Sidmouth Town to launch 2020 with home game against Dartmouth
- Credit: Archant
Sidmouth Town have more reason than most to hope that the first weekend of January is not hit by the same sort of soggy weather that plagued local football in the final two months of 2019.
If Saturday's (January 4) South West Peninsula League Premier East Manstone Lane meeting with Dartmouth goes ahead then it will be only the fourth time that the Vikings senior side has seen action in 11 long weeks!
After launching their season with five games in August, Town then played six times in both September and October.
However, since an October 23, 5-1 home league defeat to Cullompton Rangers, Town have played one cup tie and had three league outings.
However, those four games did show a marked improvement in results!
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A Devon St Lukes Bowl Cup tie saw Town travel to Holsworthy for a midweek meeting that ended 0-0, with the Vikings being edged out in a penalty shoot-out. That was followed by a 2-2 draw at Dartmouth on November 16 before a narrow 2-1 home defeat to high-flying Torpoint Athletic at the end of November.
There was just the one outing for the Vikings in December and that was that memorable 4-3 win over Torrington.
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However, when Town take to the pitch this Saturday for their fourth meeting this season with Dartmouth - the sides have also met in two cup competitions - it will be the first action for 28 long days!
Town boss Danny Burwood says: "It is what it is, in as much as all teams have suffered layoffs. Ours has been a bad one, lets's face it - four weeks without a game at any stage of the season can be a tough one.
"The run of postponements came at such a bad time for us as we had just got some positive results under our belts and we were also set to be boosted by the lads coming home from university for the festive period. The narrow defeat to Torpoint was a game that gave the players such renewed belief and they clearly learned plenty from that experience for, in the very next game, we saw that extraordinary comeback and the 4-3 success over Torrington.
"The margins really are very fine at this level of the game. When the club decided to 'step up' it was, in every way the right decision. Ambition is everything in football. I firmly believe that players should strive to play at as high a level as they can and, in turn, clubs ought to try and get to play on the best stage they can. The big thing in our favour at Manstone Lane is that we have a club with a real vision in terms of developing young players and building - and then keeping - a solid foundation and a general feeling of 'being in it together'. That comes from the good people who step up to take the committee jobs at the club. My task is then to make sure we do give those younger players the chance to show what they are capable of in the club's senior team - and that will continue to be the case"
Returning to the four weeks without a game, the Town boss added: "It is also worth mentioning that, when you find yourselves during a football season struggling at the 'wrong end of the table' what you must do is target the games that you feel you have a very real chance of winning. I know I have previously said that the margins are fine at this level, and, on their day, any team can cause another a problem and indeed beat them over 90 minutes. However, reality is that there are also games in the season that you need to be looking at and saying: 'that's one we can and must win' and we had some of those over the past four weeks, games that, of course, will still be played, but it's over the festive period when many things tend to happen that help to focus the entire campaign."
Looking ahead to Dartmouth on Saturday, the Town boss says: "It's never easy playing the same team four times in a single season. Honours, so far, are very even with them (Dartmouth) winning one, us winning one and that first league meeting ending all square. I guess, for a fixture to be played early in January and so soon after the festive period, that much will depend on availability, but I am hoping we have good options to us for the game and we will prepare to get out there and hopefully start our 2020 on a winning note."
He continued: "After Saturday we have a run of away games facing the likes of a Cully Rangers side who seem to have found some form (the Mid Devon men beat Axminster Town 9-0 last Saturday) and table-topping Ilfracombe Town."
Burwood has been in the game a long time and has bags of experience and he is certainly not one to 'dodge' a challenge.
He says: "The club have been great and they know what we are up against. Equally, they recognise what we are trying to do and our focus has to be, from here through until the final kick of the season, to make sure that we win the 'important' games."
He continued: "As I have said before, there is precious little between many of the sides at this level and sometimes the difference really is as simple as taking your chances as and when they come along.
"We have an honest bunch of lads and, if we keep working hard both in training and in matches then I am very confident that we will steer ourselves clear of the foot of the table to ensure we maintain our place at this level of the game."
Sidmouth Town versus Dartmouth at Manstone Lane on Saturday kicks-off at 3pm.