EXMOUTH TOWN SEASON REVIEW: AUGUST-OCTOBER

Photo by Gerry Hunt (@GerryHunt19)

It has been a season full of ups and downs for Exmouth Town, who managed to complete the ‘Great Escape’ to remain in the Southern League Division One South.

From excellent wins against league champions Wimborne and play-off contenders Larkhall, to tricky defeats against Paulton Rovers and Bashley, this campaign has seen a lot go down.

Let’s take a look at the 23/24 season in full, starting with the first of three parts.

AUGUST

Exmouth started the summer with the great news that the entire squad from the 22/23 season had signed on for next season, which provided Town some continuity going into a fresh start.

Kevin Hill also added to that team, bringing in the likes of Andrew Sowden-Bird, Harvey Field, Bradley Cox and Orlando Anker, who all impressed on trial with Town.

However, the season did not start in ideal fashion, as Town would head to Falmouth Town in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup, and despite taking the lead, they were beaten 2-1 by the Cornish side, in a display that infuriated Hill.

Exmouth could recover nicely with the visit of Evesham to start the Southern League Division One South, and after another strong first half, Town would go into half time in front thanks to Ace High.

Unfortunately, the Robins would peg the hosts back in the second half, which began to display an ongoing theme throughout our games. 

The inability to maintain a high standard for longer than a half would prove to be a real issue in regards to getting wins on the board, but an excellent point away at Wimborne looked to be the boost needed to kickstart the season.

A defeat to Melksham, where once again a poor second half had cost Town in a big way, and defeat to Bideford in a stalemate game that was decided through Archie Reay’s strike, saw Exmouth leave August without a win.

SEPTEMBER

The month started in the perfect way for Town, when they welcomed Wimborne Town to the Circle of Care Community Stadium in the first qualifying round in the FA Trophy.

When Wimborne went 3-1 in front, despite going down to ten men, you would be forgiven for thinking that it was game over for Town, but an inspired fightback via goals from Cox and Ben Steer took the game to penalties.

Youngster Field stayed composed to give the hosts their first competitive win of the season, against the favourites for the league, looked to be the spark that they needed.

Unfortunately, an Owen Howe hat-trick meant that a return to the Southern League was met with a defeat against Willand Rovers, while they were knocked out of the FA Trophy after losing 2-1 against Kidlington. 

Concerns over Town’s season started to appear when they hosted newly promoted Bemerton Heath Harlequins.

Similar to Exmouth last season, the Harlequins were taking full advantage of being an unknown quantity in the league, and found themselves in the play-off positions after an incredible start.

They would not slow down on a gloomy Wednesday night, as they hammered Town 4-0, and it felt like they didn’t have to do an awful lot to get there.

You could be allowed to be pessimistic heading into that weekend’s game against Bishops Cleeve, but the doubt was erased as they raced into a 4-0 lead, playing fast and direct football on the 4G pitch.

The game would finish 4-1, and Exmouth would have their first league win of the season heading into October.

OCTOBER

Exmouth could not quite put a run together in the league, as a late goal from Daniel Koita saw them beaten 1-0 by rivals Tavistock, in another tight clash.

Town could take a lot of spirit from most of these defeats, knowing that they were not that far off it, and just a slight increase in quality could see defeats turn into at least draws.

However, Kevin Hill’s side were absolutely miles off the pace when they played Malvern Town, as after a strong first half, the hosts would collapse against the newly promoted team, losing 3-1.

A 4-1 loss away to fellow strugglers Yate Town marked the debut of two big signings in Louis Morison and Nelson Iseguan, which provided a bit of hope despite another poor result.

We saw the reason for the additions in the last game of the month, as Morison and Iseguan starred in an unfortunate 3-2 defeat against Bristol Manor Farm, where two goals from the latter was not enough to stop an inspired Evander Grubb from scoring the winner. 

While more defeats throughout October was not what anyone was looking for, but with two new signings with higher league experience, a renewed optimism started to develop around in ground, heading into November. 

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