AFC TOTTON’S bright, new class of 2014 taught some of their pedigree predecessors a painful lesson at the Testwood Stadium on Saturday.
Against all the odds, Steve Riley’s young guns punctured a large a hole in Poole Town’s play-off prospects with a fabulous 3-1 victory in the Calor Southern Premier Division.
Poole were captained by Jamie Whisken, one of five former Stags in their starting line-up.
But it proved a miserable afternoon for the Dolphins – and for Whisken in particular with the big central defender sent off in the second half for a second bookable offence.
Poole had made the early running and almost scored with a header from another of their ex-Totton contingent, Richard Gillespie, but goalkeeper Steve Mowthorpe denied him by acrobatically tipping it past the post for a corner.
Instead, it was Totton who took a 22nd-minute lead thanks to a sublime solo effort from AFC Bournemouth loanee Harrison Gilkes, who beat two men at the by-line before cheekily slotting the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Dan Thomas, who himself had a spell on loan with the Stags under former manager Stuart Ritchie.
Come the hour mark, it was 2-0 with James Jennings expertly bending a free-kick round the defensive wall and into the bottom corner.
The already booked Whisken was then sent off following a late tackle on Nathaniel Sherborne, but ten-man Poole gave themselves a lifeline when Luke Burbidge halved the arrears with a chip into the far corner.
But with the Dolphins in frantic search of a leveller, Totton hit a third on the break – Sherborne racing onto Jennings’ pass and drilling low past Thomas to complete a jubilant afternoon for the Stags.
Delighted boss Steve Riley said: “We had no Lewis Lindsay or Drew Bridge, so we were missing two of our back four – plus we had Luke Roberts out.
“Chris Onoufriou came in at centre-half and (assistant manager) Chris Ferrett also played – so our age range was 17 to 34!
“It was a great save by Steve early on to deny Gilly, but it wasn’t a great day for Poole’s ex-Totton lads.
“Jamie Whisken was sent off and both Jono Davies and Carl Pettefer were subbed. I don’t suppose it’s a day they’ll want to remember.
“But, from our point of view, it’s a massive win and we’ve sent the crowd home happy.”
Despite their inspired recent form, Totton still face mission impossible to escape the third relegation spot.
They have just four games remaining – starting at home to Redditch United tomorrow – to wipe out an eight-point deficit and an inferior goal difference.
“If it’s too little, too late, it’s not for want of trying,” said Riley.
“It was another great all-round team performance.
“We’ll try and take the same performance level into Tuesday and hopefully we’ll get some more points on the board.”