AFC TOTTON maintained their impressive home form with a 2-0 Southern Premier win over neighbours Bashley this afternoon.
Goals by Richard Gillespie and Jono Davies made it six home league victories on the bounce for the Stags, who completed a seasosn double over manager Steve Riley’s old club.
The home crowd gave a warm welcome to fans’ favourite Stefan Brown, who is back at the club on a month’s loan from Basingstoke Town.
And the returning hero couldn’t have hoped for a better start as he teed-up Richard Gillespie to put Totton in front after just three minutes.
Brown delivered a tempting cross from the left and Gillespie – just back on his feet having been winded by a hefty challenge from Mark Gamble – planted a firm, close-range header beyond the reach of keeper Stuart Moore.
Bashley, playing their first game for four weeks, shook off their early rustiness with a strong spell of pressure and Gary Middleton wasn’t far away with a header just over the bar.
Totton responded with a long-range Baily Cargill effort which comfortably cleared the bar and, at the other end, Stags keeper Gareth Barfoot dealt with a tricky Ian Oliver cross.
On 19 minutes Bash conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position when Tim Stephenson fouled Jono Davies. Ryan Hill’s fiercely struck a free-kick rebounded back to him off the defensive wall and he blasted the follow-up wide.
On 26 minutes Bashley’s Rob Gradwell tried his luck from 40 yards after Barfoot had strayed off his line, but the Stags keeper was quickly back across to gather.
Totton defender Ross Bottomley then sent a header over from Mike Gosney’s corner before performing heroics at the other end to keep the visitors out.
Twice in quick succession Bottomley blocked shots from Middleton and when the ball fell to the Bash No. 5 for a third time Barfoot managed to deny him on the line.
With the New Forest outfit continuing to press, Barfoot did well to tip over ex-Stag Charlie Knight’s inswinging corner at full stretch.
On 42 minutes Brown caught the ball crisply on the half volley just outside the area and his shot was deflected narrowly wide.
Totton looked in grave danger of surrendering their lead on 50 minutes when Barfoot fumbled a routine cross.
But he instantly redeemed himself with a good block from George Colson.
After absorbing more pressure the Stags broke in the 56th minute when Davies picked out Gillespie’s run, but ex-Totton defender Ian Richardson denied his old teammate with a fine tackle on the edge of the area.
Apart from a scuffed shot by Jamie Whisken, which deflected into Moore’s arms, Totton didn’t threaten again until the 69th minute when Davies had a flicked header saved as he latched onto Gosney’s free-kick from the right.
By then both sides had taken off their top scorers with James Stokoe replacing Gamble for Bashley and Totton’s Luke Whitley going on for Gillespie.
Bash had a narrow escape when first Whitley and then Davies stabbed the ball goalwards following Gosney’s corner, but it eventually went harmlessly wide.
But the visitors were not so fortunate on 79 minutes as Totton doubled their lead with a sublime finish from Davies.
Gosney again delivered a flag-kick from the right which Bash could only clear to the edge of the area. And there was Davies to smash an acrobatic volley past the helpless Moore.
With two minutes of normal time remaining Gosney sent a well struck free-kick just wide.
Bash substitute James Stokoe had the ball in the net in stoppage time but had already been flagged for off-side.