Home comforts for both Tigers and Hippos on opening day of new league term

Action from the pre-season friendly between Axminster Town and Ottery St Mary. Picture: SARAH MCCABE

Action from the pre-season friendly between Axminster Town and Ottery St Mary. Picture: SARAH MCCABE - Credit: Archant

Axminster Town launch a new South West Peninsula League Premier East campaign on Saturday (September 5) with a Tiger Way home game against Dartmouth (3pm).

The Tigers completed their pre-season action with a 2-1 win at Western League side Bridport with goals from Reece McCabe and Mustaf Rehemi.

Tigers boss Josh Stunell says: “This has been a terrific pre-season. Normally I am not one to enjoy this time leading up to the start of a new campaign, but this time round I have loved every minute of it.

“What has helped is this group of players we have now and I can honestly say I don’t think anyone can sit in the home dressing room before a game and feel they’ll be sat there the following week unless they deliver a performance.

“That’s the standards we are beginning to set now. We have genuine competition all across the pitch and the added bonus is the arrival of a second team which has helped to raise the level of performance throughout the club.”

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As for Saturday’s opening game, the Tigers boss said: “I see that last season they [Dartmouth] did not travel particularly well and, as the home team, it’s very much the case that we need to be on the front foot from the first whistle.

“I did say to the lads after our Saturday afternoon training session that I felt with the new campaign set to be one long run of Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday then having a big strong squad was an absolute must - and that’s what we have.”

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The Tigers and Dartmouth did not meet in the league last season as both games were in the final set of matches that were cancelled with the season brought to a premature end by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Honiton head into Saturday’s opening fixture, a home meeting with Holsworthy (3pm), looking to beat the North Devon side in a league game for the third time in just over a year.

The Hippos won 2-1 at Holsworthy on the final day of August, 2019, and then won the Mountbatten Park meeting in February of this year 2-0.

Honiton Town were sitting 12th when last season came to a premature end. Scoring goals was something of an issue for the Hippos last season for, when the campaign ended, only three sides had scored fewer than the 36 goals the Hippos netted in their 22 league outings.

However, defensively, Town shipped fewer than two teams that finished higher than them and fewer than six of the eight teams to finish below them in the Premier East table.

Saturday’s opponents, Holsworthy, won only five of their 26 league games last season and were just two places and eight points off bottom side Sidmouth, who had three games in hand, when lockdown ended the season.

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