Thursday, November 22, 2012
Exmouth Town boss Richard Pears is looking forward to seeing how his side cope with their latest challenge.
Unbeaten Town travel to an Exeter Civil Service side who have climbed steadily in the South West Peninsula League, Eastern Division table in recent weeks and who actually currently sit third, one place and one point above Pears’ men even though Town have as many as five games in hand on the Exeter outfit.
Pears says of his side’s away opposition on the final Saturday of November: “They are not to be underestimated. Their home pitch most certainly suits their style and it will clearly not be as expansive a game as we can play when we have wider parks to perform on. We’ll need to be at our best to make sure that we keep our unbeaten run ticking along. We have had them checked out and know just what their strengths are. They are certainly well organised and carry a threat. However, I want my team to perform as I, and they, know they can. If we do that then the focus of the home side will clearly have be on stopping us as opposed to us worrying about stopping them!”
Exeter Civil Service are unbeaten at home to date this term in the league having played six times with their most impressive home result being a 5-3 win over Teignmouth Town as recently as November 10. They have also beaten Axminster Town, Okehampton Argyle and Plymstock United whilst they have shared the spoils with Budleigh and University.
With regard to last week’s inactivity for his team. Pears took the opportunity to have a look at one of next month’s opponents Teignmouth Town in their game with Alphington. The Town chief was suitably impressed. He said: “I saw two hard-working teams. Teignmouth certainly carry a very real threat.”
Pears is sure that as long as the unbeaten run continues his side will have to cope with an ever increasing problem of them being a bigger and bigger scalp. He says: “Everyone wants to be the first to stop an unbeaten run and it’s been noticeable in recent weeks that teams we have come across have had that little bit more in their step than they might otherwise have had! One thing’s become very clear. Teams are certainly looking to push us as hard as they can. We have met some pretty physical stiff of late, but full credit must go to the players for the way they have not only stood up to be counted but also got back up and waited for more! It’s all very encouraging. That said we have put together a squad more than capable of going the distance. The key for me will be that if and when the run does end, how we respond. Good sides are of course judged on runs, but they are also judged on how they stand up to periods or moments of adversity. I am confident that we have the dressing room spirit to see us through any dark episodes!”
On the fact that a number of rival sides suffered setbacks on the penultimate Saturday of the month – Newton Abbot Spurs were held 3-3 by Axminster Town and leaders Budleigh were beaten at home by University – Pears said: “The results certainly went for us. However, I am not one of those who prefers to have games in hand. I always feel points on the board are far, far better. I am worried that our cup success’s are going to hinder what is after all the main priority, that being a top two finish and with it, hopefully, promotion to the Premier division. I want Southern Road staging top flight SWP League football in 2013. I do believe it is very achievable with the team we have assembled and the backing we have been getting from the club. However, we miss two of the next three Saturday’s as we play cup ties when most of our rivals at the business end of the table will be playing for points and that really does mean that we will be stretched in the final third of the season when we will no doubt be playing three times a week to make the games up! That said, it will be that period that the full squad will be utilised and that’s why, to be successful as a team, you need to have that squad of 17 or 18 who can see you right the way to the finishing line, on all fronts. There will be times when perhaps squad players are wondering what their part is – they will certainly all have had a part to play come next May!
News from the dressing room on the injury front is that Kerry Butler’s problems continue and there’s still no definitive news of a comeback date for the popular midfielder. Another blow is a hamstring injury to striker Ben Shepherd who has been in superb form this season so far. He will not pay at Exeter Civil Service, but Pears hopes to have his main hit man back the week after when the first of two successive Saturday Cup ties is negotiated. The Town boss says: “Ben (Shepherd) is not going to make the Civil game, but I would hope he’ll be available the week after. It’s not a question of resting him. He does have a niggle and we’d be daft to risk losing him for the forthcoming cup ties, particularly given the recent weather and the fact that the pitch on Saturday is likely to be very heavy.”
The loss of Shepherd is tempered by news that Sam Woodin, unavailable in recent games, is back and he comes into an otherwise unchanged squad for the trip to Exeter.