed all over when Chertsey bagged goal number three, sub Sam Murphy tapping home from close range with less than ten minutes left. But the Terrors showed the sort of spirit they’re going to need in the remainder of the season to put the points in the balance again; Obafemi worked a shooting chance on the edge of the box and found the bottom corner with a fine drive past Jupp to make it 3-2.

 

With Tooting piling forward in search of an unlikely point, our hopes were finally snuffed out by a swift counter-attack, culminating in William Montague’s injury-time strike that made the points safe. Ultimately, it was yet another case of ‘nearly - but not quite’ in our ongoing quest for a three-point haul in 2022.

 

T&MU : Pain, Cave (Offei 80”), Gordon, Belford (Obafemi 42”), Daly, Walters-Wright, Brown, Waters, Faniyan (Figueiredo-Correa 67”), Clarke, Edwards.

SUBS NOT USED : Ndiaye, Osei-Obengo.

Attendance : 419

 

Saturday 26th February                               Tooting & Mitcham United 0 Ashford Town (middx) 1

 

Things went from bad to worse on a dismal afternoon, as a poor Ashford side completed a league double to leave the Terrors firmly in the mire at the wrong end of the table.

 

After such an encouraging performance in the midweek trip to Margate, where the youngsters pushed their higher division opponents all the way, hopes were high that the recent sequence of league draws (five consecutive, at start of play) could be ended with a much needed three-point haul.

 

Well, the sequence was ended but not in the way that most in the ground hoped - and the season is beginning to worryingly resemble the 2017/18 campaign when a seemingly well-placed Terrors outfit couldn’t eke out a win no matter how hard they tried, and found themselves sliding out of the Premier division on the final Saturday of the season.

 

On this afternoon, things just seemed flat from the off; with mild temperatures and the sun in attendance, an optimistic feeling pervaded the south London air  - which lasted until approximately three minutes past three, when referee Alex Bradle commenced proceedings and howls of derision greeted the first misplaced pass. Whether it needed something from the players to enliven the crowd, or vice versa, the spark was noticeably missing.

 

Chances were at a premium, and the game looked destined for a goalless affair from very early on. Mike Dixon was set clear on eighteen minutes, but his confidence looked shaky as he nervously scuffed the ball wide with only keeper Alfie McNally to beat.

 

From a Nathan Gordon corner, Mark Waters had a shot blocked, but he managed to work the ball wide to Gordon again; his second attempt at a cross was met by the advancing Cory Walters-Wright but his glancing header never threatened to trouble McNally.

 

The most meaningful action of the match was condensed into the few minutes added on at the end of the first-half, with Kain Adom taking advantage of hesitancy in the home defence to shoot the visitors into a surprise lead with the whistle looming; we then conjured up our best move of the afternoon to almost restore immediate parity, but Billy Brown’s thunderous shot from the edge of the box crashed against the angle of post and bar, and was cleared.

 

We didn’t know it yet, but that was the last real opening we would be able to carve out. With Ashford content to sit on what they had, there was much huffing and puffing from the Terrors in the second period, but no real openings worthy of the name and the game petered out accordingly as Tooting lacked the guile to break down their stubborn, but unremarkable, opponents.

 

T&MU : Pain, Gordon, Hamlin, Ndiaye (Cave 73”), Daly, Walters-Wright, Brown, Waters, Faniyan, Dixon (Bangura-Williams 37”), Osei-Obengo (Ouaret Sorr 76”).

SUBS NOT USED : Figueiredo-Correia, Offei.

Attendance : 208

Tuesday 22nd February               Margate 2 Tooting & Mitcham United 1 (Velocity Trophy 4th round)

 

The Terrors final chance of a trophy this season disappeared on the north Kent coast, but our youngsters pushed their higher division opponents all the way before a late goal settled the tie.

 

We made two changes from the previous weekend, with Nathan Daly returning from suspension to replace the injured Nikolai Krokhin and Mike Dixon restored to the attack in place of Reece Cave, who dropped to the bench.

 

We weren’t overawed, although the home side dominated the early possession. Ollie Pain showed some good handling in the initial stages and Daly was marshalling his defence with authority. The first chance fell to the hosts with Ken Feyi advancing onto a through ball, but Pain was quickly off his line to smother. Feyi went close again moments later with a headed chance following a corner, which just cleared the bar.

 

Tooting were carving out chances of their own, though, with Billy Brown’s pace a key factor in creating an opening for Mark Waters who was crowded out by the home defence before he could engineer a shooting chance.

 

It was a nice move which saw the deadlock broken, unfortunately for us in favour of the Gate; Vance Bola found Feyi just outside the area and he bisected the defence with a through ball which James Bessey-Saldanha took in his stride before slipping it calmly past Pain.

 

It was an impressive response from the Terrors, when it seemed as if heads might drop. New signing Simon Offei, in his second match in black and white, twisted and turned on the edge of the box and wrongfooted the home defence to create a shooting chance which Ben Bridle-Card had to be alert to palm away, and a defender was grateful to thump the ball into touch as Sam Faniyan breathed down his neck. Tooting continued to exert pressure as the half progressed, but the Margate defence were keeping things tight and we were unable to turn possession into tangible chances before the teams left the field for their half-time breather.

 

HT : Margate 1 T&MU 0

 

The first opening of the second period came ten minutes in, and it was Bessey-Saldana sensing a chance to double his personal tally for the evening as he cut into the box and flashed an effort across the face of the goal.

 

This warning shot seemed to spark the Terrors off again, though, and driven forward by the midfield partnership of Waters and Baye Ndiaye we began to inch our way back into the game. Some fine work by Faniyan down the right saw Waters presented with an opening on the edge of the box; his shot was charged down but fell nicely to Offei whose effort was also blocked as Margate were beginning to look stretched at the back.

 

 

We looked to take advantage, and Brown made another run down the right but his whipped cross was just too far in front of Mike Dixon. Fractions were making all the difference, as minutes later Dixon’s cross was just too high for the advancing Waters to connect with his head.

 

Just past the hour, Zaid Ouaret Sorr continued his rehabilitation from injury by replacing Offei, and showed he was the inspiration we’d been seeking as he equalised with his first touch; it was another surging Billy Brown run and cross from the right and this time Ouaret Sorr was on hand to touch gleefully home.

 

Zaid then seized onto a loose pass in the middle of the park, and set Faniyan away; the keeper made a meal of his scuffed effort but just about managed to hang onto it as Faniyan looked to latch onto any potential rebound. It was good stuff from the Terrors now.

 

Margate were looking rattled, and made two changes in their attempt to stem the tide going against them. For the visitors, Shamal Edwards replaced Sam Faniyan as we looked to cement the upset in the closing stages.

 

Brown was continuing to torment his marker down the right hand side, and another ball cut back across bobbled around the box and fell for Dixon, whose shot was too close to Bridle-Card.

 

With penalties looming, Margate were awarded a free-kick on the left-hand side; Ben Greenhalgh floated it toward the back post where Lewis Knight took it down impressively, before slotting past Pain to restore the home lead. This time they celebrated wildly, knowing there was little time to hang on, and the referee duly called proceedings to a halt shortly afterward to ensure the host’s passage into the quarter-finals.

 

This was an encouraging performance, against a side with a good home record who hadn’t conceded so much as a goal in their previous four outings; if they can carry this form into subsequent matches, the young Terrors can yet salvage some pride from an increasingly dismal league season.

 

T&MU : Pain, Gordon, Hamlin, Waters, Daly, Walters-Wright (Bangura-Williams 90”), Brown (Figueiredo-Correia 90”), Ndiaye, Faniyan (Edwards 75”), Dixon, Offei (Ouaret Sorr 62”).

SUBS NOT USED : Cave.

Attendance : 160

 

Saturday 5th February                                     Northwood 2 Tooting & Mitcham United 2

 

A moment of madness, and a questionable decision from the officials denied the Terrors all three points after a battle of attrition in north-west London.

 

Still, after the dust had settled, a point in this corner of the capital is not such a bad result, given the influx of new players in red and white, and the resultant upturn in form that had produced four straight victories over some good opposition. Only one player remained in the Northwood sixteen who had featured in the match at Imperial Fields in October - a 7-3 Tooting victory which had proved one of many false dawns in this campaign.

 

Galvanised by their recent form, it was no surprise that the hosts dominated the opening exchanges; the Tooting defence - looking much firmer in recent games - held their shape well early on, and once Nathan Daly had reacted sharply to block an early shot, we settled into the game and started to spread the ball around nicely.

 

In the eighteenth minute, a pleasing passage of play led to our first chance of the afternoon; Mark Waters fed Sam Faniyan, who showed a nice switch of feet and worked the ball out to the overlapping Marco Figueiredo-Correia. His cross was floated towards the penalty spot, where Faniyan met the ball with a glancing header but the effort just cleared the bar.

 

Six minutes later, we took a deserved lead, with Waters showing strength and pace to power his way into the box, and test Daniel Hosier in the home goal with a thunderous cross-shot. The keeper failed to hold the ball, and it fell perfectly for the advancing Mike Dixon to poach the opening goal.

 

There was more good work from Dixon minutes later, as he flicked the ball across the edge of the area to Waters; he switched feet, but couldn’t engineer a shooting chance and there was nobody supporting to offer an outlet. Northwood were grateful to hack the ball away.

 

Daly headed wide from a corner, and in the last minute of the half, Nathan Gordon got away down the left and squared the ball across. A defender looked to have it covered, but missed his kick and it fell invitingly to Waters who was level with the penalty spot, but clearly not expecting the chance to fall to him, he was unable to react quickly enough to get his shot on target.

 

HT : Northwood 0 T&MU 1

 

The Terrors burst into life again right at the start of the second period, and doubled the lead just a couple of minutes in. Faniyan burst into the area, bamboozled his marker, and laid the ball back for Waters who made no mistake this time, with his sidefooted effort bulging the net.

 

Midway through the half, a free-kick floated in was only half-cleared and fell awkwardly to Jordan Clarke just outside the area; it was a difficult height at which to hit the ball, but he managed to shift his body and get decent power on it. Hosier made a bit of a meal of it, but just about held on, and a minute later the hosts were back in the game.

 

A looping left-wing cross from Andy Lomas may have caught on the swirling wind; somehow, Ollie Pain totally mis-judged the flight of the ball, and Micah Jackson controlled well, before tapping into an empty net to reduce the arrears.

 

The hosts had the bit between their teeth now, and scented blood. Josh Helmore received the ball and turned nicely before firing a low shot across goal, with which Sydney Ibie just failed to connect.

 

We were looking to hold on to what we had, with the possibility of hitting them on the break to add to our lead; one such moment as the game moved towards the last ten minutes saw Mike Dixon drag his shot wide after seizing on a mis-placed pass on the edge of the home penalty area, and Hosier had to be alert to parry Billy Brown’s low shot. We breathed a sigh of relief when a curled effort from Alex Moore hit the post and bounced away for a goal-kick.

 

It looked as if we had done enough to hold out for a welcome three points, but as the game ticked into the dying embers, Northwood upped the pressure again and forced a succession of corners. From the last of these, Ollie Pain flapped at the ball, and it fell to Keagan Cole who headed goalwards. Mark Waters, with his feet just behind the goal-line, seemed to have kept it out but the assistant referee signalled otherwise, and referee Fabio Roque allowed the goal to stand, despite seemingly having already blown for a foul on Pain.

 

The Tooting players were vociferous in their protests, and Jordan Clarke and Nathan Daly were both dismissed as the game ended in confusion and acrimony.

 

T&MU : Pain, Figueiredo-Correia (Brown 70”), Hamlin, Waters, Daly, Walters-Wright, Gordon, Ndiaye, Faniyan, Clarke, Dixon (Edwards 86”).

