AFC TOTTON conceded a hat-trick of first-half penalties in their 4-1 opening day defeat at the hands of Stourbridge.

But, considering the mountain of problems Steve Riley’s side have had to contend with over the summer, it was a promising performance against one of the favourites for the Calor Southern Premier Division title.

Having fallen behind to a 13th- minute Sean Geddes penalty fol lowing a foul by Ellis White, Totton rallied to equalise on 22 minutes when young Taylor Edwards showed great compo sure to finish off a through pass by fellow youth team graduate Zac Mouland.

But the Stags were beaten by two more spot kicks (30 and 41 minutes) presenting Geddes with a first-half hat-trick, and they were undone again early in the second half when Leon Broadhurst’s shot went in via a cruel deflection.

The good news for Totton was the lifting of the Southern League embargo which had prevented the Stags from signing more than 16 players until they had reached an agreement with last season’s squad over unpaid wages.

That freed up Riley to bring in former Newport IoW and Salisbury City goalkeeper Joe McCormack, part of the Stags’ 2007 FA Vase final squad, and young ex-AFC Bournemouth striker Alex Moth who finished last season with divisional rivals Bashley.

The down side was that striker Nathaniel Sherborne, who missed the whole of last season with a broken leg, was unable to play due to an injury sustained during last week’s FA Vase reunion friendly which he organised.

“Sherbs has had another set back, hurting his knee in the charity friendly, and it doesn’t look as if he’ll make the trip to Bideford tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Riley.

“But young Taylor Edwards played well up front and put away a good finish to score. There were lots of positives to come out of the game.

“Stourbridge are going to be up there this season and our lads will have learned a lot.

“We were a bit naïve, though, with the way we gave away the penalties.

“It was a greasy surface and we’ve got to learn to stay on our feet and not lunge in.

“We played some good stuff at times and, if it hadn’t been for the penalties, we might have got a draw.

“We were better defensively in the second half and showed more composure.

“A lot of the lads grew as the game went on.

“When we go to Bideford tomor row we’ve got to start as we fin ished against Stourbridge.

“What we lack in experience, we make up for in effort, heart and commitment.

“This was the first of 46 tough matches this season and we haven’t let ourselves down what soever.

“Joe McCormack came in and did well. He works at Southampton Airport and midweek games will be tough for him. But I used to play with Joe over at Newport IoW and he’s a good goalkeeper and a good char acter to have around.”

*Former AFC Totton skipper Carl Pettefer scored for Poole Town as they marked their Southern Premier arrival with a 2-1 home win over St Albans.

Steve Devlin bagged the winner for the Dolphins, who included ex-Blackfield & Langley winger Ekow Elliott in their starting line- up along with former AFC Bournemouth left-back Warren Cummings.

Cummings has signed a month’s deal at Tatnam as emergency cover and will work towards his coaching badges during his stay.

Bashley battled out a 0-0 draw at Biggleswade Town.