MATCH REPORTS MARCH 2022
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