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Bittner's a shining light for Totton
AFC Totton have much improving to do if they want to get back to winning ways at home to promotion rivals Stourbridge tonight (7.45pm).
The second-placed Stags turned in a disappointing performance on Saturday as a 0-0 draw against Redditch United dropped them five points behind league leaders Brackley in the race for automatic promotion from the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division.
But one man immune to that criticism was on-loan Forest Green goalkeeper James Bittner, who turned in a faultless display to keep his second league clean sheet on the bounce.
The former Salisbury City No. 1 has signed until the end of the season, including the play-offs, and assistant Stags boss Sean New feels the goalkeeping gloves couldn’t be in better hands.
“James is a fantastic keeper,” he said. “He played so well at Banbury (in a 1-0 win) and again on Saturday. He really looks the part, commands his area and makes sure everyone knows where they’re meant to be.
“We’ll make the most of him this season because he won’t be with us next year. There are Conference Premier clubs who want him.”
Dan Thomas, another keeper to have impressed on loan at Totton this term, has joined Blue Square Bet South outfit Havant & Waterlooville after being released by AFC Bournemouth.
The 20-year-old made four appearances for the Stags in January before being recalled to Dean Court to cover for injuries.
Bournemouth goalkeeping coach Neil Moss said: “He’s a great lad to have around, but he won’t be pushing Shwan Jalal and Darryl Flahavan for next year. There’s no point having him sit as third-choice keeper.”
Totton, who have drawn their last three home league games, still have doubts over Mike Gosney (groin), Jono Davies (knee) and James Coutts (torn quad muscle). It’s hoped that frontrunner Nathan Jack will be back to face fifth-placed Stourbridge – unbeaten in their last eight league outings – after crying off sick on Saturday.
Meanwhile, striker Michael Charles’s loan to BSB South club Farnborough has been extended to a second month.