Hockey starts again

Ottery Crickets Men’s 1st XI 4, Isca A 3

Crickets’ 1sts had four regulars unavailable for their first game of 2012 - a friendly against an Isca 2nd XI.

Despite this, the home team started the brightest but showed clear signs of the month-long Christmas lay-off. They had opportunities to score after good early possession and Bowker eventually opened the scoring with a goal line tap in. Isca equalised shortly after and, in doing so, established the scoring pattern for the game. Isca improved as the half went on and the teams were level at half-time.

The second half started with open play that, from Crickets’ point of view, lacked the quality needed to mount a sustained offence. Isca went ahead when Crickets eased the pressure on their opponents, scoring after reworking the ball from what should have been for Crickets a "safe" position on the by-line. It looked like Crickets were to start 2012 with a defeat as they repeatedly lost valuable possession going forward, but with 15 mins to go the game opened up. Some neat approach play saw the ball worked into the packed D for Will Ellison to anticipate well and beat the goalkeeper at the left post with a neat push, 2-2.

Crickets then enjoyed a couple of short corners which came to nothing. Shortly afterwards in open play Dockley flicked home via a deflection off Ellison’s knee.

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A short consultation followed between the umpires and players and the goal was justly denied. The home team pressed again and Bell grasped the lead a few minutes later, calmly lifting the ball into the roof of the net from short distance over the sprawling keeper, 3-2.

Isca mounted several attacks as the game opened up and scored a straightforward equaliser due to Crickets’ poor possession and marking, 3-3.

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As the seconds ticked down, both teams had chances to seal a win.

Crickets won a short corner just before the umpires blew for full time to create a knife-edge finish. The home team mustered its "shooting party" at the top of the D; Sheaves injected accurately, Dockley stopped and Ali Slade, who held his nerve admirably, delivered a powerful trademark drag flick to grasp victory with the last hit of the game, 4-3.

Sidmouth HC Men’s 3rd XI 1 East Devon A 5

A SLICK East Devon outfit provided too tough a proposition for a Sidmouth side still showing signs of mid-season break indulgences.

The skill and experience of Keith Baker and the emerging defensive talent of Declan West helped to maintain some sort of stability and Jake Plowman performed heroics in the Sidmouth goal. However, when he made athletic blocks, the ball fell free and East Devon attackers proved more hungry for it than the Sidmouth defence and they poked the rebounds in.

After East Devon’s opener, Simon Olive got an immediate reply for Sidmouth with a first time shot from brother Chris’s pass. A deflection off an East Devon defender saw the ball sail high into the net with the visiting goalkeeper wrong-footed.

East Devon moved into a 3-1 lead at the break and added two more in the second half for a convincing friendly match victory.

Sidmouth HC Men’s 4th XI 0 East Devon C 0

A hard-earned point started the second half of the season for Sidmouth 4th XI in South East District II of the Davis Wood Hockey League.

Paul Gannon was a bulwark in defence for Sidmouth and there was plenty of midfield energy from Nigel Hollister and Nick Mansfield.

Chances were few and far between at both ends with Jake Bowkett and Richard Lucas both striking the ball wide when well placed.

A double save in the final minute by John Goodwin preserved the blank scoreline.

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