Baker's banger caps comeback
Remember, remember the Fourth of November.... as the source of a potentially vital point for the 1st XI
After a disappointing home defeat that cost top spot in the Championship standings the previous week, Penarth headed off on their longest away trip of the season so far determined to rediscover their spark and rocket back up the league.
On the anniversary eve of Guido Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, Penarth took three cars of firepower to the unfamiliar surroundings of Plymouth University, knowing that the student side, now above them in the division, would present typically tough opposition.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the game didn’t start with the bang they hoped for, as the university side capitalised on a defensive error to make it 1-0 early on. Like an impressionable youngster holding a sparkler, Penarth had had their fingers burned, but the embers of intent still burned brightly, and the Vale side gradually worked their way back into the game, with Andrew Willemite finally lighting the fuse by forcing a penalty corner out of the adolescent Plymouth side. Penarth’s resident penalty pyromaniac, Ben Croxall, was on hand to provide a drag flick into the back of the net and, despite both sides striving for a second strike, the first half would ended all square.
Whatever plots were hatched during the interval, the second period quickly flared into a tale of ill-discipline from both sides, as the umpires struggled to control the thermostat of an increasingly explosive game. Penarth, in search of a second goal that could fire some momentum, were leaving themselves more and more exposed in defence, and the Plymouth side burned them with a combination of speed and aggression to quickly move into a 3-1 lead.
It’s safe to say that, with only ten minutes left and still chasing a two-goal deficit, Penarth looked well and truly ‘Guy Fawke’d’ but, determined not to let another game fizzle out, they turned up the wick, producing some of their best hockey of the afternoon.
Willemite, ‘Catherine Wheeling’ around the midfield, provided a delightful assist for David Joyce, who finished as he would a toffee apple – only needing one bite – and, sensing that the flame of points could yet be rekindled, the Bears continued to push forward. Having come close to an equaliser on several occasions, the visitors finally earned another penalty corner, which Chris Baker despatched with a scorching drag flick into the top corner.
The fire was now burning brightly, and the fireworks continued to fly as both teams chased the winner in the closing moments. For one Penarth player, however, the furnace eventually got a little too hot and, having received his marching orders, Joe Thomas was left to huff and puff on the sidelines as the teams played out the last few minutes to share the spoils in a game that had been anything but a damp squib.
Goalscorers: Ben Croxall, David Joyce, Chris Baker