WITH a number of key new signings, Lyme Regis manager Gerard Hitchcock has strengthened his first team squad and is confident the Seasiders will be challenging for honours in the Devon & Exeter Premier League this coming season.
New faces at the Davey Fort include Mike Knight, a former Axminster central defender and brother of Gary Knight, one of the Seasiders’ most experienced players. Joining him will be two other signings from across the Devon border – full-back Alex Rockett and goalkeeper Bret Garner.
Mike Knight and Rockett played for Lyme in their 3-1 win over Chard Town on Wednesday evening, both settling well into the Lyme back four alongside centre-back Kingsley Wellman and wing-back Cody Bowditch and looking like good acquisitions.
Garner is edging towards veteran status but is considered to be one of the area’s best glovemen and will strengthen a position where Lyme were struggling last season.
Lee Cleal also returns to the fold and is available regularly, showing in his performance against Chard that he has lost none of is athleticism between the sticks. With Will Meech and Rob Harp both expected to sign, Lyme now have a line-up of keepers to match any in the Devon & Exeter and Perry Street Leagues.
It also means that Robbie Fowler, who has stood in as keeper on a number of occasions for the first team, can return to his preferred position in defence.
The Seasiders started their pre-season fixtures with a 2-1 win against Ottery St Mary with goals from Nathan Wormersley and Kingsley Wellman.
This was followed by an excellent 5-0 win over Honiton 2nds. On target were Sam Pollard-Jones (2), Ben Turner, Alex Rockett and Fred Parsons.
Lyme looked sharp in a friendly at the Woodroffe School in a competitive game against Paignton Saints and emerged as 4-2 winners with Joe Bond grabbing a brace and other goals from Fred Parsons and Nathan Wormersley.
The run-out against a young Chard Town side was an even sterner test, especially kicking up the notorious Chard slope in the first half. They went in at half-time trailing 1-0 after keeper Lee Cleal lost a long-range shot in the sun. Cleal more than made up for this mistake by pulling off a string a brilliant saves during the rest of the game.
After the break, Lyme really turned it on, playing some excellent football to win the game 3-1 with an opener from Ben Turner and two goals from Fred Parsons, the first a 30-yarder and the second after a brilliant passing move from the Seasiders.
Lyme Rovers also looked in good nick in a 4-0 win over Thorncombe at the Woodroffe School with Pete Peacock (2) and Scott Myers and first teamer Ben Vine, who came on as a sub, getting on the scoresheet.
Lyme Reserves, this season being managed by Dominic Rowe, following in father Rodney’s footsteps, have also been in action. They lost 2-1 against Beer Albion 2nds, their goal coming from Daley Holmes, but they banged in three goals without reply against Axminster Reserves, the goals being shared by Jake Bearpark and Jack Farrant.
Lyme also looked in good form on Saturday at home to Bridport Reserves, winning 3-0, all three strikes coming from the in-form Joe Bond.
The pre-season friendlies continue on Wednesday (August 7) when the Seasiders entertain Honiton at the Davey Fort (kick-off 6.30 pm) and the Reserves are away to South Petherton. The pressies also travel to South Petherton on Saturday and manager Gerard Hitchcock is hoping to arrange another fixture for the first team on Saturday.
The Seasiders’ new sponsor for the coming season will be local carpenter Kingsley Wellman, who plays for the first team. Kingsley’s name was drawn out of the hat in a sponsorship draw after the game on Saturday which raised more than £1,000 for the club.
Lyme start their Premier division fixtures on Saturday, August 17, home to Chagford, followed on Wednesday, August 21 h0me to Seaton; Saturday, August 24 away to Kentisbeare; Wednesday, August 28 away to Sidmouth Town 2nds; and Saturday, August 31, away to Colyton. Lyme Regis Reserves kick-off their 2019-2010 campaign in Division away to Hemyock on Saturday, August 24.