Exmouth Town assistant manager speaks about the midweek mauling at Shepton Mallet
PUBLISHED: 13:13 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:13 04 March 2020
Exmouth Town suffered a thoroughly disappointing night when they travelled up the M5 to face Shepton Mallet in a midweek Toolstation League Premier Division game.
Town went down 4-0 and assistant manager Andy Rawlings was very candid - and honest - about the team's performance.
Pulling no punches, the Town number two said: "There's not a single positive we can take from that 90 minutes last night!
"From first whistle to last we were second best and produced a performance unbefitting of the season the team has had so far.
"They [Shepton Mallet] were better than us in all areas of the game. They popped the ball about well and deserved to spank us in the way they did."
The Town number two knew where the team 'had gone wrong', something he alluded to saying: "Our success to date this season has been born out of good old fashioned hard work and boundless energy mixed with no small measure of ability and that went out of the window at Shepton Mallet.
"We had spoken before the game about the need to be 'at it' from the first whistle, but that was forgotten as we shipped a goal in just the second minute and that early goal had a profound effect on what was to follow for it gave them the confidence to go on and stay on the front foot while it clearly unsettled us and made our task all the tougher."
He continued: "Even at half-time, with us 3-0 down, Kev kept his calm and just asked the lads to get back out and, if we could score the fourth of the game and early enough in the half then who knows what might transpire.
"Well, as of course we know, we have a very honest bunch of lads and they did go out to 'put it right'. However, we won a very early corner shortly after the re-start, but alas, from the corner, the home side broke to go on and net their fourth and, from that moment it was always going to be a case of 'don't let this night get any bleaker!'
The Town cause was not helped by the loss of striker Dean Billingsley who limped out of the action a quarter of the way through the game.
The Town number two says: "That was a key moment in the contest for Dean's game is all about energy and hard work up top and we missed that when he went off and, sadly, he must now be a doubt for Saturday's game."
So, on reflection, was the 4-0 floodlight defeat at Shepton Mallet a 'wake-up call' or simply a very grim night at the office?
The Town assistant manager responded saying: "It's not a wakeup call in as much as we have said so many times before there really is no such thing as an easy game at this level. As Wellington showed when they made us work so hard for that 2-0 win in our last home game, the fact is that, if you don't do the hard yards and are prepared, as a team, to roll your sleeves up then you will get the sort of beating we took last night!
"That hurt, but then, a fly on the wall in the away dressing room up there on Tuesday night would have seen that that collective hurt was felt by all that had been involved."
He continued: "Kev and I spoke on the journey home and it was clear from both our points of view that what we had seen at Shepton was comfortably the poorest 90 minutes any of our teams has put out over the past few seasons.
"That said we cannot be too hard on the lads for they have taken us a long way in a short time and no one, at any level, goes out into a game wanting to underperform.
"It's just that, on some nights or match days, almost everyone involved has a 'bad day' and the upshot of that is what we got, up at Shepton."
He added: "It's not all doom and gloom though, far from it, it's perhaps a measure of just how far we have come in a short space of time that a midweek mauling at Shepton comes as such a shock to the system and that alone underlines the levels we are now expecting to play at.
"We don't have long to wallow in self-pity for we have to get ready to return to action on Saturday when I am sure we will see 'normal service will be resumed'......
On Saturday (March 7), Town entertain Chipping Sodbury Town at Southern Road (3pm).