AFC TOTTON – and their goalkeeper Gareth Barfoot – will be looking to avoid an unwelcome treble at play-off chasing Barwell tomorrrow.
The Stags have lost two away games in the last week, conceding seven goals in the process - and Barfoot has been sent off in both of them.
Having been rightly shown red for a head butt in last Saturday’s 4-0 Hitchin horror show, the former Eastleigh stopper was somewhat unfortunate to get his marching orders again in Tuesday’s 3-0 Southern Premier loss at Stourbridge.
“You can’t legislate for what happened at Hitchin, but Gareth was a bit unfortunate on Tuesday,” said Totton boss Steve Riley.
“A ball came over the top and it looked like Jamie Whisken was going to deal with it. But Gareth called for it and their lad (Luke Benbow) nipped in on the blindside and nicked it off his toes. Gareth caught him and the ref sent him off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
“Whether we had covering defenders was debatable, but Gareth’s not had much luck.
“We’re still trying to find out what his suspension will be. We’re thinking it’s probably five games – three for violent conduct, one for denying a goalscoring opportunity and one for getting two reds in a row – but the worst-case scenario is seven.”
Riley is undecided how to cover for the ’keeper’s impending ban. Goalkeeping coach Steve Hollick went on at Hitchin in the absence of Barfoot’s young understudy Ross Casey, who was himself suspended last Saturday but played the last 40 minutes at Stourbridge.
Bringing in an experienced loan keeper is the other option, but Riley has a few days to decide.
“Gareth’s suspension won’t start until next Saturday, so I’ve got a window to work out the way forward,” he said.
“Young Ross came on and did okay at Stourbridge. Consistency comes with experience at our level and you can only find out by giving players opportunities. I shall speak to Steve Hollick and see what we need to do.”
Considering Totton also had Ross Bottomley, Ryan Hill and James Coutts out with flu on Tuesday, Riley couldn’t have asked for more from his side.
“It was a valiant effort against a very tough team. I couldn’t fault anyone,” he said.
“This is a tough old league, but we’re still ninth with two home games to come and we’ll go to Barwell tomorrow and try and do a job.”