Axminster boss Stunell left perplexed after Sidmouth defeat

Axminster Town's summer signing from Bridport Town, striker Richard Hebditch. Picture AXMINSTER TOWN

Axminster Town's summer signing from Bridport Town, striker Richard Hebditch. Picture AXMINSTER TOWN FC - Credit: Archant

Axminster Town conceded an 80th minute goal as the team began their 2019/20 South West Peninsular League Premier Division East with a 2-1 defeat away at Sidmouth Town.

The Vikings took the lead just before the half-hour mark thanks to a penalty kick from Ollie Jarrett, before Axminster equalised in the 54th minute via Tony Pinder.

Sidmouth then sealed the late victory with a 80th minute winner from Jack Hatswell after a quick counterattacking move.

Axminster Town boss Josh Stunell was left perplexed by his side's first half performance.

He said: "The players were told in no uncertain terms that what they had served up through the first 45 minutes was not acceptable. We [Stunell and fellow joint-boss Johnny Hurford] told them that it's not good being fine individual players if you cannot come together and play as a team."

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He continued: "The perplexing thing is that the 11 we started the game at Sidmouth with were the same 11 that had been leading Exmouth Town 1-0 in a pre-season game before the Western League side levelled in the 88th minute"

The Tigers did improve after the break and, when back level at 1-1, it was they who looked the more likely.

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Stunell said: "We created some gilt-edged chances - at least three that I felt should have been buried.

"Credit to them [Sidmouth] because they did what they had to do and, from a personal point of view, it was so good to see the likes of Ben Miller and Ollie Jarrett, who came through the Sidmouth Town youth system while I was there both playing and delivering quality. But, it has to be all about us and the biggest disappointment for me is that, hand on heart, we ought to have had the combined experience and wherewithal to do the business at Manstone Lane, but we came up short.

"We did tell the players post-match that this has to be taken a as a massive wake-up call. Look, its one defeat and it's not like it has come 16 games into the season. If the players do indeed accept this as a wake-up, then we can resume normal duties next time out and kick-start our season."

Next up for the Tigers is Saturday's (August 17) first home game of the new campaign, a Tiger Way meeting with Plymouth Marjon and then, next Wednesday (August 21), they have another East Devon derby when they travel to Honiton Town (6.30pm).

Stunell says of the coming games: "After the defeat at Sidmouth it's important that we show the real us and bounce back."

Plymouth Marjon will come to Axminster sitting rock bottom of the early table having lost their opening game 5-0 at Ilfracombe Town and then gone down 3-2 in a midweek home meeting with Torpoint Athletic.

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