Professional football is on the cusp of a spectacular return and Devon’s premier clubs are in different stages of preparation for the campaign ahead.  

Two of our pro clubs will be feeling fairly content with their summer planning, while one will hope to shake off some understandable inconsistency.  

‘Results are not important in pre-season’ and ‘winning is a habit’ are two of the favourite footballing cliches, up there with ‘take each game as it comes’ in popularity. However, from the perspective of Exeter City, they will be focussing on the ‘results not important’ element. 

The Grecians travelled to Torquay United on Saturday for a feisty pre-season ‘friendly’ that turned out to be a great day for the Gulls, and a poor one for City.  

Torquay came flying out of the blocks at a soggy Plainmoor and grabbed a two-goal lead through Lewis Collins and Brad Ash. City’s day got even worse when Pierce Sweeney suffered the rare ignominy of a red card in pre-season. 

The numerical advantage was pounced upon by the Gulls, who extended their lead with a second from Collins and an Asa Hall penalty. City did manage a late consolation through Ryan Trevitt but definitely not the ideal result. 

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell told the club website: “It was a physical game right from the off, you know Torquay showed their physicality, we weren’t really ready for that. I think we got much better as the game went on in terms of competitiveness. 

“Overall, we got lessons from this game that we have to improve in the coming weeks, and I am sure we will do that when the season starts.” 

While City have more work to do and Torquay are feeling rather satisfied, Plymouth Argyle are beginning to purr in preparation for a return to the Championship. 

The Pilgrims hosted Forest Green Rovers in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Saturday and delivered a superb attacking display to win 5-1. Ryan Hardie bagged a brace and there were further goals from Bali Mumba, Callum Wright and Morgan Whittaker.  

Argyle begin their Championship season with a visit from Huddersfield Town, while Exeter travel to Wycombe Wanderers on the opening day of Sky Bet League One. Torquay start at Dover Athletic in the National League South.