Exmouth Town assistant manager Andy Rawlings was unsure if it was a case of a point gained or two dropped after the 2-2 Southern Road draw with Street on the penultimate Saturday of March. He said: “It really was a case of disappointment at not getting the three points balanced against the happiness of being top of the Western League for the first time since the 1980s!”
He continued: “Of course, we were gutted not to get all three points, if only for that magnificent turnout of support again! Another 300 plus crowd was quite something and it really grated with us that we could not send them home having seen a Town victory. But we went into the game off the back of what had been a superb team performance to see off Mousehole and could not find that level again for the visit of Street. We must also factor in a stunning performance from the Street goalkeeper. It’s true what folk say that there really is no ‘easy’ games at this level and, while we’d have loved to have taken all three points, we can be pleased with the fact that we have gone top of the table as a result of the point we did bank from the game.”
The Town number two then turned his attention to the remaining set of games that the team face in what remains of the season. This Wednesday night (March 23), Town take a break from league duties when they host Saltash United in a Les Phillips Cup quarter-final tie. Then, on Saturday (March 26), Town are down in Mousehole taking on a side they beat 3-0 at Southern Road just a fortnight ago. That will be followed by a home game against Bridgwater United, a trip to basement side Bridport, then back-to-back home games against Millbrook and Tavistock before a final day trip to Shepton Mallet.
Speaking about the run-in, the Town assistant boss says: “It’s clearly in our hands and, let’s face it, if we had been offered, last August, before a ball was kicked, that we’d reach the final weeks of March in a position from which we were left with the chance to win all our remaining seven games to be crowned champions then we’d have snapped hands off! Yes, it’s testament to the dressing room and indeed, the efforts outside the dressing room from our fantastic supporters, that we are in the position we are in!”
He added: “Mind you, there remains lots of hard work to be done and it’s clear that we need seven more Mousehole ‘esque performances rather than seven of the Street performances, if we are to go on and end the season in spectacular fashion.”
The Town number two did point to the recent arrival of Levi Landricombe as a key element in the team now looking more capable than ever of a run to the top honour. Rawlings said: “He [Landricombe] has brought us some ‘X’ factor up top. He has played – and does play – at a higher level. He is a very clever player who reads the line so well and bends his runs to such a degree that he is a handful for defences home and away. Another big plus from Levi is that, on top of his clear individual quality he is such a hard worker. He is a great example to younger players for he covers every inch of the pitch and it’s a given that we hope the Town fans get to see much more of the lad over the remainder of this season and seasons to come. But you know, above all else he is a really nice guy and is very popular in the dressing room. What’s more the Southern Road faithful have taken to him despite his residential status of living in Plymouth! Yes, for sure, Town supporters would appear to have a favourite ‘Janner’ just now!”
Looking to Wednesday night and the Les Phillips Cup tie with Saltash United, the Town number two says: “We will be looking to win the game. It won’t be easy, for Saltash will be keen to make progress to the semi-final where Helston Athletic await the winners.”
Next up in terms of the league effort is Saturday’s trip to Mousehole and the Town number two is very clear as to just how tough an afternoon it is likely to be. He says: “At our place they [Mousehole] were comfortably the best footballing team we have seen this season. They are a good passing team and have quality in all areas. But then we like to think we have similar and we have no injury issues right now so hopefully we can go down there and deliver a similar performance to the one we served up when we beat them at our place recently.”