Subs not used : Ceesay, Bassett, Bangura-Williams.

Attendance : 191

 

Saturday 12th February                                     Tooting & Mitcham United 1 Uxbridge 1

 

Mark Waters scored for the fourth match in a row, but his 56th minute penalty ultimately proved enough only for another point on a bitterly cold afternoon at Imperial Fields.

 

It was a frustrating match, with defences on top and high-flying Uxbridge showing limited ambition in their quest for promotion. Once again, we had plenty of possession but lacked a cutting edge in the last third of the pitch.

 

We fielded two new signings, Simon Offei and the returning Reece Cave, and both played their part in a fast-paced opening. With just two minutes gone, a corner floated in from Cave caught on the wind and clipped the top of the crossbar before dropping onto the roof of the net.

 

In the fifteenth minute, Waters played a piercing crossfield pass which Offei did well to control, then cut inside to engineer a shooting chance but his curled effort was well kept out by visiting keeper Tyler Tobin.

 

Uxbridge were looking dangerous on the break, and after a flowing attack culminated in Cory Walters-Wright’s goal-line clearance, Victor Osubu struck the ball against the underside of the bar in the visitor’s best chance of the half.

 

HT : T&MU 0 Uxbridge 0

 

The second period began in the same cagey fashion, but twelve minutes in Nikolai Krokhin made a surging run into the penalty area and went down. There seemed to be minimal contact from the covering defender but referee Adam Merchant had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. There was some delay before the kick was taken as Krokhin received lengthy treatment, but Waters showed no nerves as he eventually struck home emphatically to give us a fortunate, but welcome, lead.

 

Shortly afterward, a superb run by Billy Brown presented Waters with another half-chance, but this time he was penalised for pushing before he was able to get his shot off. The Terrors seemed to be getting comfortably on top at this point, at last.

 

We were still struggling to find the final ball needed to unlock the visiting defence, though, and Uxbridge were beginning to look more threatening as they were forced to chase the game; Prince Ogunmekan was presented with a glorious chance to equalise, but with just Ollie Pain to beat, couldn’t keep his shot down and it proved more hazardous to a passing pigeon than Pain’s clean sheet.

 

As the game entered the last ten minutes, it was starting to look as if we could hold out for a much needed victory. But with seven minutes left, a speculative run down the right ended with the ball played dangerously back across the six yard box and it was turned in for the equaliser. There was some debate as to who had got the final touch, with the initial announcement given as a Dean Hamlin OG, but Juwon Akintunde was challenging the Tooting skipper and has retrospectively been credited with the goal.

 

That was all academic in the greater scheme of things; once again the Terrors had let victory slip from our grasp, and although Simon Offei was presented with a good chance in stoppage time, he skewed his shot wide and we had to settle for a fifth consecutive draw in the league. With a daunting trip to runaway leaders Bracknell Town looming, we will be fortunate indeed to extend that unbeaten sequence to six.

 

T&MU : Pain, Gordon, Hamlin, Waters, Krokhin (Figueiredo-Correia 63”), Walters-Wright, Brown (Ceesay 70”), Ndiaye, Faniyan (Edwards 84”), Cave, Offei.

SUBS NOT USED : Bassett, Bangura-Williams.

Attendance : 209

Saturday 29th January                                        Tooting & Mitcham United 1 South Park 1

 

Once again it finished honours even at Imperial Fields as both sides played out a hard-fought draw. Once again, we will come away feeling we should have taken all three points, but Mo Otuyo in the visitor’s goal turned in a man-of-the-match performance to ensure his team took something out of the game.

 

Oddly, we had drawn only one of our opening twenty league matches this season - yet this was a third league game in a row now in which the points have been split.

 

It is a testament to our ever-improving back line, now that we seem able to field a settled unit there - this was the fifth match in a row that Nikolai Krokhin, Nathan Daly and Cory Walters-Wright have formed the back three, with Marco Figueiredo-Correa and Nathan Gordon in the wing-back positions. In the last three matches, that has resulted in the concession of just one goal from open play, and could be the foundation on which to build a survival route in the remainder of the season.

 

The only breach of the defence on this day was from the penalty spot, when Krokhin was harshly penalised for a high foot against the powerful Melford Simpson, and Adam Aziz struck his kick emphatically wide of Ollie Pain to bring South Park level, midway through the first half.

 

We had gone ahead seven minutes earlier, when the otherwise reliable Otuyo flapped at a corner, and Mark Waters drove in a volley that crashed against the crossbar and bounced down threateningly. The only question was : had it crossed the line? Thankfully, the referee and his assistant were both in agreement that it had, and the goal was given.

 

After the equaliser, South Park seemed to grow in confidence and began to put us under sustained pressure for the first time. Thankfully, our defence remained resilient and, but for a free header which Joe Bell put just over the bar, didn’t look like giving anything away.

 

HT : T&MU 1 South Park 1

 

Early in the second period, Samuel Faniyan set Michael Dixon away but his shot from the edge of the box was high and wide.

 

Shortly after, Faniyan set off on a run himself down the left, wrong-footed his marker with some lovely footwork, and curled in an effort that dropped just wide of the far post.

 

Dixon atoned for his earlier miss by winning a loose ball impressively in midfield, and set Faniyan away again; he burst into the area and tried to steady himself for a shot, but a defender had got back to crowd him out and Sam couldn’t get an attempt in of any note.

 

Dixon was working away tirelessly with little reward, and bustled his way through for a shooting opportunity which went just wide, Otuyo seemingly had it covered though.

 

Faniyan and Baye Ndiaye combined well just outside the area; Faniyan fed Dixon who couldn’t get it nicely under control, but managed to loft it back to Mark Waters who struck powerfully toward goal. Otuyo looked as if he had touched it round the post, but a goal-kick was given to (officially) deny him a moment of glory.

 

Tooting were really stepping up the pressure now; Nathan Gordon sent a free-kick into the box, Krokhin won the header in the air, and as the ball dropped, turned and got a shot in but just past the post again.

 

Ndiaye made a burst from midfield, onto a through ball, and advanced into the area but Otuyo was once again alive to the danger and was out to smother the opportunity.

 

Dixon was next to have a chance - seizing onto a loose ball and powering a drive from a tight angle - Otuyo once again showed his reflexes to turn another one aside.

 

Billy Brown emerged from the bench, to the delight of the home fans, and was quickly involved, setting fellow sub Anuar Ceesay away down the right; he was crowded out by two defenders but the ball skewed back to Billy for an inviting shooting chance and his powerful effort was heading toward the top corner when Otuyo made another fine save to tip it over.

 

Anuar worked a good chance, and played Nathan Gordon in for a run on the left of the penalty area, but Adonai da Cruz came across and shoulder-barged Gordon to the floor for what looked an obvious penalty; referee Harry Wayer was in a good position to see the incident, but amazingly spread his arms wide and waved play on.

 

As the game ticked over into injury-time, there was still one last chance for the hosts to turn one point into three; from a corner threateningly floated in by Ceesay, Cory Walters-Wright got his head on the ball and glanced it goalwards, but just wide - again - and the whistle went shortly afterwards to seal the draw.

 

T&MU : Pain, Figueiredo-Correa (Brown 85”), Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Daly, Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye, Dixon, Edwards (Ceesay 75”), Faniyan.

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Bassett, Clarke.

Attendance : 270.

 

Saturday 22nd January                                 Chipstead 0 Tooting & Mitcham United 0

 

It was a frustrating day in the Croydon countryside, with Chips displaying little ambition from the off, beyond keeping their clean sheet intact. Despite enjoying the bulk of the possession, and playing some nice football at times, the Terrors lack of a cutting edge came into sharp focus again and both goals remained unbreached at the final whistle.

 

The positives to be taken from the afternoon are another solid defensive display, with the back five growing in understanding with each other, and Ollie Pain having little to do.

 

With five minutes to go in the first period, a free-kick floated in from the left-hand side threatened to deceive Pain and he did well to back-pedal and tip the ball over the bar. That was just about the sum total of his work on the day, beyond gathering routine balls and organising the men in front of him.

 

We were solid in midfield, with Mark Waters once again the dominant figure on the pitch, and Baye Ndiaye continuing to grow in confidence alongside him.

 

It is in the last third that the problems remain; for all their hard work and tireless running, Shamal Edwards, Michael Dixon and Samuel Faniyan never looked like poaching a much needed winner, and a ‘fox-in-the-box’ - somebody capable of sniffing out a chance and finishing it consistently - could be the saviour of our season.

 

And so to the half-chances we did create : inside the first ten minutes, a long throw by Nathan Daly found Nikolai Krokhin inside the area; he controlled and tried to spin to create a shooting angle, but surrounded by defenders couldn’t get sufficient power on his effort and Matt Kearney gathered comfortably.

 

On twenty minutes, Waters did well to seize on a loose ball in the middle of the park, but dragged his shot wide from distance.

 

A nice passage of play saw Faniyan dispossess a Chips midfielder, and slide the ball wide to Marco Figueiredo-Correia who lofted a forward pass down the right-hand touchline toward Mark Waters. A defender came across to intercept, but from the throw Waters crossed into the box where Krokhin had bust a lung to get in a good position, but his momentum had carried him just a little too far for a perfect heading opportunity and his improvised effort saw him leaning back, and unable to get any direction on the header, which drifted wide of the post.

 

Figueiredo-Correia was growing into the game, and tried his luck down the left, a powerful run took him into the area but with colleagues gathering in the centre, he elected to try his luck from a difficult angle and fired disappointingly wide.

 

Another pleasing move saw Shamal Edwards win a ball he had no right to, touch it off nicely to Faniyan who laid it off perfectly for Waters who shaped to shoot from distance, but a defender had come across to block his attempt, and it skewed off for a throw.

 

Mike Dixon and Cory Walters-Wright both had long range efforts before the break, but neither troubled Kearney and it was the hosts who had the last effort off the half when forcing Ollie Pain into his one save as mentioned earlier.

 

There was less to enthuse about in the second period, as the hosts seemed intent to wind the clock down and the Terrors grew increasingly frustrated at their inability to break down a massed defence. We stepped things up as the game ticked over into the final ten minutes and may have pinched it late on. Firstly, Dixon powered away down the right and crossed a dangerous low ball into the box; Waters was coming in at pace but couldn’t quite get a toe on it and that chance was gone. Then, in the dying embers of the ninety, Waters latched onto a Dixon through-ball but Kearney was off his line swiftly to narrow the angle and block the shot, and we had to be content with taking another point back to south London.

 

T&MU : Pain, Figueiredo-Correia, Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Daly, Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye, Dixon, Edwards (Clarke 72”), Faniyan.

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Bassett, Brown, Ceesay.

Attendance : 168

 

Tuesday 18th January                               Tooting and Mitcham United 1    Balham FC 2

 

The fifth game of 2022 saw the Terrors face Balham in the second round of the Surrey Senior Cup. Balham, who are currently sat midtable in the Combined Counties League Premier Division South (tier nine of English football), saw off fellow Combined Counties side, Knaphill, in the previous round. The Stripes were also victorious against Metropolitan Police in the first round.

 

With the famous black and white army at the ready, the game starts with the Stripes’ Leevi Bassett instantly, and aggressively, targeting Balham’s left hand wing. Game on. However, there were early warning signs for Tooting and Mitcham as Balham put the ball into the back of the net from a quick free kick, only for it to be chalked off for offside.

 

Nevertheless, it was the Terrors who struck first in the seventh minute. Samuel Faniyan produced a terrifyingly good turn in the penalty box that even Wilfried Zaha would have been proud of. Faniyan then swivelled around and smoothly dispatched the ball underneath a clambering Haydn Read. 1-0 Tooting and Mitcham. C’mon you black and whites!

