Changed side puts Uni on the rack
Three months ago, when these teams last met, the Pike and Plowden revolution was in its infancy.
Three months ago, when these teams last met, the Pike and Plowden revolution was in its infancy. That day, back in November, witnessed an aged, disjointed Sidmouth side lacking in confidence and coming off the worse in an 11-goal thriller. However, last weekend when Plymouth University visited sunny East Devon, a transformed side took to the field against the table-toppers. With full availability being afforded to the selection committee, the 12 man squad that took to the pitch represents not only the strongest side currently, but a vision for the future of the club. This has seen, in particular, young guns Bobby Brown, Chris Lewis and Peter Baker solidifying their place in the line-up. The heavy investment in youth has naturally had its victims and, with a combined age of 116, old boys Simon Price, Graham Pidgeon and Andrew Mapson have had to make way for the exciting young talent.Right from the first whistle it was clear that it was going to be a tough match. University teams always have fitness on their side and Plymouth's particular strength is their ability to soak up pressure and break quickly into a counter-attack. With this in mind, the versatile Scott Rowson was asked to take on the right-half position, allowing the home side to make full use of his ability as an excellent tackler. A fairly uneventful first 35 minutes saw no goals and, with Sidmouth having the lion's share of possession and showing the intensity that has been encouraged all season, the hosts stepped on to the pitch for the second half confident of at least a point against the league leaders.Minutes into the second half, the visitors were awarded their first penalty corner. The shot that resulted from a well worked routine was initially blocked, but somehow found its way to an onrushing University striker who put his side in front. At this point Andrew Welch, Rowson and Paul Gannon showed how vital they are to the continued success of the squad - this 'core of experience' that the team has been constructed around displayed their composure at a point in the game when the relative inexperience of the younger players could have easily seen the side capitulate. Since his recent engagement, Jon Pike appears a much more confident player. Keen to impress his fiancee on the sideline, the joint captain made some enterprising forward runs and led the line ably. This sustained pressure resulted in a penalty corner for the hosts which was converted thanks to a sublime strike from powerhouse Gannon, the ball clipping the backboard having flown past the helpless keeper. A second penalty corner saw the lead doubled thanks to a clever move involving Gannon, Rowson and a goal from Welch. Students are renowned for leaving everything to the last minute and a certain confidence remained despite finding themselves behind with only minutes remaining on the clock. This saw the ever reliable Sidmouth defensive unit at its very best, with Ryan Trawford in particular continuing to impress with some strong tackles.Sidmouth knew that a third goal would kill off any chance Plymouth had and kill off the students is exactly what they did. Pike combined well with Lewis, who took on the last defender and reeled off a delightful shot to seal the win for the hosts. With a few minutes remaining, but the points in the bag, one of the umpires tried to even the game up by asking Rowson to watch the end of the game from the sideline, but not even that assisted the students.Although many positive factors can be taken from last week's victory, perhaps the most pleasing is that the result shows the unquestionable potential of the Primley warriors for the future, and they will be keen to continue their good run of form this week away versus Tavistock.