Superb Small inspires Sidmouth Town second-half revival

Sidmouth Town at home to Axminster. Ref shsp 43 18TI 3299. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Town at home to Axminster. Ref shsp 43 18TI 3299. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Town head into tomorrow’s South West Peninsula League Eastern Division meeting with Alphington looking to extend an unbeaten home record that is currently standing at four games.

On Wednesday night, that run came under serious threat as the Vikings were trailing 3-1 to visiting Waldon Athletic, but mounted a superb comeback to richly deserve a share of the spoils from a 3-3 draw.

Town joint boss Kevin Tooze said: “A point was the very least we deserved. That said, I would probably have to concede that it was only the second-half performance that warranted the point, for the first 45 minutes was, in my honest opinion, as poor a show as the lads have served up before the Manstone Lane faithful this season.”

He continued: “They [Waldon] were certainly a spirited side and we were well off the pace with our first-half performance. I would not say the visitors were better than us in the first 45 minutes, but we were flat-footed and off the pace. It was possibly a hangover from the cup exit up at Holsworthy the previous Saturday, but, whatever the reason, it was not good.”

At the break, Town were a goal down, but there were no raised voices in the home dressing room.

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Tooze explained saying: “It’s not our style to throw tea cups or shout and bawl, but what we [Tooze and fellow boss Danny Burwood] did do was let the lads know that they were not delivering and our home supporters deserve better. Indeed, had it not been for the exceptional work from our goalkeeper, Dan Machin, then we’d have been two or maybe three down at the break and left with a mountain to climb! To the players’ credit, they were superb from the first minute of the second half right through to the end.”

During the break, the Town management made a couple of changes, introducing Russ Coombes and Matt Coulson and the pair played big roles in the much-improved second-half team performance.

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There was one player, in particular, that sparked what was ultimately a splendid recovery from 3-1 down to 3-3.

Tooze explained saying: “Ash [Small] was again the catalyst. The lad is certainly on fire right now. I like him; he’s a busy player who has good mobility, can change pace comfortably and has a trick or two, plus he certainly knows where the goal is!

“The way we play the game we are always going to conceded goals, so it is important that we are sharp in the final third, and that’s what we were in the second half on Wednesday night.”

So now to Alphington, a game that kicks off at Manstone Lane at 3pm.

Tooze says: “We are going to be without the Clay lads [Danny and Ben], and that’s a blow, but as I have always said, one door closing in terms of players being unavailable to us, simply means opportunity for someone else to make a claim for a shirt, and that is the case this Saturday.”

Alphington will arrive at Manstone Lane sitting 12th in the Eastern Division table.

Town are three places and four points better off than the Alphas having played two games fewer.

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