Pickard finds the challenge too great .Thursday, April 26, 2012 North Devon Journal
Follow.WHEN Owen Pickard was appointed Barnstaple Town manager in November 2008, he looked forward to the "big challenge" of bringing his "home-town club out of the doldrums".
After three-and-a-half years, more than 150 games and an astronomical number of phone calls in frantic attempts to put a team together, Pickard finally admitted defeat this week.
FINISHED: Owen Pickard (centre) in the Mill Road dugout with Matt Hare (right) and Dave Griffiths.
.He will leave after Saturday's Toolstation Western League game against Bitton with Barnstaple in the bottom five of the premier division and no closer to emerging from the doldrums than they were when he took over from Pete Buckingham.
"I have had it (resigning) in mind for quite a long time," said Pickard, after Tuesday night's 4-0 win over Corsham Town.
"It's a tough thing, football management, and I have a young family at home."
Pickard led Barnstaple to a great escape in 2008-09 when they were ten points adrift on Boxing Day but managed to beat the drop.
They finished 15th in 2009-10 and 11th last season but were unable to maintain that mid-table position in the current campaign.
It became almost an impossible job once chairman Steve James stepped down in January and the playing budget was wiped out.
"Saving them from relegation in the first season was a massive achievement – probably underestimated," said Pickard.
"After Christmas this season things went a bit wrong with the club.
"Myself, Matt Hare (assistant manager) and Dave Griffiths (physio) stayed with it and were committed to the club.
"We have done that now and myself and Matt feel it is time for us to have a break from football."
Pickard has clearly not got everything right in his first managerial role.
He must take his share of the blame for the high turnover of players that made it seem like revolving doors had been installed at Mill Road.
But he has been at the mercy of players whose commitment and attitude to the club and Western League football was open to question.
Pickard has called on more than 50 players this season alone and it was another young, mix-and-match side that beat relegated Corsham on Tuesday.
Pickard said: "How many different players did we have playing in different positions?
"For two or three months we haven't known who was going to be playing.
"Corsham started much the better side and we were sloppy.
"It was the scenario of playing against a team who had already been relegated and thinking it was going to be easy.
"After we settled down and realised it wasn't easy, I would say we dominated."
At kick-off, Barnstaple had gone six games without a goal while Corsham boasted the comparatively impressive record of one in the previous five games.
It was clear to see why in the opening half an hour as Barnstaple failed to create anything of note and Corsham found increasingly elaborate ways of not hitting the net.
The visitors could – perhaps should – have had the game won in that initial spell.
Dan Harvey headed a corner over, then Matty Jenkins miskicked when he took a big swing at a shot and nodded another chance too high.
In the 20th minute, Liam Brown managed a geometry-defying miss – heading over from virtually on the goalline.
Corsham paid the price just after the half-hour when Billy Tucker raced on to Ricky Marinaro's pinged pass and was felled by goalkeeper Scott Windle.
The young striker picked himself up to drill the spot kick straight down the middle.
Having waited 585 minutes for one goal, two more followed before half time.
Marinaro struck a 25-yard free kick perfectly, clipping the tips of Windle's fingers and the underside of the crossbar.
Then Tucker fired in his second from the spot after George Swain was fortunate to be awarded a penalty.
Stan Paxton scored the fourth in the 90th minute. He looked marginally offside when he broke through before unleashing a beautiful left-foot strike from the edge of the area.
It summed up Pickard's problems that Paxton, with Kevin Darch, was one of only two survivors from his first game in charge on November 15, 2008, when he scored both goals in a 2-2 draw at Sherborne Town.
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