 

Disappointingly, the Terrors didn’t take control of the advantage handed to them. Thereafter, the ball bounced around the midfield like a 90s pinball machine, from side to side, alternating in possession between the two teams, with few attacking plays from either side until the inevitable happens from Balham:

 

In the 19th minute, Balham, in a genuinely excellent piece of football, sees Tom Read pass inside the full back, cutting him out of the game completely, to Luke Hedges. Hedges is able to compose himself and cross the ball accurately to James Adebayo. With time to take an extra touch, Adebayo expertly sets himself up to slot the ball under Mackenzie Foley at the near post. 1-1, the underdogs are back in the cup tie.

 

With Terrors fans proudly backing their side loudly from behind Balham’s goal, a minor set back like this would not keep them down, as they continued to superbly back the boys in black and white. Whilst I wish I could say this was working, the Stripes concede another gilt-edged chance, but fortunately Tom Read puts the ball over. Tom Read is almost in on goal again as the defender let’s him run through - luckily, Foley is on hand to expertly catch the ball first.

 

Fortunately, the substitution on the 25th minute provided some light comical relief for the fans, as Connor French is substituted for Michael Dixon, only for the board to incorrectly show Faniyan’s number instead! With the play stopped as the referee, Luis Nunes, clarified what was happening, a corrected board, accompanied with a typical sarcastic cheer, was shown.

 

After this, Tooting and Mitcham saw the better of the play with a couple of corners and a free-kick to crank up the pressure on the astute Balham. Bar these, the end of the first half was relatively uneventful bar a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the home fans behind the Balham goal.

 

Half Time: Tooting and Mitcham 1 Balham 1

 

Just like the end of the first half, the second half begins cagey again with the opening six minutes being summed up with the only shot on goal being a 30 yard effort from Ed McCrea, Balham’s left back, that Jonny Wilkinson would’ve been proud of after the Terrors clear away Balham’s corner.

 

The Stripes look the better side in the beginning of the second half, as they did at the end of the first half, however struggle to find a way past Balham’s uncompromising defence. Despite the dominance, a Tooting and Mitcham mistake gift wraps a chance to Hedges, whose shot is deflected perilously wide - a huge let-off for the Stripes.

 

The 61st minute produces a fabulous bit of play from the Terrors, as the ball is fired towards Nathan Daly’s midriff; Daly seizes the opportunity to summon his inner-Zinedine Zidane and flicks the ball onto Shamal Edwards. With Edwards in on goal, he attempts a half volley, but cannot quite keep it down - a difficult chance, but signs of encouragement for the boys.

 

However, this would be in vain as Balham broke down on their right wing on the 63rd minute with their right winger popping an accurate cross into the box for Laurie Goddard, who is able to take advantage of slow defending before taking a touch and putting Balham ahead in this cup tie from about 5 yards out.

 

Surely the Terrors would not go down with a fight? Almost immediately, Faniyan had a shot blocked expertly. Whilst not a clear-cut opportunity, is this a sign that Tooting and Mitcham can produce the comeback that the fans are desperately craving? Unfortunately, things would not quite work out:

 

Perhaps epitomising Tooting and Mitcham’s performance after Balham’s second was the very unfortunate double-slice from Foley after attempting to deal with a route-one ball several yards outside the penalty box, which allowed Balham a shot into an empty net (bar one Stipes player) from 20 yards out - thankfully the Balham player fumbles the opportunity to put them 3-1 up.

 

Two attacking substitutions later, Jordan Clarke replacing Shamal Edwards and Billy Brown replacing Marco Figuerdo-Correia on the 66th and 71st minutes respectively, shows the fans that the Terrors are going to go for this in the final throes of the game. Can the Terrors equalise, or will there be an upset in the cup?

 

Unfortunately for the Stripes, Balham handled the rest of the game extremely well with excellent forward play from Cameron Gordon, whose domineering frame helped win the ball up the pitch. Balham further dug in and put men behind the ball, which the Terrors found difficult to break down.

 

Despite Tooting and Mitcham successfully producing crosses and winning corners towards the end of the game, there was a lack of the final touch, pass and shot that ultimately culminated in Balham being able to see out their lead. Overall, Balham were worth their victory, and played excellently with stupendous efforts made by every player - all credit to them and good luck with the rest of the cup.

 

Onto Chipstead away - ‘Mon the Stripes.

 

Written by Daniel Turner Browne / @DownToTen

 

Saturday 15th January 2021                             Tooting & Mitcham United 1 Guernsey 1

 

The spoils were shared on a chilly afternoon as a young Terrors outfit failed to take the opportunities presented to bank a much needed three points. Nevertheless, a run of four straight defeats in all competitions was halted, and in the current circumstances every point secured must be viewed as a point gained.

 

With top scorer Daniel Williams’ midweek departure to Bedfont Sports, and experienced returnee Connor French struck down with gastric trouble, it was inexperienced teenager Samuel Faniyan who led the line, supported by Shamal Edwards and Michael Dixon.

 

With just one minute on the clock, Dixon’s flick found Faniyan inside the box and as he attempted to dig out a shooting chance, Ben le Tocq bundled him over and referee Nicholas Metcalfe pointed to the spot. Mark Waters took the opportunity to emphatically strike the penalty past goalkeeper William Huffer and we had the perfect start.

 

The sizeable crowd, including an impressive travelling contingent, might have expected such an opening to settle nerves in the home ranks and perhaps lead to better things, but it was the visitors who were spurred on by the early setback and they might easily have been level within a few minutes.

 

First, a loose ball from Cory Walters-Wright was seized on by Matthew Loaring, who played in Kyle Smith. His cross-shot was parried by Ollie Pain, but the ball fell perfectly for Loaring, following up and in a seemingly perfect position to bag the equaliser; the Guernsey man couldn’t keep his shot down though, and we breathed a huge sigh of relief as it sailed over the bar.

 

A minute or so later, Nathan Daly’s attempted clearance was charged down by Loaring and deflected into the path of Guernsey skipper Ross Allen but he, too, could only blaze the chance over once again.

 

Having lived dangerously, we began to settle and Mark Waters - impressively guiding the young Baye Ndiaye alongside him - began to orchestrate the play in his usual unruffled fashion. On twenty minutes he played a lovely through ball for Shamal Edwards to run onto, and his curled effort was tipped brilliantly round the post by Huffer.

 

Waters himself had a half-chance shortly after, but after skipping through the visitor’s defence he tried to be too cute with his effort and couldn’t get any elevation on the ball which dropped harmlessly into Huffer’s arms.

 

Guernsey stepped up the pressure and started to get back into the game; Kyle Smith had an opportunity but dinked his shot wide, then as the half-hour mark approached the Tooting defence were stretched by a couple of corners in quick succession. The second of these saw Liam Mahon collect a short pass, and then cross a dangerous ball toward the far post; Jacob Fallaize stooped to head the ball home from barely a yard out and the visitors were back on terms.

 

HT : T&MU 1 Guernsey 1

We started the second half in resurgent mood, and looked determined to get our lead back. Marco Figuerdo-Correia opened proceedings by powering down the left flank, and fired the ball across the six yard box; unfortunately, there were no attacking Terrors on hand to take advantage and the situation was lost.

 

Waters played a measured pass out of defence, and Faniyan was onto it in a flash. He outpaced the defence to create a promising opening, but hesitated with just Huffer to beat, and chipped the ball wide of the far post. A well worked opening on his first start for the club, and hopefully this is the sort of chance he’ll be taking regularly with a little more experience under his belt.

 

A Tooting corner was cleared by the Guernsey defence, but fell to Waters who lifted it back into the area with dangerous intent; Nikolai Krokhin, with his back to goal, got up highest to win it in the air but couldn’t get any power on his back header and Huffer took it comfortably.

 

The hosts were enjoying a good spell of possession, and Figuerdo-Correia was becoming an increasing threat down the right-hand side, but clear chances were few and far between as the Channel Islanders defended in depth and with determination to hold onto what they had.

 

Crowd favourite Billy Brown entered the fray from the bench, and was quickly into the action - his shot from the edge of the box was deflected for a corner, which came to nought, as time began to tick away ominously.

 

In the dying seconds, a home free-kick was punched away by the keeper and fell to man-of-the-match Shamal Edwards on the edge of the box; he managed to get a powerful shot off towards goal, but it deflected wide and that was that.

 

T&MU: Pain, Walters-Wright, Krokhin, Daly, Figuerdo-Correia (Brown 74”), Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye, Faniyan, Dixon (Clarke 75”), Edwards.

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Bassett, Ceesay.

Attendance : 329

 

Saturday 8th January                   Bedfont Sports 5  Tooting and Mitcham United 4

 

The Terrors, struggling for goals of late, led 3-0 and 4-2 at high-flying Bedfont, yet still failed to take anything from the game on a quite extraordinary afternoon in west London.

 

Skipper Nathan Daly led by example just two minutes into the game, as he rose highest to head home from Nathan Gordon’s free kick and give us a perfect start.

 

Mark Waters, recently back after injury, kept a cool head to pick his spot and double the advantage after twenty minutes as the sizeable contingent of travelling fans could barely believe their eyes.

 

And when Daniel Williams broke away onto Waters’ flick through to slip the ball past former Tooting custodian Matte Pierson on the half hour mark, it really did start to look as if this was the day our season finally kicked into life.

 

What was most needed at that point was to get to half-time with the lead intact but, in typical Tooting fashion, it wasn’t to be as Ricky Wellard fired in a shot that took a wicked deflection past Ollie Pain to give the hosts a lifeline at the break.

 

HT : Bedfont S. 1 T&MU 3

 

With just three minutes gone in the second period, Wellard scored again to put the Eagles right back in the match and suddenly, it didn’t look like such a straightforward job after all.

 

But the Terrors stemmed the tide, and when Nathan Gordon’s inswinging corner evaded everybody to drop in at the far post it looked as if we had got through the worst of it to strike a decisive blow.

 

Not so; Jordan Esprit reduced the arrears once again with eighteen minutes left, and as the game entered the final ten minutes we breathed a sigh of relief as a Bedfont ‘equaliser’ was disallowed for offside.

 

Our respite was short-lived, however, as substitute Usman Lalustani fired in a shot minutes later to bring the hosts level. A point would at least have given us something from the afternoon, but even that wasn’t to be; with the game inside the last minute of regulation time, another substitute - Lewis Flatman - spotted Pain off his line and tried a speculative effort from just inside the Tooting half. Remarkably, unbelievably, the ball sailed over the back-pedalling Pain’s head and nestled in the back of the net to send the home fans into a frenzy and deny Tooting on the cruellest afternoon of the season thus far.

 

T&MU : Pain, Figuerdo-Correia, Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Daly, Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye, Brown (Faniyan 54”), Williams (Dixon 79”), Edwards (Ceesay 89”).

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Bassett

Attendance : 171

 

Monday 3rd January                   Tooting and Mitcham United 0  Hanwell 2

 

A clinical second half display by the visitors saw them become the latest team to depart Imperial Fields with the points.

 

It seemed to be a chance missed, as the Terrors had shaded an even first half and at the break the points looked to be there for the taking.

 

Mark Waters made a welcome return to the Tooting starting eleven after recovering from injury and he settled in as if he’d never been away, spreading the play nicely to either flank, and making some important interceptions in the middle of the park.

 

Youngster Baye Ndiaye was clearly a beneficiary of Waters’ return, visibly growing in confidence alongside his more experienced team-mate and enjoying his most impressive outing in his fledgling career thus far.

