AFC TOTTON suffered set-piece heartbreak as they were pegged back for a 3-3 Southern Premier draw by Arlesey Town at a chilly Testwood Stadium last night.
Having fallen into first-half arrears, the Stags hit back to lead twice after the break, only to succumb to an 89th-minute free-kick scored by Blues’ dangerman Drew Roberts.
Totton had survived an early scare when Danny Gordon headed on Roberts’ third-minute corner and the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar.
By and large, it was a poor first half for the home side, but the game sprang to life on 12 minutes when Arlesey goalkeeper Nathan Abbey touched Jamie Whisken’s header over for a corner and, from Baily Cargill’s delivery, Stefan Brown flicked a shot off the post.
Arlesey broke immediately with Ollie Thorne bursting forward and having his shot pushed away by Gareth Barfoot in the Totton goal.
Barfoot saved well again from a fiercely struck Roberts free-kick on 20 minutes, but he parried the ball only as far as Chris Dillon who crashed it in off the underside of the woodwork to put the visitors ahead.
On 35 minutes Roberts burst downfield after a Totton free kick had been blocked and, with Barfoot back-pedalling, Ryan Hill saved the day with a well-timed tackle.
Stags winger Jono Davies then embarked on a 60-yard run before laying the ball off to Richard Gillespie who fired just past the post.
Totton upped their game after the break, equalising on 58 minutes when Gillespie’s low shot deflected kindly for James Coutts to tuck away.
Six minutes later, following good work by Brown, Gillespie was tripped by Abbey and got up to strike the penalty low to the keeper’s left.
Arlesey won a spot kick of their own on 73 minutes which Roberts tucked away, but their celebrations had barely subsided when Whisken’s looping header put Totton back in front from Hill’s free kick.
That looked to be enough until the 89th minute when, yet again, the Stags were punished from a set play.
The hosts had one last chance to win it in stoppage time when Brown cut inside, but his shot was well tipped over by Abbey much to the disappointment of a 235 crowd.
Totton, still tenth, are at home again to Banbury United on Saturday.