Axminster Town targeting further progress in 2019

PUBLISHED: 11:41 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:38 04 January 2019

Tony Pinder in action for Axminster Town during the pre-season friendly against Bridport at Tiger Way. Picture STEVEN WAKELEY PHOTOGRAPHY.

Tony Pinder in action for Axminster Town during the pre-season friendly against Bridport at Tiger Way. Picture STEVEN WAKELEY PHOTOGRAPHY.

Archant

Axminster Town have good reason to view the 12 months ahead with some serious optimism.

The Tigers play their first game of 2019 on Saturday (January 5) when they host Torridgeside at Tiger Way (3pm) and they go into the game looking to add to their current six match-winning sequence that has seen them score 27 goals and concede just six in those half-a-dozen outings.

For Tigers’ joint-boss Josh Stunell, the past 12 months have been one of real ‘ups and downs’ in a sport that he loves with a passion.

He says: “Here at Tiger Way we are really enjoying life at the moment, though that does not mean that we are getting too confident – far from it – I have been in the game long enough to know that it can bite you when you least expect it and the key to continuing our current great form is clearly a combination of consistency of performance alongside that more important of ingredients – availability.”

Twelve months ago, Stunell was welcoming in 2018 as the manager of Sidmouth Town, a club that still holds fond memories for him, though he is now very much ‘entrenched with the ambition and positive thinking’ at Tiger Way!

He says: “I must admit that it did begin to get to the stage at my previous club [Sidmouth Town] when I began to wonder if I really wanted to stay in the game. That’s all changed and, for that, I owe much to both Johnny and his brother Andy [Johnny Hurford is Stunell’s fellow joint boss at Tiger Way and Andy Hurford is in his first full season as chairman of the club]; the pair are a joy to work with. Andy is clearly a very genuine ‘football man’ and Johnny and I share the same outlook on the game. It is very fair to say that yours truly is really enjoying life right now.”

He continued: “It was in the latter stages of pre-season that Johnny and I felt we had a set of players who, when it ‘clicked’, it would really ‘click’, and so it has.

“We are lucky in as much as we have a squad of players that are all of the same mindset and who clearly enjoy the style of football we are trying to play.

“We do favour the high press and the basic of ‘if you lose the ball then get it back as quickly as possible’ and the goal count [Town are averaging three goals a game this season] is testament to the attacking philosophy we have at Tiger Way.”

So, what of 2019 and the year ahead? Stunell replies: “With the changes that are coming at the end of the current season we are keen to be part of the new step six set-up and so are looking for as high a finish as possible in the Eastern Division.

“There’s almost half the season still to be played and we are one of a number of clubs who arguably have genuine title-wining aspirations. Can we win it? Yes, of course we can, but there are lots of tough games to come. One thing I am very confident of, and that is that if we can sustain good consistency of performance and maintain good availability then we’ll be in the mix at the end of the campaign.”

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