Sidmouth delighted to win derby clash

Sidmouth 1, Ottery Crickets 0

With both teams facing relegation from Premier Division 3 of the Wales and West Hockey league this season, the three points on stake were largely irrelevant as neither team could be saved from the drop, writes Ian Brown.

Having been promoted as Champions last season, beating Sidmouth by one point to the top spot and having enjoyed victory over Sidmouth earlier in the season, Ottery Crickets entered this match as favourites.

Both teams have suffered long hard seasons and have been on the end of some thumping defeats but the rivalry that exists between the two East Devon clubs ensured that last week’s encounter was a lively affair. Given that in the context of the season, there was nothing to play for, the match turned into a battle of pride and essentially would show which team was the best in East Devon. Sidmouth also felt that this was perhaps their best opportunity of costing their captain some money and collecting the weekly win bonus that is always offered.

Although they have yet to win a game this season, Sidmouth entered the game buoyed by their second team dispatching Crickets the previous week convincingly. Coach Laurence Cole made the switch to Sidmouth from Ottery earlier in the season citing Sidmouth’s strong reputation as not only a good playing club, but as a better social outfit as one of the reasons, and it was perhaps the difference in team spirit that proved the decisive factor between the two teams last weekend.

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Ottery’s captain Matt Ogbourne lost out in the tactical battle with his Sidmouth counterpart and although Ottery are without doubt younger, fitter and faster they often lacked direction and their game was all too one-dimensional. The hosts knew that whilst they could not match their visitors for pace, their spatial awareness and confidence in possession would give them the edge with midfielders Dan Devine and Byron Fitzgerald making enterprising runs down the flanks, combining well with the gritty central midfield pairing of Charlie Plowden and Andy Joy.

The majority of the opening exchanges were dominated by Sidmouth who were able to control the game, but they were acutely aware of the threat that Crickets posed on the counter-attack. Scott Rowson’s ability as an exceptional player remains clear for all to see, but the soon to be father, has been plagued by various niggles and strains this season in his aging bones. For that reason he has slotted into the central-defensive position where his strong tackles were more than a match for anything that the young visitors tried to test him with.

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Midway through the first half, Sidmouth created a slick move, involving the majority of the forward line which allowed Andy Mapson a chance to unleash a fierce shot not becoming his weedy stature towards goal, which, after an initial deflection was tapped in by Nick Wade who is re-discovering his knack of being in the right place at the right time.Sidmouth had an opportunity to double their lead shortly before half-time when a penalty flick was awarded by umpire Andrew Harvey who showed no hesitation in a correct application of the rules for punishing a deliberate use of the back of the stick within the circle. Unfortunately, flick specialist Dan Devine was not able to beat the keeper.

To their credit, Ottery battled hard in the second half forcing some good saves from goalkeeper Jon Hill, earning him the man of the match award for his first clean sheet of the season. As time wore on, the game became a little frenetic but Sidmouth were always just holding on. This allowed the introduction of 15 year old Ryan Bunn to the Sidmouth forward line, quickly adapting to the pace of the game and demonstrating clearly that he is a without doubt a future star.

The final whistle was met more with relief than joy for Sidmouth who showed that a superior team spirit is key in winning games, confirming themselves as top-dogs in East Devon hockey.

Adrenalin Games sponsored Sidmouth take on Cardiff in the final home game of the season this week – 1.30pm start.

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