Testwood Stadium, Totton
Southern League Division One South and West
Match Rating: 4
For this year’s Non League Day, I decided to head to the outskirts of Southampton, where AFC Totton were offering reduced admission for all spectators from the usual £9 to £5.
The Testwood Stadium is about a half hour walk from Totton train station, and for a new build stadium, just four years old, it is a very nice place to watch football, a very neat and tidy facility and easy on the eye. Although there are wooden turnstile huts in three corners of the ground, only one was open today, and after entering the ground, there is a steep, uncovered bank of terracing, behind which is a building with steep slanting roofs housing the clubhouse and tea bar. Straddling the half way line is the main stand, tall and narrow, which offers good unobstructed views. Beyond the stand is another uncovered terrace. Straddling the half way line on the opposite side is a longer but much shorter stand offering bench seating. A couple more uncovered terraces are positioned either side of the stand, whilst behind both goals is just a couple of terrace steps. Trees around the ground make for a fairly nice background, whilst a short distance behind the main stand is Wessex League outfit Totton and Eling's home ground. The programme was printed on good quality stiffened paper and was attractively laid out, but was a little light on reading material.
After a dreadful start to their season, picking up just one point from their opening six league games, AFC Totton won three of their four league games since, losing the other and so came into this game in 18th position, with three wins and a draw from their ten league games. Tiverton were in sixth place, having won five and drawn three of their ten games. Today’s team met in Devon last Saturday in the FA Trophy, with the home side winning 2-0.
an overcast but mild afternoon, the game for off to an explosive, unexpected start when the home side took the lead with just over a minute on the clock. A corner played to the back post was curled over the keeper by Marc Diaper and dropped just inside the far post. They doubled their lead on 14 minutes, when a low ball was threaded through the defence for Mike Gosney to run onto and thump the ball past the keeper from the edge of the area. They should have added a third on 35 minutes, when a flick of the ball forward set Nick Watts through on goal, but he stabbed the ball wide. It was to prove a costly miss. Tiverton pulled a goal back two minutes later when a Totton defender couldn’t control a low cross into the box, and Owen Howe hooked the loose ball high into the net from close range. They almost equalised on 40 minutes, when a shot was saved at point blank range and a follow up shot was deflected just wide.
2-0 might have been a surprising half time scoreline, but Totton certainly deserved it and throughout the second half, the result really could have gone either way as both teams created some good chances to score, but it looked like Totton would hold on for the three points until the very last minute when Howe received the ball on the edge of the area, and swivelled before striking a lovely powerful shot into the top right corner, giving the keeper no chance. So a point apiece in the end, one that Tiverton would be much the happier with. In front of Totton’s biggest crowd of the season so far, this was an entertaining game, keenly fought but which occasionally did threaten to boil over, partly thanks to an erratic performance by the referee and his assistants.