Dan Evans battles Levi Landricombe the last time Tavistock visited Exmouth Town (PPAUK)

Tavistock aiming to end their Exmouth hoodoo Lambs need the points to maintain play-off push

TWELVE months ago, Tavistock and Exmouth Town were going head-to-head for the title in the Western League. Now, having both been promoted from that division, they can be pleased with their maiden campaigns in Southern League Division One South.

Tavistock went on to win that race for the title by beating Ashton & Backwell United 1-0 on the last day of the season. Exmouth followed the Lambs up as runners-up but after a good start to this campaign, things have gone downhill for Kevin Hill’s side.

On Saturday, the two Devon rivals meet again where Tavistock are in need of the points to maintain their push for a play-off place, while Exmouth are looking to improve a poor record that has seen them win only once since the beginning of December.

However, they do enjoy playing Tavi at Southern Road and won the battle in the penultimate game of last season when they were 1-0 winners in front of a bumper crowd. Tavi boss Stuart Henderson knows only too well the difficulties his side have had on the East Devon coast, but hopes to end their poor run of results there this weekend.

“It is difficult one, as they always play their pitch brilliantly and because, if you want to play the style of football you want to play, they seem to know the pitch inside out and where the bobbles and difficult patches are and they are set up to deal with that,” he said.

“It is important not to overplay but, on the other side of the coin, if you go long and direct, then you are playing into their hands because that is what they want, so it is difficult to strike that balance. But you have to find somewhere between the two where we play in the right areas, but make sure we don’t overplay on a difficult pitch.

“They have had a similar journey to us and come up with us from the South West Peninsula League and then the Western League. We are ten points better off than them, but I think both teams will be pleased with the season they have had up to this point. They have secured safety in a new and difficult league, but if we can continue with the form we are in, then we give ourselves a chance.”

Tavi’s task is not helped by injuries to three key players with two definitely ruled out of Saturday’s clash after visits to the hospital this past week.

“Iestyn Harris tried to play on last week, but it was obvious he was in pain,” Henderson said of his young right-back. “He went to get it scanned and he has a broken bone in his hand, so he will be out for a few weeks.

“We don’t really know the extent of Adam Macpherson’s injury – he went to have it scanned but because his knee was so swollen, they told him to come back once the swelling had gone down. It looks a nasty one, as he stretched for the ball and his knee twisted, so it’s potential ligament damage, although we hope not.

“The one bit of good news is that Taylor Scarff’s injury isn’t as bad as we first feared and he said he is in contention for the weekend.”