 

Ndiaye it was who carved out the first chance, setting Nathan Gordon away down the left; he fed the ball neatly into the box but the defenders crowded out Daniel Williams’ attempts to reach it and skewed the ball out for a corner.

 

There was some nice interplay between Jack Hutchinson and Thomas Collins for the visitors, but the latter scuffed his shot and Ollie Pain was able to hold onto it comfortably.

 

Dan Williams was enjoying his usual lively showing, and a nice touch from him set Shakeel Morris away, but a Hanwell defender was able to make a last-ditch tackle and send the ball out for a corner.

 

The two Terrors combined again moments later, to create the best chance of the first period; Morris played a give-and-go with Williams, and collected the return pass inside the penalty area. A beautiful switch of feet wrongfooted his marker, and set up a presentable chance but Shakeel was unable to get sufficient curl on the ball and keeper Hugo Sobte gathered comfortably.

 

Wing-back Marco Figuerdo-Correia, making his home début, was looking impressive. He was going quietly about his business but getting some nice little touches and tackles to thwart visiting attacks.

 

In the opposite wing-back position, Nathan Gordon was also showing up well and he timed a tackle brilliantly to break up a promising Hanwell move; there was no margin for error and had he mis-timed it, it would have been a certain penalty.

 

Nevertheless, he was slightly fortunate not to concede one just before the break as he engaged in a foot-race with Hutchinson, slipped on the wet turf and brought the Hanwell number nine down; there was nothing intentional about it but by the letter of the law, it looked a spot-kick. Referee Stephen Hawkes gave us the benefit of the doubt, though, and waved away the Geordies’ appeals.

 

HT : T&MU 0 Hanwell T. 0

 

Hanwell came out of the blocks fast at the start of the second period, and a decent passing move set Massimo Gram away down the right. He cut inside and unleashed a long-range drive which deflected off a home defender and onto the crossbar. The resulting corner was headed down and Edon Proti struck a ferocious effort which Ollie Pain saved at close range to keep the scores level.

 

Tooting broke away to create our first chance of the second half, Mark Waters driving in a trademark long-ranger which went just wide, but it was the visitors who deservedly broke the deadlock just past the hour; Sam Saunders broke down the right-hand side and fired a dangerous cross into the penalty area which was swept home by Harry Rush.

 

Figuerdo-Correia made nice run and cross down the right, which was headed away for a corner, but it was Hanwell who were tightening the screw now and it was no surprise when they doubled their advantage thirteen minutes from time; Tooting had innumerable chances to clear a Hanwell corner, but failed to take them and Sam Saunders drove in a speculative cross-cum-shot which deceived Ollie Pain and snuck in at the far post.

 

Heads dropped from the home side in the remaining ten minutes, and it was only Pain who kept the scoreline respectable as he saved from Hutchinson and Rush, whilst Kyle Watson had a free header from another corner which he failed to steer on target and put it over the bar when well-placed; it was an irrelevance by that stage though, as the points had long since disappeared over the horizon.

 

T&MU : Pain, Figuerdo-Correia, Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Daly, Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye (Bassett 78”), Williams, Morris (Brown 61”), Edwards (Dixon 78”).

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Stewart.

Attendance : 333

Saturday 18th December                   Tooting and Mitcham United 1  Westfield 0

 

Mike Dixon’s headed goal, midway through the first half, was enough to secure a welcome three points and make it three wins from four league games to end the year’s home fixtures on a positive note.

 

Both of these sides had been expected to be in the promotion shake-up when the season started, yet both had struggled to the extent that this was a real relegation six-pointer come start of play.

 

Westfield settled better early on, with the pony-tailed Tayshan Hayden-Smith (reminding older fans of former Italian star Roberto Baggio) orchestrating proceedings and spraying some nice passes around the pitch. However, there was little cutting edge to the visitor’s pretty play, and the home defence were untroubled as Cory Walters-Wright, Nikolai Krokhin and Nathan Daly looked an impressively solid unit.

 

But Westfield stepped up the pace, and began to look more threatening. Sheridan Campbell fired a shot over the bar when well placed, and Ollie Pain had to be alert to block a free-kick from Callum Abraham-Barlow. From this latter move, the ball ran free and Walters-Wright was thankfully in position to clear from the goal-line as Sam Evans raced in.

 

Pain was called into action again shortly afterward, as Afolobe Soyemi-Oloiade outpaced Walters-Wright and fired in a shot from a tight angle which Pain turned behind for a corner, which came to nothing.

 

Tooting had shown little in attack so far, but began to make inroads as the half progressed. Daniel Williams, lively as ever, outpaced his marker but was crowded out by a covering defender as he shaped to shoot, the ball being deflected into the arms of keeper Callum Backhurst.

 

Shortly after, Mike Dixon seized onto a Jordan Clarke through ball and showed a cool head to take the ball round Backhurst; once again, however, a covering defender had made up the ground to deflect Dixon’s shot out for a corner.

 

Williams and Dixon linked up again, with Dixon’s long-range effort not troubling Backhurst, but he more than made amends just before the half-hour, as Krokhin headed out of defence and a surging run and cross by Billy Brown was headed home by the powerful striker.

 

We breathed a sigh of relief just before half-time, as IK Hill played a defence splitting pass through to the well-placed Abraham-Barlow, but he snatched at his effort and put it wide.

 

HT : T&MU 1 Westfield 0

 

The visitors started the second half in much the same vein with which they began the first, and Pain was once again called into action early on, getting a good touch to Campbell’s effort which looked to be sneaking in at the far post, and pushing it round the upright.

 

Pain saved again from the same player shortly after, as Campbell looked to finish a sweeping move started by Hayden-Smith and carried on by Hill.

 

It was desperate defending now as Westfield really looked to turn the screw but, for once, the Tooting back five were up to the task with Krokhin winning everything in the air and Walters-Wright having another impressive outing as he beds into the side. Both were benefitting from the experienced head of Nathan Daly who was marshalling the defence superbly at this stage.

 

We were looking to hold onto what we had, and the home attacks became sporadic as Westfield dominated possession, but they were still doing very little with it and Tooting might have extended the lead on a couple of occasions; substitute Shakeel Morris showed good footwork to create an opening, but his effort was weak and didn’t trouble Backhurst. Then Jordan Clarke worked his way into the box, twisted and turned as he looked to make room for a shot but the Westfield defence deflected his eventual strike wide.

 

With time ticking away, Hayden-Smith floated a curler toward the top corner, but Pain took it comfortably and that proved to be the last chance for the visitors to take anything from the game as Pain cemented his man-of-the-match award with the save to seal the points.

 

T&MU : Pain, Daly, Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Bassett, Clarke, Ndiaye, Ouaret Sorr (Bangura-Williams 56”), Dixon, Williams, Brown (Morris 65”).

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Foley, Orimolusi.

Attendance : 216

 

Saturday 11th December                   Thatcham Town 0 Tooting and Mitcham United 1

 

The Terrors secured back-to-back league wins, on a murky day in the Berkshire countryside, to give us some breathing space over those teams below us and send the travelling hordes home happy.

 

In truth, it was always going to be an afternoon where pretty football would be at a premium on such a surface, but our boys showed grit and fighting spirit that bodes well for the immediate future as we look to haul ourselves away from danger and into the top half of the table.

 

This result sees us leapfrog our hosts, who started the day two places and two points above us, and sets us up nicely for the hectic festive period.

 

Despite the conditions, there were a lot of positives to be taken from the afternoon - and a lot of boxes were ticked in the process : three points - check. Penalty scored - check. Clean sheet : check.

 

That last one may well prove to be the most important - it was our first of the season and emphasises that Ollie Pain is settling well into his role as the fifth goalkeeper we have used this campaign; hopefully he will be able to cement the position as his own, and bring some much needed stability to the position behind the back line - arguably the most important on the pitch.

 

On this afternoon, he wasn’t called into action that often as the boys in front of him controlled much of the play and showed a solidity that has been lacking in recent times; but Pain showed some good handling of a greasy, slippery ball - taking corners and crosses with a composure that can only have radiated out to those around him.

 

Tooting started in confident fashion, and carved out the first opening of note just a few minutes in; Zaid Ouaret Sorr, growing in confidence with every first-team outing, took a nice pass from Nathan Gordon, got away from his marker down the left and fired a dangerous cross back into the penalty area; Mike Dixon got a firm strike on the ball, but it was a bit too close to Jack Hopwood and the keeper took it comfortably.

 

Shortly after, Hopwood had to be alert to leave his area and head clear when another through ball from Gordon threatened, but Thatcham then had a chance of their own as Lamin Ceesay and Daniel Fosu combined to set Nathan Jones through on goal, but the home midfielder dragged his shot wide of the target.

 

Billy Brown was, as usual, causing his marker all sorts of problems down the right flank, and he fed Daniel Williams whose shot from distance was well held by Hopwood. Still, the Terrors were carving out the more promising chances at this stage - with Ouaret Sorr almost forcing an own goal minutes later as a home defender very nearly scuffed his clearance into the net.

 

It looked like a goalless first half would be recorded, but as we moved into time added on, Ceesay tangled with Ouaret Sorr inside the area with the latter going down; the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot - to the consternation of the home defence - and Daniel Williams buried the kick to register his thirteenth goal of the season and a lead that was well deserved.

 

HT : Thatcham T. 0 T&MU 1

 

The home side enjoyed a good spell of possession at the start of the second period, as they sought to cancel out our advantage. But the Tooting defence, marshalled superbly by Nathan Daly, held firm and Ollie Pain continued to handle the increasingly slippery ball well when called upon. As the game wore on, it was the visitors who looked more likely to add a second on the break if there was to be any further scoring in the game.

 

Indeed, the impressive Ouaret Sorr was staking his claim for a man-of-the-match performance as he twice threatened to give us the breathing space of a two goal cushion. Firstly, Billy Brown did superbly to take a loose pass off the toes of a Thatcham defender, powered into the box and smashed the ball across toward the far post; Ouaret Sorr had slipped on the greasy turf, but despite being on the deck he still managed to prod a shot goalwards but couldn’t get the power required to find a way past Hopwood.

 

Then, as the game entered the last twenty minutes, Mike Dixon flicked on a lovely through ball which Ouaret Sorr controlled, and slotted past the keeper for what seemed like a second goal. However, a questionable flag had been raised and the goal was disallowed for offside.

 

Dontai Stewart had replaced Williams, and he looked lively as he twice tested Hopwood from range, then bore down on the keeper in a one-on-one which the latter did well to block and keep his side in the match. It was to no avail though, as the referee finally put an end to proceedings and another welcome three points were confirmed.

 

T&MU : Pain, Gordon (Bassett 61”), Daly, Walters-Wright, Brown, Belford, Williams (Stewart 69”), Clarke, Krokhin, Dixon, Ouaret Sorr.

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Ndiaye, Ceesay.

Attendance : 133

Saturday 4th December                   Tooting and Mitcham United 2  Chalfont St. Peter 1

Going into the fixture, Tooting and Mitcham United (the Terrors), were sitting one place above Chalfont St. Peter (the Saints), after a run of four straight defeats and winless at home since October 4th. Chalfont’s equally poor recent form meant both sides sat in 16th and 17th respectively and are currently engaged in a dogged relegation battle, this is the very definition of a six-pointer. Game On.

Not long after the referee eagerly blew his whistle, the Saints’ number nine unleashed a fearsome shot, which was successfully parried away for a corner kick; an already nervous crowd became noticeably more anxious. Fortunately, the corner was dealt with well by the Terrors’ defence, who then sought to turn defence into attack with number seven attempting a long overhead ball to the strikers.

