Saturday 29th January                                        Tooting & Mitcham United 1 South Park 1


Once again it finished honours even at Imperial Fields as both sides played out a hard-fought draw. Once again, we will come away feeling we should have taken all three points, but Mo Otuyo in the visitor’s goal turned in a man-of-the-match performance to ensure his team took something out of the game.


Oddly, we had drawn only one of our opening twenty league matches this season - yet this was a third league game in a row now in which the points have been split.


It is a testament to our ever-improving back line, now that we seem able to field a settled unit there - this was the fifth match in a row that Nikolai Krokhin, Nathan Daly and Cory Walters-Wright have formed the back three, with Marco Figueiredo-Correa and Nathan Gordon in the wing-back positions. In the last three matches, that has resulted in the concession of just one goal from open play, and could be the foundation on which to build a survival route in the remainder of the season.


The only breach of the defence on this day was from the penalty spot, when Krokhin was harshly penalised for a high foot against the powerful Melford Simpson, and Adam Aziz struck his kick emphatically wide of Ollie Pain to bring South Park level, midway through the first half.


We had gone ahead seven minutes earlier, when the otherwise reliable Otuyo flapped at a corner, and Mark Waters drove in a volley that crashed against the crossbar and bounced down threateningly. The only question was : had it crossed the line? Thankfully, the referee and his assistant were both in agreement that it had, and the goal was given.


After the equaliser, South Park seemed to grow in confidence and began to put us under sustained pressure for the first time. Thankfully, our defence remained resilient and, but for a free header which Joe Bell put just over the bar, didn’t look like giving anything away.


HT : T&MU 1 South Park 1


Early in the second period, Samuel Faniyan set Michael Dixon away but his shot from the edge of the box was high and wide.


Shortly after, Faniyan set off on a run himself down the left, wrong-footed his marker with some lovely footwork, and curled in an effort that dropped just wide of the far post.


Dixon atoned for his earlier miss by winning a loose ball impressively in midfield, and set Faniyan away again; he burst into the area and tried to steady himself for a shot, but a defender had got back to crowd him out and Sam couldn’t get an attempt in of any note.


Dixon was working away tirelessly with little reward, and bustled his way through for a shooting opportunity which went just wide, Otuyo seemingly had it covered though.


Faniyan and Baye Ndiaye combined well just outside the area; Faniyan fed Dixon who couldn’t get it nicely under control, but managed to loft it back to Mark Waters who struck powerfully toward goal. Otuyo looked as if he had touched it round the post, but a goal-kick was given to (officially) deny him a moment of glory.


Tooting were really stepping up the pressure now; Nathan Gordon sent a free-kick into the box, Krokhin won the header in the air, and as the ball dropped, turned and got a shot in but just past the post again.


Ndiaye made a burst from midfield, onto a through ball, and advanced into the area but Otuyo was once again alive to the danger and was out to smother the opportunity.


Dixon was next to have a chance - seizing onto a loose ball and powering a drive from a tight angle - Otuyo once again showed his reflexes to turn another one aside.


Billy Brown emerged from the bench, to the delight of the home fans, and was quickly involved, setting fellow sub Anuar Ceesay away down the right; he was crowded out by two defenders but the ball skewed back to Billy for an inviting shooting chance and his powerful effort was heading toward the top corner when Otuyo made another fine save to tip it over.


Anuar worked a good chance, and played Nathan Gordon in for a run on the left of the penalty area, but Adonai da Cruz came across and shoulder-barged Gordon to the floor for what looked an obvious penalty; referee Harry Wayer was in a good position to see the incident, but amazingly spread his arms wide and waved play on.


As the game ticked over into injury-time, there was still one last chance for the hosts to turn one point into three; from a corner threateningly floated in by Ceesay, Cory Walters-Wright got his head on the ball and glanced it goalwards, but just wide - again - and the whistle went shortly afterwards to seal the draw.


