Smale grabs three as North Devon maintain unbeaten hockey run
- Credit: North Devon HC
North Devon Hockey Club First XI maintained their unbeaten start this season with a 4-1 away win to Ashmoor on Saturday.
The early stages of the game were fairly even, Ashmoor looking to press high and force errors from the visiting team. North Devon adapted well and looked to counter attack. They took the lead after a quick break from Joe Taylor-Richards who took the ball to the top of the circle before passing to Ash Thorne, whose shot was saved, only for Pete Smale to bundle the rebound in.
Ashmoor then put some sustained pressure on the North Devon defence who dealt with it well.
Perhaps the pivotal moment of the game came when the Ashmoor forward stole the ball at the top of the circle and with time to pick his shot unleashed a fierce strike seemingly heading to the roof of the net. Goal keeper Phil Daniels had other ideas and pulled off an incredible save.
To make things worse for Ashmoor, North Devon took a quick restart fed the ball out wide to Phil Brand who won a penalty corner. A slick move between Giles Rowden and Ben Andrew saw the ball played into the far post for Smale to tap in for his second.
The score remained 2-0 at half time, after the break Ashmoor continued to play structured hockey and eventually got a goal after a nice move leading to the ball being passed round Daniels.
North Devon reacted well and continued to press, Ashmoor struggled to cope with the pace and passing of Joe Hastie and Sam Kirkness in midfield. Some rash tackles and dissent towards the umpires saw them playing with 10 players.
North Devon took advantage, a third goal came from another break from Taylor-Richards whose first pass was saved by the Ashmoor keeper, the rebound was picked up though and passed to Smale who deflected the ball in.
Eventually the fourth was scored with an excellent finish from a narrow angle by man of the match Sam Kirkness.
Four wins out of five games sees North Devon sitting second in the league behind Okehampton Next week they are away to Exeter based Isca 3rds, 1.30 pm start at Exeter University.
North Devon 2nd XI maintained their excellent start to the season and their push for promotion with a gritty 2-1 win over ISCA 6th team. Having been decimated by injuries and unavailability, the reds started with 10 men and were grateful to Liam Toland for throwing a shirt on having only planned to come and watch his son Fionn play.
However, North Devon started the stronger of the two sides, Captain Rob Wheeler looking strong in the centre of midfield with Scott Paddon, and David Orr and Fionn Toland causing the ISCA defence problems.
With a strong backline marshalled by Matt Brown and Simon Clements there were not too many causes for alarm.
Half-time arrived with the game yet to see a goal, and the Reds regrouped and went hard at it again. Rewarded by early pressure, a succession of short corners seemed destined to earn a North Devon goal, but striker David Orr was really unlucky to see a effort come back off a defender's stick into his face, and had to leave the field for treatment. The Reds dug in with 10 men, and Orr was able to return to the field after some treatment and hastily applied bandages.
It was then that ISCA struck, a breakaway goal that keeper Chris Clifton was unable to stop. This seemed to galvanise the home side. Orr equalised with a fierce finish from a tight angle over the keepers shoulder. North Devon kept up the pressure, and it was from a short corner that the winner was struck by Matt Brown, for his first competitive goal in a good few years.
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Victory keeps the 2nd XI top of their league.