TOTTON & Eling’s top-flight future remains in the balance following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat away to a Bournemouth Poppies side who are gradually easing themselves out of the relegation mire.
But, encouragingly for the Millers, they finally have something bordering on a full quota of players to help them through the remainder of the Sydenhams Premier campaign.
“Saturday was the first time I can remember that we’ve had a squad of 16,” said co-boss Stuart Hussey.
“Ben Thomson wasn’t available but, other than that, we were at full strength.”
The Millers got off to a decent start, taking a tenth-minute lead when Poppies’ Will Robinson was adjudged to have handled and Dougie Rowe delivered from the penalty spot.
But Robinson soon redeemed himself when his fierce strike whistled past T&E ’keeper Kevin O’Rourke to make it 1-1 at the break.
Poppies suffered a blow when top scorer Martin Warren limped off with a groin strain on 63 minutes.
But Totton’s relief at seeing the big centre-forward exit was quickly wiped out when Luke Ingram floored them with a 67th-minute header.
“The conditions were atrocious and the pitch was atrocious, but it was the same for both sides,” said Hussey.
“They had three or four chances in the first half and we had several second-half chances but didn’t take them.
“Matt Gray missed a volley at the back post and Eddie Zanin missed a similar chance, and we had two or three shots from the edge of the box.
“A draw would have been fair, but it seems that everything goes against you when you’re down near the bottom.”
The result leaves the Millers 19th with just two points’ breathing space over the bottom two.
“Our ambition is to stay in the league and if that means finishing third-to-bottom then so be it,” said Hussey.
“With all the commotion at the club and the alterations to the team, it can’t be anything else.”
Poppies have increased their cushion over the relegation zone to seven points ahead of Saturday’s trip to second-to-bottom Fawley.
“There is still a long way to go,” said boss Ken Vaughan. “In the past four or five games we have been playing much better and if we keep pushing on we will be all right. But, having said that, we are not out of the woods yet.”
Weather allowing, T&E host Brockenhurst tonight. Thomson returns, but defender Scott Gilham is unavailable.