Exmouth Town are looking forward to the start of their Toolstation Western League campaign as they welcome Clevedon Town to Southern Road this coming Saturday (July31st) with the game having a 3pm kick-off time, writes John Dibsdall.
With the enforced curtailment of the last two seasons, Town have not met their opponents since returning to the Western League their last meetings being in the 1992/3 season.
That campaign was a very successful one for the North Somerset club being unbeaten with thirty four victories and four draws including 2-1 and 4-1 wins over Town, with manager Kevin Hill on the scoresheet when we visited their then new Hand Stadium.
Last season their playing record was one of 13 games played, seven of which were won, three were drawn and three were lost. They were level on points with Town (24), but had played two games more.
Their last competitive match was in April when they lost 2-1 to Plymouth Parkway in the fourth round of the FA Vase.
Town will start their campaign looking to build on their third place finish last season (Clevedon were fourth) and have had a relatively successful pre-season.
Their latest results are a 1-1 draw with Bideford, Dean Billingsley on the score sheet and a Ben Steer goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Okehampton Argyle in front of another healthy crowd of 134.
With last year’s squad being retained it has been strengthened by the return of James Richards and the signing of Josh Cann who brings with him Southern League experience with Yate Town and Paulton Rovers.
I am sure this season will be competitive. With Plymouth Parkway having been promoted to the Southern League and Bradford Town among six clubs that have been moved sideways into the Hellenic League, a number of clubs will be eyeing top spot when the season finishes next May.
Of the newly promoted Cornish contingent it will be interesting to see who will be best equipped, not just to win their home games but also who fares best on the road and copes with the additional travelling.
Saltash United, always difficult to beat at their Kimberley Stadium, may claim top dog in Cornwall having less miles to travel.
Newly named Bridgwater United will be looking to match their off field ambitions with success on the pitch and Bitton have made no secret of their desire for Southern League football.
Our Devon rivals Tavistock will be want to be in the mix at the business end of the season and have made several signings as have Buckland Athletic and Ilfracombe Town will relish a return to Western League football.
A week on Wednesday (August 4). Town travel to Street where they won 4-3 and 2-1 in the past two seasons and then, a week on Saturday (August7), Town are in FA Cup action when they travel to Devon rivals Buckland Athletic.