Hatswell’s ‘wonder’ strike in Sidmouth Town cup defeat

Sidmouth Town were edged out of the Walter C Parson Cup, beaten 3-2 at Premier Division Cullompton Rangers on Wednesday night.

However, knocked out the Vikings may well have been, but the in-form home side certainly recognised they had ‘been in a game’ when the final whistle was blown.

Indeed, on what was a bitterly cold night - the temperature did not rise above zero from first whistle to last - a decent sized crowd were witness to a ‘wonder strike’ from one of the Town youngsters.

Sixteen-year-old Jack Hatswell, a regular in the Feniton Under-18s, struck a stunning shot from fully 30-yards that nestled in the top corner of the Cully net to leave the game tantalisingly poised at 3-2 with still some 15 minutes remaining.

However, try as they did - and the Vikings put in a ‘heroic’ second-half shift - they were unable to fashion a third goal to take the game into extra-time and so the Premier Division side edged their way into the quarter-finals leaving Town to concentrate on the second half of their Eastern Division season, which begins on Saturday (January 5) with a visit to Newton Abbot Spurs (3pm).

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Town had been two goals down at half-time, but an early second-half goal from Ferenc Bodor halved the deficit. The home side then scored a third before the ‘goal of the game’ from young Hatswell.

Town joint-boss Kev Tooze said: “I was left gutted at full-time for I genuinely believe that had we produced in the first half what we delivered after the break, then the final result might well have been very different.

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“To be fair to the lads, they are an honest bunch and they knew at half-time that those first 45 minutes had not seen us do ourselves justice. I am not one to throw tea cups in the dressing room.

“Indeed, I don’t scream and shout, but I did let the lads know at the break that they were letting themselves - and the club - down with what they had contributed to the opening half. I reminded them they had every right to be out on that turf going toe-to-toe with the home side.”

He continued: “We had afforded them [Cullompton Rangers] too much respect in the first half, but that changed once the lads got back out there.

“It was bitterly cold, but the boys were truly magnificent throughout the second half when we scored two, might have had a couple more, and shipped a daft goal when we allowed a cross to come in and a striker to get a clear header on our goal. Don’t get me wrong, Cully are a good side and are having a cracking season, but our lads should have been waking up the following day realising that each and every one of them has the ability to play at the next level.

“All we lack is consistency of performance and I don’t doubt that if we deliver from minute one to minute 90 at Newton Abbot Spurs tomorrow what we did from minute 46 to 90 on Wednesday night, then we will get our just rewards.”

Speaking of the goal from Jack Hatswell, Tooze said: “It was a special strike, that’s for sure. Young Jack was introduced late in the first half when Harry Taylor picked up a hamstring injury and the lad settled in quickly. His goal was one of real quality and showed maturity beyond his tender footballing years! We are certainly blessed at Manstone Lane with the youngsters we are able to give South West Peninsula League football to.”

On the injury to Harry Taylor, Tooze said: “Hand on heart, he [Taylor] should not have started; it was a recipe for disaster in as much as if you do have a muscle problem, then the bitterly cold conditions we endured at Cully – and it was mighty cold – are the worst thing! I understand the magnitude of the game and the desire to play in such games, but, in hindsight, it was probably a mistake that he started.”

With regard to the game at Newton Abbot Spurs, Tooze says: “It’s a significant outing for us as it heralds the start of the second half of the season. To date we have done well, but without actually punching our weight. We have got some very good footballers across the age spectrum at the club and, if we can find that level of consistency and mix that with good availability, then there is absolutely no reason why we cannot go on and have a very good second half of the season.”

Town, who sit eighth in the current table, go to Newton Abbot Spurs to begin month that sees them face one more away game – a January 19 visit to Elmore – and two home games – the January 12 visit of Ilfracombe and the January 26 visit of St Martins.

Tooze says: “The next two [versus Newton Abbot and then at home to Ilfracombe] are against sides below us in the table, so opportunity knocks for us to look to push on towards the top six and, from there, well, who knows?”

Town will assess the bumps and bruises picked up in the cup defeat at Cullompton before settling on the squad that will travel down to Newton Abbot.

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