T&MU : Pain, Figueiredo-Correa (Brown 85”), Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Daly, Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye, Dixon, Edwards (Ceesay 75”), Faniyan.

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Bassett, Clarke.

Attendance : 270.

Saturday 22nd January                                 Chipstead 0 Tooting & Mitcham United 0


It was a frustrating day in the Croydon countryside, with Chips displaying little ambition from the off, beyond keeping their clean sheet intact. Despite enjoying the bulk of the possession, and playing some nice football at times, the Terrors lack of a cutting edge came into sharp focus again and both goals remained unbreached at the final whistle.


The positives to be taken from the afternoon are another solid defensive display, with the back five growing in understanding with each other, and Ollie Pain having little to do.


With five minutes to go in the first period, a free-kick floated in from the left-hand side threatened to deceive Pain and he did well to back-pedal and tip the ball over the bar. That was just about the sum total of his work on the day, beyond gathering routine balls and organising the men in front of him.


We were solid in midfield, with Mark Waters once again the dominant figure on the pitch, and Baye Ndiaye continuing to grow in confidence alongside him.


It is in the last third that the problems remain; for all their hard work and tireless running, Shamal Edwards, Michael Dixon and Samuel Faniyan never looked like poaching a much needed winner, and a ‘fox-in-the-box’ - somebody capable of sniffing out a chance and finishing it consistently - could be the saviour of our season.


And so to the half-chances we did create : inside the first ten minutes, a long throw by Nathan Daly found Nikolai Krokhin inside the area; he controlled and tried to spin to create a shooting angle, but surrounded by defenders couldn’t get sufficient power on his effort and Matt Kearney gathered comfortably.


On twenty minutes, Waters did well to seize on a loose ball in the middle of the park, but dragged his shot wide from distance.


A nice passage of play saw Faniyan dispossess a Chips midfielder, and slide the ball wide to Marco Figueiredo-Correia who lofted a forward pass down the right-hand touchline toward Mark Waters. A defender came across to intercept, but from the throw Waters crossed into the box where Krokhin had bust a lung to get in a good position, but his momentum had carried him just a little too far for a perfect heading opportunity and his improvised effort saw him leaning back, and unable to get any direction on the header, which drifted wide of the post.


Figueiredo-Correia was growing into the game, and tried his luck down the left, a powerful run took him into the area but with colleagues gathering in the centre, he elected to try his luck from a difficult angle and fired disappointingly wide.


Another pleasing move saw Shamal Edwards win a ball he had no right to, touch it off nicely to Faniyan who laid it off perfectly for Waters who shaped to shoot from distance, but a defender had come across to block his attempt, and it skewed off for a throw.


Mike Dixon and Cory Walters-Wright both had long range efforts before the break, but neither troubled Kearney and it was the hosts who had the last effort off the half when forcing Ollie Pain into his one save as mentioned earlier.


There was less to enthuse about in the second period, as the hosts seemed intent to wind the clock down and the Terrors grew increasingly frustrated at their inability to break down a massed defence. We stepped things up as the game ticked over into the final ten minutes and may have pinched it late on. Firstly, Dixon powered away down the right and crossed a dangerous low ball into the box; Waters was coming in at pace but couldn’t quite get a toe on it and that chance was gone. Then, in the dying embers of the ninety, Waters latched onto a Dixon through-ball but Kearney was off his line swiftly to narrow the angle and block the shot, and we had to be content with taking another point back to south London.


T&MU : Pain, Figueiredo-Correia, Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Daly, Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye, Dixon, Edwards (Clarke 72”), Faniyan.

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Bassett, Brown, Ceesay.

Attendance : 168

Tuesday 18th January                               Tooting and Mitcham United 1    Balham FC 2


The fifth game of 2022 saw the Terrors face Balham in the second round of the Surrey Senior Cup. Balham, who are currently sat midtable in the Combined Counties League Premier Division South (tier nine of English football), saw off fellow Combined Counties side, Knaphill, in the previous round. The Stripes were also victorious against Metropolitan Police in the first round.