The first affairs were cagey; unsurprising given the form of both sides. The ball bobbled frequently and often bounced from player to player without either side stringing several passes or more together. When they could, the Terrors tried another overhead ball to the strikers, and, although amounting to nothing this time, this tactic would eventually pay dividends.

With tackles flying in left and right, and every player being constantly pressured whilst on the ball, a chance from a set piece would inevitably come; fortunately, this would fall to the Terrors: on the eighth minute, number four gets a strong head on a 30 yard free-kick crossed from the right hand side, but sees the ball flash agonisingly wide of the goalkeeper’s left hand post.

This excellent set piece was followed up by some equally-excellent last ditch defending: the Saints’ striker, seemingly through on goal two minutes later, had his shot blocked by a Terrors defender. The resulting deflection bounced around the box to another Saints player, who was crowded out, unable to get a shot on goal, and the ball was cleared by the uncompromising defence.

The 15th minute rolls around and number 10 whips a delicious cross into the box, only for there to be no one there to capitalise. Despite this, it is clear that the Terrors are becoming the dominant side in this game. Two consecutive corners ramp the pressure up further, stretching Chalfont’s set-piece defending capabilities.

Fortunately for the Terrors, the pressure and their set-piece prowess was too much for the Saints’ defence as number five scored an excellent header that Slabhead, Harry Maguire, would be proud of. 1-0 to Tooting and Mitcham; the balance is really in their favour.

Bar a frenzied goal-line clearance on the 20th minute, the Terrors were comfortably the best team of the two after the goal: the Chalfont ‘keeper came close to picking the ball out of his net for the second time in the half after number 9 narrowly missed the target, after a long throw-in took the defence out the game. Soon after, other passages of play culminated in a saved bicycle kick from number 11, and a low shot from number four after receiving a great pass from number 9.

At the other end, the Saints rarely troubled Tooting and Mitcham’s number 1 through a combination of astute defending and poor finishing from Chalfont St. Peter. Even in the moments that the Terrors’ number 1 was needed, he held the ball well after a sole longshot from the Saints.

 

HALF TIME - 1-0 TOOTING AND MITCHAM UNITED

The second half begins and the pattern continues: the Terrors dominating the play and creating excellent chances. Not long after the ref blows his whistle, the Terrors’ number 9 is put through on goal after a lovely overhead through ball, but is saved by the Saints’ ‘keeper.

However, the Terrors very nearly rued the chances that they had seen go astray as Chalfont’s number 11 received the ball on the edge of the box, swivelled excellently and unleashed a hard shot, which was fortunately directed straight at the Terrors’ ‘keeper.

The second half continued with some brilliant possession from the Terrors, who were working the ball excellently on the wings. With the wingers and strikers working in tandem, crosses fly into the box; one of these is headed away and breaks to number 15, who absolutely thumps the ball from 25 yards out, missing the target by a fraction of a hair to the keeper’s right hand post.

Tooting and Mitcham’s dominant spell led to another well-worked overhead through-ball to number 9, which was stopped excellently by Chalfont’s best player on the pitch. Surely it’s only a matter of time before the Terrors exploit this? And that they did: another pin-point through-ball puts number 9 through who finished fantastically under the ‘keeper to put the Terrors 2-0 up in the 73rd minute.

Defensively, the Terrors were more than matching Chalfont through the half; one particular spell of play seeing a Saints shot blocked and then rapidly smothered after the subsequent rebound to another Saints player.

Even the Saints’ goal had an element of luck to it: a collision between defender and goalkeeper bobbled perfectly to a Saints player, who was in the most fortunate position on the pitch and was able to tap the ball into the goal.

Whilst a mist of anxiety gripped the Terrors faithful, the players controlled the game excellently, running down the clock after winning fouls in prime locations through brilliant dribbling and some skills from number 17 that were almost certainly learnt from FIFA Street. The game finished 2-1 to Tooting and Mitcham United who moved up to 14th, three points off mid-table.

​Tuesday 23rd November                 Tooting & Mitcham United 1 Chertsey Town 2

 

It is becoming sadly predictable writing match reports for the Terrors recently. The formula seems much the same for each game; Tooting lose by the odd goal, but have enough chances to win comfortably; woodwork is struck at least once during the ninety minutes, and invariably there is a decent penalty claim summarily dismissed by the officials (though given our spot-kick credentials, perhaps they are only saving us from further embarrassment).

 

Any neutrals reading these reports would find their credulity being tested - surely no team can be this consistently unfortunate? The law of averages always evens itself out eventually, and teams get what they ultimately deserve. Maybe - but it doesn’t feel like it at the moment.

 

And so to a bitterly cold, and increasingly foggy Tuesday evening in November, and the visit of high-flying Chertsey - revitalised by the recent appointment as manager of former Arsenal star Ian Selley.

 

The game followed the usual pattern; a bright start, belying our run of three straight defeats in the league. Several chances are created, with Mark Waters forcing a flying save out of Nicholas Jupp about the best of them. Then, the inevitable - Chertsey take the lead against the run of play with former Terror Jake Baxter using his quick thinking to place his shot past debutant keeper Oliver Pain, who may have been unsighted.

 

Surprisingly perhaps, the lead lasted barely a minute; Tooting force a corner, the ball is headed goalwards by Ahkeem Belford, but cleared by a defender. As it falls to Daniel Williams, some thirty yards from goal, he thumps in a first time effort that flies past the despairing hands of Jupp - a quite astonishing goal, and one that makes coming out on one of the coldest nights of the year so far seem not such a bad decision after all.

 

And, surely now, an indication that our luck has changed for the better - that we’ll finally go on and claim a welcome three points that could kick-start our entire season…

 

By half-time, we troop off dejectedly again - Chertsey have regained the lead with a Samuel Murphy free-kick six minutes before the break; a nicely taken goal, it has to be admitted, but once again we have given ourselves a mountain to climb in the second forty-five.

 

HT : T&MU 1 Chertsey T. 2

 

There are no further goals in the game, but how that is the case - nobody is quite sure. Apart from one or two occasions when the Curfews threaten to extend their lead on a breakaway, Tooting dominate the period.

 

But can’t score.

 

We can’t score when Jupp makes three astonishing point-blank saves in the space of thirty seconds around the hour mark, in a sequence that unfolded so quickly it is difficult to see which players he has denied. It was Mike Dixon who powered into the area initially, and drove in a fierce shot from a tight angle which Jupp parried; it fell to (I think) Billy Brown who sent the next effort in, but Jupp had sprung up to keep that one out; it rebounded again, (possibly) to Daniel Williams who thought he only had to prod it over the line but somehow a grounded Jupp got across to push the ball away again - whereupon a grateful defender hoofed it away to gain some respite.

 

We can’t score when Dixon powers in another drive from the right-hand side, and the post intervenes; we can’t score in injury-time, when Brown curls in a speculative effort from the left which deceives the keeper, but not the crossbar from which it comes back into play.

 

And we certainly can’t score from the penalty spot between those incidents, because we are not given the chance to. Mike Dixon, who has terrorised the Chertsey defence all evening, but particularly so in the second half, powers away down the right once again; in a chase with Bryan Taylor, the defender makes a rash challenge and does not win the ball. He takes the legs. It looks a clear penalty, but the referee waves play on to the amazement of those in the ground (probably even to those few who are sporting away colours). It seems a harsh call by the man in black, although as pointed out earlier, there is no guarantee it would have been converted - it might have been nice to have the opportunity though.

 

And so, the dust settles on another three points dropped. Another defeat - four in a row now, and seven out of the last eight - all by the odd goal. We have to accept we are in a relegation scrap now, and face a number of teams in a similar position in the coming weeks. The festive period could well and truly define the rest of our season.

 

T&MU : Pain, Hamlin, Waters, Daly, Belford, Morris, Williams (Stewart 74”), Clarke (Ouaret Sorr 70”), Walters-Wright, Brown, Dixon.

SUBS NOT USED : Ceesay, Coleman, Bassett.

Attendance : 164

 

Saturday 20th November                 Tooting & Mitcham United 1 Marlow 2

 

The Terrors slumped to a fourth consecutive league defeat, amidst a very familiar pattern.

 

An encouraging start was not capitalised on with a goal, and promotion contenders Marlow punished us with two quickfire strikes that left us with a mountain to climb once again.

 

The players didn’t let their heads drop, and showed fight and spirit in abundance - qualities we shall surely be needing in the weeks ahead - but when the dust settled, three more points had been dropped and we have to face up to the very serious position we now find ourselves in.

 

It had been a bright start, and Simon Grant in the Marlow goal was called into action early on, touching the ball round the post after some good wing play from Billy Brown had set up Daniel Williams for a shot.

 

Shortly after, a searching through ball found Williams outpacing the defence and through on goal but Grant foiled him again, with his legs this time.

 

And we were made to pay for this profligacy shortly after when Nnamdi Nwachuku took advantage of confusion in the home defence to break the deadlock for the Blues. Six minutes after that it was two, when a free-kick from Kameron English took a deflection off the defensive wall and somehow found its way past Mackenzie Foley.

 

But eight minutes later, and with still a full hour of the match to play, Williams was faced with another one-on-one with Grant and this time despatched the ball past the keeper with a confidence that had not been diminished by the earlier misses.

 

Game on.

 

Billy Brown was tormenting his marker with some trademark speed and footwork, and from one of these moves floated a dangerous cross into the six-yard box, but just over the heads of both Williams and Mike Dixon. Marlow got it away but Ahkeem Belford struck a firm shot from distance that cleared the bar.

 

HT : T&MU 1 Marlow 2

 

The Terrors began the second period in similar fashion to which we ended the first, as Billy Brown and Daniel Williams continued to cause problems for the visiting defence.

 

Shakeel Morris worked his way down the right, and centred for Williams who laid the ball off to Mark Waters who never has any qualms about shooting from distance; on this occasion though, it was too close to Grant and the keeper gratefully took it into his midriff.

 

Mike Dixon was becoming increasingly influential as the match wore on - his strength and determination proving a handful for the Marlow back line - and drove in an awkward shot from a difficult angle that Grant could only fist away, Williams following in couldn’t quite get the touch that was needed and another chance was gone.

 

Grant saved from Dixon again as the game entered the last ten minutes and set pieces looked the most likely source of salvation as Tooting began to throw everybody forward. From one such kick, Daryl Coleman touched the ball into the danger zone, Ahkeem cut it back across the box and substitute Zaid Ouaret-Sorr shot just wide; with that, our last hope had disappeared.

 

It was another enterprising display, another defeat by the odd goal; and yet another day when we felt justified in claiming we should have had something tangible from the ninety minutes. The worry now is that if this trend continues for much longer, the season could fall apart completely.

 

T&MU : Foley, Hamlin, Waters, Daly, Belford, Morris (Stewart 65”), Coleman, Williams (Ouaret-Sorr 83”), Clarke, Brown, Dixon.

SUBS NOT USED : Ceesay, Turbi, Bassett.

Attendance : 184

 

Saturday 13th November                 Basingstoke Town  3 Tooting & Mitcham United  2

 

Despite a much improved showing, the Terrors fell to yet another defeat - our seventh of the league season - to leave us some way short of play-off contention even at this relatively early stage.

 

With the win, Basingstoke moved into third in the division, but they can count themselves fortunate to have bagged the points even with our, sadly now traditional, customary concession of a goal start.

 

Before most of the sizeable contingent of travelling supporters had even taken up their position behind the goal we were attacking, we once again found ourselves chasing the game; with barely a minute registered, Simon Dunn powered onto a through ball and finished clinically past the exposed MacKenzie Foley to give the hosts the perfect start.

