STEVE Riley has no intention of giving up the ghost on AFC Totton’s survival fight.

With a 13-point gap now separating the Stags from fourth-to-bottom safety, Riley’s young guns will have to go some to reel in the likes of St Neots and Chippenham, who sit just above the Calor Southern Premier drop zone.

But despite back-to-back home defeats by the division’s top two, Chesham United (0-2) and Hemel Hempstead (1-4), performances have been sufficiently encouraging to convince team boss Riley that all is not lost.

“Chesham beat us 2-0 and scored with the last kick of the game and last week we went in 1-0 down at half-time against the league leaders Hemel and really made them work for the three points,” he said.

“If we can work as hard as that every week, we stand a chance, but we’ve got to keep that level of performance up against the teams around us.

“We need wins, draws are no good to us.

“As long as the points are up for grabs, we are going to remain positive and take performance levels as high as we can. I’m fully focused on trying to get us out of the relegation zone.

“These players have got big hearts and I think the fans appreciate that.

“It’s easy to be critical, but we need people to stay strong and positive and keep supporting us.”

Totton, who pay a trip to ninth-placed Biggleswade Town tomorrow, were heartened by a hard-working debut from new midfield recruit Liam Gilbert against Hemel.

Gilbert, recently back from four years playing and coaching in America, is 24 years old, practically giving him ‘veteran’ status in a Stags side packed with youngsters. “It was a bit of a shock when they said I was one of the oldest (in the Totton team), but I want to bring a positive spirit to the side,” he said. “There is still an outside chance we can climb the league. Who knows what could happen.”