Exmouth Town Flying High in the Western League

Exmouth Town goalkeeper Robbie Powell in the thick of the action during the FA Cup home defeat to Me

Exmouth Town goalkeeper Robbie Powell in the thick of the action during the FA Cup home defeat to Melksham Town. Picture: GERRY HUNT - Credit: Archant

Exmouth Town Flying High in the Western League

Nobody wanted to see a halt in grassroots football, last of all Exmouth Town, who were building some fantastic momentum in the Toolstation Western League.

The campaign actually begin with a trip to the artificial pitch of Keynsham Town in the FA Cup and a fine victory, sadly followed by a defeat to Melksham in the next round.

Despite the Cup disappointment, Exmouth navigated their way through some brutal early fixtures and actually enter lockdown in fifth place.

“We lost every game we played on the artificial grass last season and a difficult way to start at Keynsham Town,” said Hill. “It was a hard fixture in midweek and to win 3-1 was very satisfying.

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“The artificial surface is ok for training but tough if you’re not used to it on a match-day. We were excellent on the day and just disappointing to go out against Melksham in the next round.

“It was probably our worst performance of the season, we just looked flat on the day and the only time I could say that so far this year. It was an opportunity missed.”

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The league campaign started with a 2-0 loss at Plymouth Parkway, who are already runaway leaders at the top of the division.

Since then, however, Exmouth have enjoyed some inspirational form.

“I looked at the first four games and thought we could possibly ended up with no points,” said Hill. “We lost a few regular players from last season through work commitments and injury, so it was something of an unknown.

“We started with a trip to Parkway and a really tough game. Nobody expects to win at Parkway but we played really well to get three points at home to Tavistock in the next fixture.

“Trips to Birdgwater and Street are also notoriously difficult, but we ended winning both those games, which breeds confidence for the lads.

“We were comfortable at Street and also fully in control at Bridgwater. We followed that with comfortable wins over Bridport and Bradford Town.

“I know my team and we can be Jekyll and Hyde. They are times when we play some brilliant football, and other times we can’t produce the same form. It is the challenge of amateur football and the reason we are at this level.

“We actually started poorly at Bradford and went behind, but once we equalised, it was an unbelievable performance. We scored six and it could have been a lot more.”

Unfortunately, a case of Covid among the coaching staff forced Town to miss out a couple of weeks in the fixture schedule and the break in momentum clearly had an adverse impact.

Player availability and a poor refereeing decision then cost them defeat at Tavistock, but the current stretch of football was completed by a win over Wellington.

“We had to stop for two weeks due to Covid issues and the players naturally came out of their stride,” added Hill. “It showed in a 4-3 defeat to Shepton Mallet.

“We then went to Tavistock and we had three players pull out on the day of the game because of work and College. I ended up putting myself, the former groundsman and a young lad on the bench.

“We were drawing 1-1 and should have had a penalty, but then lost our striker to a hamstring at the start of the second half, quickly followed by David Rowe being harshly sent off.

It all added up to a 3-2 defeat but even the Tavistock lad involved in the red card tackle, Jack Crago, said it was a bad decision.

“I was, therefore, really happy to come back with a win over Wellington before lockdown and both goals from Ben Steer, who is a player with real ability. On his day, if he knuckles down, Ben can be brilliant.”

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