Exmouth Town assistant manager: “We are not pressing the panic button!”

 Exmouth Town assistant manager: “We are not pressing the panic button!”

Exmouth Town are in Toolstation Western League action tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to Keynsham Town who have an artificial pitch.

Town journey up the M5 to Bristol on the back of four successive defeats and assistant manager Andy Rawlings says that losing four on the spin is not something the Southern Road men are used to.

He says: “It’s certainly unchartered territory for this Town side and it is not something we are best pleased about, but it is important for us to keep our feet firmly planted on this one. Are we pressing the panic button, or close to pressing it – absolutely not! Look, we have not become a bad side over night and, as much as we’d like to have taken something out of the last four games – and all of them – possibly with the exception of the FA Cup tie against Truro City – we have deserved to come away with something to show for out efforts.

“Let’s face it, we were not expected to get anything from the cup tie, and we didn’t, but, in the three other games [Town lost at Buckland in the league, at home to Saltash United, also in the league and then, most recently, last Saturday Town went out of the FA Vase, beaten 1-0 at home by fellow Western League top flight outfit Shepton Mallet] the margins have been very, very tight.

“A number of factors conspired against, but then you’d like to think that these things even themselves out over the long season and so, hopefully, on the basis of what goes round, comes round, the things that have gone against us over the past four games will come back in our favour later in the campaign.”

He continued: “I cannot remember a run of four straight defeats in my time at the club and it is something we, as a team, are not used to, but then they do say that you have to suffer hard times to enjoy the good times and this current poor run will not hurt us too much in the long term if we learn from it and take on board just how bad we all feel after such a run and therefore make every effort to ensure we don’t suffer similar again.

“I also think that, as I have already said, we have not become a bad side over night and I am sure we will soon be back to winning ways.”

As to if that ‘return to winning ways’ can come at Keynsham Town, the Southern Road number two says: “Hand on heart, and I know Kev [Town boss Kevin Hill] feels so too, we’d not chose to be looking to end a four match unbeaten run on an artificial surface, but, like our poor recent run, it is what it is and its down to us to do everything we can to get a result at Keynsham that makes the home trip a happy one for our travelling fans and of course the players – and management!”

He continued: “I see that they [Keynsham Town] have only lost the two games – and both of those have been at home where they have certainly been involved in some goals so far [in four home league games ahead of Town’s visit tomorrow, Keynsham have won one, drawn one and lost two of their four games and 21 goals have been scored in them] which makes it a very difficult game for us. We know they are a strong side and the fact that they occupy a top six spot in the table suggests they are a tidy team. We are all square in terms of previous visits to Keynsham with a win apiece, but we travel tomorrow under no illusion that it will be a tough game and, if we are to take something from the contest then we will need to be at our best.”

Aaron Denny misses the trip as he is suspended following the red card he picked up in the league loss at home to Saltash. Andy Rawlings says: “Aaron will be a big miss, of course, what team would not miss the class the lad has. That said, it’s worth saying that as much as we love what Aaron brings to the side – and are so respectful of how good a player he is – we are not a ‘one-man team’ and I fancy Aaron would be the first to agree with that sentiment. We have bags of quality in the squad and indeed the team and so, being with Aaron means someone else now has to ‘step up’ and give us that little extra sparkle that he does deliver – and I am sure there will be someone who will indeed do just that job for us at Keynsham.”

Looking further ahead to coming matches, after tomorrow’s trip to Keynsham, Town face, first Ilfracombe and then Brislington in back-to-back fixtures, which does seem strange. The Town number two says: “It does seem odd, but then so was it us facing Buckland Athletic home and away in quick succession. ‘Back in the day’ you’d play every team in your division once and then face them all again in the second half of the season, so this is unfamiliar to us and, hand on heart, its not ideal playing the same opposition, in league games, on a back-to-back basis, but, it is what it is and I am sure our opponents feel the same, so all concerns of that need to be put to one side and we need to prepare for the games accordingly and look to accrue as many points as we can over the next five games.”

Next up we asked the Town number two about the support the team receives, home and away. He said: “As I have said many times before, and I’ll keep referring to them until there’s no more air in my lungs; the Town supporters really are the best and I gather there’s a group making their way up to Keynsham on the train and there’s another of our faithful fans travelling down from Blackpool to see the game! We really do appreciate the support, home and away and they make such a difference. No doubt, we’ll see – and hear, them – tomorrow.”

We then moved away from Town matters to more general footballing things and asked what the Town number two felt of the latest news that the Joma Devon & Exeter League had lost another team with Uplowman Football Club announcing their withdrawal from the league.

The Town number two says: “It’s a crying shame, and I mean that sincerely. Indeed, I am worried about the future of our game when you see teams folding, dropping out of various levels and others making appeals via social media for players to join them. In my time of playing, we had no mobile phones, it was very much the case that your team manager knew for sure that you’d rock up ready to play on a Saturday and then, the only thing to be decided upon was whether you started or sat on the bench. In these days of mobile phones and so many other weekend activities going on it has become very easy to ‘find something else to do’ and I genuinely fear for the future of the game when so many grass root football teams are struggling. They are, after all, the breeding grounds for clubs like ours who, in turn, provide a level of the game that is higher than ‘local level’ and so can be a breeding ground for players to ultimately step further up the pyramid, but, if there’s no solid base to that pyramid, the whole thing comes crashing down – it’s all very worrying from a footballing perspective.”

Stephen Birley

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