Totton boss Steve Riley set for Bashley return

Daily Echo: STEVE RILEY STEVE RILEY

AFC Totton boss Steve Riley returns to former charges Bashley on Boxing Day wishing both clubs were in a better position.

Bash and the Stags face arguably the biggest game of their seasons as the strugglers clash in the Calor Southern Premier Division (1pm).

Riley had pinpointed the games over the festive period as vital in Totton’s bid for survival.

But that plan got off to the worst possible start as they slumped to a gutless 6-0 defeat at St Neots Town, in which ‘keeper Joe McCormack was shown a red card, last weekend.

Now they face a crunch match between the only club below them in the table, with Riley returning to his former charges in a position he’d rather not be in.

“Obviously we’d all like to be top of the league but that is just the situation we’re in and we have to deal with it,” he said. “I’m also very fond of Bashley. I have good memories there so its not good to see us both struggling.

“I’ve been in this game long enough to know that every game is going to be a battle.

“My lads are not shrinking violets they are still learning their trade.

“The consistency of our play is one thing I need to get right. We’ve sometimes got that good level of performance,but other times we are far from what we need.”

Riley returns to Bashley after leaving the helm in May 2012 after a seven- year spell in charge.

He masterminded Bashley’s surge to the Calor Division One South and West title in a record-breaking season in 2007.

“I’m looking forward to returning there. It will be a friendly atmosphere and there will be plenty of banter with all the people I know there,” he said.

“It will be a great contest for both clubs. Ideally it would be a in a different situation but, nonetheless, it will be good to see everyone and play a good match of football against a side that I want to match.”

Riley will also be reunited with good friend John Pyatt - joint-manager at Bash with Paul Gazzard, the latter was also Riley’s assistant manager during his tenure at the Recreation Ground.

“I keep in touch with John, he’s a good friend of mine. It will be bitter sweet to lock horns, there will be mutual respect and I’m looking forward to a good contest,” Riley said.

“I didn’t leave under a cloud so it’ll be a positive occasion. I’ll look forward to seeing all the people there.

“We’ve just to go there with an open mind. We really don’t know what team might turn up, and I’m expecting it to be tough.”

In last season’s Southern Premier clashes the Stags came out on top in both. Dave Allen, Richard Gillespie and Jamie Coutts netted in a 3-0 win away - before a 2-0 victory at the Testwood Stadium through Gillespie and Jonathan Davies.

Totton will welcome Ryan Hill back to the fold after illness kept him out of the St Neots thrashing, and Zac Mouland returns after serving a one-match ban.

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