Sidmouth men bid to end season on a high

With the season effectively over and no relegation fears or promotion aspirations, a fairly lacklustre Sidmouth turned out to take on third from bottom placed Tavistock.

By Ian BrownSidmouth HC Men's 1st XI 5, Tavistock 1With the season effectively over and no relegation fears or promotion aspirations, a fairly lacklustre Sidmouth turned out to take on third from bottom placed Tavistock. The game did not have the makings of a classic and captain Andrew Welch struggled to get much enthusiasm into his men prior to the game. That said, the hosts coasted through the game rarely out of second gear, running out the comfortable victors and feeling aggrieved that they conceded a goal.To grind out a winning performance without playing particularly well is testament to the transformation the team has witnessed as a collective this season. Way back in September, the Primley Warriors could not manage a win for love nor money, yet barring blips versus Ottery Crickets and ECV Hornets, when key personnel were unavailable, they have gone through the back end of 2008 and the whole of 2009 unbeaten.The confident flowing hockey that Sidmouth have come to play in recent weeks was somewhat thwarted by Tavistock's "in your face" style of play. This did mean that the hosts were able to force fouls from the opposition, particularly around the circle, forcing numerous short corners. Owing to travel mishaps, culminating in missing two flights the previous weekend, Graham Pidgeon neglected his team and left for Sunday's International at Twickenham a day early.His tactical mastery was missed when it came to the short corner routine. This saw the team electing to play numerous over complicated ineffective one-two passes at the top of the circle culminating in little more than frustrating passages of play.But it was almost the fact that the hosts were coasting through the game that allowed them the confidence to experiment with new routines. Shortly before half time, captain Welch nudged his team ahead with a well-taken shot, much to the pleasure of his father Michael, who had just arrived at the pitch to further swell the thronging crowd in attendance - including number one fan this season Apache Tramp. Clearly a little concerned that the team were not further ahead at the half time break, senior player Scott Rowson roused his teammates with some superb individualism culminating in two goals. Welch added another to put the home side in total control.To their credit though, Tavistock did not capitulate as might have been expected which called on defensive powerhouse Paul Gannon to make a few customary timely tackles. Elder statesmen Charlie Plowden and Andrew Jarrett showed that age is no barrier and experience is a match for youthful exuberance with fine performances at right and left half respectively.Then came a moment of sheer brilliance. The normally reserved demure figure of Andrew Mapson took control of the ball at the top of the circle. Such is his unpredictability, Mapson made a diagonal run from right to left away from goal, not only ignoring every piece of coaching he had ever been given, but fuelling despair from his teammates by seemingly wasting a further goalscoring opportunity. Having reached the byeline, about 10 yards away from goal, the ghost-like silhouette released a reverse stick bullet across the goal from an impossible angle for Sidmouth's fifth. The celebration, unlike the goal, was far from impressive however.Tavistock did manage to reduce the deficit to four by scoring a short corner in the dying seconds of the game, which did put a slight dampener on an otherwise assured performance from goalkeeper Jon Hill.l This weekend, Sidmouth travel to Plymouth Marjons, who are already relegated but will no doubt be playing for pride. Captain Welch is expected to field a young side, allowing senior team members to celebrate a momentous birthday for Graham Pidgeon.

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