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HOCKEY: Ben's the star as Seasiders stroll
5:00am Saturday 15th February 2014 in Sport
WEYMOUTH 5 CHICHESTER 1
BEN Skidmore was the star of the show as the Seasiders strolled to a convincing victory over an under-strength Chichester side at Redlands.
The Hampshire Two match was played in extremely windy conditions and, at one stage in the second half, play even had to be suspended for a brief period due to a hailstorm.
Weymouth won the toss and chose to play with the wind behind them in the first half in the hope they could build an unassailable lead by the break.
The match quickly established itself as a battle for midfield control with the visitors, in particular, looking to play narrowly, with their skilful central players taking on much of the responsibility.
In stark contrast, the hosts showed more versatility and constantly looked to their wide players to avoid the packed midfield.
The Seasiders eventually made the breakthrough when young forward Skidmore scored his first of four in the match. The 17-year-old was picked out at the top of the circle and his strong turn and low strike flew into the corner of the goal.
Matt Lawes then picked up an early yellow card for breaking down play when a Chichester free hit was taken quickly in the Weymouth half, but the visitors were unable to take advantage during the midfielder’s absence.
Chris Fry then doubled the lead with a calm slotted finish after making a smart run to the right post.
At the break, the Seasiders were well aware they would soon be attacking the gale but, with two men on the bench, they also knew they could rotate and bring on fresh legs to maintain their energy on the attack.
Sure enough, the hosts were the better side in the second half with Skidmore showing great form to grab three more goals.
His second of the match was converted with a flick across the keeper and his hat-trick goal came from an exerted sweep, which flew in at the far post.
Forward Luke Drewitt then picked up a yellow card for abusive language, aimed at one of his team-mates, before Skidmore added his fourth in unusual circumstances as a hailstorm descended on to the pitch.
The storm commenced as Wey-mouth went on the counter-attack and although play was suspended moments after Skidmore’s tap-in finish, it was not deemed by the umpires that the goal was scored whilst conditions were un-playable and it therefore stood.
Play was soon back underway with Weymouth continuing to mount pressure on the Chichester defence but it was the visitors that grabbed the final score of the game from a penalty corner.
The goal was scored in bizarre fashion as keeper David Civil made the initial save, only to parry the ball into the face of Lawes. The ball then dropped to a Chichester stick for a simple tap-in.
The Seasiders are set to host basement boys Southampton University today (2pm).
Weymouth skipper Simon Harvey sees the game as an opportunity for his side to add to their already impressive goal difference as the race for promotion continues to remain tight.
The Seasiders currently sit second, three points adrift of Bournemouth Thirds and three ahead of University of Ports-mouth.
Harvey has also highlighted the success of a positional swap between Daniel Bowles and Lawes, which has added structure to the midfield, and has backed Skidmore to continue his new-found form in the weeks ahead.
Weymouth Man of the Match: Daniel Bowles
Yellow card: Luke Drewitt, Matthew Lawes
Green card: Michael Westlake
Hampshire Two: Basingstoke II 1 University of Portsmouth 3, New Milton 4 Portsmouth & Southsea 3, Southampton II 1 Bournemouth III 5, Southampton University III 6 Havant IV 4, Weymouth 5 Chichester III 1, Winchester III 4 Tadley 0.
Hampshire Two: Bournemouth III v Winchester III, Portsmouth & Southsea v Southampton II, Tadley v Havant IV, University of Portsmouth v New Milton, Weymouth v Southampton University III.