MATCH REPORTS JANUARY 2023
Monday 2nd January - Chipstead 2-0 T&MU
The new calendar year failed to bring a change in fortune for the Terrors, as we slumped to defeat in the Surrey countryside.
There were some nice passages of play, and periods where Tooting threatened to get on top, but once again a cutting edge was missing and - if truth be told - Chipstead, one of the current form teams in the division, could have won by more.
We were first on the attack, though, with just a few minutes on the clock; Anuar Ceesay skipped away down the right flank, used his pace to slip a tackle and accelerate away from his marker. Another defender failed to cut out the cross, and Edd Mbango gathered the ball well. His drive to the near post almost caught Matt Kerberos off guard, but the home keeper somehow managed to fumble the effort around a post.
Chipstead's first offensive threat saw them almost go in front from a corner, when huge centre-half Daniel Pappoe rose well but couldn't keep his header down and it cleared the bar.
They did take the lead from their next meaningful attack, unfortunately, as a straightforward break down the right and low ball across was not cut out by the visiting defence and Andy Kabuikusomo could hardly miss when presented with the ball about eight yards from goal.
It was an open game, and Tooting were playing their part; Jordan Clarke slipped a nice pass down the channel for Anuar to run onto, but his cross-shot flashed wide of the far post, while at the other end James Shaw had to be alert to deal with a strike from Jonathan Hood when he shot from a tight angle.
Kabuikusomo then went on a raid down the left, and found Hood in acres of space but the Chips forward snatched at his shot and put it wide when it looked easier to score and the hosts departed with a narrow lead at the break.
There was some decent pressure from the visitors at the start of the second period, with Declan Nche beginning to assert some control in the middle of the park, aided by substitute Raees Bangura-Williams, yet it was Chipstead who twice broke quickly and went close to doubling their advantage - first when some neat interplay gave Hood another chance but his shot came back off the inside of the post. Then Kabuikusomo forced another save from Shaw with his legs. The ball rebounded nicely to Hood but Cory Walters-Wright was on hand to head his lofted shot off the line.
Tooting stepped up the pressure as time began to run out, but were caught on the break when Shaw raced out and failed to intercept a through ball, and former Terror Mike Dixon was left with a tap in to seal the points.
T&MU : Shaw, Ceesay, Browne (sub : Edwards 59"), Travers (sub : Chang 68"), Daly, Krokhin, Nche, Walters-Wright, Mbango, Akinnibi (sub : Bangura-Williams 50"), Clarke.
Subs not used : Sesay, Kirlew-Wright.
Attendance : 225
Report : Ed Parlett
Saturday 7th January - T&MU 0-2 Northwood
Tooting's first home game of 2023 saw the familiar pattern continue, as we fell to another defeat. To be fair, given the position of the respective two teams in the table, any points that had been taken from this match would have been a huge bonus; it is not games such as this which will determine our fate, rather those against teams in a similar position to ourselves.
Having said that, there were positives to be taken from the performance and if we could just have managed to sneak an early goal when we were on top, it could have been a whole different story.
We introduced two new signings, and both can have been pleased with their endeavours on the day; goalkeeper Dan Purdue looked very comfortable taking everything that was being thrown at him, and couldn't be faulted for either of the goals that went past him. At the other end of the pitch, Manu Oke-William - a tall, powerful attacking presence - put himself around all afternoon, was a constant menace to the league-leaders' defence, and picked up the man-of-the-match award for his efforts. Both players could have a significant part to play in the weeks to come.
Chances were always going to be at a premium against a side with such a good defensive record, so it was galling that we were not able to take one whilst the game remained goalless. Early on, Enoch Ako-Adjeio went on a typically marauding run down the right, powered past two defenders as he cut inside, but Andrew McCorkell came off his line to narrow the angle and parry Enoch's crisp shot.
Shortly after, from a corner, skipper Nathan Daly headed against the outside of the stanchion, and then Manu seized onto a good through pass to outpace the Northwood defence and bear down on goal. He had a bit more time than he perhaps realised, electing to try his luck from the edge of the box when he could have got closer to the keeper, and McCorkell took his effort comfortably.
Having soaked up our pressure, Northwood took the lead on the stroke of half-time and never looked like relinquishing control thereafter. Nikolai Krokhin failed to cut out a pass down the left and Jake Tabor - who was a constant thorn in our side throughout - swept home the subsequent cross.
The visitors doubled their advantage shortly after the hour mark; a free-kick floated in took an unfortunate deflection off a Terrors defender, and looped up perfectly for Riccardo Alexander-Greenaway who headed past Purdue with ease.
A torrential downpour led to the referee escorting the players off the pitch with about twenty minutes left. When they returned, Tooting deserved a goal for a gutsy display, but it was Northwood who almost added a third late on when Purdue showed his reflexes to save well from substitute Sandro Costa Dias Fernandez.
T&MU : Purdue, Ceesay, Browne (sub : Edwards 47"), Walters-Wright, Daly, Krokhin (sub : Rose 88"), Nche, Chang, Ako-Adjei (sub : Sesay 77"), Oke-William, Clarke.
Subs not used : Travers, Bangura-Williams.
