Exmouth Town Reserves - a look back at the 2019/20 season ended prematurely by the Covid-19 crisis

The Exmouth Town flag that can be seen at home and away games. Picture MARTIN COOK

The Exmouth Town flag that can be seen at home and away games. Picture MARTIN COOK - Credit: Archant

Now that the Scott Richards Devon League North & East campaign has been brought to a halt owing to the Covid-19 crisis, it’s a good time to take a look back at the season.

We caught up with team boss Mark Halse and asked him for his overall thoughts on the campaign.

He replied saying: “I can honestly look back at the season as being one of serious positivity.

“Given that the team had a complete overhaul from the Town second team that was fielded the previous season, and, combined with the fact that the general opinion seemed to be one that without an influx of senior players we faced a season of doom and gloom, the opposite has happened.”

He continued: “We sit eighth in the table and that, in itself, is testament to an excellent campaign for our young team.

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“What’s more, I genuinely believe we had a sniff of finishing in the top six had the season run its course.”

Town played during the season with a squad of 17 who, between them, had average of 17/18 with a number of them still involved in youth football, either with the Town Under-18s or the Exeter College side.

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Halse says: “With such a young squad it meant we took on almost every week, teams with far greater experience, but what was very much ‘in our favour’ was the fact that much of the squad comprised of lads who had, the season before, completed a wonderful treble as an Under-18 side and that meant we hit the ground running at the start of the campaign with a team that were familiar with each other and so any ‘new season bonding’ was not necessary – everyone knew the others game and it helped.

“From the first whistle of the term, our philosophy remained the same; ‘get the ball down and play’, even in difficult times,

“Of course, this meant that some results didn’t go our way and, at times, changing things may have meant a different outcome. However, playing this way I genuinely believe makes them better footballers and therefore more likely to progress up the system.”

He continued: “Having confidence on the ball whether at centre half or centre forward, is crucial to the development of young players, and, over the course of the season, this has been truly evident with several of the team stepping up and having a go at Western League level, a huge achievement for such young lads.”

So, what about the highlights of the season for the Town second team boss?

He answers: “A big highlight for me was certainly the first half hour of our game at Chudleigh where we played some of our best football of the campaign.

“What made that particular game so pleasing was that it came against one of my old clubs.

“We scored four goals in next to no time and, during that spell of near total dominance, they [Chudleigh] hardly had a touch.”

He continued: “Another big highlight was out second half shift at home to an Exwick Villa who were top of the table and flying. However, even though we were down to 10 men with a third of the contest still to be played, we dug in and saw the game out to draw 0-0. That day we defended so well, and, at full-time, every one of the lads involved, trooped off having given their absolute all.”

He added: “The biggest highlights for me though have been the regular walking off the pitch to hear committee members and home and away supporters talk of how impressed they are with the attitude and commitment the boys show both in victory and defeat. It makes me feel incredibly proud to have managed them this season.”

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