AT 17, Zac Mouland is one of the younger members of an extremely youthful AFC Totton squad.
But, like his teammates, the attacking midfielder is getting better with every game he plays in the Calor Southern Premier Division’s school of hard knocks.
The Barton Peveril student’s eye for goal has been demonstrated over the last week as he has found the net twice in back-to-back encounters with Corby Town.
The youngster raced out of the blocks at Testwood Park last Saturday, beating a defender to Rob Flooks’ lofted pass and belying his tender years by sliding a composed finish under the ’keeper to set the Stags on their way to a 2-1 win.
The Steelmen exacted their revenge by going 3-0 up in Northamptonshire on Wednesday, but Mouland had the last word three minutes from time, netting his ninth league goal of the season.
“Zac’s a good lad and he’s developed really well. He’s only 17 and our under-18 side have been trying to get him to play for them,” smiled manager Steve Riley.
“He and full-back Drew Bridge are both from our under-18 squad and the pair of them have come on in leaps and bounds. “Those two, Nathan Hurst, Taylor Edwards and Luke Roberts have all come through our youth system which is really good to see.”
It hasn’t been easy for Totton’s young guns this season fighting what might still ultimately be a losing battle for Premier Division survival.
But five wins and a draw from their last nine games is a mark of their growing maturity.
“The way these lads have developed is testament to their attitude,” said Riley. “It would have been easy to have given up the ghost and gone down to a lower level to ply their trade, but these lads don’t want to do that.”
Totton, away to mid-table Arlesey tomorrow, remain third-to-bottom, ten points away from the safety zone.
Their recent burst of form has pulled them 13 points clear of Riley’s old club, Bashley, but there was positive news from the cash-strapped New Forest outfit this week.
A group of four life vice-presidents are understood to have saved Bash from folding and the club have announced that they WILL compete in the Southern League next season.
It is thought Ray Pinney, chairman under Riley’s successful reign, will team up with Trevor Adams, Pat Bowering and June Breckon to save the 67-year-old club from extinction.