Otters boss: “We’ve got to be knocking on the door of the top four”
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Ottery St Mary manager Billy Rouse is targeting a spot in the top four of the Devon Football League South-West division as the start of the 2020/21 campaign draws closer.
When asked about his aspirations for the new season, Rouse said: “I think if we get a full season then we’ve got to be knocking on the door of that top four.
“The team last season were second bottom so that will surprise a few people but teams know what’s going on and they will probably be expecting a tougher challenge and we are going to bring that to them.”
Rouse joined the club from the now defunct Cronies and brought many of his players with him. The challenge for him is to now blend the existing squad with the new players.
He said: “Covid made it even more difficult with the size of group sessions but we’re getting there. There are some real quality players at Ottery and Connor Swingler and Jack Hobday have really stood out as two real gems at the club.
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“What I’ve said to my previous team is ‘yes I know what you can do but no one else does’. I’m now judging it on a blank canvas and you’ve got to prove yourself all over again and they’ve done that to be fair.”
Rouse said he was relishing facing new teams in a new division. He said: “I’ve always been used to the Devon and Exeter Football League where you know who you are playing and what you are up against whereas here we’re looking at Newton Abbot, Torquay and Plymouth. Every game of ours is like a cup game. You don’t want to go down to these places and lose.”
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“Everyone at the club has the ambition to push on and get promoted but no one is going to give it to you.”
The club were defeated 3-2 in a friendly at Exwick Villa Seconds but Rouse said the score could have been a lot different. He said: “We played extremely well but we gave away three goals with three silly mistakes. We went in at half time 3-0 down and it’s obviously hard to recover from that.
“That being said we missed countless chances including a penalty and two goals disallowed. On another day, it could have been 9-4 but unfortunately for us it finished 3-2.
“We can learn a lot from it, the lads showed some great character. Being It’s something I’ve never had before as a manager so it’s a nice learning curve for me as well. I think if the game went on for five more minutes we would definitely have equalised but that’s football.”
The team continue their pre-season with a trip to Axminster Town tomorrow (August 15).
Rouse said: “We’re trying to get a settled first team as well as giving players that are knocking on the door a chance. It’s also a chance to get more minutes in their legs and gel as a team.
Meanwhile, the second team travel to Newton Abbott 66 and the development team are playing at Broadclyst.