Tough FA Trophy draw for Totton

Totton on the attack against Basingstoke on Saturday.

Totton on the attack against Basingstoke on Saturday.

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

AFC Totton have been handed a tough draw away to Blue Square Premier high-fliers Forest Green Rovers in the FA Trophy first round.

The Stags’ reward for beating Basingstoke Town 3-0 on Saturday is a trip to the Cotswolds to take on the team currently third in English football’s fifth tier.

“Talk about getting a tough one!” laughed Stags boss Steve Riley. “We have to be realistic, we’ll be underdogs and anything we can take from the game will be a bonus. But I guarantee we’ll be up for the challenge.”

Forest Green are managed by former Saints coach Dave Hockaday, who replaced Georges Prost as youth team coach before being promoted to first-team coach.

He was placed on gardening leave by Saints in January 2009, within 19 months of his arrival, and joined Forest Green just over three years ago.

His fourth season with the club promises to be the most successful, with only Newport County and Grimsby Town separating them from the Conference summit.

One reason for their success this year has been 6ft 5in defender Aarran Racine, who has been excellent for the Gloucestershire outfit since being released by Saints in the summer.

Racine signed a three-month contract with Forest Green in August and was rewarded with a two-year deal in September.

“It’s hard to believe Aarran’s only 21,” said Hockaday recently. “He’s quite the specimen, big and strong but mobile and confident on the ball.”

Forest Green’s squad also includes midfielder Al Bangura, 24, who came through the Watford ranks under Hockaday but is best known as the former asylum seeker who won a much-publicised appeal that persuaded the Home Office not to return him to Sierra Leone five years ago. Despite their impressive league form, Forest Green will be determined to progress in the FA Trophy after losing 3-2 at home to League Two high-fliers Port Vale in the FA Cup last week.

Dorchester Town and Havant & Waterlooville have also been drawn against Blue Square Premier opposition. Ties will be played on November 24.

FA Trophy first round (selected ties): Dorchester Town v Luton, Forest Green v AFC Totton, Braintree v Havant & Waterlooville, Maidstone v Salisbury City.

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