With several players missing due to school trips, Penarth’s U13 ‘A’ team had only eight players available for the trip to Swansea, and faced a tough opening match against an Abergavenny side that featured a very effective striker. However, with defenders Gabriel Pryde and Aaron Noor-Mohamed dealing comfortably with the threat, and goalkeeper Kavan Kalsi-Lucas making a very important save when it mattered, Penarth held the upper hand throughout, but couldn’t take advantage of their pressure to break the stalemate, with the game eventually ending in a 0-0 draw.
It was a similar story in the team’s second game, against Llanishen & Caerphilly, with Penarth dominating but taking some time to break the deadlock. The Llanishen & Caerphilly goalkeeper made some outstanding saves to keep his side in the game, but Penarth would not be denied for a second match, and the breakthrough goal eventually came after an excellent run down the right wing from Ross John.
Buoyed by the victory, the Penarth boys faced a very different prospect in their third game, coming up against a strong Gwent side, who not only took an early lead, but then consolidated their advantage with a second goal. Penarth, however, never gave up and, with some outstanding attacking play from Lewis Ingram, Max Poddar and Zayn Zamen, managed to get back into the game and eventually pull back the deficit to claim a creditable 2-2 draw.
With a couple of goals under their belt, the Vale side were in good heart when they took on Bridgend in their fourth game of the day, and the attacking prowess of Poddar, John, Ingra, Pryde and Zamen contributed to a comfortable 3-0 victory that set the boys up for a typically tight encounter with old rivals Whitchurch.
With their opponents denying them space and time on the ball, Penarth had to work hard for any result, with Owen Kestle and Noor-Mohamed working tirelessly in defence and some good goalkeeping keeping them in the game. As a result, it was a relief when the final whistle came, even if the goalless scoreline meaning a third tied game for the Cubs.
Their unbeaten record through five games was sufficient, however, for Penarth to know that they had done enough to qualify for the Finals weekend, which was just as well as their sixth and last game pitted the exhausted squad against the hosts and strongest team in the competition. As a result of their earlier exertions, Penarth could not react to the skill and pace of the Swansea team, and went down to their first defeat of the day by four goals to one. However, that single strike was enough to confirm them as the only team to score against the side who went on to claim overall honours.
Penarth, for their part, finished fourth in the final standings, which was enough to qualify for the South Wales Finals and join their U11 counterparts back in Swansea on 22 April.
As they had in the younger age group, Penarth also fielded a ‘B’ team in the Plate competition and, despite an abrupt start to their competition, which left them with no time to warm-up, they opened with a very creditable 1-1 draw with Gwent.
That result was due in no small part to some excellent defensive play from Deiniol Lowe, Will Hammacott and Jacob Allen but game two was a different matter, with Gabriel Lilford, Lewis Latymer, Oscar Warne and Owen Kestle dominating the match and creating many attacking opportunities as Penarth ran out 1-0 winners against Whitchurch ‘C’.
The defence returned to the fore in game three, with Radyr - who were originally entered for the ‘A’ team competition – providing strong opposition. Despite creating a multitude of scoring opportunities, however, the Cardiff side were denied by some outstanding goalkeeping from Jamie Lawrence and, for all their pressure, only managed to decide the encounter with a single goal.
Instead of kicking on from that performance, however, Penarth defended less well next time out, conceding three goals to go down to Whitchurch’s ‘B’, but turned their fortunes around in the final game of the day, benefiting from a looped shot from Warne to win and end their competition on a high after securing a very creditable third place overall.
Both teams would like to extend a big thank-you to U11s' coach Graeme Jones, who joined the squad to umpire games in Swansea.
Updated 10:18 - 11 Apr 2017 by Craig Llewellyn
The proposed Veterans fixture with Gwent was a last minute casualty, delaying the start of the Grizzlies’ summer season by a week, with the same opposition due at Stanwell for the ‘return’ game this Saturday (12.15pm start).