ALTHOUGH Sidmouth Town Reserves are sitting second from bottom in the Devon and Exeter Premier division, having won just two of their 22 games, they were certainly no pushover when the Seasiders travelled to Manstone Lane on Saturday.
As it’s often been said, particularly in these columns, there are no easy games in this league.
Lyme started out as one of the favourites after winning the the COVID restricted Premier East division last season. Only five sides completed the season and the Seasiders went on to meet Lapford, winners of the Premier West division, in a play-off for the overall Premier title in which they lost to the Mid Devon side.
East and West were amalgamated into one Premier division this season and Lapford have continued to dominate, having dropped just four points along the way, two of them to the Seasiders.
By contrast, Lyme got off to a very sticky start for a number of reasons, including COVID-19 which affected so many sides, and early season injuries. Recently, Lyme were beaten 2-1 at Lapford in the Devon Senior Cup.
In their 18 games so far this season, the Seasiders have lost six and drawn three – nowhere near championship form – but have recovered in recent weeks and now have an outside chance of finishing in fourth place, behind Lapford, Thorverton and Beer Albion. This means they cannot afford to lose any more of their remaining six games, a tall order, especially as they have to meet Beer Albion at home in an evening fixture, scheduled for Wednesday, April 20.
But Lyme beat the Fisherman on their own ground recently, proving they are capable of competing with the best.
The Seasiders currently sit in sixth place, on equal points with Exeter University 2nd X1 but with two games in hand. Lyme also have two games in hand on fourth place Kentisbeare who are 12 points ahead of them. However, Kentisbeare failed to field a side for their recent fixture with Lyme and may well be deducted points.
Lyme returned from Sidmouth with three crucial points from a 3-2 victory, not exactly a comprehensive win, but they were the better side throughout. They went 1-0 down against the run of play but the in-form Fred Parsons came to the Seasiders’ rescue once again.
Having not played the week before, Lyme struggled to reach a good tempo in the first half. The quality of the surface didn’t help and the work rate of Sidmouth players chasing first touches and closing everything down levelled the game a lot.
Lyme still dominated possession but couldn’t convert the few chances created by a new front three – Dan Rendell, Jack Lamb-Wilson and Ben Bowditch – who worked really hard all game.
Against the run of play, Sidmouth took the lead but Lyme reacted very quickly with a high press from Lamb-Wilson who pushed the defender to deflect the ball into his own goal to make it 1-1 at half time.
Lyme came back strongly after the break and Fred Parsons scored with a sublime half-volley from the far post after three minutes. Lyme the dominated the possession and made it 3-1 with Parsons scoring his second from a corner. They could have added another two more goals but both were ruled offside.
Sidmouth pulled the scoreline back to 3-2 with 10 minutes to go but Lyme confidently controlled the game until the end.
On Saturday the Seasiders travel over the border to meet Axminster Reserves (kick-off 3 pm). Lyme Reserves, who lost 5-0 last Saturday to Division Three leaders Devon Yeoman, are at home to St Martins (kick-off 3 pm).