Sidmouth Town boss speaks about Friday night’s opening league game at Axminster

Sidmouth Town launch a new era in the club’s history tonight (Friday) when they open a new South West Peninsula League Eastern Division season with a game at Axminster Town (7.30pm).

It’s a new era as it is a first league start under manager Richard Pears, who joined the Vikings earlier in the summer.

The new boss has seen his team go unbeaten during a busy pre-season period and he is satisfied that his side is all set to hit the ground running.

Pears says: “I am very pleased with where we are in relation to us being a new group of players with a pre-season under our belt. We have a first team squad of 20 that embraces youthfulness, experience, physicality and also has a sprinkling of what I call the ‘X’ factor that will, I feel, leave us well equipped to be able to achieve the target we have set, which is looking to be in the top four of the Eastern Division at the end of the campaign.”

It’s a tough opening fixture for Town, particularly as it sends them to a rival club in East Devon that is now being joint managed by former Town boss Josh Stunell.

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Pears says: “We had a good chat about the season’s aims and especially the opening game. I feel it is vital that our players do not get drawn into ‘playing the occasion’, which would be easy enough to do given that the former Sidmouth Town manager is in the home team dugout. But you know, this game is not about Josh [Stunell], nor is it about yours truly.

“The fact is that Josh did a great job here at Manstone Lane over a number of seasons, but now he has moved on to pastures new and it’s my team now and this game at Axminster Town is just that – a single game of football; it’s the first game of a long season and there are just the three points at stake.”

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He continued: “What is important, as far as I am concerned, is that we play to the style we want and we don’t look to get drawn into any situations that the home side may wish to draw us into. It’s clear to me, given the quality in our ranks, that if we play to the best of our ability then I fancy we will get our just rewards come full time at Tiger Way.”

So which teams does the Town manager see as being the ‘sides to watch’ this season?

Pears says: “I’d expect Elmore and St Martins to be front runners and you can always count on University to be there or thereabouts and I suspect Newton Abbot Spurs will again be a force. As for the ‘unknown’, that will no doubt be new side Waldon Athletic.

“One thing is for sure, we cannot be complacent about any game we go into, and we won’t be, certainly not on my watch!”

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