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Stags make Riley proud
After a troubled summer when the club’s financial problems prompted a mass exodus of senior players, the Stags’ new-look young side were bound to take time to find their feet.
But the lessons learned in heavy defeats against Stourbridge and Bideford almost earned them a draw when they fought from 3-0 down to 3-2 at Bedford on Saturday and, much to Riley’s delight, things finally clicked yesterday as they banked their first points in front of a 350-strong bank holiday crowd.
With seven youth team graduates in their squad, the outlook initially looked bleak for Totton’s inexperienced, young side when wily campaigner Tim Sills headed Bash in front with just two minutes gone.
But what Riley described as an early “kick in the teeth” was quickly forgotten on 24 minutes when Zac Mouland got across his marker to head home a corner.
Two minutes later fellow home-grown talent Luke Roberts propelled the Stags into dreamland with a left-foot finish that went in off the post.
Victory was crowned with five minutes remaining when Bash ’keeper Nic Jones was block-tackled by Taylor Edwards. The ball ran loose for Mouland, who took one touch before planting it into an empty net from distance. “It was a fantastic win,” beamed Riley. “Joe McCormack, our ’keeper, didn’t make a save in the first half and stopped one with his legs in the second.
“It was bitter-sweet to beat my old club, but sentiment goes out of the window when you’re getting points on the board. We’ve actually got more points now than we had after four games last season.
“After all the knock-backs we’ve had, I’m proud to be in charge of a hard-working group of players with big hearts and we’ll pick up points because of their attitude.
“They’re listening and getting stronger each game and I’m actually surprised by how quickly they’re growing each week. Now they’ve got to keep up that level of performance.
“Bashley have got some big units and were putting lots of balls into the box, but our lads dealt with it.
“Chris Ferrett, my assistant, played 90 minutes on Saturday and another 90 today and he gels things together on the pitch and helps the young lads through.
“Chris is 36 now, but that’s nothing compared to Bashley’s Taffy Richardson who’s 46 and played today!”
Totton’s win was all the sweeter considering they were without their two remaining senior players Nathaniel Sherborne (injured) and Ryan Hill (holiday).
“Sherbs could be another two weeks away, but he’s a voice in the dressing room and gets the lads wound up,” said Riley.
“It’s been lonely down at the bottom of the table and it’s great to get our first points.”
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