North Leigh made the long trip down to Southampton desperate to end their run of five successive defeats in all competitions. Sitting 2nd bottom in the league and already out of the FA Cup and Southern League Cup, the visitors were hoping for a result.
Their opponents however are comfortably into the playoff spots and have claimed 9 points from their last 4 fixtures. The previous meeting between the clubs saw the Stags eek out a 1-0 victory at Eynsham Park but form was undoubtedly going to play a role in today’s outcome.
Right from the off AFC Totton looked threatening with an intent to put the game to bed early and they had a dubious penalty claim ignored after Captain Ben Brown jostled over Totton’s no.10 after finding himself on the wrong end of a race for a loose through ball..
The hosts did manage to capitalise from their efforts though with a goal after 7 minutes from Justin Bennett. The goal was crafted after a couple of killer passes right through the heart of North Leigh’s defence. North Leigh however started a little reserved and seemed rattled after conceding, rushing passes or making sloppy attempts at forcing the ball through.
Things went from bad to worse for the Millers when winger Jacob Hughes had to be subbed off after only half an hour after pulling his hamstring. North Leigh showed plenty of promise in the last 15 minutes of the 1st half keeping possession well and opening up pockets of space in the final 3rd but were unable to craft any real opportunities, having to wait until injury time for the first shot of the game.
HT: AFC Totton 1 - 0 North Leigh FC
If North Leigh were going to get anything out of the game then they knew they would have to tighten up the play and start pressing forward more as a team. The confident home fans were obviously not expecting much action early on as fans were still making their way back to the seats when ex-Oxford City Youth star Henry Landers scored a screamer from the edge of the box. The goal is Landers’ first since a brace on the opening day of the season and completely changed the complexion of the game.
A resurgent North Leigh in the 2nd half proved troublesome for the hosts with the pace of Roger James and new signing Hiratio Hirst repeatedly getting through Totton’s experienced defence. Jack Tutton put in a hard shift to win the midfield battles and had a chance to give the Millers the lead on 80 minutes after a hurtling run from his own half dropping markers left and right before cutting inside and firing low towards the inside post but the ball was deflected away for a corner.
The last 10 minutes felt like a lifetime though with Totton pushing hard for a winner with a clear strategy. Attack, attack, attack. North Leigh’s defence may have had a rocky first half but really did work to keep the score level with shot after shot coming at them with left back Nathan Simms putting in a man of the match performance and helping force a replay at Eynsham Park.
Full time at the Testwood Stadium: AFC Totton 1 - 1 North Leigh FC