With the famous black and white army at the ready, the game starts with the Stripes’ Leevi Bassett instantly, and aggressively, targeting Balham’s left hand wing. Game on. However, there were early warning signs for Tooting and Mitcham as Balham put the ball into the back of the net from a quick free kick, only for it to be chalked off for offside.


Nevertheless, it was the Terrors who struck first in the seventh minute. Samuel Faniyan produced a terrifyingly good turn in the penalty box that even Wilfried Zaha would have been proud of. Faniyan then swivelled around and smoothly dispatched the ball underneath a clambering Haydn Read. 1-0 Tooting and Mitcham. C’mon you black and whites!


Disappointingly, the Terrors didn’t take control of the advantage handed to them. Thereafter, the ball bounced around the midfield like a 90s pinball machine, from side to side, alternating in possession between the two teams, with few attacking plays from either side until the inevitable happens from Balham:


In the 19th minute, Balham, in a genuinely excellent piece of football, sees Tom Read pass inside the full back, cutting him out of the game completely, to Luke Hedges. Hedges is able to compose himself and cross the ball accurately to James Adebayo. With time to take an extra touch, Adebayo expertly sets himself up to slot the ball under Mackenzie Foley at the near post. 1-1, the underdogs are back in the cup tie.


With Terrors fans proudly backing their side loudly from behind Balham’s goal, a minor set back like this would not keep them down, as they continued to superbly back the boys in black and white. Whilst I wish I could say this was working, the Stripes concede another gilt-edged chance, but fortunately Tom Read puts the ball over. Tom Read is almost in on goal again as the defender let’s him run through - luckily, Foley is on hand to expertly catch the ball first.


Fortunately, the substitution on the 25th minute provided some light comical relief for the fans, as Connor French is substituted for Michael Dixon, only for the board to incorrectly show Faniyan’s number instead! With the play stopped as the referee, Luis Nunes, clarified what was happening, a corrected board, accompanied with a typical sarcastic cheer, was shown.


After this, Tooting and Mitcham saw the better of the play with a couple of corners and a free-kick to crank up the pressure on the astute Balham. Bar these, the end of the first half was relatively uneventful bar a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the home fans behind the Balham goal.


Half Time: Tooting and Mitcham 1 Balham 1


Just like the end of the first half, the second half begins cagey again with the opening six minutes being summed up with the only shot on goal being a 30 yard effort from Ed McCrea, Balham’s left back, that Jonny Wilkinson would’ve been proud of after the Terrors clear away Balham’s corner.


The Stripes look the better side in the beginning of the second half, as they did at the end of the first half, however struggle to find a way past Balham’s uncompromising defence. Despite the dominance, a Tooting and Mitcham mistake gift wraps a chance to Hedges, whose shot is deflected perilously wide - a huge let-off for the Stripes.


The 61st minute produces a fabulous bit of play from the Terrors, as the ball is fired towards Nathan Daly’s midriff; Daly seizes the opportunity to summon his inner-Zinedine Zidane and flicks the ball onto Shamal Edwards. With Edwards in on goal, he attempts a half volley, but cannot quite keep it down - a difficult chance, but signs of encouragement for the boys.


However, this would be in vain as Balham broke down on their right wing on the 63rd minute with their right winger popping an accurate cross into the box for Laurie Goddard, who is able to take advantage of slow defending before taking a touch and putting Balham ahead in this cup tie from about 5 yards out.


Surely the Terrors would not go down with a fight? Almost immediately, Faniyan had a shot blocked expertly. Whilst not a clear-cut opportunity, is this a sign that Tooting and Mitcham can produce the comeback that the fans are desperately craving? Unfortunately, things would not quite work out:


Perhaps epitomising Tooting and Mitcham’s performance after Balham’s second was the very unfortunate double-slice from Foley after attempting to deal with a route-one ball several yards outside the penalty box, which allowed Balham a shot into an empty net (bar one Stipes player) from 20 yards out - thankfully the Balham player fumbles the opportunity to put them 3-1 up.


