Couch stars as Hippos are beaten by table-topping Tigers

PUBLISHED: 10:32 28 December 2018

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

Honiton Town were beaten 2-0 on their festive visit to Axminster Town.

The final score at Tiger Way was hardly surprising given the home side’s lofty status – The Tigers went into the game sitting joint top of the Eastern Division table while the Hippos were playing for the first time since their game at Stoke Gabriel on December 1 – 25 days before!

Hippos boss Kev Blackwell said after the match: “The 25-day lack of match action played its part for sure against a side clearly buoyed by the fact that they had won well a few days before to sit top of the table.

“Another factor to consider was the 11am kick-off and all the ingredients were there for the game to be a real test of our teams resolve and commitment!

“There was also the added ‘distraction’ of the previous day’s celebrations involving lots of eating!”

He continued: “I have to say that I was so impressed with hoe many of our lads were clearly so committed to the cause - especially given the demands that families and friends can put them under over the festive holiday.

“We knew it was going to be tough game, made tougher without current skipper Ben Ede and Darren Witt at the heart of our defence.

“It was a game very much contested in the middle third of the pitch where Joe Dixon, Chris Long and Aaron Doble tackled with relish and played their part on imposing their game at Tiger Way.

“We felt the longer we stayed in the game then chances would come our way, the deadlock was broken with the Axminster defender losing his marker to deftly guide the ball with his head with a lovely finish.

“That was all that separated the side’s at the break, but during t he interval we told the lads that they had competed well and should be proud of their efforts at the halfway stage of proceedings.

“It was a case of simply asking for more of the same in the second half – and again the lads delivered

“I really do not think we got ‘the rub of the green’ during the contest and it was also pleasing to see that, despite things ‘not going our way’, the lads stuck to their task and not for a minute did heads drop ands they become despondent.”

In terms of the overall performance, the Hippos boss said: “Looking at the 90 minutes as a whole, the lads really could not have given me – or the club – any more – and it is certainly reassuring they gave another one of the top teams in the league a tough game, and hopefully the Axminster lads realised that they had been in a difficult contest.”

“Understandably, there were a few tired legs and one or two rusty performances, but overall I was extremely pleased with not only the effort and work ethic, but more importantly the attitude which was first class.”

The Hippos boss added: “We are extremely close from turning a massive corner with the lads and the team and I am confident we can build as we go into our last game of 2018 with yet another big game and massive challenge when we travel to take on St Martins on Saturday (December 29).”

As for the Man of the Match award which was selected, as usual, by Joe Gamblin from Chippy Joe’s, Town boss Blackwell said: “Joe [Gamblin] had an extremely tough task and it was certainly a close call between the three he was mulling over Andy Isaac, Luke Phillips and the eventual pick Lewis Couch. The three were outstanding across our back line.”

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