MATCH REPORTS JANUARY 2024
Colliers Wood United 1-2 T&MU
Combined Counties Premier Division (south), Wednesday 24 January 2024
Tooting finally got a first match of 2024 under our belts, and shrugged off the frustrations of so many recent weeks to record our first victory since the dying days of October, picking up a more than welcome three points.
The match was won by a brace from Shay Brennan, both coming during the first-half, and - despite some jitters which led to a late reply for the hosts, plenty of cards (including a red for Dej Adeosun) and visits to the ‘Sin Bin’ - the Terrors just about held on to the victory.
A revitalised Colliers Wood, recent victors at Imperial Fields, started brightly and carved out a couple of early half-chances, one of which drew a good save from Jack Minchin. But Tooting settled down as the half progressed and went in front just past the half-hour when Shay was on hand to stroke home after some nice movement and a pinpoint cut-back to the striker.
Just before the break, it was two as the skipper measured a beautiful right-foot volley into the net following a corner.
But we never make it easy for ourselves, and as the match entered the final period, with the Wood plugging away diligently but offering little in the way of tangible threat, things took a turn for the worse as Deji saw red for dissent. This led to some unseemly scuffles, cards being waved around, players sent to the ‘Sin Bin’ for a temporary wind-down, and a renewed sense of purpose for the home side.
They were slightly fortunate to receive a penalty for hand-ball, when it seemed more a case of ball-to-hand after being struck with some power, but Jack Minchin saved well - as he had from the same opposition roughly a month ago. However, on that occasion they managed to scramble the ball home as it rebounded from Minchin’s save and the same happened again here - Kacper Nozka credited with the final touch which forced the ball into the net.
Thankfully, heads were kept in the few minutes that remained as Andy O’Brien marshalled the defence through the dregs of the match to an important victory.
Match report by Ed Parlett
T&MU 5-0 Fleet Town
Combined Counties Premier Division (south), Saturday 27 January 2024
The Terrors continued their explosive start to the new calendar year with a clinical dismantling of one of the form teams in the division to make it back-to-back wins for the first time since October, and rekindle optimism around Imperial Fields, just when it seemed to be diminishing rapidly.
The visitors arrived in south London having won six of their last seven matches to move onto the fringes of play-off contention, and looked confident and well-organised early on. After a fairly cagey opening, Fleet stepped up a gear to force Jack Minchin into saving well from a cross-shot which might have deceived him. Appeals for a penalty shortly after were met with a shake of the head (the referee) and sarcastic jeering (the BogEnd), but at this stage, it looked like we had a tough afternoon on our hands.
It seemed like things would get a little easier on 24 minutes, when recent signing Lolu Ojo showed good trickery down the left flank, cut inside leaving his marker for dead, and sent an inch-perfect ball across for Shay Brennan (who else?) to convert first-time from roughly level with the penalty spot.
There was still little indication of what was to come as Fleet enjoyed plenty of possession, put together some nice passing movement, but were being frustrated by a Terrors defence marshalled superbly by Andy O’Brien.
At the start of the second half, the visitors looked to step up their efforts but the Tooting defence continued to hold firm and look for an opportunity to hit them with a quick counter.
This presented itself twenty minutes into the second period, when the hosts broke out of defence with Mario Quiassaca leading the charge. The big man flicked the ball neatly past his marker, and infield to his skipper whose first shot was blocked by keeper Joel Halliday, but the rebound was gleefully buried with aplomb to double the advantage.
Fleet were suddenly on the back-foot, as confidence soared in the home ranks and just five minutes later it was three when Andy O’Brien headed powerfully home from a free-kick, giving Halliday no chance.
There was little respite now as Tooting expelled all their frustrations of recent times, and went for the throat. O’Brien smashed his second and the Terrors’ fourth with a powerful strike from just inside the box after the ball had pinged around following a free-kick, and Shay completed another hat-trick (and took his total for the season to 26 league goals) by finishing off a flowing move with another clinical finish. It was the perfect end to a perfect afternoon - the challenge now will be to keep this sort of form going into forthcoming fixtures and see where it takes us.
Match report by Ed Parlett