Two attacking substitutions later, Jordan Clarke replacing Shamal Edwards and Billy Brown replacing Marco Figuerdo-Correia on the 66th and 71st minutes respectively, shows the fans that the Terrors are going to go for this in the final throes of the game. Can the Terrors equalise, or will there be an upset in the cup?


Unfortunately for the Stripes, Balham handled the rest of the game extremely well with excellent forward play from Cameron Gordon, whose domineering frame helped win the ball up the pitch. Balham further dug in and put men behind the ball, which the Terrors found difficult to break down.


Despite Tooting and Mitcham successfully producing crosses and winning corners towards the end of the game, there was a lack of the final touch, pass and shot that ultimately culminated in Balham being able to see out their lead. Overall, Balham were worth their victory, and played excellently with stupendous efforts made by every player - all credit to them and good luck with the rest of the cup.


Onto Chipstead away - ‘Mon the Stripes.


Written by Daniel Turner Browne / @DownToTen

Saturday 15th January 2021                             Tooting & Mitcham United 1 Guernsey 1


The spoils were shared on a chilly afternoon as a young Terrors outfit failed to take the opportunities presented to bank a much needed three points. Nevertheless, a run of four straight defeats in all competitions was halted, and in the current circumstances every point secured must be viewed as a point gained.


With top scorer Daniel Williams’ midweek departure to Bedfont Sports, and experienced returnee Connor French struck down with gastric trouble, it was inexperienced teenager Samuel Faniyan who led the line, supported by Shamal Edwards and Michael Dixon.


With just one minute on the clock, Dixon’s flick found Faniyan inside the box and as he attempted to dig out a shooting chance, Ben le Tocq bundled him over and referee Nicholas Metcalfe pointed to the spot. Mark Waters took the opportunity to emphatically strike the penalty past goalkeeper William Huffer and we had the perfect start.


The sizeable crowd, including an impressive travelling contingent, might have expected such an opening to settle nerves in the home ranks and perhaps lead to better things, but it was the visitors who were spurred on by the early setback and they might easily have been level within a few minutes.


First, a loose ball from Cory Walters-Wright was seized on by Matthew Loaring, who played in Kyle Smith. His cross-shot was parried by Ollie Pain, but the ball fell perfectly for Loaring, following up and in a seemingly perfect position to bag the equaliser; the Guernsey man couldn’t keep his shot down though, and we breathed a huge sigh of relief as it sailed over the bar.


A minute or so later, Nathan Daly’s attempted clearance was charged down by Loaring and deflected into the path of Guernsey skipper Ross Allen but he, too, could only blaze the chance over once again.


Having lived dangerously, we began to settle and Mark Waters - impressively guiding the young Baye Ndiaye alongside him - began to orchestrate the play in his usual unruffled fashion. On twenty minutes he played a lovely through ball for Shamal Edwards to run onto, and his curled effort was tipped brilliantly round the post by Huffer.


Waters himself had a half-chance shortly after, but after skipping through the visitor’s defence he tried to be too cute with his effort and couldn’t get any elevation on the ball which dropped harmlessly into Huffer’s arms.


Guernsey stepped up the pressure and started to get back into the game; Kyle Smith had an opportunity but dinked his shot wide, then as the half-hour mark approached the Tooting defence were stretched by a couple of corners in quick succession. The second of these saw Liam Mahon collect a short pass, and then cross a dangerous ball toward the far post; Jacob Fallaize stooped to head the ball home from barely a yard out and the visitors were back on terms.


