Flashes of brilliance in league derby

Ottery Crickets 1, Sidmouth HC Men's 1st XI 1 With three points and only one league position separating the two local rivals, last weekend's match between Ottery Crickets and Sidmouth was always likely to be a lively affair.

Ottery Crickets 1, Sidmouth HC Men's 1st XI 1With three points and only one league position separating the two local rivals, last weekend's match between Ottery Crickets and Sidmouth was always likely to be a lively affair.Both teams were able to put out their strongest sides for the match and also summon up some supporters whose boisterous encouragement definitely added to the derby match atmosphere.In a combative opening to the match, both defences looked to have the upper hand and neither goalkeeper had much to worry. The deadlock was finally broken when Sidmouth's Bobby Brown, in an unusual display of inexperience, deliberately kicked the ball away, right under the nose of the umpire and from the resulting short corner, Crickets took the lead with a Carl Frid shot.Minutes later, Frid had a chance to increase the home side's advantage, but his effort at breaking the backboard with a powerful reverse strike, only resulted in breaking a shin pad and causing some discomfort for of his opposite number Ian Brown. Brown's attempts to gain any sympathy for his injuries fell on deaf ears amongst his defensive partners who have all suffered similar if not worse ailments in previous weeks.Sidmouth finally started to take control of the game and pushed the Crickets back into their own half and Andy Welch should have brought the sides level but his flicked effort not only cleared the goal, but also went over the fence and disappeared never to be seen again.This setback didn't deter the Sidmothians and minutes later Graham Pidgeon reaffirmed his self named position as one of the leagues, if not Devons, top goal poachers, finally getting his first goal of the season with a reverse stick hack from a yard out that bobbled between the keepers legs.There was no further score before the break and Sidmouth used the interval to change the team formation to a more conventional 4-4-2 in an effort to take advantage of Charlie Plowden's vast experience and attacking nature at the right-half position. Ottery Crickets on the other hand merely took the opportunity to impress on their young side the advantages of playing a passing game to try and sap the energy from their more "experienced" opponents.The second half saw Crickets enjoy long periods of pressure without threatening and Sidmouth utilised a more direct approach, with Byron Fitzgerald in particular creating a great chance for himself - his first time shot as he entered the 'D' bringing about the best save of the day from the Crickets keeper.With 15 minutes left Sidmouth looked to have won the game with a cleverly worked short corner being converted by Daniel Divine but, after complaints from the Crickets defence and a long discussion by the umpires,the goal was disallowed. With Sidmouth feeling hard done by and tempers beginning to fray, the visitors were reduced to 10 men when former Ottery player Chris Lewis was a little too descriptive as to how he felt about the umpires decision and was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes, time wisely spent formulating a plausible excuse for his behaviour for his mother who was watching her son in a Sidmouth shirt for the first time.Sidmouth continued to push for the winner and looked the more likely to score but Martin Miller, the Crickets stalwart at the back is one of the few defenders in the league able to keep Pidgeon quiet and the Brown brothers at the back for Sidmouth kept Frid at bay and the match ended, probably deservedly in a draw and a point for each side.l The result leaves the two rivals in seveth and eighth in the league but, with Sidmouth playing against the bottom placed side and Crickets taking on second from bottom, both sides will be looking to improve on their positions this weekend.Sidmouth 1st XV v ECV Hornets (Primley 1.30pm); Ottery Crickets v Plymouth Marjons (away).

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