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