LIAM CURTIS assesses Barnstaple Town’s prospects in the new Toolstation Western League Premier Division season.
BARNSTAPLE Town were outstanding last season but, tomorrow, the real hard work starts.
The 2014-15 squad smashed 14 records in winning the Toolstation Western League First Division title.
In defence they were faultless and in attack they were ruthless – but that’s all history.
Now Barry Yeo’s men will come up against teams of equal ambition and quality.
The Premier Division’s sixth-placed side, Willand Rovers, proved their worth with a 3-0 victory over Barnstaple in the Les Phillips Cup final at the end of last season.
However, in Yeo, who helped Ilfracombe Town to two third-place finishes in the division, they have more than enough experience to aim high.
Centre-backs James Mayne and Aaron Harper-Penman, and striker Dave Pearse, give the team a host of wise heads.
And pulsing through the veins is young, exciting talent which Yeo has injected with a “fear no one” attitude.
Survival is paramount. Other than that, following a promising pre-season and managing to keep the Record Breakers together, Barnstaple have potential to do much better.
Pre-season: Launceston (H) W 2-0, Exmouth (A) L 2-0, Wellington (A) W 2-0, Exeter City XI (H) W 3-1, Tiverton Tn (A) W 1-0, Bridgwater Tn (H) L 2-1, Taunton Tn (A) L 3-1.
Players in: Niall Heeney, Steve Oliver, Dominic Rivans.
Players out: Ryan Draper (retired).
Toolstation Western League Premier Division fixtures – Aug 8: Bradford Tn (H). Aug 12: Willand Rov (A). Aug 19: Buckland Ath (A). Aug 22: Shepton Mallet (A). Aug 29: Gillingham Tn (A). Sep 1: Street (H). Sep 5: Bristol MF (A). Sep 12: Melksham Tn (A). Sep 15: Street (A). Sep 19: Cribbs (H). Sep 26: Sherborne Tn (H). Oct 10: Welton Rov (A). Oct 13: Clevedon Tn (H). Oct 17: Bridport (A). Oct 24: Hallen (A). Nov 7: Bristol MF (H). Nov 21: Bitton (A). Nov 28: Bradford Tn (A). Dec 5: Willand Rov (H). Dec 12: Winterbourne Utd (H). Dec 19: Cadbury Heath (H). Jan 2: Odd Down (A). Jan 9: Brislington (H). Jan 16: Melksham Tn (H). Jan 23: Cadbury Heath (A). Jan 30: Bitton (H). Feb 6: Brislington (A). Feb 13: Longwell Green Spts (A). Feb 20: Shepton Mallet (H). Feb 27: Sherborne Tn (A). Mar 5: Winterbourne Utd (A). Mar 12: Clevedon Tn (A). Mar 19: Hallen (H). Mar 28: Buckland Ath (H). Apr 2: Longwell Green Spts (H). Apr 9: Cribbs (A). Apr 16: Gillingham Tn (H). Apr 23: Welton Rov (H). Apr 30: Odd Down (H).