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Stags slip to fifth successive Southern League defeat
4:22pm Sunday 6th October 2013 in Sport
AFC TOTTON introduced three new players for yesterday’s Calor Southern Premier Division home showdown with Banbury United.
But it was another debutant, Banbury’s Dom Lawless, who took centre stage with two goals as the second-to-bottom Stags lost 3-1 at the Testwood Stadium – their fifth league defeat on the bounce.
Totton boss Steve Riley named two young Portsmouth loanees in his starting line-up – left-back Liam Triggs and central midfielder George Branford – and also brought in ex-Eastleigh reserve winger Lerone ‘Rudy’ Plummer, dual-signed from Sydenhams Premier Division outfit Brockenhurst.
With a bumper 505 crowd taking advantage of a ‘Kids Go Free’ day, Totton’s young guns had the better of the early play and took a 12th-minute lead when Ryan Hill sent a free kick dipping over goalkeeper Leigh Bedwell from 25 yards.
But, having struggled initially, Banbury hit back on 32 minutes when Kynan Isaac slipped the ball through for giant striker Leon Simpson to slot home.
The Oxfordshire visitors doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time when Isaac beat his man on the left, carried the ball to the bye-line and cut back for former Bedford striker Lawless to finish.
Then, ten minutes into the second half, the Stags were left with a mountain to climb when Aaron Morgan’s free-kick was tipped onto the bar by Joe McCormack.
The ball came out to Simpson whose header was parried by the Totton ’keeper, but only as far as Lawless who bagged his second of the game. “We played at a good tempo for the first 20 minutes and deserved to go one up,” reflected Totton boss Steve Riley.
“But we switched off for a 15-minute period and were guilty of a bit of ball-watching.
“I was disappointed with two of the three Banbury goals. The second and third were avoidable.
“Whereas Banbury had the guile and know-how in both penalty areas, our lack of experience is costing us at key moments.
“We had chances to get back into it. Rob Flooks caused havoc, nodding the ball across the box, but there was no one to put it over the line.
“If we could have got back to 3-2, we might have gone on to get something out of the game, but that confidence in front of goal wasn’t there.
“But it was no disgrace and the level of performance was there from each player. We’ve just got to keep on learning as a team.
“We had 505 watching today and, for the crowd’s sake, I wish we could have got a win. But I had loads of people telling me afterwards how well the lads had played.
“We won’t be hitting the panic button. It’s still early in the season and two wins would take us into mid-table.”
Totton take a break from league action tomorrow to visit Graham Rix’s AFC Portchester in the Hampshire FA Senior Cup. The Stags, meanwhile, will entertain Clevedon Town in the FA Trophy first qualifying round on Saturday week (October 19). Clevedon booked their ticket by beating ex-Stag Craig Davis’s Fleet Town 3-0.
*Former AFC Totton striker Richard Gillespie scored twice for Poole Town at Stourbridge on Saturday.
But it proved a fruitless afternoon for Tom Killick’s men who were beaten 5-2 by last term’s league runners-up – the Dolphins’ first league defeat of the season.
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