Exmouth Town assistant manager on festive wins and so much more
PUBLISHED: 20:13 30 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:46 31 December 2019
A post-festive matches chat with Exmouth Town assistant manager Andy Rawlings
We caught up with Exmouth Town assistant manager Andy Rawlings a couple of days after the dramatic win at Street to discuss that, the Boxing Day win over Buckland Athletic, the year-long unbeaten run at 'Fortress' Southern Road and managing expectations amongst the Town faithful that has led to some social media forums seeing some Town supporters 'daring to dream' with regard to silverware at the end of the season.
First up we asked Andy about his thoughts on the Buckland game. He said: "The first 45 minutes at Southern Road on Boxing Day saw the team serve up as good a collective performance as we have seen from them at any stage since Kev (Town boss Kevin Hill) got this chapter in the Town history on the road."
He continued: "We scored four and honestly, had we got six or seven - or more - in that first half I don't think anyone would have been able to say it was not what we deserved. The lads knocked the bal around so well and, from back to front it was all so evident as to what they were all trying to do - it was almost the 'perfect performance' - it really was that good. Even after the break, when, and it was somewhat understandable, the ads clearly took their foot off the gas, we did concede and then they got a second late on, but there was no denying that we were the worthy winners."
He added: "I think what impressed us most of all was the way the lads went out what was a Devon derby in such a professional manner. It was very much case that they went out seeking to 'get the job done by half-time' and, as it panned out, it was very much 'mission accomplished."
Next we asked Andy about the emotions the technical area went through on Saturday at Street where the team had raced into a 3-0 lead only to be pegged back, conceding a third in the 90th minute and yet still found the strength of character to kick-off having been pegged back, instantly win a corner and bag a fourth, and match-winning goal!
He said: "We went through every emotion possible up at Street as I am sure you can imagine! The first half was a very good one from our point of view. We were clearly still in 'first half from Boxing Day mode' and, in the second half, at 3-0 it was a case of looking to manage the game out. Then they net a 'worldy' and that seemed to change the whole dynamic of the contest. We then shipped a second which was, from out perspective, a sloppy goal to concede and that really gave them the impetus to 'finish the job' in terms of a recovery. Sure enough they got the third and the feeling of despair in our dugout was so evident. In the time it took from the ball to be in our net and then carried back to the centre spot it really seemed an age. It wasn't, of course, but it seemed it and it gave us time to contemplate just how we had clearly just thrown away all our hard work - not just in that game, but in the games from the opening kick of the season.
He continued: "Then, from the restart, we win the corner and the next thing the ball is back in their net. That started absolute pandemonium and frenzied celebrations of a goal, on and off the pitch, the like of which I don't think I have seen before. It was all so surreal, and yet so very, very real. The footballing gods were clearly looking down on us and we need to take on board just what this could mean for us in terms of what remains for us to go on and try to achieve this season."
Next up, we asked the Town number two about the year-long unbeaten home record and whether it's now a case of saying to the ads, 'look what you have achieved, now go and keep it going' or more a case of 'put that year into a box and tuck it away and now concentrate on building another run'. Andy replies: "Look, lets take nothing away from the achievement. Remaining unbeaten at home through the year, and across two different league competitions, really is something for everyone involved with the club to be monumentally proud of. That said, its fair to say that the ethos of Kev from day one that records are not important. What is so important is making sure that we go into our games prepared and ready for all eventualities. I think what we experienced at Street will stand us in good stead going forward for it underlined that anything, absolutely anything is possible in this game we all love."
He continued: "No, Kevin, does not want to hear talk of records, or indeed where we may be at the end of the campaign. It really is very simple. We need to approach the remaining games in similar vein to the way we have been approaching our matches from week one. I think what we need to focus on is the fact that you really cannot take anything for granted and never was that more underlined than with that Bradford Town defeat at Keynsham Town,(the table-toppers were beaten 3-1. What is required is continued hard work, honesty and a real desire to 'see this through' and I am sure that that is exactly what we will be doing."
Rawlings was then keen to turn the spotlight away from the first team. He said: "It was very special on Boxing Day that we were able capture a special moment post match with both the 1st team and the reserve's enjoying a beer together. The second team's win at Budleigh helped make Boxing Day extra special and it was further proof, if ever any were needed that what we have at Town is a football family and that is to the eternal credit of the chairman, the president, Kev as manager, the committee and the fans who are supporting us in such great numbers. From the technical area on match days to the bar after the final whistles have blown on the clubs respective teams' match day action there is a very clear 'in this together' feeling, and long may that remain with us. Indeed, given the way the squad is handling the current situation, I have no doubt that the amazing spirit we have in the dressing rooms will continue to thrive at all level of this very special football club."
The Town number two finished off our chat with some encouraging news on the injury front when he said: "It was great to get James Richards back out taking part in the in the pre-match warm-up on Boxing Day. Getting him back playing is a huge boost for us and certainly adds further quality into our ranks as we take on what is going to be a busy coming few months of league and cup football."