Pike steps down after 17 consecutive seasons

Minehead 2 - Sidmouth HC Men’s 1st XI 3

The final game of the season saw Sidmouth make one of their longest away trips up to Minehead where the season ended on a high with a win, writes Ian Brown.

As is often the case, Sidmouth conceding an early goal provides the impetus for them to improve their play and this game was no different. The hosts were fortunate to score an early goal from a slow flick at a penalty corner which lobbed goalkeeper Jon Hill.

Having persuaded his girlfriend to travel over from Switzerland for the weekend to watch him play, Daniel Devine was under some pressure to put in a strong performance. This often saw him trying to take on most of the Minehead defenders and on one occasion this proved to be a successful ploy as Devine slotted home a well taken reverse stick shot.

Owing to the personnel available on the day, a number of positional changes were made which saw ISCA old boys Scott Rowson and Andrew Welch playing together in the middle of the pitch. With a combined age of 79, there was no lack of experience in the centre but age has blunted fitness. This meant that recently engaged Andrew Joy was shifted out to left midfield who, perhaps more by luck than judgement managed to pop up in the right place at the right time in the Minehead D to slot home a goal for Sidmouth created by that man Devine.

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Minehead are well-known for their physicality and basic style of play and they allowed their own indiscipline to creep in to the game which became more bad tempered the longer the visitors remained in front.

The scores were levelled midway through the second half but, undeterred, Sidmouth's relentless pressure in the final third of the pitch was utilised to good effect by earning a penalty corner. An overzealous and cumbersome Minehead forward only had an eye for body checking Dan Devine at the top of the D which was spotted by the umpire resulting in a penalty stroke being awarded to Sidmouth and duly converted by Welch.

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The team’s positional changes played to Peter Baker's advantage having indulged in a Queens College reunion in Taunton the night before, the business studies graduate was able to nurse his hangover in the left half position, capably commanding Richard Robinson and Andrew Joy in the adjacent positions to do his running for him.

There were a few tense moments towards the end of the game as Minehead threatened the Sidmouth goal but ultimately the away side held on for a well earned victory.

The team can rightly be proud of a decent season in which they have been competitive in every game. Although Sidmouth have lost nine games this season, six of them were by a single goal, their biggest defeat was by three goals and only one team has drawn more games than them all season. A few more goals at crucial stages could have changed the complexion of Sidmouth’s season entirely. Highlights of the year include beating the champions Ashmoor at home and beating local rivals Ottery Crickets away – finishing comfortably higher than them in the league too.

?Last week’s match was Jon Pike’s final game for the club. He has decided to retire after 17 consecutive seasons playing for Sidmouth so that he can spend more time with his young daughter.

Throughout his time playing for Sidmouth, Pike has captained various teams including the 1st XI, showing an exemplary attitude and fitness level and has always been an absolute credit to himself and the club.

The club certainly wishes him well but remain confident and hopeful that he may turnout for the occasional game in the coming years.

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