Strong Vikings' line up kicks off season

Sidmouth Town first team opened their 2009/10 Devon and Exeter Premier league campaign with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Heavitree Social United.

Sidmouth Town first team opened their 2009/10 Devon and Exeter Premier league campaign with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Heavitree Social United.

The Vikings fielded four new signings to the starting line up in Dan Churchill, Dan Norman, Ben Hawker and Andy Isaacs, who all showed great promise for the weeks ahead.

The early exchanges saw a lot of endeavour in the midfield without any real chances being created, with the play being broken up with a string of infringements from both sides. It was Heavitree that took the lead on 35 minutes, when Ben Ashford was penalised for a push in the area, the penalty being despatched by the Heavitree forward. Heavitree dominated the last 10 minutes of the half and the half time whistle gave the Vikings time to regroup.

After the break, Sidmouth got into their stride with both Andy Thomson and Ben Ashford testing the Heavitree keeper with free kicks that he kept at bay with full stretch saves, indeed Thomson should have scored from Ashford's free kick when the keeper spilled the ball in front of the on-rushing Thomson, who somehow managed to clear the crossbar from five yards.

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Sidmouth got on top due largely to the tireless running of Andy Isaacs and the introduction of Chris Duchenski and another new signing, Alex Frankpitt, who looked very impressive. Sidmouth got the breakthrough on 83 minutes when Andy Thomson was taken down in the box for a stonewall penalty. Up stepped Isaacs to place the penalty in the bottom right hand corner with great confidence to score his first, but surely not his last, goal for the Vikings.

Sidmouth went for the winner in the last five minutes against 10 men, Heavitree having had their centre forward sent off for a second yellow after a lunge at Tom Perryman.

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The Heavitree side kept the Vikings at bay and the match finished in stalemate.

Man of the Match for Sidmouth was Alex Raistrick, who did a sterling job at both right and left back during the 90 minutes.

Manager Paul Ashford was pleased with the effort, and thought Isaac showed plenty of character stepping up to take a crucial penalty.

"We did have chances to win it though," he added.

He was disappointed with Wednesday night's away defeat to reigning champions St Martin's.

" We lost 5-2 and the players have to realise that they have to be up for it or they won't get anywhere. They have to get in front of the ball to stop it going in their own net. We were 3-2 at half time after goals from Steve Brown and Andy Isaacs but, after the break, made silly mistakes and were soon chasing the game."

Sidmouth have had a good influx of players for the start of the new season and there will be competition for first team places.

Ashford said: "I am pleased with how it is at the club now and it will come down to who wants their place in the side the most. We have some very promising young players and a young looking team. That said I am hoping that Mark Badcock plays more regularly, and we are looking forward to getting Griff (Anthony Griffiths) back after his successful cricket season, and Nick Gingell. We are delighted that the cricket lads have done so well and hope they support us as much as we have supported them.

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