PENARTH ‘B’ 5-3 Bridgend ‘B’
The 3rd XI entertained Bridgend in a late afternoon game at Stanwell that did well to survive the inclement weather conditions both in the hours before and during the match itself.
With their rivals sitting second in De Cymru 2, a couple of points adrift but with a game in hand, this was a fixture that Penarth knew they could not afford to lose if they were to retain control over their title ambitions. However, the Bears also expected a better Bridgend performance than seen in their first meeting of the season, where the visitors left with a 5-2 win that kick-started a six-game winning streak.
The game began in steady drizzle and with a gusty wind blowing the length of the Stanwell pitch, but the Bears started strongly, taking the game to their opponents with some neat passing moves. As had been the case in recent games, however, the chances that resulted were not immediately converted, allowing Bridgend to gain in confidence and begin applying pressure to the Penarth end.
Weathering the storm, both literally and metaphorically, the home side eventually fashioned a breakthrough after ten minutes, with Sam Chick the first to react to a loose ball in the Bridgend D before slotting coolly home. Having gone ahead, the Bears then doubled their lead as Matthew Birch got on the end of a crash ball into the ‘D’ and deflected it past the hapless goalkeeper, but Penarth could not afford to relax as Bridgend continued to create opportunities of their own, frequently capitalising on the home side’s desire to push forward in search of further goals, and showing off a smart penalty corner routine that required a goal-line clearance to keep the score at 2-0.
The unintended extra man in attack eventually paid dividends for Penarth as they extended their lead ten minutes before the break, Jack Daly marking his return to the side with a clinical strike, but Bridgend were not to be outdone and brought the deficit back with a smart finish that left goalkeeper Calum Grant wrong-footed.
The half-time team talk centred on the drop in intensity that had not only allowed Bridgend back into the game, but also cost Penarth the momentum to create further chances of their own. The match was also becoming increasingly feisty, with heavy challenges coming in from either side, and players in both blue and green would spend time in the sin bin during the second period.
Penarth were able to increase their lead as Jasminder Singh fired home after beating several players on a run from the 25, but were again pegged back as Bridgend finally converted a penalty corner. Sensing that they were not yet out of the game, the visitors continued to press the Penarth area, requiring two further goal-line clearances from penalty corners to ensure that the score remained 4-2. The Bears responded positively, continually building through the right-side combination of Richard Cousins and Lewis Ingram, before adding a fifth goal through Daly's second of the game, but Bridgend kept things tight to the end by making the most of a breakdown at a penalty corner to pull back to within a couple of goals.
Five minutes of torrential rain failed to either cool heads or dampen enthusiasm, but there was no further addition to the scoreboard, with victory for Penarth confirming them as five-point leaders of De Cymru 2 heading into the Christmas break. Bridgend retain their game in hand meanwhile, and will remain the Bears’ biggest threat in the second half of the season, adding extra spice to their next scheduled meeting, at Pencoed, in early March.
Goalscorers: Sam Chick, Matt Birch, Jack Daly (2), Jasminder Singh
Bridgend ‘C’ 5-3 PENARTH ‘C’
The Fourths took a makeshift eleven to their important promotion clash at Pencoed as several late withdrawals removed the luxury of substitutes and forced a reshuffle in the ranks, with key midfielder Lewis Harrison having to make a first ever appearance at full-back.
As was the case with all games at the weekend, appalling weather conditions made things difficult for the players, with some substandard floodlighting adding further problems, especially for young goalkeeper Jamie Lawrence.
The Bears fell 4-1 behind, before rallying with superbly taken goals from Harrison – who, despite misigvings over his change of position, performed heroically throughout - and Greg Cross. At 4-3, Penarth looked the most likely winners, but a breakaway goal against the run of play secured the points for the home side.
Goalscorers: Dave Watkins, Lewis Harrison, Greg Cross
PENARTH ‘D’ 5-0 Whitchurch ‘F’
The 5th XI produced a dominant display to continue their ascent of the De Cymru 3 table, putting five goals past a struggling Whitchurch side without reply, including a stunning hat-trick from man-of-the-match Iwan Meddins. The game was also notable for a sterling effort from an injured Dave Stevens and the return to action of Mark Thomas, following a two-year absence with serious knee injuries.
League action resumes for all five Penarth teams on 12th January, with the 1st XI hoping to continue their recent winning ways by doing the Premiership double over Plymouth Marjon. The Seconds visit top-of-the-table Whitchurch in the hope of overturning their opening day defeat in De Cymru & The Marches 2, while the Thirds travel to erstwhile De Cymru 2 leaders Neath. The 4th XI host Gwent with an eye to toppling the visitors from the head of De Cymru 3, with the 5th XI also in action against a Whitchurch side looking for points.
Penarth Hockey Club always welcomes new, old and returning players, umpires, supporters, friends and helpers regardless of age and ability. Training takes place at Stanwell on Wednesdays, 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.