HAVING had goalkeeper Gareth Barfoot sent off twice in four calamitous days, AFC Totton were adamant the boot should have been on the other foot on Saturday.
The Stags appealed long and loud for a penalty against Barwell ’keeper Liam Castle towards the end of a tight Southern Premier battle at Kirkby Road. But, much to manager Steve Riley’s disgust, referee Dumitru-Ravel Cheosiaua saw nothing wrong with Castle’s hefty challenge on Stefan Brown.
With seven minutes remaining and Totton trailing 1-0, Basingstoke loan striker Brown chased a ball over the top and headed wide as Castle crashed into him.
“Their goalkeeper took Stefan out and it should have been a penalty and a red card,” said Riley, right. “I went in for a chat with the officials afterwards and the linesman said it was a just a collision.
“I said if it had happened anywhere else on the pitch that someone goes for the ball, misses it and then collides with the opposition player, would that be acceptable, and they didn’t have an answer to that.
“The ’keeper came off the pitch laughing at the end and even Barwell’s manager said he couldn’t believe it.
“Anyone with a football brain could see it was a foul. Had we got a penalty and come back to 1-1, we’d have been on the front foot and that’s how a game changes.
“I couldn’t fault our performance level today. We were quite solid in the first half and it was a great second-half display.”
With top scorer Richard Gillespie out with flu, young Luke Roberts partnered Brown in attack, while Jamie Rudd replaced the unavailable Jono Davies.
All looked reasonably good for the Stags in the first 40 minutes but, having survived a strong Barwell penalty appeal when Jamie Whisken’s foul on Guy Hadland was adjudged to have taken place outside the area, they quickly slipped into arrears.
Luke Barlone’s fierce free-kick was pushed away by Barfoot and Scott Lower reacted quickest to bury the loose ball.
The Stags made a bright start to the second half with Baily Cargill having a dangerous cross scrambled away. Midway through the half, Roberts’ dangerous cross was cleared to the edge of the Barwell area where Carl Pettefer had a low shot blocked.
Then, after Totton’s penalty claims had fallen on deaf ears, Barfoot saved well to deny Kevin Charley in a frantic finale before Brown shot narrowly wide at the other end.
After enduring a torrid run of three straight away defeats without scoring, the Stags will welcome home matches against Arlesey tomorrow and Banbury on Saturday.
But, having dropped to tenth, they must find a quick solution to their woeful away form if they are to mount a late play-off push.