Vikings head for Dartmouth after suffering cup exit in shoot-out at Holsworthy
PUBLISHED: 11:24 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:24 14 November 2019
Sidmouth Town were knocked out of the Devon St Lukes Bowl in midweek, beaten in a penalty shoot-out by hosts Holsworthy.
Out of the cup they may well be, but the fact the Vikings kept a first clean sheet of the season - the game ended 0-0 before the penalty shoot-out - after a run of 11 games without a win, suggests that the team are close to 'turning the corner'.
Town boss Danny Burwood spoke after the cup defeat saying: "When you have been on the sort of run we have endured a 0-0 really is cause for renewed optimism and can provide us with a platform from which we can begin to see a change in our fortunes. I had mixed emotions at full-time because I was gutted for the lads who gave us their all that they had once again not been able to bag a win, but there was plenty in the performance that told me we are most certainly not a 'lost cause'."
He continued: "Like so many teams, we have not had a lot of football lately with this on-going wet weather. Matches have been postponed and we have even had trouble with training owing to waterlogged surfaces. However, what I saw in the game at Holsworthy is the emergence of the 'Paul Pocock factor'. Paul has come in and been a breath of fresh air alongside Brendon [Brendon Willey, one of the Town management team] and I. Paul's attitude to the game is infectious and it is clearly rubbing off on our players. I said when Paul joined us that he could have a serious impact on us and that's just what is happening. We have plenty of work still to do, but all the signs are that we are going in the right direction."
Town's game at Holsworthy was their first in 20 days, this after they had played 10 games in a 39 day period!
The Town boss says: "We had some brilliant availability for the cup tie at Holsworthy and I can only hope that we are shown similar availability in then coming months. It's a fact that struggling teams do like to adopt a 5/3/2 formation, but that can also be a positive formation, particularly if you do, as we did at Holsworthy, play with three across the back, pushing thee other two up the line. It worked well for us on Tuesday night and we were certainly on the front foot for much of the second half. Ok, so we came second in the shoot-out, but for me, the big plus was the 90 minutes we put into the game. It gave me real hope for our future."
The Town boss was keen to praise one player in particular. He said: "Jack [Gibson] was superb especially given how long he has been out since the injury he picked up in Spain. He gave us real quality from the right back berth and showed us just what we have been missing."
Looking ahead to Saturday and the league game at Dartmouth who, were the last team that Town enjoyed success against when they beat them 3-2 in late September midweek cup tie, the Vikings' chief says: "We were good value that night for the win and we need travel with any fear. Availability is good - we are missing four of the lads who were on duty at Holsworthy, but three of the four were on the bench. As is always the case in my view of things, if a player isn't available, then it simply opens the door form another player to make an impression and I trust that will be the case at Dartmouth on Saturday."
He added: "We saw the green shoots of real improvement and healthy prospects at Holsworthy on Tuesday night and now we need to get a job done at Dartmouth. Sticking together and working hard for each other is the way ahead for us now and I am very confident that we can begin to see our fortunes change for the better."