Stags boss Riley feels for players after agonising away defeat

Daily Echo: Steve Riley Steve Riley

STEVE Riley couldn’t help but feel sympathy for his players in the wake of Saturday’s valiant 2-1 defeat at Redditch United.

Despite putting in a vastly improved performance, the Stags’ Southern League Premier losing streak continued as they were floored by a last-minute Joe Ballinger winner.

With goalkeeper Joe McCormack in sharp form, Totton kept the damage down to just one goal at half-time – a 15th minute effort by Harvey Headley.

Totton came into it after the break with James Jennings having a shot deflected just wide and Rob Flooks brushing the bar with a header.

They got the equaliser they deserved with 14 minutes to go when sub Taylor Edwards shirked off two tackles before finishing.

But just when it looked as if their first point in eight games beckoned, Ballinger rose unchallenged to head in Ashley Sammons’ floated free-kick.

“It’s difficult to take conceding that late, but when you’re luck’s not in, it’s not in,” sighed Riley.

“I feel sorry for the lads because they did enough to deserve something from the game.

“I can’t criticise the performance, they worked their socks off. We were more ruthless defensively and more organised.

“Alex Moth came back after three weeks out with an ankle injury and played in the middle with Lewis Ross and Luke Roberts and we looked absolutely solid in there.

“We kept our concentration well and took the game to Redditch in the second half.”

Totton had conceded 27 times in their previous five games and Riley added: “We’ve at least stopped the rot of leaking loads.

“I’m disappointed because we should have come home with something but, hopefully, we can take that level of performance into tomorrow’s home game against Chippenham and look to get some points over the Christmas period.”

With St Neots beating Frome 3-1, Totton have slipped nine points off fourth-to-bottom safety.

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