Sidmouth hockey men look sharp in attack

On the back of a slightly disappointing result the previous week, a determined Sidmouth team hosted Cornish visitors Truro last weekend at Sidmouth College

Sidmouth HC Men's 1st XI 5

Truro 1

On the back of a slightly disappointing result the previous week, a determined Sidmouth team hosted Cornish visitors Truro last weekend at Sidmouth College.

A slight lack of pace in Sidmouth's midfield in previous weeks had been cited as a potential weakness that was hastily rectified as regional athletics champion Byron Fitzgerald took up the centre-half position alongside Scott Rowson.

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This tactical change proved a masterstroke as Fitzgerald carried the ball forward from midfield, combining well with frontman Nick Wade, before receiving a return pass that was dispatched goalbound by the 16-year-old with aplomb to give Sidmouth the lead in the early exchanges.

Sidmouth then added a second through a short corner. Paul Gannon's short corner strikes are a match for any defence, which combined with the reliable stopping of Rowson, provide Sidmouth with a most valuable weapon in their armoury. In contrast to the harmony and understanding of the hosts' short corner routine, Truro failed to threaten goalkeeper Jon Hill at set pieces or in open play.

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Indeed Aesop's fable The Hare and the Tortoise appeared to be the inspiration for the slow and steady Sidmouth backline, three of whom would turn out for the Sidmouth Veterans' side the following day. However, whatever the defence lacks in speed is more than counterbalanced with experience and the familiar looking four were able to cope with the rare Truro advances.

Andrew Welch's intelligent running upfront was rewarded when the little man popped up at the back post at the right time for a tap in before Gannon added another from a short corner shortly before the half time interval.

One of the strengths of the Sidmouth side this year is the pace and skill in wide attacking areas and, with brother Toby challenging for his position, Dan Devine upped his game in contrast to previous weeks in the left midfield position and vice-captain Chris Lewis took up the position best suited to him, at right midfield.

However, it was old-timer Graham Pidgeon who crept upfield in customary fashion to be on hand to add a fifth for Sidmouth following a mis-hit Devine strike.

The visitors spoilt what looked to be a first clean sheet of the season for keeper Hill, whose form in recent weeks has been noteworthy.

Despite the team being in excellent spirit as a collective, the players will embark upon a teambuilding paintballing exercise at sponsor Adrenalin Games' paintball site near Crealy on Sunday.

The fitness and togetherness of the team will, no doubt, be tested to the extreme at the paintballing venue following a tough game the previous day away versus Ashmoor.

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