Totton got back to winning ways last week with a far from comfortable 3-0 win over Chesham United at the Testwood Stadium. Despite going down to 10 men, Chesham were by far the superior side and the scoreline didn't reflect the game at all. Still, 3 points on the board after two straight defeats and now we could move on to what was being billed as the biggest game of the season in the Southern Premier League. 2nd v 1st at the top of the table as Totton hosted Brackley Town. In the reverse fixture back in September, Totton won 3-0. Like the Chesham game last week, the scoreline flattered Totton and we should have been about 4-0 down at half time. Never mind though, eh? This is a results business, forget the "what if"s and the "should have"s. On loan Salisbury left back Charlie Knight started this one, as did Dan Thomas is goal and central defender Ross Bottomley in midfield.
Totton only managed one shot on target in the first 10 minutes of this game. As it happens though, this shot went in.
From the kick off, a long ball forward was headed on by Nathaniel Sherborne and the ball fell for Michael Charles who, from a tight angle just outside the box, expertly lobbed the ball up and over Brackley keeper Billy Turley and over the line to give Totton the lead after just 14 SECONDS.
Brackley responded well to this early setback and steadied the ship after a couple more half-chances for Totton.
A foul by Nathan Campbell provided Brackley the opportunity to work Dan Thomas in the Totton goal with a free kick 25 yards out.
Instead, the on-loan Bournemouth keeper almost got a crick in his neck as he watched the ball soar a mile over his crossbar.
Brackley's Josh Green picked up a booking for a foul on Sherborne out wide on the right and gave Totton the chance to put another good ball into the box.
Ryan Hill did just that and caused panic at the far post where the ball was eventually headed behind by Carl Palmer for a corner.
Michael Charles was soon in on goal again, despite protests for offside by the Brackley defence. Their preference to stand around disputing it allowed Charles to race clear and get one on one with Turley but his rising shot was a whisker wide of the post.
With 5 minutes to go until half time, Brackley scored a fortuitous but deserved equaliser.
Elliot Sandy collected the ball out near the corner flag and cut inside before firing in a goal almost identical to the one Mike Gosney scored against Bashley on Boxing Day as the ball flew through a packed penalty area and into the far corner of the net.
Totton almost regained the lead straight away when Ryan Hill's low, hard cross was met by Ian Richardson at the near post but he could only manage to poke the ball an inch wide of the post with the goal at his mercy.
Half time: AFC Totton 1-1 Brackley Town
The Stags nearly began the second half the way they did in the first half. Ryan Hill's long ball forward was flicked on by Sherborne's header but this time Turley beat Charles to the ball.
With just over an hour played, Brackley completed the turn-around as they took the lead against Totton for the first time this season.
A cross from the right was headed back across goal and Glenn Walker scored with a powerful header which Thomas stretched for but couldn't get to as he was moving in the opposite direction.
The balance of power had quickly shifted to Brackley and they nearly extended their lead when a shot across goal rolled just wide of the far post with no one able to get the touch that would have turned it in.
But just as it looked as if the away side would go on to stamp their authority on the game, Totton equalised with a rather untidy looking goal.
Ross Bottomley did well to control the ball on the edge of the box before playing a precise through ball for substitute Mike Gosney to run on to.
Gosney fizzed a low cross into the box and an initial shot from somewhere in the crowd of bodies was blocked on the line by Turley and bounced back into the melee. Eventually the net bulged as Mark Osman, also fresh off the bench, stabbed the ball under Turley and over the line.
The travelling Brackley support were soon cheering again when a header from a corner appeared to have given them the lead once more, but their glee was cut short as Jamie Whisken made a superb acrobatic overhead clearance on the line.
With seconds remaining, Totton had the chance to snatch all 3 points. A free kick was awarded 30 yards from goal and Ryan Hill stood over it. His long range effort wasn't far wide of the right hand post and the referee blew the whistle shortly after the resulting goal kick.
Full time: AFC Totton 2-2 Brackley Town
What a topsy-turvy game that was! Totton scored the fastest goal of the season after just 14 seconds. There were still one or two stragglers making their way through the turnstiles when the ball crossed the line. Brackley were always a threat and it was clear to see why they are top of the league. But if Totton can take advantage of our three games in hand, The Saints might not be top for much longer. It was a typical top-of-the-table clash at any level, with both sides cancelling each other out at times and in the end a point apiece was a fair result. Also, if you'd asked me before the game, I'd have snatched your hand off for a point from this game. Next up for Totton is the visit of Brackley's near neighbours Banbury United on Tuesday evening for a 7:45pm kick off.
AFC Totton: Thomas, Hill, Whisken, Richardson, Knight, Pettefer (Davies 70), Campbell, Bottomley, Jack (Gosney 65), Charles (Osman 61), Sherborne. Unused subs: Baddeley, Brown.
Brackley Town: Turley, Clifton, Nisevic, Palmer, J. Green (Kemp 17), Marshall, Story, Solkhon, Sandy, Louis, Walker. Unused Subs : Myles, Magunda, W. Green, Diggin.
Totton: Charles (1), Osman (72)
Brackley: Sandy (40), Walker (64)
Officials: Referee: Mr M Derrien. Assistants: Mr A Baker & Mr P Knight.