PENARTH ‘A’ 7-3 Gwent
The Seconds hosted Gwent in the final game of their first season in De Cymru & The Marches 2 looking to secure a more than respectable fourth place finish after a poor start to the campaign.
The importance of the position - which required a massive goal difference swing in favour of the visitors if they were to overhaul the Bears - was emphasised by the fact that the other three teams promoted into the division last year will all be relegated again at season’s end. However, with regular captain Andy Strong away on international duty, and the arrival of goalkeeper Calum Grant delayed, things would not be easy for Penarth, with vice-captain Sam Chick taking not only the captain’s armband but also standing in for the absent netminder as the home side started the game with a ‘kicking back’.
It didn’t take long for Gwent to capitalise on the lack of a recognised goalkeeper, as a mix-up in the Penarth defence gifting a grateful striker a one-on-one opportunity which he slipped past the onrushing Chick. The Bears managed to hold out for the next ten minutes, keeping the deficit to a single score before Grant took the field, and immediately started playing more expansive hockey when he did, quickly resulting in an equaliser as Tom Griffiths rifled a drag flick into the top corner for his second outstanding goal in as many weeks.
The spectacular notwithstanding, Penarth were soon behind again as a looping reverse stick strike caught Grant unsighted before finding the top corner. IN an end-to-end encounter, however, parity was rapidly restored, a pinpoint pass from midfielder Rich Baker splitting the Gwent defence to find Dave Joyce, who finished superbly with his first touch.
Again, Gwent hit back and, again, it was a reverse stick strike that found the corner of the goal to give ‘keeper Grant no chance but, in a first half which had developed a distinct pattern, Penarth levelled once more just before half-time. This time, a brilliant counter attack from the Bears began with Griffiths making a well-timed tackle in the Penarth 25 and then drawing a foul, allowing Usman Dhami to take a quick free hit into the channel where Thomas Ricaux did well to gather the ball before finding Joyce for the final strike at the back post.
Despite the numbers on the scoreboard, the Bears knew they were on top at the interval and, if they could tighten up at the back and continue to take their chances, would be able to push on for the win. It didn’t take long for them to take their first lead of the game either, as James Kidby found Joyce unmarked in the D, and the striker rounded the Gwent ‘keeper to complete his hat-trick from an acute angle.
With their noses in front, Penarth soon sniffed out a two-goal cushion, with Baker applying a smart finish to a well-worked team move, and the game was effectively won within five minutes of the restart when Chris McCarthy rolled his defender and found the bottom corner to make it 6-3.
Despite Gwent looking a little shell-shocked after the three-goal barrage, the remainder of the half was an open encounter, with both teams creating chances, but it wasn’t until late on that the tally was added to as Joyce added his fourth goal of the game, again following some excellent work from Ricaux in the build-up.
The final result capped a high-scoring end to the season for Penarth, who will look to push on for promotion in 2018-19, a realistic proposition if they can start the new campaign as they finished this.
Goalscorers: David Joyce (4), Tom Griffiths, Richard Baker, Chris McCarthy
While the GoCrea8 League meanders to a weather-affected close, and Easter ensures that there is no meaningful competition for Penarth sides this weekend, the 1st XI will be in action tonight (Thursday 29th) as they take on Cardiff & Met in a re-scheduled Welsh Cup semi-final at Sophia Gardens (7pm start).
Penarth Hockey Club always welcomes new, old and returning players, umpires, supporters, friends and helpers regardless of age and ability. Training takes place on Wednesdays at Stanwell School, with the juniors on the pitch between 6.15pm and 7.15pm and the seniors between 7.00pm and 8.15pm.
Updated 13:57 - 27 Mar 2018 by Richard Bromiley
Anyone interested in joining the club at senior or youth level can contact club secretary Dave Stevens (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.