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Tooting & Mitcham United Preview

Tasty clashes don’t come any better than tomorrow’s game when league leaders Tooting & Mitcham United arrive at the Pan on the back of a seven game winning streak in the Ryman League South. The Terrors have boosted their squad in recent weeks, bringing in experienced defender Kevin Maclaren from Hendon as well as re-signing top scorer Billy Dunn (24 goals) who had left for a brief, unsuccessul spell at Greenwich Borough.  Dunn will partner Mike Dixon who has scored 19 goals himself.  Former Rook Jordan Wilson has scored seven whilst they’ve also recently brought in Godalming Town’s star striker Jack Mazzone.

After last Saturday’s impressive win at Cray Wanderers, Darren will once again have a strong squad to choose from with the only notable absence being Jamie Brotherton who is still struggling with a calf injury.  Alex Malins and Dean Bown who both missed out last week due to injury are back in contention, whilst Ronnie Conlon has made good progress in shaking off his injury issue.

How’s this season been for The Terrors?
It’s fair to say that most Terror’s fans weren’t expecting such a strong, consistent performance from the side this season but they have comfounded both their own fans as well as the league as a whole by keeping on winning, even when they lost top scorer Dunn for a period.  They’ve scored the second most number of league goals this season (92 so far) and have scored four or more goals on ten different occasions including 8 against Molesey and 7 against Chipstead.  Away from home they won ten times, more than any other side in the league bar Hythe Town, although they have lost at fellow promotion candidates Greenwich Borough and Walton Casuals.

Current Form (Six Ryman League games)

Lewes –   W 4 D 1 L 1 GS 14 GA 7 Pts 13
TMUFC – W 6 D 0 L 0 GS 19 GA 4 Pts 18

Last time we met – October 2016 – Tooting & Mitcham United 0 Lewes 0
Darren Freeman was able to field the same outfield starting ten as he did on Tuesday night at Tilbury, with recent loan signing Lucas Covolan coming in for the absent Chris Winterton.  The confidence from the victory in Essex earlier in the week was clear to see in the opening exchanges as the Lewes midfield, with Culley and Brotherton switching positions to confuse the hosts, whilst Charlie Coppola had the beating of the full-back almost at will.

Ronnie Conlon had an early chance after a superb run by Brotherton down the left and cutting inside his man but his acrobatic effort appeared to strike an arm.  Duncan Culley was then played in by a superb Brotherton long ball but his lob beat the keeper and the cross-bar.  He then had a close-range effort superbly saved by Pierson after some lovely approach play by Brinkhurst, Coppola and Conlon, then finally he missed from a few yards as he couldn’t quite get his foot around a ball played across the area by Coppola.

At the other end debutant Lucas Covolan had to be alert to make sharp saves from Dunn and Bassett, but actually rarely looked troubled.  Despite some very erratic decisions by the officials, Lewes continued to look for the opening goal towards the end of the half but couldn’t find a way through the solid Tooting back line.  In the last seconds of the half, Charlie Coppola turned awkwardly and went down in serious pain, leaving the field clearly in discomfort as the half-time whistle blew.

Coppola didn’t emerge for the second half, instead it was the return of Jonté Smith that had the fans applauding.  The second period couldn’t have been more different.  The sunshine disappeared and so too did some of our first-half swagger and confidence.  The hosts took the game to Lewes and all of a sudden we seemed to struggle, although it has to be said that Freeman and Cotton were once again outstanding in the middle of defence.  The Rooks weathered a real onslaught with corner after corner being thrown into the middle of the box, but defended superbly.

At the other end the Rooks had a couple of chances to grab all three points, with Harrington, Hammond and Jonté Smith all having chances but Pierson was on top form to ensure that the game ended goal-less.

Last time here at The Pan – December 2011 – Lewes 3 Tooting & Mitcham United 1 (Attn:559)
A stormy encounter that saw the visitors end the game with just eight players on the pitch and Lewes run out winners in the Ryman Premier League thanks to goals from Christian Nanetti, Michael Malcolm and Alex Stavrinou.  A report on the game can be read here.