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Southern League football: AFC Totton win Southern League Division 1 title with win over Exmouth Town

Southern League Division 1

AFC Totton 1

Exmouth Town 0

AFC Totton were crowned Southern League Division One champions in front of a bumper crowd of 1,727 after a 1-0 win over Exmouth Town.

The Stags, who have lost only three league games so far, lifted the title and sealed promotion after two wins in three days, leaving them nine points clear of Sholing with two games to play.

They defeated Melksham Town in a scrappy game, with the only goal coming from Mitchell Speechley-Price on Thursday before Scott Rendell kept up his goal-scoring form to beat Exmouth on Saturday.

Match-winner Scott Rendell (photo: Craig Hobbs Photography)
Match-winner Scott Rendell (photo: Craig Hobbs Photography)

From the start, manager Jimmy Ball, son of former 1966 World Cup winner Alan Ball Jr, had his men focused and looking to make their vocal home support count with a strong start.

With almost 20 minutes played, the Stags had the chance to ease their nerves from the penalty spot after a foul on Charlie Davis inside the area following a short-corner routine. The league's joint top scorer, Rendell, made no mistake, scoring what would be the game's only goal.

The visitors improved after the goal and looked to spoil the party. However, when they breached the defence, shot-stopper Lewis Noice repelled their best efforts.

The second half lacked clear chances, with both sides struggling to hit their best rhythm. Particularly so with the title-chasing Stags wary of allowing the visitors a way back into the game.

As the clock ticked on, the sense of anxious anticipation in the ground began to build, with a now makeshift Totton back-line standing steadfast despite several injuries.

After what must have seemed an eternity for the home support, the final whistle finally sent the stadium into raptures, with AFC Totton officially champions.

Players and staff celebrate (photo: Les Chase)
Players and staff celebrate (photo: Les Chase)

After the game, match-winner and Stag's top scorer Scott Rendell said: "What a year. What a group of people. What else is there to say?

"We put an unbelievable run together, only losing one game in the league since the 1st of August, so that says a lot about this group.

"The management, the staff, the ground, the atmosphere, it has all been brilliant. The boys deserve it, and so does the football club."

On Thursday, AFC Totton overcame a gritty Melksham Town side at the Oakfield Stadium to leave themselves one point away from securing the league crown.

AFC Totton manager Jimmy Ball (photo: Craig Hobbs Photography)
AFC Totton manager Jimmy Ball (photo: Craig Hobbs Photography)

The defining moment came 20 minutes into the first half when former Brockenhurst and Lymington Town player Speechley-Price scored the winner after some patient build-up play and an Ethan Taylor assist.

As in Saturday's against Exmouth, keeper Noice was in excellent form, denying multiple Melksham efforts down the home stretch.

AFC Totton's last two games see them host Frome Town at home on Tuesday before facing Evesham United away from home on Saturday.

AFC Totton: L. Noice, B. Read, J. Masterton, M. Carter, C. Kennedy, L. Hallett, C. Davis, A. Tomasso, S. Rendell, C. Whiteley, E. Taylor. Subs: B. Jefford, M. Burrows, T. Wright, M. Speechley-Price, J. Ragguette.

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