Cardiff & Met ‘B’ 3-2 PENARTH
Having dismantled North Somerset in week one, ambitions of a third consecutive promotion for Penarth Hockey Club’s 1st XI suffered a minor setback as the Vale side travelled the short distance to play local rivals Cardiff & Met at the Welsh Institute of Sport.
Despite missing two key players, confidence remained high amongst the Penarth team, but they started the game slowly and struggled to play their usual high pace, high intensity hockey. Too many basic errors prevented the Bears from taking a foothold in the game and it wasn’t long before Cardiff & Met capitalised, picking off a wayward pass from the usually dependable Penarth defence and, having committed the final defender, fired the ball into the bottom corner to leave goalkeeper Adam Putt with no chance.
Penarth, however, failed to learn from their poor start and, without making the required changes to their game, conceded a second as Cardiff & Met converted a penalty corner high into the net. This seemed to be the spur that finally woke Penarth up and they started to get into the game by creating half-chances and winning penalty corners, but failing to find the back of the net proved costly as, five minutes before the interval, Cardiff & Met added a third, making the most of some poor marking by the Bears’ defence to draw the ‘keeper and create a one-on-one with a defender on the goal line.
Going into half-time 3-0 down, Penarth knew they faced an uphill battle in the second period if they wanted to take anything from the game, but came out fighting, putting together some nice passing moves in the opening passages of play. The Vale side now enjoyed the majority of possession and, aided by some ill-discipline from Cardiff & Met - who were on the receiving end of four yellow cards and, at one point, were reduced to nine men - finally got on the scoresheet when a well-worked penalty corner was deflected in at the right post by Andrew Willemite.
Sensing that the cause wasn’t lost, Penarth began throwing everything at the Cardiff & Met defence, winning several penalty corners but struggling to get many shots on target to test the Cardiff ‘keeper. The pressure would tell, however, and a second goal eventually came from David Joyce, who slapped the ball in from a tight angle to set up a frantic final seven minutes.
The Bears nearly snatched an equaliser from the final play of the game, but Ross Biggar’s diving shot sailed narrowly wide to cap what was still a very disappointing performance. While the second half performance was considerably better than the first, a lack of composure and poor decision making at crucial times let the team down, and they will be determined to put that right as they entertain top-of-the-table Ashmoor and look to maintain their two-year undefeated record at Stanwell School.
Goalscorers: Andrew Willemite, David Joyce
PENARTH ‘A’ 2-4 Whitchurch ‘B’
The 2nd XI were also looking to build on their opening day success with a home game against local rivals Whitchurch but, after overcoming a deficit to win the previous weekend, it was to be a reversal of fortune for the Bears, who twice took the lead before succumbing to a disappointing defeat.
Penarth started brightly and dominated the early possession, carving Whitchurch open with several sharp passing moves that eventually allowed them to break the deadlock inside the first ten minutes. Able to distribute at will, Jamie Wheeler collected a through ball before crossing to the back post, where Chris McCarthy selflessly squared the ball across the face of goal for Dave Watkins to convert and add to his late strikes on the opening day.
The home side could - and should - have had a second soon after, but several half-chances went begging to keep the score at 1-0 and allow Whitchurch to remain in touch. That became crucial as the game went on, as the visitors started to get a foothold before equalising midway through the half, turning a rare excursion into the Penarth into a penalty corner which they duly converted for 1-1.
Although Penarth struggled to regain their early dominance, they still managed to retake the lead just before the interval as good work from Tom Griffiths and Wheeler won a penalty corner which was converted from the top of the ‘D’ by Sam Docherty.
The Bears were able to regroup at half-time, and started the second period in commanding fashion, again creating several clear-cut chances, but without finding a way past the Whitchurch ‘keeper that would have given them breathing space. It was ultimately these missed opportunities which cost Penarth the game as, after weathering the early storm, Whitchurch again started to gain a foothold. As the Bears started to look increasingly disjointed, losing their shape, it allowed Whitchurch to dominate possession, and the Cardiff side’s pressure eventually paid off midway through the half, as they capitalised on Penarth being reduced to ten men to grab an equaliser.
Again, in a repeat of the previous week, the game was decided in the closing stages but, this time, with the clock ticking down and Penarth pushing for a winner, it was Whitchurch who took advantage of the exposed defence exposed to grab two late goals to secure all three points.
Goalscorers: Dave Watkins, Sam Docherty
PENARTH ‘C’ 1-1 Swansea City ‘C’
The first De Cymru 3 league game of the campaign pitted the youngsters of Penarth’s 4th XI against their second city counterparts, with the ‘C-siders’ looking to build on encouraging performances from the two friendlies already played in pre-season.
Despite facing a vastly more experienced Swansea side at Stanwell, Penarth started brightly, dominating both possession and territory but finding the visiting defence resolute and largely able to keep the home side at arms’ length. When they were able to fashion opportunities, Penarth found the Swansea ‘keeper in fine form, denying the impressive Zayn Zaman and Iwan Meddins in succession.
At the other end, Tom Ramage was, once again, proving a cornerstone in the Bears’ defence, leaving ‘keeper Luke Williams with a largely untroubled first half, which culminated with the sides locked at 0-0.
The second period began with the visitors drawing on their greater experience and physicality to shade the early exchanges, but Williams proved up to the task when called in to action, with one particular save - pushing a goal-bound 'screamer' on to the bar - being nothing short of sensational!
The Swansea side were not to be denied, however, and, when the Penarth defence failed to deal effectively with a speculative through ball, veteran Pip Reason rolled back the years to give Williams little chance with a fierce shot from the right side of the ‘D’.
The physical, but fair, approach of the Swansea side was beginning to take its toll, with Penarth midfield maestro Meddins forced off on two separate occasions with injury. The strength of the Penarth bench was to prove the difference, however, and, as changes were rung, the Bears were able to reassert their early dominance with man-of-the-match Elys Johnson, Lewis Ingram and Joe Ramage featuring prominently.
The deserved equaliser duly arrived when veteran Matt Birch gave the Swansea ‘keeper no chance from a well-worked penalty corner, and Penarth’s youngsters continued to press forward looking for a winner into the closing moments. However, a combination of good defending, goalkeeping and bad luck meant that there was no further addition to the score.
For the third game in a row, the Penarth side showed tenacity and skill to secure a result and, while naturally disappointed to not secure all three points, the large crowd of spectators cannot have failed to be impressed by the style and attitude of the young Bears.
Goalscorer: Matt Birch
All four Penarth sides will be in GoCrea8 action this weekend, with three playing at home at Stanwell. The 3rd XI make their first league appearance of the season to open the triple-header with a De Cymru 2 encounter with Swansea University (noon start), while the 4th XI close proceedings against Whitchurch (3.30pm start). The headline game, however, sees the 1st XI taking on Championship leaders Ashmoor in the prime-time 1.45pm slot, hoping to attract a decent crown for what should be a competitive game. The 2nd XI, meanwhile, are made to wait for their third league outing, with the game at Cardiff University not scheduled to start until 6pm at Llys Tal-y-Bont.
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.
Anyone interested in joining the club at senior or youth level can contact club secretary Dave Stevens (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.
Updated 09:57 - 18 Dec 2017 by Richard Bromiley