HT : T&MU 1 Guernsey 1

We started the second half in resurgent mood, and looked determined to get our lead back. Marco Figuerdo-Correia opened proceedings by powering down the left flank, and fired the ball across the six yard box; unfortunately, there were no attacking Terrors on hand to take advantage and the situation was lost.


Waters played a measured pass out of defence, and Faniyan was onto it in a flash. He outpaced the defence to create a promising opening, but hesitated with just Huffer to beat, and chipped the ball wide of the far post. A well worked opening on his first start for the club, and hopefully this is the sort of chance he’ll be taking regularly with a little more experience under his belt.


A Tooting corner was cleared by the Guernsey defence, but fell to Waters who lifted it back into the area with dangerous intent; Nikolai Krokhin, with his back to goal, got up highest to win it in the air but couldn’t get any power on his back header and Huffer took it comfortably.


The hosts were enjoying a good spell of possession, and Figuerdo-Correia was becoming an increasing threat down the right-hand side, but clear chances were few and far between as the Channel Islanders defended in depth and with determination to hold onto what they had.


Crowd favourite Billy Brown entered the fray from the bench, and was quickly into the action - his shot from the edge of the box was deflected for a corner, which came to nought, as time began to tick away ominously.


In the dying seconds, a home free-kick was punched away by the keeper and fell to man-of-the-match Shamal Edwards on the edge of the box; he managed to get a powerful shot off towards goal, but it deflected wide and that was that.


T&MU: Pain, Walters-Wright, Krokhin, Daly, Figuerdo-Correia (Brown 74”), Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye, Faniyan, Dixon (Clarke 75”), Edwards.

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Bassett, Ceesay.

Attendance : 329

Saturday 8th January                   Bedfont Sports 5  Tooting and Mitcham United 4


The Terrors, struggling for goals of late, led 3-0 and 4-2 at high-flying Bedfont, yet still failed to take anything from the game on a quite extraordinary afternoon in west London.


Skipper Nathan Daly led by example just two minutes into the game, as he rose highest to head home from Nathan Gordon’s free kick and give us a perfect start.


Mark Waters, recently back after injury, kept a cool head to pick his spot and double the advantage after twenty minutes as the sizeable contingent of travelling fans could barely believe their eyes.


And when Daniel Williams broke away onto Waters’ flick through to slip the ball past former Tooting custodian Matte Pierson on the half hour mark, it really did start to look as if this was the day our season finally kicked into life.


What was most needed at that point was to get to half-time with the lead intact but, in typical Tooting fashion, it wasn’t to be as Ricky Wellard fired in a shot that took a wicked deflection past Ollie Pain to give the hosts a lifeline at the break.


HT : Bedfont S. 1 T&MU 3


With just three minutes gone in the second period, Wellard scored again to put the Eagles right back in the match and suddenly, it didn’t look like such a straightforward job after all.


But the Terrors stemmed the tide, and when Nathan Gordon’s inswinging corner evaded everybody to drop in at the far post it looked as if we had got through the worst of it to strike a decisive blow.


Not so; Jordan Esprit reduced the arrears once again with eighteen minutes left, and as the game entered the final ten minutes we breathed a sigh of relief as a Bedfont ‘equaliser’ was disallowed for offside.


Our respite was short-lived, however, as substitute Usman Lalustani fired in a shot minutes later to bring the hosts level. A point would at least have given us something from the afternoon, but even that wasn’t to be; with the game inside the last minute of regulation time, another substitute - Lewis Flatman - spotted Pain off his line and tried a speculative effort from just inside the Tooting half. Remarkably, unbelievably, the ball sailed over the back-pedalling Pain’s head and nestled in the back of the net to send the home fans into a frenzy and deny Tooting on the cruellest afternoon of the season thus far.


T&MU : Pain, Figuerdo-Correia, Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Daly, Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye, Brown (Faniyan 54”), Williams (Dixon 79”), Edwards (Ceesay 89”).

