AFC Totton got their season up and running by salvaging a last-gasp 1-1 draw against Chesham United at the Testwood Stadium last night.
Set-piece maestro Ryan Hill buried a stoppage time free-kick to atone for an earlier mistake by centre-back Ross Bottomley who had gifted the visitors a seventh- minute lead.
Having watched the Stags lose their opening Southern Premier game 3-1 at Frome Town on Saturday, manager Steve Riley made a pre- match signing, welcoming former AFC Bournemouth, Weymouth and Dorchester man James Coutts back to the ranks from Gosport Borough.
Although a midfielder by trade, Coutts started up front with Richard Gillespie, allowing the verstatile Dave Allen to drop back into cen¬ tral midfield alongside skipper Carl Pettefer.
Coutts was the first to threaten, sending an early chance just wide.
But Totton were rocked on seven minutes when, instead of booting the ball out under pressure, Bottomley stooped to head it back to keeper Gareth Barfoot. But it was a weak attempt and Chesham No10 Simon Thomas nipped in, rounded Barfoot and slid the ball home on the angle.
For the first 20 minutes, the game was open and fast paced with Pettefer playing in Gillespie, who shot weakly across goal, and then Barfoot racing quickly off his line to snuff out the threat of former Windsor hotshot Michael Chennells.
As the pace of the game dropped, Totton winger Mike Gosney fired wide from 20 yards, but the Stags didn’t threaten again until the 55th minute when Gillespie spooned an effort over.
Ten minutes later a Hill free-kick cannoned off the keeper’s legs and then Chennells’ attempt to lob Barfoot was marginally too high.
All the second-half excitement was packed into time added on – much to the displeasure of the visitors, whose last visit to the Testwood Stadium had ended in play-off semi-final defeat.
First they conceded a free kick on the edge of the area which Hill thrashed home, via a slight deflection, from 25 yards.
Having seen their lead evaporate, Chesham then appealed for a penalty when Thomas went down in a heap with Bottomley. But, much to the relief of the 335 crowd, a Totton free kick was awarded. l The Stags are at home again on Saturday to Stourbridge, who draw 1-1 at Leamington last night.