 

As the half progressed, the Terrors played their way back into contention with some neat passing football - with Billy Brown and Dontai Stewart looking particularly lively on the flanks, and Mark Waters pulling the strings impressively in midfield.

 

We were unlucky not to be on terms in the fourteenth minute when Waters let fly a trademark long-range effort, but with Paul Strudley flailing in the home goal the ball crashed back off the crossbar to preserve the hosts’ lead.

 

Tooting were controlling the play for long periods, without looking too threatening where it mattered, when out of the blue we were on terms; some sparkling wing play from Billy Brown saw him bamboozle the home defence, then switch the play to the other flank from where Shakeel Morris whipped in a dangerous cross. Strudley could only parry the ball and Stewart pounced with a diving header to restore parity with half-time looming.

 

We could have actually departed the field with an unlikely lead when the referee awarded us a free-kick just outside the area but after Dontai and Daryl Coleman had deliberated over who would take the kick, Stewart finally curled it just over the bar.

 

HT : Basingstoke T.  1 T&MU  1

 

Having finished the first half in the ascendancy, Tooting picked up where we’d left off at the start of the second period and with the home side looking rattled we threatened to take control of the game. Mark Waters continued to control things in midfield, and an early pass set Shakeel Morris away down the right; he beat his man with confidence, then cut the ball back to Daniel Williams who controlled it well but curled his effort just wide of the far post.

 

Billy Brown continued to torment his marker down the opposite flank, and a similar move down the left saw him cut the ball back across the six yard box with no attacking players in the vicinity to take advantage.

 

Basingstoke capitalised on some hesitancy at the back to carve out a chance that George Reid fired over shortly afterward, but the Terrors continued to control possession and create the better openings when we suddenly fell behind again on fifty-three minutes, after a contentious decision by referee Tom Baines. Home defender Bradley Wilson looked to have dragged Daniel Williams down on the edge of the area, and with the travelling support (and much of the home fans) expecting a free-kick to the visitors, Baines signalled it the other way and Reid got on the end of a long ball to thump it past Foley and restore the advantage to the delight of the home crowd.

 

We didn’t let our heads drop though, and continued to press forward - with set pieces looking our most likely route to salvation. From a corner just after the hour mark, Dean Hamlin firmly headed past Strudley to make it 2-2 and the points were in the balance once again.

 

Tooting continued to pass and move, and enjoy the bulk of the threatening moves once again - and looked the more likely to bag the points at this stage, with the hosts seemingly out of ideas in an attacking sense.

 

However, there was one more cruel twist to come, as Billy Brown once again ran at the home defence and was seemingly illegally chopped down just outside the box by two defenders. Referee Baines had other ideas though, and waved play on - which resulted in a long ball being played through the middle with Foley hopelessly exposed; he did well to advance from his goal, and deflect the ball wide, but with an attacking player picking the loose ball up and driving it towards goal once again, Mark Waters was penalised for a debatable handball and the hosts had the chance to regain the lead from the spot - which they took.

 

There were still some twenty minutes or so to go, but the decision (and subsequent booking for the influential Waters for protesting) had knocked the stuffing out of us and with the home side content to protect what they had and take no further chances, the game petered out somewhat after that; despite some decent possession - particularly down the right flank with Shakeel Morris - we were unable to carve out any real threatening goal chances and fell to our third successive defeat (all by the odd goal) in the league, since our smash and grab late win at Guernsey. The gap to the play-off positions is now looking worryingly large and unless we start turning promise into points, the task ahead of us will begin to look frighteningly insurmountable.

 

T&MU : Foley, Hamlin, Waters, Daley, Brown, Coleman, Williams, Clarke, Stewart (Demby 71”), Bassett (Dixon 60”), Morris.

SUBS NOT USED : Mbangui, Ouaret-Sorr, Ceesay.

Attendance : 653

 

Saturday 6th November 2021     Ashford Town (Middx)  2  Tooting & Mitcham United  1

 

The Terrors were brought back down to earth after back-to-back victories, as struggling Ashford Town - without so much as a home point in the league - found an indecisive Tooting team just what they needed to kick-start their season.

 

After impressive showings against Guernsey, when all three points were brought back from the longest journey of all, and a Metropolitan Police side who were confidently despatched from the Surrey Senior Cup, hopes were high of another three points as we travelled out to west London. All that good work was undone by a nervous and disjointed start which saw the hosts move into a two goal lead with the match barely twenty minutes old.

 

It is becoming a worrying trend for Tooting to concede an early goal and just two minutes had been registered here when Aaaron McLeish-White took advantage of some hesitancy in the visiting defence to shoot Ashford into the lead. The hosts had the ball in the net again on the quarter-hour but this time the flag was up and the goal disallowed for offside.

 

The warning was not heeded by the Terrors’ back line, though, and just seven minutes later the lead was doubled as Connor Cullen - who scored against us earlier in the season for his former club Northwood - got in behind and slotted calmly past MacKenzie Foley.

 

With the game quickly slipping away, we did manage to get some kind of grip on proceedings, and just past the half-hour, Andrew Sesay combined well with Billy Brown before smashing a shot into the side netting as we finally began to wake up a bit.

 

HT : Ashford T.  2 T&MU  0

 

With a mountain to climb, we did at least start the second half with a renewed sense of purpose and within the first five minutes, Jamarie Brissett showed some good footwork to turn his marker and get a shot in but Paul McCarthy in the home goal did well to get down and touch his shot round the post for a corner which came to nothing.

 

A few minutes later, Jamarie got away from his man once again and flashed a testing ball across goal where Sesay was waiting at the far post but he showed just enough hesitancy to enable two home defenders to crowd him out, and the chance was gone.

 

Half-time substitute Zaid Ouaret-Sorr was once again showing promise as he continued his development at first team level and he was combining well now with Mark Waters as we started to look a little more threatening.

 

Zaid certainly looks a danger from dead-ball kicks and it was one such move that finally gave us a toehold in the game as his floated ball in was glanced home by Waters with just over twenty minutes left.

 

But any hopes of a point disappeared into the gloom as further half-chances were not taken; Dontai Stewart played Jamarie in but he pulled his shot just wide of the post, and then put another high over the bar when well-placed. Nathan Daly had a long-range drive deflected out for a corner and Mark Waters couldn’t get on the end of a Dontai free-kick in stoppage time that flashed just past the post.

 

In truth, Ashford deserved the points for showing a greater team-spirit and togetherness; qualities that hitherto could have been applied to us but were sadly missing on this afternoon. It is to be hoped that we have hit the nadir with this performance, and the only way is up in forthcoming matches - if not, we could face a very long winter ahead.

 

T&MU : Foley, Krokhin, Hamlin, Waters, Daly, Belford (Ouaret-Sorr 45”), Williams, Clarke, Stewart, Brissett, Sesay.

SUBS NOT USED : Ceesay, Mbangui, Ilic, Moco.

Attendance : 74

Saturday 23rd October 2021                                                 Uxbridge 3 Tooting & Mitcham United 2

 

It was the proverbial game of two halves at Honeycroft on Saturday, but by the end of the match it had become ‘the same old story’ as the Terrors slipped to a third defeat in eight days, and slumped to fourteenth in the table.

 

Yet for much of the afternoon it looked as if we were finally kicking our season into gear, showing pride and determination and thoroughly outplaying the league leaders on their own turf for the first forty-five minutes.

 

Had we been able to keep the two goal advantage for the opening quarter of the second period, we would probably have gone on to take the points. But the hosts made two changes at the break, one of which paid instant dividends and the game ultimately turned on yet another red card.

 

It had all looked so bright early on, as straight from the kick-off Tooting settled into a confident pressing game - Mark Waters and Stefan Ilic were spraying intelligent passes around the field; Billy Brown and Jamarie Brissett looked in the mood to cause havoc down the flanks, and Dontai Stewart and Daniel Williams were gelling nicely in only the third league game they have played together this season. Early shots from Dontai and Billy both tested the keeper, and Stefan’s run and neat footwork that took him past three defenders before his shot was blocked was a harbinger of things to come.

 

With Uxbridge showing very little in attack, and Nathan Daly and Ahkeem Belford snuffing out most of their offensive play at source, it was no surprise when Tooting took the lead just before the half-hour mark; Dan Williams seized onto a through ball, kept his cool and with just keeper Tyler Tobin to beat, slotted it through his legs to give us a deserved advantage.

 

Ten minutes later, it was two - and as the goal came from the penalty spot, it seemed like it must be our afternoon. Dontai Stewart burst into the area onto Williams’ pass, and was bundled over by Ryan Haugh; referee Graham Swanton gave us the benefit of the doubt, and Dontai calmly despatched the spot-kick to double the lead.

 

HT : Uxbridge 0 T&MU 2

 

With their unbeaten home record looking in jeopardy, Uxbridge made two changes at half-time and changed their formation. Before we had had a chance to settle, they forced a corner from which one of the subs - Victor Osobu - headed home to cut the deficit.

 

This gave Uxbridge the incentive they needed to push us back, and really go for the points. Yet for much of the second half, the visiting defence coped admirably with what was being thrown at them. We were still looking dangerous on the break, and with twenty minutes to go forced a free-kick just outside the penalty area. Billy Brown, so dangerous with his runs all afternoon, was chopped down by Prince Ogunmekan who received a yellow card for his indiscretion. Stefan Ilic took the set-piece, but curled the ball just over the bar.

 

Five minutes later, an identical incident occurred at the other end, with Eric Mbangui the offender this time. Although the challenge looked much like that outside the Uxbridge box, this time Mr. Swanton resorted to a harsher punishment and the Terrors were down to ten men. To compound the dismay, Osobu netted his second goal after a scramble in the area and Uxbridge suddenly had all the momentum - as well as a numerical advantage - going into the closing stages.

 

They made it count thirteen minutes from the end when their other sub, Sam Shaw, crossed a superb ball in and Anthony Mendy struck home what proved to be the winner.

 

T&MU : Ross, Mbangui, Waters, Daly, Belford, Bassett (Hamlin 85”), Williams, Ilic, Stewart (Ouaret-Sorr 64”), Brissett, Brown.

SUBSTITUTES NOT USED : Ceesay, Moco, Cole.

Attendance : 104

 

Saturday 16th October 2021                                       Tooting & Mitcham United 0 Bracknell Town 1 

 

Ugly scenes after the final whistle undermined a fascinating encounter at Imperial Fields on Saturday.

 

Daryl Coleman received a straight red card for his part in the post-match fracas, as Ahkeem Belford was cautioned for his behaviour in the unseemly melée. It was a shame, as the match itself had provided an interesting tactical contest - a story of punch and counter-punch with one goal always looking likely to be enough to separate the sides.

 

High-flying Bracknell dominated possession early on, with the Terrors struggling to get into the visitor’s half of the field. Thankfully, Nathan Daly was back to fitness and restored to the back three - which gave a far more secure look to the defence than has been the case in recent weeks.

 

With twelve minutes gone, the dangerous David Tarpey slipped past Anuar Ceesay and powered into the area; Ahkeem had read the danger well though, and got back to make an important block. From the subsequent corner, Gary Ross showed good hands to take the ball cleanly in the air, as he was to do all afternoon.

 

Academy graduate Malachi Cole was showing promise in the middle of the park, and he displayed good invention to seize on a loose pass and feed Stefan Illic who returned the ball to Cole but his low cross back across the six yard box was well cut out by a defender.

 

The Terrors were growing in confidence, and Andre Fearon went on a mazy run only to be bundled down just inside the penalty area; it looked a decent shout for a penalty, but the referee was not interested.

