Exmouth Town latest - ‘Crisis, what crisis?’ Town in five-star midweek show
- Credit: Archant
Exmouth Town assistant manager Andy Rawlings spoke the morning after the night before - a night that had seen Town record their first win in four outings as they confidently despatched Cribbs in a Toolstation Western League Premier Division Southern Road fixture, beating the Bristol-based side 5-0.
It was a great evening all-round for Town with leading scorer Jordan Harris passing 20 league goals and 30 goals in all competitions this season - and there was a superb finish also from team captain Jamie Dirrane as well as another goal for Max Gillard.
The Town number two said: "Kev [Town boss Kevin Hill] asked the lads for a reaction to the defeat at Hallen - and a reaction is just what they showed.
"From front to back we were 'at it' from the first whistle and those four first half goals meant the game, as a contest, was over by the break. That said, in the second half, Cribbs battled well and, rather than lay down and accept defeat, they made a right royal scrap of it and made us work for the one goal we did get after the break."
Rawlings continued: "Pre-match, we did not dwell on the Hallen business. Quite the opposite, for what Kev did ask for, is that the lads don't look back and reflect on what has gone on before, but they look forward to things that we can still, together, achieve this season, and there's plenty of football to be played still.
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"The key to what remains for us this season is that we focus on the things we can influence and, if we do our work individually and collectively to the best of our ability then no one can ask any more of us."
On the performance against Cribbs, he said: "We started well and, once we got the initial breakthrough I felt we really played with confidence. There was almost a 'swagger' about the way we played and, at times, we really did produce some great stuff."
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On individual performances he said: "Before I single out individuals I do want to press the point that this was a whole team performance, one in which all the lads did their individual jobs really well. That said, of course there are those who bag the headlines. The main one has to be the Jordan [Harris] hat-trick. Let's not lose sight of the fact that this is his first season at this level. He remains young in football terms and, for someone of his young experience and age - to have netted over 20 league goals and over 30 in all competitions before the end of February really is quite an achievement.
"His finishing has got better and better, and his all-round game has developed so well - and I don't doubt there are many more goals to come from him!"
Rawlings then spoke of the debut of Lee Bailey in the Town goal. Bailey has become the fifth player to keep goal for the team this season, following in the footsteps of Chris Wright (now out injured for the remainder of the campaign), Robbie Powell (expected back from injury for the next game), youngster Harrison Burton and outfield player David Rowe, who stood in for one game when injury struck earlier in the campaign.
The Town number two said of the Bailey debut: "It was a very assured show from an experienced glovesman who I was very confident would be more than comfortable at this level. I know Lee from my St Martins days and nothing I saw last night left me thinking anything other than what a good goalkeeper he is. A measure of a top 'keeper is, as happened last night, when, in a game where you are a virtual spectator, as he was, you are suddenly asked to make a top drawer save to keep a clean sheet and you do it with real style. Yes, it was a very good show from him and I'd like to think he will be available if needed again in the future."
Rawlings then turned his attention to the second of the players last night making his first Southern Road start, Dean Billingsley. The Town number two said: "Dean is another player I know well and we saw, even in the defeat at Hallen where we had so many under par shifts and he was introduced late on, what he can bring to us. He played his first full 90 minutes for some time last night and his was a shift of real energy and vibrancy. His work rate was phenomenal. His industry on and off the ball was a perfect foil for Jordan, who found extra time and space to do his work in front of goal so clinically."
The Town assistant boss also spoke in glowing terms about the goal from captain, Jamie Dirrane. He said: "Jamie has taken some dressing room 'stick' about previous 'in the opposition goal mouth area situations' and last night, when faced with a one-on-one with the Cribbs goalkeeper he finished like a seasoned striker. It really was a high-quality finish."
The return, on the night, of James Richards and Jimmy Hinds, who had both missed the Hallen game, was also something that Rawlings was keen to mention. He said: "Both James and Jimmy played big parts in our midfield which, on the night, was really effective. They covered so much ground and, from that platform, we were able to really take the game to the opposition."
In conclusion then, a 'good night at the office'?
To which the Town number two responded: "Yes, football, as has so often been said, can be a funny old game and I do think it is important that, as much as don't dwell on poor performances and disappointing results we must guard against getting carried away with 5-0 home wins.
"They also say a week can be a long time in football and we have had some big ups and downs over the past week.
"The good thing is that the performance in front of our own fans against Cribbs was, just what the doctor ordered in terms of what had gone on before and that was important in as much as it reminds supporters and players alike that we are not a bad side - you certainly don't become a bad side after a miserable 90 minutes at Hallen on Saturday, but equally, you are not the finished article after a 5-0 midweek win under the Southern Road floodlights. The key from now until the end of the season - and let's face it that's less than three months away now and there's lots of football to be negotiated - is that we must take each game as it comes and make sure that we all keep working as hard as we can and do our best to ensure we get the continuity of both performance and results that we all want to see at this club."