Energy and skill almost pay off

Sidmouth and Ottery Crickets in Premier Div Three matches

The first ever Premier Division 3 match to be played at Sidmouth College was anticipated with a mixture of nerves and excitement by players and spectators alike.

A team photo pre-game boosted morale as did goalkeeper Jon Hill’s self concocted energy drink supplied to all. The team were pleased to see the call-centre manager finally getting some use from his Chemistry degree.

The opening exchanges were all Sidmouth with the pace of George Powell and Byron Fitzgerald causing problems down the visitors’ left hand side. This led to a number of penalty corners with Fitzgerald getting on the end of a Dan Devine shot to deflect the ball goalward.

The Bristol coach told the amassed home fan contingent that he feared his team – who beat Ottery Crickets 7-1 the previous week – were on to a hiding. However, the visitors stuck to their task resolutely and quickly turned a one goal deficit into a one goal lead. Scott Rowson and Andrew Welch were making their seasonal reappearances and their experience certainly told.

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Intelligent runs from the youthful legs of Fitzgerald, Devine and Powell were moved on by Rowson’s mercurial passing, presenting a constant threat to the opposition.

The visitors doubled their lead before a spirited home side pulled a goal back to set up a tense finish. The combination of over-40s - Andrew Mapson and Graham Pidgeon - did not allow Sidmouth to exploit the left hand side as much as had been hoped and indeed the visitors got a fair amount of joy down their right hand flank consequently.

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This led to them adding a fourth, before Powell pulled one back in the dying minutes for Sidmouth.

Although the home side can be proud of a spirited performance, they face the reality that they have played two and lost two.

A little more self-confidence and belief that the team is capable of competing at this higher level was the clear message post game and a more resolute and accomplished performance is expected away versus Firebrands this weekend by Sidmouth’s skipper.

OTTERY CRICKETS - After last week’s harsh introduction to Davis Wood Premier 3 hockey, a 7-1 hiding at Bristol and West, Crickets entertained Bristol side Firebrands, who were confident of adding three points to their win at Cheltenham.

Firebrands started the stronger, moving the ball around with ease, Crickets, having had a tactical re-think during the week, were equal to all that their guests threw at them.

It was Crickets that scored first when Jimmy Harris scored from a drag flick at a short corner on 13 mins. A minute later and a clever square pass at the top of the D by veteran Mark Moore found Nick Goode, who was able to slot the ball into the empty net.

Crickets were now ‘in the groove’ and playing some sublime hockey, stubbing out any attacks from Firebrands with consumate ease and causing chaos in the visitors’ 25.

This was epitomised in the 21st minute when a quickly taken free hit on the right found Matt Kirk, who ran the ball into the D. Having drawn the keeper, he selflessly squared the ball to Archie Fraser who had all the time in the world to slot home his maiden goal. Five minutes later and Fraser was on hand to repeat the move, this time down the left wing, squaring the ball to skipper Matt Ogborne to tap home from close range. Crickets were flying at 4-0 and waited for the inevitable fight back from Firebrands. They didn’t have to wait long as within a minute it was 4-1 and two minutes later 4-2. It was becoming a bit of a thriller, the large crowd that had gathered not quite sure of what the score was! There was more to come and Jimmy Harris made it 5-2 at half time from another well taken short corner.

In contrast, the second half was a good deal tamer and it seemed that Firebrands might well work their way back into contention. After just five mins they had reduced the deficit to 5-3. Had it not been for some excellent goalkeeping from Jonny Thompson, the lead would have been reduced further. The visitors did not help their cause when they were twice reduced to 10 men for failing to concede five metres at a free hit. Crickets wrapped the game up with six minutes to go when veteran Mark Moore held the ball up well on the 25, threaded it to Jack Pritchard who beat two defenders and the keeper to score. A tremendous effort which lifted Crickets into a mid-table position. Man of the match was Jimmy Harris.

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