February round up! by Edward Parlett
It has been a trying few weeks for T&MUFC. We entered the month with some optimism, sitting in sixth place, just six points off the leaders Ware with three games in hand.
Waltham Abbey arrived on the first Saturday as a team in form, and high on confidence. They had won four of their last six, with only one defeat in that sequence, and had crept ahead of us into fifth albeit having played three games more. An impressive performance from the Terrors, somewhat aided by a helping hand from the visiting ‘keeper Charlie Crowley, resulted in a 3-0 victory and three points that took us up to fourth, handily placed to make a title challenge. Sol Patterson-Bohner was officially credited with the opening goal, although it looked to some in the crowd as if Crowley had punched it into his own net. Two second half strikes from Danny Bassett sealed the points and took his tally of league goals for the season to twelve.
With the mood in the camp high, we took our undefeated away record to Bedfont Sports three days later but fell to a disappointing 0-2 defeat. The performance wasn’t too bad; we had plenty of possession but couldn’t take our chances, and two somewhat fortunate strikes sealed our fate - the first took a wicked deflection that gave James Shaw no chance, the second a speculative cross-shot that looped over our trusty custodian. To compound a miserable evening, we lost Ahkeem Belford to injury midway through the half, enabling us to get a first glimpse of new signing Ermis Mezini who acquitted himself well in the circumstances.
On the following Saturday we had the perfect opportunity to put that result behind us as we entertained FA Vase holders, Chertsey Town. With memories fresh in the mind of our 5-0 away win against the same opposition just before Christmas, we set about the task with some vigour and as we left the field at half-time a goal to the good (courtesy of that man Bassett again) the only question seemed to be : what would be the margin of our victory? Unfortunately, the second period was a different story; within the space of eight minutes around the hour mark, the visitors had established a 2-1 lead and, try as we might, an equaliser never looked likely.
With Storm Dennis predicted to batter the country the following weekend, the fixture list was somewhat depleted as games fell to the elements. However, our visit to high-flying Ware was very much on - thanks to their artificial surface. Despite the wind and rain making conditions difficult, our boys adapted better to the circumstances and, once again, left the field at the break a goal to the good. One of last season’s heroes, Stefan Illic, marked his return from Lewes by finishing off a good move down the left by Razzaq Coleman. We had the opportunity to extend this advantage, but a slightly dubious penalty decision given in our favour resulted in the Ware ‘keeper, Calum Kitscha, saving well from Danny Bassett, who put the rebound over the bar. We continued to give a good account of ourselves after the break, but it was the home side who drew level when Leigh Rose netted on the hour. An entertaining last period saw both sides having chances to win it, but both seemed to have settled for a point when Joshua Williams broke Tooting hearts with an 86th minute winner, to return the hosts to the top of the table. The performance had been encouraging though, with even the official Ware website acknowledging that we had been unlucky on the day.
With the effects of the storm still in evidence, our Tuesday night trip to South Park was postponed (again) so our next outing saw us make the long journey out to the far end of the District Line to take on Barking. Despite TfL’s best efforts to thwart the attendance, a sizable contingent of travelling fans found their way to the stadium and provided a raucous atmosphere throughout. Unfortunately, the team were unable to replicate the previous week’s efforts and fell to their fourth successive loss. Once again, the lead was established - this time through impressive new signing Daniel Williams - before the home side hit back to take the points.
Ordinarily that would have been it for the month but as we are in a leap-year, we had the chance to be part of a statistical anomaly with a rare game scheduled for 29th February; Bracknell Town were due to visit Imperial Fields for only the third game played on this date in our history, and the first at home. Sadly it was not to be as, once again, heavy rain the previous evening added to an already substantial amount of surface water, rendering the pitch unplayable. Unsurprisingly, the only matches to go ahead in the division were on the 3G pitches at Ware and Harlow Town.
So we move on. March sees us face a challenging set of fixtures. We should finally make a dent in our games in hand, with Tuesday matches scheduled throughout the month. First up, on the 3rd, is a trip to Westfield – the first of a double-header with them as they come to Imperial Fields on Saturday 14th. Between those encounters, we journey to second placed Hanwell and then to South Park. After the Westfield home game, Harlow visit us on Saturday 21st, and we round off the month with trips to Bracknell (Tuesday 24th) and Uxbridge (Saturday 28th).
Elsewhere in the division, the title race looks now like a straight fight between Ware and Hanwell, both of whom enjoyed a strong February to distance themselves from the chasing pack. While we may have had a poor run ourselves, spare a thought for Northwood whose defeats in February to Chertsey, Bedfont and Ware took their sequence of losses to eleven in a row! Happily for them, they rounded off the month by edging past Marlow 1-0, to lift themselves above Staines and off the bottom; it was a result that also pleased the Terrors as Marlow had crept to within three points of us and in sight of a play-off place themselves, so it was pleasing that they were kept at bay.
League announces that games called off for this weekend and throughout the week
The club can confirm that the league has announced that this weekends games will be postponed due to the risk Coronavirus as well as any mid-week games next week.
Full league statement available here
Important - Club announcement
Covid 19/Coronavirus update-
Following the Government and Football Association announcement yesterday Tooting & Mitcham Community Sports Club facilities are open for educational purposes only at this time.
All other activity is cancelled until further notice
Important - League announcement
The club can confirm that the league have confirmed postponement to all games until the 3rd April The Isthmian League Board also met yesterday by video conference and agreed that all matches, including the Development League, the Youth League and Cup, The Women’s Cup and the Velocity Trophy be suspended until that date.
You can read the full statement here
Latest league update
The club have received a statement from the league, who met to discuss the plans for the end of the season, player contracts and also government support To read the statement from the league, follow this link
Statement from chair Caroline McRoyall
The decision the FA and the League have had to make to end the league now is a difficult one, but the right one, due to the various issues with player contracts/payments and end of season pitch renovations etc. All the debate about how to end the league, will have many different views, but for Tooting & Mitcham, any outcome would have left us in the same division next season.
For the club personally, it was a huge shame football stopped when it did as we were just turning a corner. New players had settled in and we got an amazing result at Hanwell, however it cannot be helped and there are much more important things to worry about now.
So let's take this time away from football to remember the great games of the past, and look forward to another season of building the foundations of the club and growing the fan base, whilst striving to get promoted. Hopefully, we can start the season as we did last year and as long as we avoid the dip in form we suffered this year, we will be unstoppable.
Please note the decision also includes development leagues including the under 23s and the under 18s.
Tooting & Mitcham United FC ask fans to show their support in the fight against the Coronavirus and volunteer with their local authority if they are able to;
Club Coach, Warren Andrews has been shopping for the elderly in his area and Chair of Tooting & Mitcham, Caroline McRoyall has been collecting and delivering prescriptions for vulnerable adults close to her home.
So let’s all unite behind this cause and if you can help or know someone that needs help please see the details below;
How Do I Get Help?
Merton - If a person requires help, you can ask them to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8685 2272
Wandsworth - If you or someone you know needs this support, please contact 0208 871 6555 or email@example.com
How Do I Volunteer?
Merton - If you are able to volunteer, or know someone that wants to volunteer, please contact the volunteer taskforce at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wandsworth -If you want to help please do so by registering through our online form, your details will be passed to other relevant voluntary groups helping with the coronavirus response.
If you want to help please do so by registering through our online form, your details will be passed to other relevant voluntary groups helping with the coronavirus response.
How can I donate?
The Merton Giving Coronavirus Fund
The Fund will provide monetary grants to charities working locally to help support volunteers to help isolated households and those at risk from COVID-19.