Sidmouth Town kick-off new season with Saturday visit of Torridgeside

PUBLISHED: 10:39 11 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:39 11 August 2017

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Sidmouth Town kick-off a new South West Peninsula League season at Manstone Lane on Saturday when they entertain Torridgeside.

Town boss Josh Stunell is eager for the ‘real’ action to get under way after what he has seen as a ‘hugely positive’ pre-season build-up which culminated in Wednesday night’s 13-0 friendly success at home to local Sunday League side Eurotech.

Stunell says: “To be honest, the final warm-up game was a total miss-match, but what I would say is that game time is so much more beneficial to us at this stage than training ground work.

“They [Eurotech] were a smashing bunch of lads, but were cannon fodder in terms of opposition. That said, it did prove to be a good exercise in terms of us knowing where the goal net is – I’d settle for just a couple against Torridgeside to get our league campaign off to a winning start.”

Town’s pre-season last Saturday was against an Elburton Villa side that finished as runners-up in the Western Division last season.

Town were beaten 2-1, but they had the consolation of scoring the goal of the game - a terrific strike from Johnny Holding.

The Town boss said of that game: “I had mixed feelings post match for I thought we played well and, before the game, I’d have been saying they [Villa], were the sort of team we have to be putting away if we have serious aspirations about a top six position in the Eastern Division this season.

“On the day the difference was the finishing in as much as they had two lively lads up top who finished clinically while we were guilty of spurning a number of gilt-edged chances. Still, I’d rather we messed up in pre-season and perhaps the defeat helped us in terms of fine-tuning things before the real action begins against Torridgeside.”

Stunell then turned his thoughts to the opening game, saying: “It’s vital we hit the ground running. I do not want to put too much pressure on the players, but the bottom line is that we have done everything right off – and on - the pitch during pre-season. I know how hard John [Town number two John Clements] and I have been working to make sure we arrive at the first league game with the best chance of making progress.

“Now it is very much a case of ‘over to you players’ to get out there and do the business for us.”

As for his feeling regarding to how the team may fare this season, the Town boss says: “I’d like to think we can be a top six side. We have brought in some quality additions to what was already a decent squad. We are working with 19 players, all of whom are good enough to bag a starting berth. Of course, they cannot all starts so there’s going to be some disappointed players left out of the first game. “However, it’s the reaction we look at to see if those we leave out are going to be the ones who say – I will prove the management wrong – and, when they get their chance, they do just that!”

One position that is sorted for the Town boss is that of the goalkeeper, something he alluded to when he said: “Josh McLean will start the season as our number one between the posts. He’s young, hungry and not short of ability - or confidence. I am looking for him to have a big season and look forward to seeing him deliver consistent performances.”

Kick-off at Manstone Lane on Saturday is 3pm.

●Meanwhile, the club’s new floodlights were due to be completed by the end of this current week.

As for the first game under lights - that looks set to be later next month.

Town boss Josh Stunell says: “That first night under lights is going to be very special - I personally cannot wait.”

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