Totton's young guns raise the bar

STEVE RILEY

STEVE RILEY

First published in Sport

AFC TOTTON’S senior players have a lot to live up to when they face manager Steve Riley’s old club Bashley at the Testwood Stadium tomorrow.

The bar was raised remarkably high on Tuesday when a predominantly young Stags side brushed aside Gosport Borough 3-1 to progress to the semi-finals of the Hampshire FA Senior Cup.

Five of the starting XI were youth team graduates – Jack Odam, Conor Thorne, Luke Roberts, Nathan Hurst and goalkeeper Ross Casey returning from loan at Winchester City.

Fringe players Matt Oldring and Jamie Rudd also played as did assistant manager Chris Ferrett who, at 36, brought up the average age of the side.

“I was chuffed to bits,” said Riley. “From a manager and coach’s point of view, it was one of the most satisfying performances since I’ve been here. It was one of the highlights of the season for me.

“Nathan Hurst and Conor Thorne were outstanding in the middle of the park as were young Luke Roberts and Jack Odam up front.

“It’s a big step up for young men, particularly at the standard we’re at, but it’s great to see these youngsters coming through.

“Gosport played a similar sort of side to us but, fair play to Alex (Borough boss Pike), he said the young players knocking on our door were better than the young ones knocking on his.”

Having completed their first Southern Premier double of the season over St Neots last weekend, Totton will gunning for another tomorrow having won 3-0 at Bashley in November.

But Riley, who spent seven years at Bashley Road, warned: “Hopefully we’ll get a big crowd in tomorrow and another for the Weymouth game on Tuesday.”

Totton are hopeful that winger Jono Davies will be fit, but there are doubts over on-loan AFC Bournemouth striker Jordan Chiedozie who has had a scan on a knee problem.

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