AS part of a defence that has conceded just 16 league goals all season, AFC Totton goalkeeper Shane Murphy hasn’t always had the busiest of times.

But had it not been for an outstanding show of first-half defiance from the 24-year-old former Dorchester Town stopper, the Stags' ‘goals against’ column might have made very different reading following yesterday’s Evo-Stik South West showdown against Cirencester Town.

Thanks to Murphy’s all-action display – and a much improved second-half performance from Totton – the Stags got December off to a winning 2-1 start after an unbeaten November in the league.

Yet for much of the first half it looked as if the players, who had rocked up in festive jumpers bearing gifts for the club’s children’s toy appeal, had knocked off early for Christmas.

Luckily, Murphy’s mind was fully focused and, barring the catastrophic events of the 38th minute when Tommy Anderson was gift-wrapped an opener for Cirencester, he repelled everything the Gloucestershire visitors could throw at him.

Under the circumstances, going in just one goal down would have been a bonus for Totton. Instead, they managed to scrape themselves back on terms in first-half stoppage time when Craig Feeney sent keeper Thom Jonkerman the wrong way from the spot after being floored by Alexandru Albert.

The Stags got their act together after the break and the winner arrived ten minutes in when, following good work by Jack Masterton and Curtis Young, Feeney burst through to find the bottom corner.

Murphy still had a couple of vital saves to make from Louis and Henry Spalding before both sides hit the crossbar late on – Dave Allen clipping the woodwork from point-blank range from Feeney’s cutback and Ciren’s Ben Whitehead seeing his shot bounce down off the underside of bar.

“We definitely didn’t start how we’d have liked, but we got a bit of a lifeline with Feens' penalty and that gave us momentum. We defended much better second half and put bodies on the line,” said Murphy.

Asked about his own stunning contribution, Totton’s man-of-the-match was modest.  "It’s probably the first time this season I’ve been called upon like that. In the other games, the lads have been brilliant,” he said. "I was pleased with my performance.

“We know we can play a lot better as a team than we did today, but the most important thing was to get the win and keep the unbeaten run going.”

Totton boss Louis Langdown added: "Shane was excellent. He made some saves, which is what he's there for.

"As a team we were poor, very poor, first half. Normally we can handle one or two being off it, but when ten are off it, we're in trouble.

"But I didn't want to change the personnel.

"We had to reorganise ourselves and credit to us for doing it effectively. It's the first time we've come back from behind and won a game." 

"I'm pleased for Feens, he took his second goal very well.

"It wasn't the best game of football, but you're not always going to have good games."

The result leaves the Stags inside the South West play-off zone in sixth.

AFC Totton: Shane Murphy, Connor York, Ian Oliver, Jack Masterton, Jack Barker, Jack Smith, Curtis Young, Alfy Whittingham (Pip Nolan, 82), Craig Feeney, Tony Lee (Toby Adekunle, 66), Charlie Gunson (Dave Allen, 87). Subs (not used): Robin Nicholls, Callum Chugg.

Referee: Declan O’Shea.

Attendance: 262.