MATCH REPORTS NOVEMBER 2023
Cobham 2 T&MU 2
An entertaining game on a crisp, autumnal afternoon, ended in honours even with both sides probably feeling they’d done enough to secure all three points.
Cobham looked a far better outfit than their lowly position suggested, and were particularly dangerous from set pieces. From one of these, twenty minutes in, they went in front as a simple far post corner was not dealt with by the Terrors defence, and Ryan Marklew rose to head in unchallenged.
It had been fairly even to that point, with the Terrors looking dangerous on the flanks, but the game threatened to get away from us a few minutes after the goal when our hosts were awarded a penalty following a coming together inside the box which looked fairly innocuous from the other end of the field.
Derick Heyford stepped up to take the kick, and although he didn’t strike it as firmly as he would have liked, it still needed saving and Tom Theobald did just that down low to his left to keep the deficit at one.
We began to edge our way back into the game and skipper Shay Brennan did well to get a shot in from the left-hand side of the box which was deflected inches wide of the post, the resulting corner coming to nothing.
Nathan Best showed good skills to engineer a shooting chance on the edge of the area, but dragged his effort wide as half-time approached.
It looked as if we’d be trailing at the break, when Theo and Deji worked the ball upfield and Shay outpaced his marker, getting to the ball just before advancing keeper Rourke Pickford and angling it past him stylishly.
We could still have gone in behind, though, as with the last action of the half, home striker Reis Stanislaus collected the ball just inside the area and drove a firm shot goalwards, only for Theo to deny him with a superb one-handed save up high to his left.
Sid Dack made a welcome return to the starting eleven, and a trademark pinpoint cross from him, seven minutes into the second period, allowed Shay to net with a fine volley and put us in front for the first time in the game.
The next goal was crucial; had we got it (and we had chances) we would surely have eased away to victory, but credit to Cobham who plugged away and twice went close to an equaliser (Theo made another fine save to foil Derick Heyford, and Reis Stanislaus twice headed wide when well-placed) before they made it 2-2 on 68 minutes as Stanislaus finally got one on target, heading in following another corner.
When Rhys Paul saw red for the home side fifteen minutes from the end, following a cynical challenge on Blake Loyza on the edge of the area, it looked set up for Tooting to nab a late winner - yet Heyford went closest in the final minute, blazing wide when unmarked close in.
T&MU 1 Redhill 5
We endured a torrid afternoon, as Redhill underlined their play-off credentials with a resounding triumph at Imperial Fields.
The visitors arrived on the back of a five match unbeaten run as one of the in-form teams in the division, and left without having been seriously troubled by a strangely toothless Tooting side.
Redhill started confidently, and forced Tom Theobald into a couple of early saves. They should have led on the quarter hour mark when Rhys Wyborn was given time and space in the penalty area, but could only shoot wide of the target.
Unfortunately, that did not signal a reprieve for the Terrors, and the damage was done in the last twenty minutes of the half as the Lobsters rattled in four goals without reply.
First, on 24 minutes, a stylish one-two down the right flank resulted in Fin Roberts firing confidently past Theo, and they doubled their lead little more than a minute later as Tyrese Sutherland’s speculative cross-shot eluded Tom and snuck in at the far post.
Tooting were shellshocked, and fell further behind sx minutes later; Rhys Wyborn played a lovely pass inside Callum Porteous and Adam Grant slotted effortlessly home.
It was four two minutes before half-time, as Fin Roberts scored his second of the afternoon following a powerful run down the right, and a powerful finish into the top corner.
One imagines the paint was peeling off the dressing room walls during the interval as the management team delivered their verdict to the players. At least the Terrors gave a better account of themselves in the second 45 - they could hardly have been much worse - although there was probably an element of Redhill easing off a little knowing the job was all but done.
Shawn Lyle’s deflected effort looked to have given us something for our improved play, but the referee had seen some infringement and ruled it out. Then, with twenty minutes left, substitute Nathan Best showed good skills to engineer a shooting chance on the edge of the box, and curled an effort toward the top corner which keeper Luke Wynne-Roberts spectacularly palmed away with a superb one-handed save.
Redhill rubbed salt in the wound by breaking up the other end immediately, and scoring a fifth through Tyrese Sutherland’s second of the afternoon; Shay Brennan did get us on the scoresheet in the last minute with a lovely turn and finish from the edge of the area but it was far too little, far too late, to have any bearing on the result.
