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Tooting & Mitcham United August Review

Tooting & Mitcham United August Review

They’re in the Bostik! Can Tooting and Mitcham United FC go the distance? Roger Butcher reports on a tough start for the lads in his August Review.

Welcome to the Bostik Premier Division! I think it’s fair to say that things haven’t quite gone to plan.  We are 5 games into the new season and have yet to pick up a win – but is it as bad as it seems?

On opening day we hosted Brightlingsea Regent, who themselves had been promoted last season with a very similar record to ours. And possibly as expected, it was a closely fought encounter which ended 1-1.  They opened the scoring in the 1st half and we equalised through Billy Dunn in the 2nd. This game saw debuts for Tooting’s two summer signings – full back Juevan Spencer and centre back Callum McNaughton.
 

Juevan Spencer signs on the dotted line
 

A reasonable start, but we were about to receive a harsh lesson.  We were away to Staines Town, who have been playing at a higher level than us for more than a decade and they struck early to take a 2 goal lead.  Then Kevin MacLaren was dismissed for two yellow cards and we struggled to hold them back and we ended up being well beaten 6-0.

A swift response was needed, and we followed that result up with a much improved showing away to Merstham. Twice we took the lead, with goals from Mike Dixon and Sandy Cunningham, but twice the home side equalised, and the game finished 2-2. It was a performance that gave heart to the travelling fans that we are capable of being competitive in this division if we can play at the top of our game.

However, we were brought back down with a bump once again as we were beaten 4-0 at home by one of the pre-season favourites, Enfield Town. We were 1-0 down at half time, but a 2nd half dismissal for Peter Wedgeworth meant that there was a similar outcome to the Staines game.

Last season, a couple of our most memorable performances came after we were reduced to 10 men. We had the victory over Greenwich Borough (when we were actually down to 9 men) and the win at Hastings United when Tenny Adebowale scored the goal of the season. So if we have learned one thing so far in this division, it’s that it’s tough enough playing with 11 players, and we won’t be able to get away with sendings off quite so easily!
 

Billy Dunn – 2 goals so far.
 

This led us into Bank Holiday Monday and our trip to local rivals Dulwich Hamlet. We took an early lead via a Billy Dunn penalty and defended stoutly to hold on to the lead at half time.  Unfortunately, Dulwich have reached the playoffs three seasons running for a reason. They kept us on the back foot for a lot of the game and eventually won the game 2-1 with a goal 10 minutes from time.

So, we have had two heavy defeats but we have also had three very tight games. So it’s disappointing that we have only managed to acquire 2 points. What we have seen so far, is that the teams that we have faced have had more of a physical presence than in the division below. And this will probably be a pattern for the rest of the season. So it’s something the players will have to learn to deal with. And if the manager looks to strengthen the squad, it’s something that he will have to bear in mind as well.

We have a Saturday off from league action this week as we embark again on the road to Wembley in the FA Cup. We are at home to Merstham in the 1st qualifying round, so if you haven’t been to the ground before, why not come along on Saturday to see if we can get our name into the hat for the next round. Kick off is at 3pm.

Come along – the 280 bus stops right outside the ground!

Upcoming Fixtures:

Merstham (FA Cup) – Saturday 2nd September, 3:00pm

Needham Market – Saturday 9th September, 3:00pm

Margate – Saturday 16th September, 3:00pm

Merstham (League Cup) – Tuesday 19th September, 7:45pm

Keep up to date with all the TMUFC goings on at the Unofficial Website Or Official Facebook Page

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