 

We were enjoying our best spell of the game now, and were inches away from taking the lead just before the half hour. Daniel Williams won possession in midfield, beat a defender and laid the ball off nicely to Mark Waters for a trademark long-range strike; his effort beat Michael Eacott in the Bracknell goal, but cannoned back off the crossbar to the relief of the visitors.

 

They took advantage of this good fortune just minutes later, when Sebastian Bowerman found freedom on the left-hand side and sent over a threatening cross to the far post where Jack Dean got just enough power on his header to squeeze it in past Ross.

 

HT : T&MU 0 Bracknell Town 1

 

The second half began where the first had left off; neither side was prepared to push the boat out too far with Bracknell content to protect what they had, and Tooting to play a patient game in the hope of taking one of the few chances that might come our way.

 

Just before the hour mark, the Robins almost doubled their advantage with a carbon copy of the move which had led to their goal. This time it was Michael Atkinson who crossed for Daniel Baylis; his header looked in from the press-box, but thankfully had nestled in the side-netting.

 

Jamarie Brissett had replaced Andre Fearon at half-time, and just past the hour Billy Brown made a welcome re-appearance from the bench after a long absence through injury. Both substitutes gave us a much-needed spark as we started to make inroads down the flanks at last. Billy’s pace will always cause problems for defenders, and he was quickly in the thick of the action. Getting away from his marker down the right, he whipped in a dangerous looking cross, Stefan Illic brought it down nicely but seemed to be tripped as he attempted to engineer a shooting chance. Once again, the referee turned a deaf ear to our appeals for a spot-kick.

 

Jamarie made a spirited burst down the left and pulled the ball back into a crowded penalty area, where it pinged around as if in a pinball machine. It could have gone anywhere, but ended up going out for a corner which came to nothing.

 

As the game entered the last ten minutes, it still looked as if we could get a point out of the afternoon. Stefan Illic, who was enjoying a fine game at the start of his third stint at the club, set Brissett away with a fine through pass; Jamarie cut inside the full-back and angled a shot toward the far post, but Eacott pushed it around for a corner.

 

In stoppage-time, we pushed everybody forward in a desperate last throw of the dice. This included Gary Ross going up for a set piece, and we were very nearly caught out on the break. A long ball out of defence saw Ross and David Tarpey engage in a race to see who could get to the loose ball first. It was neck and neck as Tarpey got a touch on the ball and took it round him; as he sent it toward an empty net, Nathan Daly had also somehow managed to get back and just about hooked the ball away from the goal line as the final chance went begging.

 

With the referee blowing the final whistle shortly after, tempers flared as the teams made their way off the field - resulting in the undignified scenes which marred an otherwise hard-fought encounter. We shall have to wait and see what the repercussions might be in the weeks ahead.

 

T&MU : Ross, Hamlin, Waters, Daly, Belford, Ceesay (Brown 66”), Coleman, Williams, Illic, Fearon (Brissett 46”), Cole (Moco 76”).

SUBSTITUTES NOT USED : Mbangui, Nunes.

Attendance : 269

 

 

Saturday 9th October 2021                                             Tooting & Mitcham United 1 Whitehawk 4                                                                                                    (FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round)

 

The Terrors’ Jekyll and Hyde season continued as we were overwhelmed by an impressive Whitehawk side on a balmy afternoon at Imperial Fields.

 

With three consecutive wins in all competitions behind us, it felt like the corner had been turned after an indifferent start; but those thoughts were soon dispelled as we were second best in all departments to our visitors.

 

Just like last week, we were a goal down inside the opening five minutes as a clipped ball over the top found Henry Muggeridge and he controlled it well, turned and fired past Gary Ross.

 

Unlike last week, we were unable to hit back immediately - and fell further behind on twelve minutes when the impressive Javaun Splatt powered down the left flank, broke into the box and powered the ball in from a tight angle.

 

Tooting were understandably shellshocked, and on fifteen minutes Eric Mbangui brought down Stephen Okoh leaving referee Rhys Battye with no option but to award a spot-kick. Splatt stepped up and struck a firm penalty, but Ross dived full-length to his left to make a fine save.

 

Any hopes of a reprieve were soon dashed, however, when an overhit back pass left Daryl Coleman in no-man’s-land; he was robbed by Splatt who ran on un-challenged to slot past Ross and make amends for his penalty failure.

 

The Hawks were visibly growing in confidence now - winning every aerial challenge, being first to every loose-ball - and even started introducing party tricks such as back-heels and fancy flicks as we were being given a footballing lesson on our own turf.

 

In truth, it could easily have been more before half-time as Omarr Lawson set Okoh free and his goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Daryl, showing good pace to get back in time.

 

HT : T&MU 0 Whitehawk 3

 

Whatever the managers said to the players at the break, it clearly had some effect as the Terrors came out with renewed determination at the start of the second period. Peter Wedgeworth galloped down the left and had a sniff of a chance from a tight angle but Nathan Stromberg in the visitor’s goal pushed the ball out on the first occasion he’d really been tested. Daniel Williams was starting to get into things down the flanks, and he whipped in a useful looking cross that deflected into Stromberg’s chest.

 

When the usually deadly Andrew Sesay got away from his marker and onto a long ball through the middle, it looked as if we were finally going to get on the scoresheet but he wasn’t able to keep his shot down and another chance had gone begging.

 

Ten minutes into the half we had our clearest opening yet - Williams got clear down the right and measured a lovely ball into the six-yard box; Mark Waters got a firm header on it but Stromberg somehow managed to get down low and make a stunning one handed save from the downward header to preserve his clean sheet.

 

Having been unable to take any of those chances, it seemed inevitable that the Hawks would punish us again, and they did just that with their first real attack of the half on the hour mark; James Fraser timed his delivery perfectly to free Okoh for a clear shot at goal, and he duly made it 4-0, to end any hopes we had of a dramatic comeback.

 

We did manage to keep up our improved showing after that, though it looked like we were fated to end the afternoon with a blank in our offence column when Stromberg pushed Williams’ 75th minute penalty onto a post; the spot-kick having been awarded when substitute Malachi Cole was up-ended on the edge of the box.

 

But Waters’ long-range drive seven minutes from time did find it’s way past the keeper, denying him a shutout and giving the home fans something to cheer on a day when we exited another knockout competition; in time-honoured fashion, we can at least now say we are ‘concentrating on the league’.

 

T&MU : Ross, Mbangui, Waters, Belford, Brissett, Coleman, Williams, Nunes, Moco (Cole 70”), Sesay (Krokhin 64”), Wedgeworth (Ceesay 61”).

SUBS NOT USED : al-Haidery, Campbell, Fearon.

Attendance : 288

 

Saturday 2nd October 2021                                        Tooting & Mitcham United 7 Northwood 3

 

As the heavens opened in the skies above Imperial Fields, so the floodgates opened on the pitch below, resulting in a ten goal extravaganza and another three point haul for the Terrors to continue our surge up the table.

 

Northwood arrived having shipped seven goals at home to league leaders Uxbridge in their last outing a week prior, and looked short on confidence early on as we spurned two good opportunities to take the lead in the opening five minutes.

 

First - with little more than a minute gone -  Andrew Sesay got away down the right, beat his marker and laid the ball across the six-yard box for the arriving Daniel Williams who managed to send a toe-poked effort toward goal, only for keeper Montel Joseph to save with his legs.

 

A minute or so later it was Jamarie Brissett’s turn to show his pace down the opposite flank; he cut inside, headed for the edge of the box, opened his body and attempted to guide a measured strike in at the far post but just drifted it wide.

 

It was an encouraging start, yet after eight minutes it was the visitors who went in front with their first attack of the match. Matt Ayres made space for himself in a crowded penalty area, and hit a firm strike which Morgan Campbell parried, but the loose ball fell to Connor Cullen who buried it.

 

The home crowd were stunned into silence, and could have been forgiven for thinking it was going to be another one of ‘those’ afternoons, but thankfully we had little time to let negative thoughts creep in as Sesay picked up a nice pass from Dean Hamlin midway inside the Northwood half and unleashed an unstoppable drive from twenty yards out that flew into the top corner.

 

Almost immediately, a corner headed down gave Hamlin a chance but he was unable to keep his shot down and fired over the bar.

 

It didn’t take long for the Terrors to go in front though, as Ollie Bennett broke up Northwood’s possession just outside their own penalty area, and laid it off for Brissett who curled in another beauty from distance.

 

But all that good work was undone shortly after, as William Dupray took advantage of being given the freedom of the Tooting six yard box and tapped in the equaliser from a left wing cross; 2-2, and we’d barely reached the quarter hour mark!

 

On twenty-six minutes we breathed a sigh of relief when a Northwood corner caught on the wind, wrongfooted Campbell, but fortunately caught the top of the bar and went over.

 

We had a shout for a penalty shortly after when Brissett tried his luck down the right flank this time, and drove a ball into the box which hit some part of Arnold Linturn’s anatomy; the Tooting players and fans thought it was his hand, but the referee indicated it was the shoulder, and no spot-kick was forthcoming.

 

It didn’t matter though as ten minutes before the break, Mark waters exchanged passes with Sesay and set off into the area for an inch-perfect return which he buried across the keeper in at the far post for a slender half--time lead.

 

HT : T&MU 3 Northwood 2

 

We came out all guns blazing at the start of the second period, and Montel Joseph had to be alert to make a fine save as he palmed Ollie Bennet’s long-range drive around the post in the opening minutes.

 

The Terrors kept the pressure on and took a two goal lead for the first time ten minutes in; Ahkeem Belford played the ball forward, Daniel Williams laid a delightful ball into the path of Sesay who gleefully buried his second past an increasingly beleaguered Joseph. A minute later, Sesay returned the favour and Williams touched in his cross to make it 5-2.

 

Another ten minutes passed, and it was 6-2; Wedgeworth’s cross from the left eluded everyone, Jamarie retrieved it on the right and laid it off to Mark Waters who tried another curler from the edge of the box. Joseph could only parry the effort, and it bounced up for Sesay to head in his hat-trick.

 

Northwood’s heads had dropped now, and Belford set up Williams for his second as Dan controlled his ball into the area, showed cheeky footwork to leave two defenders floundering - and stroked home his second to complete the home scoring.

 

It wasn’t the last addition to the scoresheet though, Shakeel Morris slotted in number three for the Woods with time running out; but was little consolation for them  on another afternoon when they’d been comprehensively beaten. With this win, Tooting moved into the top half of the table for the first time this campaign - and will hope this is the catalyst for more consistent form in the months ahead.

 

T&MU : Campbell, Hamlin, Waters, Krokhin (Mbangui 46”), Belford, Brissett, Williams, Bennett, Moco (Nunes 69”), Sesay (Ceesay 72”), Wedgeworth.

SUBS NOT USED : Fearon, Garvey-Williams.

 

Saturday 11th September 2021                    T&MUFC 4 Redbridge 1 (London Senior Cup, 1st Round)

 

After a disappointing start to our season, things finally kicked into gear with a four goal blast within the opening half an hour as we opened our defence of the London Senior Cup with a bang.

 

Redbridge arrived at Imperial Fields top of the Essex Senior League, and with a 100% away record. Although they had reportedly made a number of changes to their last starting eleven, this is exactly the sort of opposition we have struggled to impose ourselves on in the past, so it was heartening to witness a performance and scoreline that accurately represented the gulf between the teams.

 

Besides, we were without several key players ourselves, and made a few changes to keep the team fresh ahead of an important midweek league battle with neighbours Chipstead.

 

In came ‘cup keeper’ Morgan Campbell to give Gary Ross an afternoon off between the posts, and with club captain Daryl Coleman out for a few weeks, Nikolai Krokhin was given another chance to show what he can do, as was academy graduate Pedro Moco in the middle of the park.