Attendance : 164
Report : Ed Parlett
Wednesday 25th January - T&MU 1-2 Chertsey Town
Tooting confounded the form book to control much of the proceedings against play-off chasing Chertsey Town, but were unable to bank so much as a point as we found out the hard way that there is a reason matches last ninety minutes, and not seventy.
The Terrors took the initiative early on, with a swirling wind behind us, and forced a couple of early corners - one of which almost led directly to a goal when it caught on the wind and came close to deceiving the experienced Nicholas Jupp in the visitor's goal, who just managed to keep it out.
Debut-making Malachi Hudson was looking sharp, and involved himself in much of our forward-thinking enterprises, although Chertsey began to make inroads into our defence as the half wore on - without creating anything tangible enough to trouble Dan Purdue in our goal, and the interval arrived with the game goalless and very finely balanced.
We looked confident as the second half began, belying our position in the table, and pushed the Curfews onto the back foot. Recent signing Manu Oke-William, enjoying his second outing in the black and white, found himself in a one-on-one with Jupp, but couldn't wrap his long legs around the ball, and the chance was gone.
A minute later though, and only eight minutes into the second period, we took the lead; Malachi was inevitably involved, taking on the full back down the flank and dinking in an inviting pass for his fellow striker, with Manu making amends for his earlier miss by steering the ball past Jupp and into the net.
We grew in confidence after the goal, and the beleaguered Bog-End faithful began to sniff an unlikely three points as we created but failed to convert several reasonable chances to increase the lead. Those thoughts were cruelly snuffed out twenty minutes from time as former Terror Jake Baxter took advantage of hesitancy in the home defence to make it 1-1.
Unfortunately, the concession of a goal knocked the stuffing out of the Terrors, and from that point on there only looked like one team who would go on to win - and they weren't wearing black and white stripes.
With twelve minutes left, and Tooting clinging on, a cross lofted into the home defence caused more confusion, and with the ball pinging around like it was in a pinball machine, Curfews substitute Kai Hamilton-Olise found it at his feet with a chance he could hardly miss - and didn't.
It only got worse as results from the other evening matches filtered through, and the Terrors ended a miserable night at the foot of the table.
T&MU : Purdue, Ceesay, Edwards, Walters-Wright, Daly, Krokhin, Bangura-Williams, Chang, Oke-William, Clarke (sub : Browne 86"), Hudson (sub : Eze 73").
Subs not used : Ansah, James-Thompson, Travers.
Attendance : 122
Report : Ed Parlett
Saturday 8th January - Thatcham Town 2-0 T&MU
Another three points slipped away, as in-form Thatcham Town extended their impressive recent run at the expense of a battling Terrors side.
It had been a determined and committed rearguard action for most of the first half, culminating in Dan Purdue making an impressive double save just before the break which strengthened thoughts that it might just be our day for once.
Those hopes disappeared in the opening minutes of the second period, when we were left a man short and hit by a goal on the break to end another afternoon in tatters.
The hosts were clear favourites here - their recent run of five wins against one loss and a draw included taking the points home from Imperial Fields just before Christmas and four points from tough trips to play-off contenders Marlow and South Park; their only defeat in this sequence was a narrow one at league-leaders Basingstoke Town.
So it was always going to be a tall order for Tooting to get anything out of this one, but we started brightly enough and carved out the first chance when a cross-shot from Anuar Ceesay looked dangerous, but landed on the roof of the net. Malachi Hudson was busy and inventive and looked likely to make something happen, but didn't always get the support he needed when finding himself in the last third of the pitch.
As the half wore on, Thatcham began to get on top with their striking partnership of Jordan Alves and Harry Williams increasingly prominent. Both had good chances to put their team in front, but both dragged shots wide when well-placed in front of goal.
Nathan Daly was giving a Captain's performance at the heart of our defence, with Kynan Kirlew-Wright and Nikolai Krokhin equally dominant in the air - but Thatcham were given a golden opportunity to take the lead on the stroke of half-time when David Ansah was adjudged to have brought down Muhamadou Ceesay, and the referee pointed to the spot. However, Purdue made a superb stop from Alves' kick, and did even better to spring to his feet and deny Williams' follow-up at point-blank range.
It was the sort of save from which victories have been sprung in the past, but it was not to be on this occasion. Tooting started the second period on the front-foot but received a set-back when Raees Bangura-Williams received a second yellow card for an innocuous-looking challenge, reducing our numbers to ten.
Initially, it seemed to spur us on, and we claimed a penalty of our own when Malachi was bundled over in the box but the referee waved play on and a long ball out of defence found Muhamadou Ceesay bearing down on the Terrors' goal; he kept his head, with only Dan to beat, and slotted it past him to render us with another uphill battle.
We kept plugging away, but it was always going to be a Herculean task against a side brimming with confidence, and they duly sealed the points when Ceesay headed his second inside the last twenty minutes to effectively end the game as a contest.
T&MU : Purdue, Ceesay (sub : Ako-Adjei 72"), Ansah (sub : Edwards 47"), Kirlew-Wright, Daly, Krokhin, James-Thompson (sub : Walters-Wright 69"), Chang, Oke-William, Bangura-Williams, Hudson.
Subs not used : Browne, Travers.
Attendance : 147
Report : Ed Parlett