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Totton young guns restore Riley's faith in football
MANAGER Steve Riley has been pleasantly surprised by his job at AFC Totton this season, admitting: “I didn’t realise I’d enjoy it so much.”
After a summer of turmoil behind the scenes, the Testwood Stadium post looked to be something of a poisoned chalice.
But Riley gamely chose to stay on and guide a new, young side through the choppy waters of the Southern Premier Division and he is finding the experience highly rewarding.
Totton travel to Cambridge City tomorrow looking to turn the corner on four straight defeats in league and cup.
But Riley knew it would not be plain sailing and is just pleased to see his keen, young proteges developing.
“You can’t scream and shout at these lads when things go wrong because we’re nurturing them,” he said.
“In a funny sort of way you look at some of our boys now and compare them to last season’s squad and, although they might not be as good quality-wise, their hearts are so big.
“They want to learn and listen and take things on board.
“Being so young, most of them wouldn’t have got into the side last year, but they’re standing up and listening and becoming better players and this is a great grounding for them “We’ve got to try and get a level of consistency each week because at the moment we’re getting opposite ends of the scale.
“But it’s so nice to see these lads getting opportunities.
“It’s great to work with them and see if they’ve been listening. If they’ve made a mistake in one game, they work hard to put it right in the next one and I can see the progress they’re making.”
“The performance was a lot, lot better and there so many positives,” said Riley.
“Nathan Hurst, another lad to come through the ranks, did really well in the middle of the park up against (ex-AFC Totton midfielder) Dave Allen and Rob Flooks also came in and had a good game.
“We were far more ruthless defensively and it was a performance full of endeavour and heart.
“The way we bounced back with discipline after the Sholing game was testament to the hard work and honesty of these players.
“I’ve never seen a Weymouth crowd so quiet and our lads deserve a big pat on the back”
Tomorrow promises to be another steep learning curve for the Stags.
Sixth-placed Cambridge have won five and drawn one of their last six league and cup games and triumphed 1-0 at St Albans City on Monday.
Totton will check on forward Alex Moth (ankle) and on-loan Swindon Town wideman Mark Francis (sore leg) who were injured at Weymouth. Francis, who was stretchered off, later tweeted: “Just bruised and sore, nothing serious.”
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