 

The team settled quickly, and stamped their authority on the game inside the very first minute; a long ball through the middle saw visiting goalkeeper Joshua Chebesi make a hash of his clearance, and left Daniel Williams with a tap-in for his second goal of the season.

 

Just two minutes later, a corner from the right caused further confusion in the Redbridge defence and following a game of head-tennis in the six yard box, Nathan D’Hoye was relieved to clear the danger by heading over the bar.

 

Buoyed by the early goal, the home side were settling nicely into a slick passing game, and some good work from Peter Wedgeworth on the left followed by a flick on from Ollie Bennett seemed to give Williams another shooting chance, but this time the harassed visiting defence managed to crowd him out.

 

Ahkeem Belford launched a long ball out of defence, and Andrew Seesay showed good pace and strength to beat his man, but somewhat overhit the cross with attackers expecting a shorter ball, and the move came to nothing. It was all Tooting at this stage though, and we were still inside the first ten minutes!

 

On the ten minute mark, Anuar Cesay got away from his marker with some quick footwork down the right, and cut the ball back inch-perfectly for the advancing Mark Waters who drove home number two from the edge of the area, giving Chebesi no chance this time. It was no more than the hosts deserved for such a powerful opening.

 

As the Terrors drove forward again from the restart, Seesay once again showed good feet just inside the box, but this time he was chopped down and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

 

Daniel Williams took on the responsibility of a task that hasn’t always been as straightforward for us as it should appear, but his kick was cool and accurate and he stroked home the third.

 

On twenty-six minutes, another piercing through ball bisected the visitor’s defence, and Williams seized onto it as the keeper advanced, missed his kick, and allowed Dan to complete his hat-trick with ease.

 

The tie was effectively over as a contest, even at this relatively early stage, and the shellshocked visitors finally managed to relax a bit and put their game together. Ocsar Shelvey won the ball in the middle of the park and set Farah Shakur away down the right, but with a range of options in the penalty area he elected to go for goal himself and his effort from a tight angle did not trouble Campbell in the Tooting goal.

 

HT : T&MU 4 Redbridge 0

 

Having scored within sixty seconds of the start, we almost repeated the trick in the second period as Anuar Ceesay powered down the right once again, bamboozled his marker with fancy footwork and drove into the penalty area where he unleashed a thumping effort from a tight angle that just cleared the angle of post and bar. It served notice that we were in no mood to lighten up as the afternoon progressed.

 

Minutes later Andrew Sesay broke through the middle, and tried to lift it over Chebesi as he advanced, but the keeper managed to block the effort over the bar.

 

Redbridge were creating more themselves by this stage though and a decent run by Herman Mwanza saw him beat Dean Hamlin, but once inside the area he was not able to keep his shot down and slashed it wildly high and wide when well placed.

 

Ahkeem Belford had to be alert to snuff out the danger after a good passing move between Darnell Bromfield and Sak Hassan threatened damage once again, and Ibrahim Kehinde found himself clear of the defence on the hour mark but failed to take advantage and hit his shot weakly at Campbell.

 

It was a good spell by the visitors, and Nikolai Krokhin showed a cool head to dispossess Kehinde inside the area when a mistimed challenge could have given away a penalty. From the resulting corner, the Redbridge striker got a firm head on the ball but headed it just over; it was the closest the visitors had come though as they sought something tangible from the afternoon.

 

As the game wound down, Wedgeworth curled a free-kick just past the post and substitute Carlos Simao caused havoc with his first involvement when he outsmarted a defender and played the ball back to Ollie Bennett whose shot was well held by Chebesi.

 

In injury-time, the visitors grabbed a consolation and denied Campbell his clean-sheet when Kehinde got some reward for his endeavours by lifting the ball over the advancing keeper. It was merely an addendum to the record books though, as we ran out comfortable winners and hopefully can build on this momentum in the weeks ahead.

 

T&MU : Campbell, Hamlin, Waters, Krokhin, Belford, Moco, Williams (Akinnibi 62”), Bennett, Cesay (Simao 75”), Sesay, Wedgeworth (Bassett 71”).

SUBS NOT USED : Appoh, Garvey-Williams.

 

Att. : 168

 

 


Saturday 27th August 2021                    T&MUFC 1 Thatcham Town 2 (League)

 

A goal either side of the half-time break gave the visitors a smash-and-grab victory at Imperial Fields, and continued our miserable start to the campaign.

 

Following departure from the FA Cup, and an opening day humbling in the league, it was to be hoped that the first home fixture would see us finally get things off the ground.

 

But despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the opening period we struggled to create any real openings, and when Thatcham capitalised on confusion in the home defence to take the lead just before the break there was an air of inevitability to all that followed.

 

Things might have been different if we had managed to make an early breakthrough and we nearly managed to do just that in the 12th minute when the impressive Anuar Ceesay got to the byline and sent in a good deep cross that Carlos Simao got a glancing header on but Chris Rackley in the visitor’s goal scrambled the ball round the post.

 

There was another half-chance following a corner just before the half-hour; Peter Wedgeworth’s ball in was unconvincingly punched out by Rackley and fell nicely for Daniel Williams but he was unable to get sufficient power in his effort and hit it straight back at the keeper.

 

In between those chances, Gary Ross had to be alert to keep out Alex Miller’s shot with his legs, after good work from Lamin Ceesay down the visitor’s right flank but five minutes before the break, Tooting failed to clear a ball into the area and Balai Dembele slotted the loose ball past Ross to open the scoring.

 

HT : T&M 0 Thatcham Town 1

 

It was to be hoped that the interval would enable us to settle down, and start putting the visitors under pressure but five minutes into the second period, a corner was not dealt with and the ball fell to William Edwards on the far side of the penalty area. He didn’t have much to aim at but from a tight angle somehow managed to squeeze in a shot that deceived Ross at his near post and left us with a mountain to climb.

 

The Terrors responded by bringing on Andrew Sesay and things looked more promising as, with his first touch of the ball, he sent a stunning curling effort in from the edge of the box that halved the deficit.

 

With still more than thirty minutes to play that looked as if it could be the precursor to greater things and the visitors started to look a little rattled as some good passing and possession allied to more noise from the crowd gave us all a lift.

 

But we were still struggling to find a decisive final ball, and Thatcham broke out of their stupor to almost restore their two goal advantage with twenty minutes left.

 

A corner from the right fell to Andrew Gunn who hit it well, but the ball struck the underside of the bar and bounced out to safety to the collective relief of most inside the ground.

 

We were unable to capitalise on the reprieve, though, and despite Sesay attempting to replicate his earlier goal with another curled effort, this time the ball cleared the crossbar and as the game entered the last ten minutes, raggedness crept into our play once again.

 

Indeed, if there was to be further scoring in the game, it looked as if the visitors might be more likely to produce it as substitute Bradley Pagliaroli had a chance to wrap things up late on but lofted his shot over.

 

But when the dust had settled, it was another fruitless afternoon as the Terrors slumped to the foot of the fledgling table.

 

T&MU : Ross, Ceesay, Hamlin, Waters, Garvey-Williams, Belford, Bennett, Coleman, Williams (Dixon 58”), Simao (Sesay 53”), Wedgeworth (Brissett 59”).

SUBS NOT USED : Turbe, Campbell.

 

Saturday 7th August 2021                     T&MUFC 1 Erith & Belvedere 1 (FA Cup, extra preliminary round) 

 

The Terrors face a tricky replay after an incident-packed match finished with honours even at Imperial Fields.

 

Both sides will probably feel they should have won at the first time of asking, as chances were created in abundance by each, but in the cold light of day a draw was probably a fair result.

 

The match started at a fast pace and, although the hosts enjoyed the bulk of possession, we met a visiting defence who stood firm and resilient and looked to take every opportunity to hit us on the break.

 

Morgan Campbell was the busier keeper in the opening exchanges and was forced into two eye-catching saves as the half progressed; firstly when Henry Dasofunjo played a searching through ball which was seized on by the lively Ollie Bate and Campbell did well to make a save down low.

 

Midway through the half the powerful Dean McDonald flicked a ball on towards the penalty area and Dasofunjo had the shooting opportunity this time which Campbell was able to parry.

 

The home side were producing some nice passing in the middle of the park, but with the visitors defending in depth we were restricted to long-range efforts. Nevertheless, we did threaten from a couple of these - notably when Mark Waters got away down the right and cut the ball back for Daniel Williams on the edge of the area, who curled a shot just wide. It was Williams again shortly afterward who almost broke the deadlock, as he met a Tom Jelley cross with a powerful volley from a similar position that just cleared the bar.

 

A goal looked imminent - at either end - and it was the visitors who registered it just past the half-hour when Drew Allesani bisected the defence with a searching through ball, Ollie Bate seized on it and showed a cool head to slip it past the advancing Campbell.

 

HT : T&MU 0 Erith & Belvedere 1

 

Daryl Coleman had limped his way through the end of the first half, after picking up a knock from a heavy challenge, and he was replaced at the break by towering defender Nikolai Krokhin, who has looked very impressive in his pre-season outings.

 

And it was the new boy who very nearly dragged the Terrors level just three minutes into the second period. Jake Rose floated over a free-kick, and the big man climbed highest in the penalty area to power a header goalwards but, unfortunately, just over the bar.

 

Academy graduate Kevin Turbi is another who made his mark in the friendlies, and he showed a confident head to strike firmly from distance a few minutes later but, again, the ball was just too high.

 

In the fifty-third minute, we came the closest yet to an equaliser as Andrew Sesay got away down the left, powered his way into the penalty area and, despite having his shirt pulled as he did so, managed to scramble the ball across the six yard box. Dontai Stewart couldn’t control but it ran on and Williams’ shot came back off the post.

 

It looked only a matter of time until the Terrors found an equaliser but when it came in the sixty-fifth minute, we needed a helping hand from our guests. Mark Waters had had a shot deflected for a corner from which a dangerous ball in was clearly handled by Allasani. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Jake Rose restored parity with a coolly taken penalty.

 

Tooting tails were up, and Sesay’s turn and shot in the penalty area was well held by visiting keeper Rilwan Anibaba, though the flag was up in any case so it wouldn’t have counted.

 

A great run by Anuar Ceesay saw the youngster break into the box, but his footwork was so mesmerising he fooled even himself, and ended up over-running it!

 

As the game entered the final twenty minutes both sides continued to search for a winner, and Williams turned provider this time as his cross was met by Sesay’s head; it looked in, but Anibaba turned it around the post with the best of his many saves so far, and the subsequent corner came to nothing.

 

Erith were now being pushed back, though showed they were still dangerous when Morgan Campbell had to be alert to hold onto an effort by Dasofunjo, and then come out to punch clear when the visitors threatened again a minute later.

 

With the minutes ticking away, Sesay once again broke in from the left, and stumbled as he entered the area, yet still managed to bobble the ball across to Stewart who thundered an effort which hit the bar, came down, and bounced out again. The referee waved play on and, to be fair, it looked the right decision as Tooting appeals for a goal were minimal.

 

With five minutes of injury time played, it looked like the last chance had gone, but Kevin Turbi had other ideas and charged forward to unleash a piledriver from just inside the Erith half; he managed to impart impressive power in his effort, and Anibaba  - although taken by surprise - just managed to palm the ball away. The whistle was blown shortly after, and both teams must do it all again in a bid to meet AFC Croydon Athletic in the next round.

 

T&MU : Campbell, Jelley (Fearon 78”), Ceesay, Waters, Turbi, Belford, Sesay, Coleman (Krokhin 45”), Williams (Dixon 87”), Rose, Stewart. SUBS NOT USED : Moco, Appoh, Simao, Manley.

Att. : 248