THE 4-0 scoreline doesn’t tell the true story of AFC Totton’s defeat at Hungerford Town Heading into the 83rd minute, Steve Riley’s Calor Southern Premier basement boys were trailing by just a single Mark Draycott goal at Bulpit Lane.
But with the Stags all too aware that only wins will drag them out of the relegation mire, they gambled going forward and were clinically picked off with three goals in the last seven minutes by the merciless Crusaders, who are due to visit the Testwood Stadium tomorrow (7.45pm).
“It certainly wasn’t a 4-0 game – even their manager admitted they were hanging on at 1-0,” said Riley.
“But we were pushing hard on a really heavy pitch and two of their late goals came on the break when we were pressing into their half.
“We need to win games now rather than draw them and we threatened them a couple of times through Sam House and Luke Roberts before they made it 2-0.
“Until that last seven minutes we competed well although, overall, we didn’t really test their keeper enough and, as soon as their second goal went in, it took the wind right out of our sails. “I felt so sorry for our lads because they knew that was a killer goal.”
Hungerford had found chances hard to come by until Draycott broke the deadlock after 30 minutes, capitalising on good work from Alan O’Brien.
Totton ’keeper Steve Mowthorpe coped well with anything the hosts could throw at him in the second half – until man-of-the-match Draycott popped up with two goals inside a blistering three-minute spell late on.
James Clarke added a fourth in the 89th minute to complete a cruel scoreline for Totton who remain bottom of the table on goal difference from Bashley, whose home game against Cambridge City was postponed.
Newly-signed AFC Bournemouth youngster Lewis Lindsay made a promising debut for Totton playing alongside Chris Onoufriou in central defence, but fellow Cherries loanee Harrison Gilkes was unable to play having had an injection in his hip.
Riley also took the decision to withdraw Liam Gilbert midway through the second half because the gritty midfielder had picked up a 53rd-minute booking for a late challenge and, on such a heavy pitch, might have run the risk of being sent off.
Riley was sufficiently encouraged by Totton’s performance to believe they stand a decent chance of revenge tomorrow.
“If we play like we know we can, hopefully we can reverse this defeat,” he said.
“Hungerford are a well organised side who are solid defensively, as they showed when they drew 0-0 with Poole last week, and they’ve got good goalscorers. Their finishing was clinical,” he said. “But our lads are all honest and hard-working and I couldn’t fault them for the effort they put in on such a heavy pitch.
“We didn’t deserve that scoreline, but sometimes you get kicked up the backside when you’re down.”
Poole’s scheduled trip to Redditch also fell foul of the weather, leaving Tommy Killick’s promotion hopefuls with 21 league games to cram in before the end of April.
The Dolphins are due to host Frome tomorrow night, while Bashley entertain Redditch.