Wessex Division One
Totton & Eling 1
US Portsmouth 3
(Lewis Beale, Brendon Agnew)
My second trip to Millers Park and by no means did I think I would be at this particular game tonight. However after missing football AGAIN on Saturday (that’s two Saturday’s in a row now), I was champing at the bit to get back at it. I had intended for either a new ground visit at Fleet Spurs against Romsey, or a second trip to Bashley to watch them against Team Solent.
However, after a quick poll on Twitter ended with a 50/50 split with 20 votes, I decided to head just 15 minutes down to the road to Millers Park, home of Wessex Division One side Totton & Eling.
This was to be only my second trip to the ground, sat in the shadow of AFC Totton’s Testwood Stadium, their next-door neighbours playing two divisions higher and a ground I had been to on four occasions. Even so, for somewhere so close to home, I haven’t seen much of either of Totton’s two sides.
As mentioned before, Millers Park sits right at the back of their rivals AFC Totton. Both clubs share the same car park, which doesn’t cause too many problems when both sides are at home on a Saturday afternoon.
In fact, my last and only visit came on a Saturday (27th February 2016) when AFC Totton were at home. The AFC steward looking confused when I pulled onto the car park and said I was here for the T&E game. That day, the attendance was 38 in a 4-2 defeat to Fleet Spurs with their neighbours probably housing over 200 people.
The ground is alright, the only thing that does frustrate me is that, really you wouldn’t have to pay if you didn’t mind watching the game over the fence on the footpath that runs behind the goal. These clubs do require all the money they can get however, I paid £5 to get in, pretty standard for an adult ticket in this league and I paid £1 for a bit of paper that they called the programme.
The programme was disappointing, every club in the league produces them and some make a really good go of it. I do appreciate that it is all done by volunteers and that is the beauty of non-league football. But to be charged £1 for one piece of A4 double sided that costs around five pence to print seems steep. Maybe the admission fee was £6 and the ‘programme’ was free, makes it a bit easier to stomach.
Back to the ground, I remember from my last visit the strip light hanging loose in the small covered terrace behind the goal- The Nick Read Stand. It was nice to see that just over 12 months on that they have put it back up and the stand is looking pretty good, gives an extra bit of cover for any fans wishing to stand behind the goal.
The main stand ticks all the boxes for the league, a couple of rows of bench seats and a few rows of orthodox plastic football seating fill the stand which probably holds 50 people if full. It’s a pretty low long stand that sits halfway, both times I have visited, I have been lucky with the weather so opted to stand in the open.
I don’t know too much into the history of the ground but the dressing room building one sideof the stand and the building housing tea hut, directors room and toilets look relatively new. The tea hut does drinks and hot food as you would expect and the toilets were pretty pleasant really.
Opposite the main stand are the dugouts and behind there look like two temporary covered areas for spectators, looking a bit worse for wear and set back behind the dugouts offering little view, it was no surprise no one was stood under them. One had been blown over and was wedged at an angle against the perimeter fence.
Millers Park is tidy for the most part though. Compact but serves the purpose for the Wessex Division One side and if its good enough for 2003 FA Cup finalist and nine times Norway international Jo Tessem, then it is good enough for me.
The 45-year-old former Southampton player still dons the red and black of Totton & Eling, a brilliant sight at this level, a bit like when I watched Julio Arca for South Shields this season.
Another interesting fact about T&E is their manager, James Phillips was the youngest manager to manage in the FA Cup in August 2014 when he was in charge of Romsey Town, aged just 22.
Brendon Agnew struck twice for US Portsmouth as they ran out 3-1 winners over Totton & Eling.
The visitors hit three in the first half to confirm the points, despite Josh Clark pulling one back with three minutes left on the clock.
The result keeps Portsmouth in the running for the top five and condemns Totton to a mid table finish with only a handful of games remaining.
US Portsmouth were on top from kick off and Agnew saw a few early shots go wide in the opening minutes, going close from a Perry Easton corner, smashing the ball just wide of the post.
The first goal came on nine minutes, from Portsmouth’s number nine, Lewis Beale. The striker controlled a ball over the defence in the box, let the ball bounce before rolling it past Matt Fredericks, hitting the post on its way in.
Totton skipper Rich Hayter denied Beale grabbing a second when he timed his tackle to perfection, sliding the ball out for a corner after Agnew had picked out his striker.
The hosts’ first chance of the game fell to former Norway international Jo Tessem, who sent a 30-yard free kick straight at Peter Houkes.
Houkes was called into action again when Ollie Adams fired a low cross, which Houkes blocked, before it was cleared away.
Matt Brewer should have pulled the scores level from a corner, Adams had headed the original effort from the set piece before it fell to Brewer who hit a shot straight at Adams on the floor, the ball looking like it could have crept into the corner.
On 35 minutes US doubled the lead through Irish midfielder Agnew who smashed the ball into the bottom corner from long range, just out of the reach of Fredericks.
Agnew grabbed his second right on the stroke of half time with the final touch of the half, touching the ball past the defender before the ball bobbled over the ‘keeper into the corner.
The second half was a more even encounter, with an early chance falling to Portsmouth’s Matt Clenahan who couldn’t direct his header on target from a corner.
The woodwork came to the rescue for the United Services side when former Team Solent left back Toyeeb Babatunde did well to beat his man out wide before picking out Adams who hit a good shot at goal and Houkes managed to tip the ball onto the bar and out.
From the resulting corner, Liam Richardson sent a header at goal, but Tessem was in the wrong place to block his own teammates effort and send it out for a goal kick.
Totton were nearly undone by a quick free kick, Beale received the set piece short, exchanged passes with Agnew before firing a shot that was saved by Fredericks.
The home side were showing some promise in attack with some build up play, Tessem picking out Clark who fired a shot high of the mark, a chance that really should have tested the ‘keeper.
Tessem and Clark combined again a few minutes later when a nice little flick put Clark in another shooting position, this time dragging the shot low and wide of the post.
Agnew went so close to completing his hat trick when his long-range effort bounced off the post.
US Portsmouth did have the ball in the back of the net when substitute Liam Rush latched onto a through ball and placed the shot in off the post but the linesman had his flag up for offside.
Phillips’ men did pull one back late on, Clark firing an effort at goal and a mix up with the defence and it went over the line, taking a touch off a Portsmouth player, despite Clark being credited with the goal.
As the game ticked into injury time, Fredericks was forced into a good save when Fadel Selbou showed a great turn in the box to spin away from his marker before watching his shot tipped onto the crossbar.
2016/17 Games: 114
2016/17 Grounds: 62 (10)
Total Grounds Visited: 155 (41)