T&MU 0 Epsom & Ewell 3
We paid our respects before the game on Remembrance Day, but it was a match to forget as Tooting fell to a disappointing home defeat.
Although it was undoubtedly a below-par display by the Terrors, the scoreline was a little generous to our visitors as the match turned on two key second-half incidents.
Firstly, in the opening minutes of the seond period, Jayden Hutchings received his marching orders for an offence that, in truth, a lot of referees would have seen fit to deem only worthy of a yellow card; maybe the reaction to the incident from the visiting players influenced the match official, but a similar incident in the first period had been dealt with in a more lenient fashion.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the affair, Tooting had responded reasonably well to the challenge of playing a man light. Yet the footballing fates conspired against us again to gift the visitors a second goal moments after we’d come so close to getting back on level terms.
That move, started by substitute Callum Porteous who picked a stylish pass upfield to send fellow sub Nathan Best away down the right was almost finished off by topscorer Shay Brennan who had advanced to the edge of the area to collect Nathan’s pass before shooting away from the already-diving goalkeeper Harvey Keogh. Keogh had gone to his right, and Shay sent the ball to the opposite corner but the luck was with the visitors as the ball struck Keogh’s feet and rebounded kindly for a defender to clear.
A goal then, with just over ten minutes to play, would have almost certainly galvanised us - and might have even led to a late winner. Instead, seconds later, Sam Orisatoki found himself in the left-back position and, under pressure from a visiting forward, elected to pass back to Tom Theobald and give him the chance to clear downfield instead. Unfortunately for Tom, a bobble just as he went to strike it carried the ball away from him, toward the goal, and despite his frantic efforts to get back and hack it off the line, the referee deemed that it had crossed and awarded the goal.
With heads down, Epsom’s third goal - a nicely worked move neatly finished off by substitute Luke Miller, it must be acknowledged - merely rubbed salt into our wounds, and gave the visitors a slightly more convincing scoreline than the game merited; they had opened the scoring during an even first half when a corner swung in under the bar was headed down by Oliver Thompson and finished off by Tijani Eshilokum from about six inches.
Despite all our efforts, Shay’s near-miss was the only real chance we carved out all afternoon, which is a worry.
Cray Wanderers 4 T&MU 2
London Senior Cup (sponsored by Veo) Round 1, Wednesday 8 November 2023
Defeated - but by no means disgraced against a team two divisions higher, the Terrors exited the London Senior Cup after a battling display in south east London in which we overturned a half-time deficit to lead early in the second period, but could not hold on for a memorable result.
The Isthmian League Premier Division side started strongly, and carved out a couple of chances in the opening ten minutes that were comfortably dealt with by Tom Theobald. They then had the ball in the net, but Gary Lockyer’s close-range effort was disallowed for offside.
They were in front on thirteen minutes though, as former Terror Antonio Dembele got away down the right and his ball into the centre was guided home by the head of Yahya Bamba.
Bamba almost got his and Cray’s second minutes later, but steered his shot just wide of the post.
Tooting began to play their way into the game, and Shaun Rowley in the home goal held a firm shot from Nathan Best, before Lewis Gonsalves had a shooting chance inside the box, which was blocked off by a defender. It was developing into an even, entertaining game.
Some neat interplay between Marcus Whittaker and Kieran Campbell led to the latter curling a chance inches wide of the post, and Blake Loyza went even closer, slicing a shot just wide as half-time approached; we were definitely in the game.
Twelve minutes into the second half, we were not just in the game - we were in the lead!
On 55 minutes, Cameron Black was adjudged to have brought down Kieran Campbell and the tall striker picked himself up, dusted himself down, and confidently stroked home his fourth spot-kick of the season.
Two minutes later, the tie was turned on its head as Blake Loyza worked himself some space in the penalty area and slotted comfortably home from 12 yards.
The hosts stepped up their efforts, pushing the Terrors back, and we responded to the challenge - defending calmly and with confidence and looking to hit the home side on the break.
With twenty minutes to go, Cray were back on terms and the tie was delicately poised again; Yahya Bamba went on a run, burst into the box and lofted the ball over Tom Theobald’s head as the keeper advanced.
Just as Tooting had bagged two in quick succession, so did Cray as Gary Lockyer won the ball inside a crowded penalty area and forced home their third.
It was still anybody’s game, although Lockyer hit the post shortly after, but as time ticked away, and Tooting pressed, Nyren Clunis added a fourth to finally end our brave effort.