AFC Totton’s comprehensive 4-0 win over local rivals, Bashley Town, have ensured the Stags’ rise up the table after three wins in the last four games despite an uncharacteristically slow performance.
It was a largely uneventful first half, with Totton having most of the possession but nothing to show for their efforts. However, Nathaniel Sherborne was to be a threat from the outset after the goalkeeper had to produce a one-handed save in just the second minute.
Sherborne’s determination paid off on 24 minutes, after his solo run from the half way line brought him to the penalty box and he effortlessly dispatched the ball past Bashley goalkeeper, Rob Gillett to give the stags the lead.
Both teams appeared lacklustre and low in confidence after defeats in their last matches, and it took 36 minutes for Bashley to trouble Totton’s resident goalkeeper, Steve Mowthorpe, who made a routine catch to maintain his clean sheet.
It was definitely not Totton’s best performance of the season, but were still managing to create goal-scoring opportunities, and on 71 minutes, Sherborne blasted the ball home from close range, leaving Gillett with no chance to prevent his second of the game.
Misplaced passes from both teams left the game feeling a little disjointed, especially in the second half, but substitutes Jake Rawkins, James Roden and Matthew Brewer, breathed new air into the Totton side.
Brewer, who made his debut on Saturday in the 3-0 defeat to Cinderford, nearly made it four goals to the home side, but for a sliding tackle.
But with five minutes remaining, Rawkins’ curling cross into the box found Mike Gosney who headed the ball into the top right corner and just out of reach of Gillett once more.
Totton will be grateful to leave the Testwood Stadium with the three points in the bag after a good result but an unconvincing performance. The win lifts them one place in the table to 17th, and Bashley rock bottom and in serious trouble already.
The Stags play Tiverton Town in the FA Trophy on Saturday, but Gosney believes that the squad will have to revise their strategy for the weekend: “We were okay in patches today but will have to improve a lot against Tiverton.
“Tiverton will be a big test for us, and we will have to up the tempo a lot more, but it would be great if we could get a result and go on a cup run.”
AFC Totton team: Mowthorpe, Hibberd, Diaper, Williams, Dempsey**, Simpson, Burgess*, Allen, Feeney***, Sherborne, Gosney.
Subs: Rawkins*, Roden**, Brewer***