Town's fringe players stake claims for starts
EXMOUTH Town manager Richard Pears says several squad players have forced their way into first-team contention for the trip to Sidmouth Town on Saturday.
Undefeated Town thrashed Crediton United 7-1 last time out to consolidate top spot in the table, with doubles from Lloyd Gardner and Dan Boere accompanying strikes from Andrew Thomson, Alex Greening and Ben Shephard.
Dex Booth responded for Kirton, who host Exeter University on Saturday.
Former Exeter City forward Pears rested a number of first-team players for the Crediton game and was impressed by what he saw.
And although he says he will be taking the Vikings more seriously, some fringe players have stated a strong case for a starting XI spot.
"No disrespect to Crediton, but they have lost a lot of players and are a very different side to the one we played at the start of the season (a 4-2 win)," said Pears, whose side were due to play a friendly at Weymouth last night (Wednesday).
"It gave me the opportunity to give some of the lads who have played a lot a rest and give some of them who have not played much a bit of a run-out.
"It has certainly been food for thought and given me lots to think about for our next game because they did really well.
"I think Sidmouth will be very different though because they have a very small pitch and they are an organised team who get men behind the ball.
"They are one of the few clubs to have taken a point off us (a 0-0 draw in August), so I will be playing a full-strength side."
Saturday's win leaves Town five points clear at the top of the table, with four games in hand over their closest rivals.
But Pears insists complacency is not a danger at Southern Road, as shown by their recent results.
"I have been quite harsh on the players and quite strict to make sure there is no complacency and, to be fair to them, they have reacted very well to that," he said.
"We may be top but we have won our last four games 4-0, 5-1, 6-1 and 7-1, and they have been against strong sides as well.
"When you are top every game is a big one. We have big aspirations so we have to keep our level of performance up."
Meanwhile, assistant manager Mark Richards believes a revamped Teignmouth side can rediscover their early-season form, starting away at Budleigh Salterton.
The Teigns led the standings at the start of the campaign, but a dramatic decline in form has since seen them slip down the pecking order.
But Richards believes bringing in youngsters such as Sam and Scott Baxter at the expense of experienced players like Mark Forrester and Carl Cliff-Brown will help.
"I fancy us much more now because we have had a bit of a change-around in the last few weeks and things are looking much better," said Richards, whose side went down 1-0 to Appledore last time out.
"We have been trying to put a few more smiles on faces because some of the lads weren't enjoying it.
"We've got rid of a few more established players and brought in some of the younger lads who have been on the bench.
"We now have a younger side. We still have the nucleus of a good, young squad. We know we are a good side because it is not too different from last season."
The Robins beat Axminster Town 2-1 last time out, a week after the same match was abandoned because of a brawl.
Mike Hancock and George Pannell score the goals to cancel out Ollie Highet's leveller, with keeper Adrian Pullin saving an 82nd-minute penalty.
The Tigers host Stoke Gabriel next, while Exeter Civil Service go to Appledore. Alphington head to Galmpton Unted and Okehampton Argyle welcombe Newton Abbot Spurs.