Hippos edged out in terrific cup tie

Ref mhsp 14 17TI 0258. Picture: Terry Ife

Ref mhsp 14 17TI 0258. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

For the second successive Saturday, Honiton Town faced St Martin’s with this latest contest being for a place in the next round of the Walter C Parsons Funeral Directors Cup.

One problem that Town boss Kev Blackwell and his assistant Nick Ogden faced in the days leading up to the cup tie was a lack of player availability, but eventually they cobbled together a squad.

Four minutes into the game the home side were awarded what looked a ‘harsh’ penalty, but the spot kick was sent sailing over the bar – all but the most die-hard of home fans would have considered that justice had been done!

Indeed, it was Town who deservedly took the lead when a strike from Chris Long nestled in the bottom corner of the net. Back came St Martin’s and only some wonderful saves from Town glovesman Alex Bowring denied them until, with just two minutes of the first half remaining, St Martins did breach the Hippos’ defence and the contest was all square at the interval.

The home side, boosted by that late leveller, made a flying start to the second half, but the Town back line of Darren Witt, Jake Sellick and Tom Cligg battled hard and fought for every ball and kept the St Martins strike force at arm’s length.

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However, despite the terrific work of the back three and the safe handling, in difficult conditions, by Bowring, the home side scored twice to hold a 3-1 lead.

Town got a goal back when Long scored his second and, try as hard as they did, they were unable to find a third and force extra-time.

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Post match, Town boss Kev Blackwell said: “I asked the lads for a performance that they could be proud of. Indeed, I asked how many times this season have we walked off the pitch feeling sorry for ourselves, and how many times could we say that we have genuinely been able to say that everyone gave their all, had the correct attitude and shown the desire for each other and the team - well, I can say that all those important components were there in abundance in a terrific Town display on Saturday afternoon.”

He continued: “We actually displayed the correct team spirit; it showed from the side of the pitch. There was no negativity and everyone took responsibility for their roles and their collective ones in the team.

“Despite the defeat there is a lot more to build on and it was so nice to walk into the changing room with a team proud of their hard work and efforts - and rightly so – from Alex in goal, the back three, and the five across the midfield to the strikers Blake Freemantle and Conor Flanagan, who literally ran his shorts off for the cause.”

As for the star individual, Blackwell said: “It’s difficult to single out anyone for praise when the team performed so well. The tricky task of picking a star fell to Joe Gamblin from Chippy Joes, who chose Tom Cligg as his Man of the Match. His performance epitomised everything that was good about our game on the day.”

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