Pears: Unbeaten run makes us prime target
RICHARD Pears believes Exmouth Town's undefeated record is leading to teams taking a more physical approach against them.
Town travel to Exeter Civil Service on Saturday, who sit one place and a point above them in the standings.
Pears is anticipating a tough match, but is confident they can maintain their unbeaten run.
"I think teams are gunning for us and have been for the last month or so. Teams are packing the midfield and making it really difficult for us because they want to be the ones to beat us," said Pears.
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"They are trying to bully us a bit but that makes me even more proud of my players because of how well they have dealt with that and kept on playing well.
"They (Exeter Civil Service) have picked up some good results recently and are on a bit of a run so it will be a tough game.
"It is a bit of a small pitch which probably won't suit us too well because we like to get the ball out and pass it. Having said all of that, it is still a game I expect us to win."
Pears will be without Ben Shephard, whose hamstring injury is likely to rule him out for another two weeks, although Sam Woodin is poised to return.
Town did not play at the weekend and hold up to five games in hand over teams above them, trailing leaders Stoke Gabriel – who have played two games more – by just two points.
But Pears says games in hand count for little if they are not converted into points.
"We do have games in hand but I would rather have points on the board at this stage," he explained.
"I was happy to give my players a rest at the weekend but I will put them through a hard training session this week to go out all guns blazing on Saturday."
Civil warmed up for the match with a solid 2-0 win away to Plymstock United.
Aiden Barrett opened the scoring in the first half following a defensive mix-up, before Joshua Burrell added a second.
Crediton United went down 2-0 away to Appledore, and head to Newton Abbot Spurs on Saturday.
Spurs shared an entertaining 3-3 draw with Axminster Town, with Mark Dyson (2) and Adam Dyson putting them 3-1 up. Richie Emmett, Terry Emmett and Ben Vine scored for the Tigers, who go to Plymstock next.
Alphington manager John Moore has labelled his side's home game against Sidmouth Town a 'must-win' game.
The Alphas, who lost 3-0 at Teignmouth on Saturday after goals from Sam Chapman (2) and Mark Forrester, are mid table with 13 points from 10 games – 12 points behind leaders Stoke Gabriel.
And Moore admits his side must beat the bottom-of-the-table Vikings to stay in touch with the teams above.
"It is a 100-per-cent, vital must-win game for us because we are beginning to fall behind the pack," explained Moore, who is hoping to have the likes of Peter Darke, Scott Foster and Dan Sullivan available again.
"If we do not win this game then we don't deserve to be in this division. I am not being disrespectful to Sidmouth when I say that, but they are bottom of the table and without a win, so we have to beat them.
"We should have bounced back with a win last weekend and didn't so we absolutely have to do it this time around.
"I had eight players pull out from last Tuesday to Saturday due to injuries and work commitments and I had two 16-year-olds on the bench, so I'm hoping for better luck this time."
Sidmouth lost a 7-3 thriller at home to Stoke Gabriel on Saturday, with their goals coming from Matt Rasmussen, Tim Lister and Alex Raistrick.
The Teigns go to Exeter University on Saturday, with the Students looking to build on their 2-1 win at Budleigh Salterton last time out.
Magnus Assmundson scored a superb free-kick for the University, only for Brett Wright to equalise. Peter Beadle then headed in an Assmundson corner to knock the Robins from top spot.