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Ex-Saints ace helps out Stags
7:30am Friday 18th October 2013 in Sport
WHILE manager Steve Riley and his assistant Chris Ferrett were out watching future opponents last Saturday, AFC Totton fielded a familiar face in their reserves.
And the locally-based 41-year-old was back at the club on Tuesday as the Stags geared up for tomorrow’s FA Trophy first qualifying round test at home to Clevedon Town with a first-versus-reserves training match.
Manager Riley explained: “We got the first-team and the reserves together to train and to watch the England game.
“Jo was involved because he’s been helping out with the reserve team.
“I asked him if he’d be available to play in the training game and he stuck out like a sore thumb.
“Some of the lads are so young that they didn’t know who he was, but you can tell he’s got experience and he’s still very fit as well.”
He has this week signed first-team forms for AFC Totton but Riley won’t be pestering him to play on a regular basis.
“Jo finds it difficult to commit and he’s not going to be travelling 150 miles over the country to play,” he said.
“But I’ve asked him if he would help with the youngsters and maybe play the odd game if needed.
“We’ve got senior players like Chris Ferrett, Ryan Hill and Joe McCormack already helping the young lads, but we’re a quiet side and we haven’t got many leaders and winners out there.
“All the boys have got big hearts and the effort’s there, but they need a bit of guidance on the pitch. We can only do so much from the sidelines.”
With Mark Stupple’s reserve side going well and Stags’ under-18s through to the FA Youth Cup third qualifying round, Riley is chuffed with the pool of young talent at his disposal.
“We’ve got a good base of 26-28 players to draw on and they’re all very keen,” he said. “Mark’s doing a great job with the reserves and hopefully we’ll get a few of those involved with the first team and one or two under-18s as well.”
While Ferrett was sizing up next Tuesday’s league opponents Poole Town last weekend, Riley took a trip to north Hampshire to see Clevedon play at Hartley Wintney in the FA Cup.
The Somerset side – second to bottom of the Southern One South & West - drew 1-1 but were humbled 4-3 by their Combined Counties visitors in Monday’s replay.
“Clevedon are a strong side with a decent work ethic who are a threat at set-pieces,” said Riley. “It would be nice to earn a bit of money (there is £2,700 on offer) and a win would give us confidence for the Poole game. You don’t get much tougher than Poole away with the squad they’ve got!” Totton are without defender Joe Noakes tomorrow. His parent club Havant & Waterlooville do not want him cup-tied. Poole are themselves in FA Trophy action tomorrow away to a Frome Town side who have appointed one of their former bosses, Brian O’ Donnell, as manager.
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