Ashford wants Vikings to stay sharp

Sidmouth Town have had a busy week - having beaten Heavitree Social United 3-0 in the league at home on Saturday, booked a place in the semi finals of the East Devon Senior Cup with a 2-0 win over Thorverton on Sunday, and drawn 1-1 with Willand Rovers away midweek, writes Lee Glanville.

But this coming weekend they are away to Exeter University, a team beaten 2-1 by buoyant Seaton Town on Saturday, but, nonetheless, young, fit and sharp and Vikings’ manager Paul Ashford believes that entering too many cup competitions will compromise league success.

“We are playing well, but we have a lot of young players. When you’re a player you think that you play every minute of every game, but, from the sidelines, I can see that it is sharpness that’s the key. And young players get agitated when they are tired and start using their mouths rather than their legs. It will be a tricky team to pick this week to play on their massive pitch,” he said.

Ashford is committed to his cause - to get Sidmouth to the highest level possible - but he has no desire to be a ‘Sunday football’ manager. Many players are cup tied or unavailable so there is only a small squad available for Sunday matches “and if they have been out drinking the night before then I am not interested in managing like that. We have a great squad at the club at the moment and you know I want commitment and availabilty but I am interested in fielding our sharpest team for Saturday league matches. Higher clubs are going to boost their sides for midweek games, you can’t get away from that, but it stops the season long league contest being fair. And loading the fixtures on a search for silverware just compromises the league effort. It is all up to what people want from their team,” he added.

Against Heavitree, Sidmouth were 0-0 at the break in a really tight game but reacted brilliantly at half time. Ashley Barker headed home after a great corner move, Andrew Thomson got the second direct from a corner and, when Barker earned a penalty, Thomson stepped up to convert it.

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And on Sunday it was Barker again who had his scoring boots on. Thorverton are never an easy side to beat, but two goals from Barker put them through to a semi in which they will meet either Halwill or Budleigh Salterton at home. Ashford is convinced that the cup games make the job of winning league matches too hard. “If it’s the FA Vase or Throgmorton Cup then okay, but I want to be playing the sides that are in those cups every week, not struggling with a hungover team to battle against local sides. It’s too much to expect from players.”

Midweek and it was off to Silver Street for a match against Willand Rovers who were welcoming back first teamer Danny Jee after a four match ban. He played all 90 minutes and their goal was scored by Paul Pocock. Sidmouth looked a good footballing side and enjoyed much of the possession on a pitch that quickly ploughed up. It was 0-0 at half time and an unusual defensive error from Sidmouth - the ball got stuck in the mud and a striker nipped in to pinch it - led to a Willand goal. Undaunted, Sidmouth kept to their task and Ben Ashford ran up from defence to score with a curling right foot shot to level.

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