IF 11th-placed AFC Totton are to stage a late push for the Southern Premier play-offs, it will be their home form that gets them there.
Steve Riley’s men have had their troubles on the road this term, but Saturday’s 2-1 victory over St Neots Town was their fifth consecutive league triumph at the Testwood Stadium.
The Stags had a sixth-minute scare when Dan Jacob’s far-post cross was volleyed over from point-blank range by Ben Mackey.
But Totton broke the deadlock on 39 minutes when Richard Gillespie raced onto Baily Cargill’s long ball and was tripped as he attempted to round Giddens. Referee Tranter showed the keeper only a yellow card before Gosney drove home the penalty.
The Stags took just two second-half minutes to double their lead when on-loan AFC Bournemouth youngster Cargill charged into the area and unleashed a shot which deflected in off defender Jordy Nkinga.
St Neots made a triple substitution midway through the half and adopted a more offensive formation.
Their efforts paid off on 72 minutes when Bottomley was rather harshly penalised for a challenge on Adrian Sear and Mackey fired home from the spot. The visitors pushed up in search of a late leveller but were foiled by keeper Gareth Barfoot who held onto a low Craig Salver strike before denying the lively Sear from close range.
“It wasn’t a pretty second half and the goalkeepers were probably man of the man-of-the-match for each side,” reflected Totton boss Riley in the wake of the Stags’ first home-and-away double of the season.
“We took young Jordan Chiedozie off and changed to a 4-5-1 to try and protect what we had.
“We’d had to take Jono Davies off injured just before half-time, but Jamie Rudd came on and did a great job in the middle of the park.
“But outstanding for me today were Mike Gosney’s deliveries from set-pieces.
“He looked refreshed after a spell out (with back problems) and had a real spring in his step.”
Totton are in action again tomorrow when they host in-form Southern Premier rivals Gosport in the Hampshire Senior Cup quarter-final.