Defenders close ranks

Sidmouth HC 1st XI 1, East Devon 0

A much-changed Sidmouth side reacted well to captain Ian Brown’s inspirational team talk to beat East Devon by a single goal in a tightly contested battle at Sidmouth College on Saturday, writes Peter Baker.

After two consecutive single goal defeats, Sidmouth have fallen from fifth in the league table to ninth. In such a tight league the home side were desperate to gain the three points required to keep pace with the teams directly above them. Having struggled against East Devon earlier in the season, Sidmouth knew that the game would be won in the midfield areas and set out to control the game from the central area of the field through Andrew Welch and Charlie Please.

A scrappy opening to the game saw both teams give away possession repeatedly. Some clever movement from forwards Graham Pidgeon, Sam Cole and Ryan Bunn allowed Sidmouth to create a few openings and win a succession of penalty corners, forcing the opposition goalkeeper to make some smart saves. The home team required their goalkeeper, Jon Hill, to make some regulation saves of his own to keep the match goalless at the interval.

After some heated words during the half time break, Sidmouth started to take control of the match. With Welch, Please and Dan Devine combining well in midfield and the accurate long range passing of Scott Rowson from the back, the game became stretched in Sidmouth’s favour.

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Pidgeon, a constant threat to East Devon’s defence throughout, worked an opening for Bunn who was fouled attempting to finish the move. From the resulting corner Sidmouth worked the ball left to Pidgeon who teed up Please to score.

This was the afternoon’s highlight for Please who finished the afternoon in hospital requiring butterfly stitches for a facial wound after attempting one brave tackle too many. Sidmouth worked hard to create another clear opening to make certain of the points but it never materialised. However, the defence never looked like conceding once Sidmouth had taken the lead, with the motivated Hill keeping his first clean sheet of the year.

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A special mention must go out to Rich Robinson and Charlie Plowden on impressive returns to the team, in what was a dominant display from the defensive ranks.

Sidmouth travel away to current league leaders Yeovil on Saturday, having drawn the reverse fixture 2-2 in November.

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