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Bassett

Attendance : 171

Monday 3rd January                   Tooting and Mitcham United 0  Hanwell 2


A clinical second half display by the visitors saw them become the latest team to depart Imperial Fields with the points.


It seemed to be a chance missed, as the Terrors had shaded an even first half and at the break the points looked to be there for the taking.


Mark Waters made a welcome return to the Tooting starting eleven after recovering from injury and he settled in as if he’d never been away, spreading the play nicely to either flank, and making some important interceptions in the middle of the park.


Youngster Baye Ndiaye was clearly a beneficiary of Waters’ return, visibly growing in confidence alongside his more experienced team-mate and enjoying his most impressive outing in his fledgling career thus far.


Ndiaye it was who carved out the first chance, setting Nathan Gordon away down the left; he fed the ball neatly into the box but the defenders crowded out Daniel Williams’ attempts to reach it and skewed the ball out for a corner.


There was some nice interplay between Jack Hutchinson and Thomas Collins for the visitors, but the latter scuffed his shot and Ollie Pain was able to hold onto it comfortably.


Dan Williams was enjoying his usual lively showing, and a nice touch from him set Shakeel Morris away, but a Hanwell defender was able to make a last-ditch tackle and send the ball out for a corner.


The two Terrors combined again moments later, to create the best chance of the first period; Morris played a give-and-go with Williams, and collected the return pass inside the penalty area. A beautiful switch of feet wrongfooted his marker, and set up a presentable chance but Shakeel was unable to get sufficient curl on the ball and keeper Hugo Sobte gathered comfortably.


Wing-back Marco Figuerdo-Correia, making his home début, was looking impressive. He was going quietly about his business but getting some nice little touches and tackles to thwart visiting attacks.


In the opposite wing-back position, Nathan Gordon was also showing up well and he timed a tackle brilliantly to break up a promising Hanwell move; there was no margin for error and had he mis-timed it, it would have been a certain penalty.


Nevertheless, he was slightly fortunate not to concede one just before the break as he engaged in a foot-race with Hutchinson, slipped on the wet turf and brought the Hanwell number nine down; there was nothing intentional about it but by the letter of the law, it looked a spot-kick. Referee Stephen Hawkes gave us the benefit of the doubt, though, and waved away the Geordies’ appeals.


HT : T&MU 0 Hanwell T. 0


Hanwell came out of the blocks fast at the start of the second period, and a decent passing move set Massimo Gram away down the right. He cut inside and unleashed a long-range drive which deflected off a home defender and onto the crossbar. The resulting corner was headed down and Edon Proti struck a ferocious effort which Ollie Pain saved at close range to keep the scores level.


Tooting broke away to create our first chance of the second half, Mark Waters driving in a trademark long-ranger which went just wide, but it was the visitors who deservedly broke the deadlock just past the hour; Sam Saunders broke down the right-hand side and fired a dangerous cross into the penalty area which was swept home by Harry Rush.


Figuerdo-Correia made nice run and cross down the right, which was headed away for a corner, but it was Hanwell who were tightening the screw now and it was no surprise when they doubled their advantage thirteen minutes from time; Tooting had innumerable chances to clear a Hanwell corner, but failed to take them and Sam Saunders drove in a speculative cross-cum-shot which deceived Ollie Pain and snuck in at the far post.


Heads dropped from the home side in the remaining ten minutes, and it was only Pain who kept the scoreline respectable as he saved from Hutchinson and Rush, whilst Kyle Watson had a free header from another corner which he failed to steer on target and put it over the bar when well-placed; it was an irrelevance by that stage though, as the points had long since disappeared over the horizon.


T&MU : Pain, Figuerdo-Correia, Krokhin, Walters-Wright, Daly, Gordon, Waters, Ndiaye (Bassett 78”), Williams, Morris (Brown 61”), Edwards (Dixon 78”).

SUBS NOT USED : Hamlin, Stewart.

Attendance : 333