Tigers ready for the big kick-off

PUBLISHED: 18:02 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 22:10 15 June 2010

Axminster Town Manager Ray Self was frustrated that his Tigers team could not play their scheduled friendly game with Portland at Sector Lane on Saturday when the amount of rain that had fallen on the pitch rendered it impossible to get any markings onto it.

Axminster Town Manager Ray Self was frustrated that his Tigers team could not play their scheduled friendly game with Portland at Sector Lane on Saturday when the amount of rain that had fallen on the pitch rendered it impossible to get any markings onto it.

The loss of the game to the weather meant that Self's side had managed to contest just three of six scheduled warm-up matches as two of their other pre-season games had also not been played owing to various issues.

"It's concerning because I don't feel we have had the best of preparation for the new season.

"I had planned for the six game sequence and, owing to circumstances beyond our control, we have only been able to play half of them. Saturday was bizarre but there was precious little we could do about it; the rain was so heavy that the line simply could not be laid down."

The Tigers begin their second season of South West Peninsula League football on Saturday with a visit from Exeter Civil Service (kick-off 3pm) and Self knows his side have a tough opening game.

"They (Civil) are playing their first ever game at this level and they have added some real quality to what was already a well functioning unit but, that said, we have got together a squad that I think will serve us well this year.

"It's important to get a good start and I will be urging the players to do their best to serve up a positive opening."

With Johnny Hurford and Gary Knight both departed, Self has brought in the Hancock brothers, Martin and Mark from Beer Albion, whilst Ollie Highett has been recruited from Seaton Town and Alex Hughes, who recently relocated to the area, is another new face in the Tigers' dressing room.

Self says: "One of our biggest problems last season was what I saw as a lack of depth in the squad but at this early stage I don't see that being an issue this term.

"We have 18 players now champing at the bit and, if we can get in one or two more, then I feel we will have the sort of all-round strength to take us where we want to go this season - that's, at the very least, a top six finish."

Self is also boosted by the return of two quality players, both of whom sat out much of last year. Michael Beer hasn't played competitively since the 2006/07 season, but the attacking midfielder is fit again, as is Terry Emmet, who was sorely missed last season through injury - and Sam Dibling has had a change of mind and rejoined the Tigers after looking like going to Charmouth, with whom he played some pre-season games.

"Sam (Dibling) played for the Reserves at Lyme Regis on Sunday and it's great to have him back in a Tigers' strip.

"He has missed all the pre-season with us and it may take a while to get him fully match fit, but he has the sort of quality that we need in our ranks if we are to have a successful campaign."

Says Self, who himself is looking forward to the new campaign: "We are all looking forward to it and I am very confident that, as long as we can get a decent start, we'll be up there challenging with the teams contesting the prizes at the business end of the campaign."

By Stephen Birley

Axminster football

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