Wotton-under-Edge ‘A’ 0-3 PENARTH ‘A’
Having seen the club’s other games fall by the wayside, Penarth’s 2nd XI waited to hear whether they would be travelling to the Cotswolds to face second-placed Wotton-under-Edge, but ended the day - and the first round of league fixtures - with another positive result.
The Bears started well, holding their own against top-of-the-table opposition in an end-to-end first half that saw both teams have opportunities to break the deadlock. David Joyce went closest for Penarth while, at the other end, the visitors were grateful for a string of fine saves from eventual man-of-the-match Scott Fulton-Brown that kept the home side at bay. On the rare occasion that the ‘keeper was beaten, twin brother Aaron was on hand to make a goal-line clearance to keep the scores level and send Penarth into the interval with a chance to cause an upset.
The Bears knew that, with the game hanging in the balance and the opposition having proven to be one of the more free-scoring teams in the division, a good start to the second half at both ends of the field would be vital. As it turned out, Penarth made the perfect start to the period by scoring with their opening attack, a brilliant team move working the ball up the right wing, where Joyce and Ollie Burland combined before finding Chris McCarthy, who was able to square the ball for Sam Chick to finish by diving in to convert on the reverse stick.
At 1-0 down, Wotton pushed further forward, but a fantastic defensive display saw Penarth soak up the pressure, with Craig Llewellyn and Dave Stevens making fantastic last-gasp tackles when required. Penarth countered well to remind their hosts that they would be a threat to the end and, midway through the half, got their reward with a decisive second goal, as Sam Salisbury produced some fantastic individual skill to win a penalty corner that was well converted by captain Andy Strong.
The second goal forced Wotton to commit even more to attack as they looked for a way back into the game, but the new, more compact, formation employed by Penarth saw the Vale side continue to defend exceptionally, with Tom Griffiths using the aerial pass to great effect to clear their lines against a high press.
With the clock ticking down, Penarth looked increasingly likely to hold out, resisting a string of Wotton penalty corners to maintain their clean sheet, but went further than that to secure all three points as Burland capped a superb individual performance with a superb individual goal, reacting quickest after a first effort was blocked to fire a reverse stick shot into the top corner.
Penarth’s best performance of the season to date moves them into sixth spot in the standings, applying pressure to the teams at the top end of the table as they look to push on after Christmas.
Goalscorers: Sam Chick, Andy Strong, Ollie Burland
All four Penarth sides are due to be in action for this weekend’s final round of fixtures before the Christmas break, with the 1st XI travelling to North Somerset (1pm start), while the three other sides all play at Stanwell. The 3rd XI open proceedings against Llan & Caerphilly (noon start), before the 2nd XI entertain Lansdown (1.45pm start) and the Fourths bring the first half of the season to a close against Swansea City (3.30pm 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.
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 09:56 - 18 Dec 2017 by Richard Bromiley