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It's a giant-killing... Or is it?
KNOCKING out a team from two leagues higher normally classifies as an FA Cup giant-killing.
Despite Boatmen's boss Dave Diaper insisting otherwise, his experienced side were always favourites to beat a young Totton line-up, some whom are still acclimatising to first-team football.
Sholing, voluntarily back in the Sydenhams Wessex ranks after four successful seasons in the Southern One South & West, were too strong and streetwise for their visitors in Saturday’s first qualifying round clash.
It was all over as a contest by half-time with Sholing leading by goals from the outstanding Tyronne Bowers, Lee Wort (2) and Lewis Fennemore.
Totton managed to keep a clean sheet after the break but, having seen what his young side are capable of in league wins over Bashley and Chippenham, manager Steve Riley was sorely disappointed that the Stags had fallen short of those high standards.
“We didn't perform to the level we can against a Sholing side who were absolutely solid,” he said. “They're a good, organised unit who defend really well and they've got goal scorers in their side.
“We didn't defend well enough or compete well enough, which is sad. Collectively we haven’t done ourselves justice.
“Like I said to the players, I under-performed and they under-performed and I feel sorry for the fans who travelled here.
“I’ve apologised to the committee because that (performance) is probably not acceptable.
“But, having said that, we were up against a good side with strong, experienced players and I wish Dave and Sholing all the best.”
Totton were without their two loan centre-backs Joe Noakes (Havant & Waterlooville) and Rob Flooks (Gosport Borough), who were barred from playing by their parent clubs, while experienced goalkeeper Joe McCormack had work commitments.
That left goalkeeping coach Steve Hollick to face the full force of a pumped-up Sholing side who inflicted all the damage in the opening 45 minutes.
Bowers may be 34, but the feisty, little midfielder remains the heartbeat of the Boatmen’s side.
And it was the skipper who fired them into a seventh-minute lead in apparently controversial circumstances. Dan Miller had gone down in a heap challenging Hollick for Danny Cox's corner and, with the towering, blond defender still grounded in the six-yard box, Bowers drove home the loose ball from 25 yards out on the right.
“How that was never offside is beyond me. Our goalkeeper couldn't move,” said Riley.
Diaper was also mystified initially as to why the goal had been allowed, but said later: “I spoke to the referee and he said the rules had changed. If the player down is not directly interfering, the goal stands.”
Totton showed glimpses of attacking promise through new wide right signing Mark Francis, a first-year pro from Swindon Town, but defensively they couldn’t hold Sholing.
Wort made it 2-0 on 23 minutes, stabbing home Bowers' delivery from the right, and the two goals that followed completely knocked the stuffing out of the Stags after they had so nearly pulled it back to 2-1.
While Totton youngster Zac Mouland was desperately unfortunate to see his brilliant shot on the turn hit the near upright and fly harmlessly clear, Sholing midfielder Lewis Fennemore got lucky with an 18-yard effort that sneaked in off the inside of Hollick's left-hand post.
Sholing scored a fourth in stoppage time when Wort rammed home the loose ball after Pete Castle had mis-controlled Marvin McLean’s delivery from the right.
With young trio Taylor Edwards, Ellis White and Nathan Hurst all given run-outs, Totton avoided further damage in the second half as Sholing settled on their lead.
“It sounds silly, but we didn't go out looking to destroy Totton with more goals. We were quite happy with 4-0,” said Diaper. “The game was won and I told the lads at half-time that it was important to keep a clean sheet.
“We totally dominated and were brilliant in the first half. We controlled midfield and Tyzer (Bowers) rolled back the years and was pivotal in everything we did.”
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