Swingler plays for Ottery in derby game

Action from the Ottery St Mary versus Otterton Macron League Division Three match.

Action from the Ottery St Mary versus Otterton Macron League Division Three match. - Credit: ©-Anthony Rowe L.R.P.S

Two players who have been team-mates in Sidmouth Town colours this season – and will no doubt play for the Vikings again together before the campaign is out - are set to be key performers in the much-anticipated local derby meeting between Tipton St John and Ottery St Mary tomorrow (Saturday).

Ash Small, who scored a hat-trick in last week’s 4-1 Tipton success over Lympstone, will lead the line for the home side while Connor Swingler – who starred in Sidmouth Town’s 1-1 draw at Brixham last Saturday - is included in the Ottery side.

The two sides go into the contest in contrasting form. As hosts, Tipton will be looking to complete a Macron League Division Three double having won the August meeting at Ottery 3-1 and they will also be looking to record a fourth successive home win. In stark contrast, Ottery St Mary will be looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat with last Saturday’s 2-1 reversal at home to Otterton coming hot the heels of a 2-1 home loss to Priory and a 5-0 mauling at Sandford.

Ottery boss Dave Fairweather says: “As a realist I accept that we are in a results business and three straight defeats is not good. However, it is also my job to keep a close eye on individual and collective performance and against Otterton it was a similar story to the narrow home defeat to table-topping Priory – and both were games that, had we taken our chances, we would have won.”

He continued: “I think what is needed is something of a reality check. We have enjoyed season-on-season success and now are not having things our own way week in and week out. That said it’s currently a combination of poor finishing at one end and individual errors at the other.”

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Connor Swingler’s availability is a big boost for the Otters. Fairweather says: “Connor is a special player and will always be cherished by us at Ottery. It’s great that we have him with us for this game. In our Division Six title-winning season when Adam Harris got 40 odd goals, Connor must have been involved in almost 90 per cent of them. He can be a match winner for us, but then we also have Matty Daly, who missed the first game back in August. Matty is our lynchpin and I am feeling much more confident heading into this game than I was for that early season meeting when in all honesty, we had seven or eight out.”

Tipton St John player-coach Dale Strawbridge says: “There’s no escaping the fact that, in terms of the season’s matches, Tipton versus Ottery St Mary is always ‘the big one’.

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“However, we are not going to get carried away with the two games for, in a long season, it’s about how we perform over the course of the 26 matches that determines where we finish in the table and we want to be up there at the business end of the campaign. It would be wrong to say this is a ‘normal game’ for it clearly isn’t, but whatever the outcome, it will not define our season.”

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