Great Sidmouth v Ottery clash was hard-fought all the way

Ottery Crickets 1, Sidmouth 2

Since the last time these teams met, Crickets' coach Steve Ellison has clearly been working his magic on his side who were much more organised this time and rarely troubled the umpires with dissent, writes Peter Baker.

He even went to the trouble of deploying a scouting party to Sidmouth's last league game - a successful encounter with Ashmoor - to try to suss out a way to beat the local rival Sidmouth. But for all Crickets' preparation, it simply wasn't enough.

The first half was a fairly unremarkable display. Crickets’ ladies’ team had stayed behind to cheer on their boys and were certainly passionate in their support which added to the tension this match always carries given the bragging rights up for grabs. The possession was probably just edged by Sidmouth who continually put together good moves coming out of defence into midfield, but that possession was squandered far too frequently, allowing the pacier Crickets to counterattack with purpose. But for a couple of good saves from Jon Hill, putting in his finest performance of the season, Ottery might well have taken the lead.

Sidmouth appeared to have broken the deadlock, putting the ball in the back of the net on 27 minutes, the umpire awarding the goal, but then reversing the decision.

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At half time Sidmouth's spirit was rightfully good, but captain Ian Brown demanded a strong second half in what was effectively Sidmouth's biggest game of the season. And to their credit, his players did not let him down. Enigmatic Andrew Mapson moved into midfield, with Dan Devine taking his place in the forward line. The midfield was further changed midway through the second half when former Crickets favourite Chris Lewis hobbled off with a pulled hamstring.

The visitors managed to convert their pressure into a short corner, culminating with a goal when the ball was slipped left to former prolific goalscorer Graham Pidgeon, who managed to find the post with an improvised scoop-type mishit shot. Luckily for Sidmouth, Andrew Welch popped up to slam the ball home.

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But as is often the case, Sidmouth's vulnerability having scored a goal was cruelly exposed moments later when some poor defensive work allowed the hosts a short corner opportunity. Although they fluffed their attempt, they did manage to find a Scott Rowson foot, which the umpire considered worthy of a penalty flick. It was duly converted.

With the tension building, the crowd getting louder and final whistle moments away, the resilient Sidmouth earned another penalty corner. Good work from Welch and Charlie Please in midfield, linking well with Jon Pike, carved out the opportunity.

The Sidmouth players gathered in a huddle and decided their set play. . A slightly off target injection from Welch saw Scott Rowson stop the ball himself, moved his feet surprisingly quickly and even more surprisingly, given his normal efforts, unleashed a venomous shot.

This week Sidmouth entertain Bridgwater whilst Crickets take on Ashmoor.

And here is the Ottery version....

Ottery Crickets 1, Sidmouth 2

Hit by non-availability and injury for the second week, Crickets’ young team entered the game aiming to win the upper hand against the generally more senior Sidmouth in the South Div 1 local derby at Colin Tooze Sports Centre, Ottery, writes Steve Ellison.

It was to be a close game, played in a competitive and positive spirit.

Sidmouth, who started the stronger, enjoyed extended periods of possession but created few clear chances. With the only threats being a couple of penalty corners until the 20 minute mark, Sidmouth linked accurately to advance into the packed D to put the ball in the net after a scramble. With the Sidmouth team now back in their own half and ready for the re-start, the umpires consulted and the goal was disallowed. It was nip and tuck through the first half, with Sidmouth playing the better possession hockey and with Ottery unable to create fluency in the final third - the half ended goal-less.

All the goals were to come in the second half. Frood in goal was called into action on several occasions to fend off Sidmouth’s attacks.

It was during a series of penalty corners that the visitors scored their first. Frood and his defence men had done well to keep out both driven and lifted drag flicked penalty corners but eventually, Sidmouth’s Welch scored in the mel�e that followed.

To their credit the home team’s response was almost immediate. They broke, advancing into the opposition D, and with the Sidmouth goalkeeper stranded, the unmarked Fraser pushed the ball goal-ward, only for it to hit Rowson’s leg to deny Crickets a certain goal. The umpires immediately awarded a penalty flick which Mikey Bell converted.

Sidmouth got second goal from a penalty corner. Rowson received the ball high on the D and smashed it inside the left post with Frood stranded. 1-2.

Crickets continued to attack; the dynamic Fraser chased down a lost cause on the left base line, left the defender stranded and pushed across the goal for the lunging Bell who was only inches away from connecting. The whistle went with Sidmouth, who had played more contained hockey, the victors in a fair, pulsating game.

Squad: Frood, Jolly G, Down, Miller, Gracie, Ogborne, Dockley, Sheaves, King, Bell, Fraser, Slade

Cricket’s next League game is on Sat 4th Feb 2012 vs Ashmoor at the Colin Tooze @ 2pm.

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