New midfielder set for debut

Steve Riley

Steve Riley

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Non-league football reporter

AFC TOTTON could have a new face in the fold for the visit of league leaders Hemel Hempstead Town in the Calor Southern Premier tomorrow.

Providing his registration goes through in time, the Stags should be bolstered by central midfielder Liam Gilbert who recently returned from a four-year stint in the United States.

Manager Steve Riley explained: “Liam’s been training with Havant & Waterlooville. He went to get some games with Horndean (in the Sydenhams Premier), but he wants to play the highest level he can and is keen to get involved.”

Having succumbed 2-0 to second-placed Chesham last Saturday, things don’t get any easier for the relegation-battling Stags.

Hemel are eight points clear of Chesham and Cambridge City as they bid to atone for last season’s play-off final heartbreak against Gosport Borough. They thumped the Stags 8-1 in Hertfordshire in November, but one ray of hope for Riley’s second-to-bottom side is that the Tudors have lost their last two games.

Hemel’s 11-match unbeaten run petered out 1-0 at Bideford a fortnight ago and last Saturday they went down by the same scoreline to lowly Frome Town, wrecking their 100 per cent home league record.

It was on-loan Swindon Town marksman Mark Francis – a player familiar to Totton fans – who grabbed Frome’s 49th-minute winner.

Francis had a spell on loan with the Stags earlier this season, making his debut at Sholing in the FA Cup. But the former Portsmouth youngster’s stay was cut short by a knee injury.

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