Sidmouth Town boss: “We’re ready.”

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Sidmouth Town boss Josh Stunell is quite content that the first game of a new South West Peninsula League (SWPL) Eastern Division season is upon us, writes Steve Birley.

The Town chief has seen his side win two pre-season games 6-1 and 3-1 in the space of four days as they build up to Saturday’s opening league encounter with Alphington at Manstone Lane.

A Saturday 6-1 win over Mendip was followed by Tuesday night’s 3-1 home win over Sidbury United.

In that midweek game there were two goals from Cameron Vere and one from Ashley Small.

One thing that has given Stunell a huge lift is the re-shaped back line- so often a problem for the side last season – but this season remoulded with the addition of a new right back and centre back.


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Kieran White has settled into the right back role very well whilst centre half Matt Clenahan is a classy defender with plenty of SWPL experience with former club Totnes and Dartington.

Stunell says: “The new lads have fitted in exceptionally well and we have a more solid look about us. What we also have is young Jamie Newberry about to embark on his second season of senior football and he will have gained so much from last year and indeed will gain so much more playing alongside someone of the stature of Matt (Clenahan).”

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The two new lads will make SWPL debuts in the game with Alphington and Stunell says of Town’s opening league fixture: “It’s always hard to call the first few league games of a new season. All sides generally have new faces and they take time to bed in. Alphington are usually a lively side with plenty of energy and pace and I am sure this one will be no different. We have had some cracking games with them in the past and I expect this to be a contest of high intensity. One thing is a given and that is that the surface at Manstone Lane is like a billiard table right now and that will help my lads who we have drilled into them the need to pass the ball quickly and keep the opposition on the move.”

One new face at Town this season who will not be involved in the opening day game is Ryan Davies. The midfielder is no stranger to Stunell for he was an integral part of the Fresha XI that the Town boss managed the season before last. Stunell explains the Davies absence for the Alphington game by saying: “He’s playing cricket with Hatherleigh which is where he lives. I have been after him for some time and have at last got his signature. The thing is he’s set to move to Exeter and so will be much nearer to us and he is going to be a very big player for us this season.”

All in all things are looking very good for the Town boss who says of things in general at Manstone Lane: “This pre-season has been so different to the one at the club twelve months ago when it really was a case of looking to get a side out to play that was competitive. Twelve months on we have been able to recruit well in the summer and also have an amazing crop of talented youngsters who are all coming through the ranks together. Having a three-team pyramid at the club really helps for there is a natural progression route for the younger players to follow. I am very excited about this coming campaign as we are in a situation where we have competition for places and there’s some real quality in the ranks mixed with some seriously promising youth.”

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