Tigers prepare for their 'Cup final' as Willand Rovers come to town

PUBLISHED: 09:43 30 October 2019

Willand Rovers in Southern League action this season. The Mid Devon men are at Tiger Way, Axminster tonight (Wednesday) for a Devon St Lukes Bowl cup tie that kicks-off at 7.30pm.Picture CHRISTOPHER DEAN

Willand Rovers in Southern League action this season. The Mid Devon men are at Tiger Way, Axminster tonight (Wednesday) for a Devon St Lukes Bowl cup tie that kicks-off at 7.30pm.Picture CHRISTOPHER DEAN

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Axminster Town play what joint boss Josh Stunell describes as a 'cup final' tonight (Wednesday) when they entertain Southern League Willand Rovers in a Devon St Luke Bowl cup tie (7.30pm).

The Tigers go into the game off the back of Saturday's narrow 3-2 defeat in the Walter C Parsons Funeral Directors Cup at the hands of St Austell.

Stunell says of the meeting with Willand: "It is effectively a cup final for us. Let's face it, nine times out of ten they [Willand] would put us to the sword. That's just how it is given the different levels we play our regular football at. However, if they were to be below par and perhaps not take things that seriously and so had an 'off night' and we served up our 'A game', then - who knows. As the old football cliché goes 'it can be a funny old game'!"

He continued: "It's a 'free hit' for us in as much as I doubt anyone fancies our chances. Against that, we shall be challenging the lads to get out there and use the game as an opportunity to show what they are capable of. It's certainly an occasion to savour for our lads and I am sure there will be a decent crowd at Tiger Way for the match."

He added: "It is also a great chance for us to get a full 90 minutes out of Rich [Hebditch]. We have missed him of late and he showed on Saturday how much of as key player he can be for us so, if nothing else, this cup tie comes at a good time for him to get another 90 minutes under his belt because, as soon as he is back firing on all cylinders we will be a better side."

Stunell also pointed to the fact the teams had met pre-season. He said: "The pre-season game against Willand Rovers saw a terrific 45 minutes from us and I'd like to think we can replicate some of that performance this time round. Of course, the bottom line to that pre-season game was that we clearly irked them because, after the break they stepped up a gear and took us to the cleaners, but we gave a good account of ourselves that night and I am hoping we can step up and give them a game tonight."

Looking back at Saturday's narrow defeat at the hands of St Austell, the Town joint boss said: "We were so unfortunate. We got our noses in front through the goal from Rich [Hebditch] who then missed a much easier opportunity, one that if it had gone in, would have seen us two goals to the good and I don't think they'd have got back at us from there. However, they then did level up and went ahead with a 'worldy'. We gave our all and, on the day, the margins were mighty fine indeed, but that's been very much the story of our season so far and the one consistency to our campaign so far is that the margins between success and failure really are very fine."

Stunell did have high praise for the Town support on Saturday saying: "Our supporters were brilliant against St Austell and I know the visiting club were most impressed with everything a about us as a club on Saturday. There was certainly a great atmosphere around the ground and, post match, the bar was a hive of activity and it's nice to know that the supporters appreciate what we are trying to do."

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