PENARTH 4-4 Ashmoor
The 1st XI welcomed league leaders Ashmoor to Stanwell, determined to continue their good run of results having been unbeaten since the opening week in December.
Penarth started well, stringing passes together and enjoying long periods of possession which allowed them to build up the pitch and create a number of early half-chances, although these went unconverted due to the efforts of the Ashmoor defence. Undaunted, the Bears continued to play some fantastic hockey and were finally rewarded with a well-worked team goal that started with the defence, before the midfield continued to move the ball at pace as they worked it into the D. A snapshot by Matthew Gray was thwarted by a defender’s stick, but the ball fell to the prolific Joe Thomas, who gratefully accepted the chance to finish smartly.
Like London buses, one led to two and Thomas continued his great start to the game by picking the ball up on the halfway line and playing a perfectly-weighted lofted pass to Andrew Willemite, who had run his marker ragged before arriving in front of the next Ashmoor defender. A slick pass into the D found the waiting Laith Khatib, who unleashed an unstoppable finish low into the goal before the ‘keeper had even had time to set himself.
Penarth’s two-goal advantage seemed to spring Ashmoor into action, and the visitors scored from a well-worked move to bring the game back to 2-1, but the Bears didn’t allow their heads to drop and continued to play some very neat hockey. Taking the game to Ashmoor led to them winning the first penalty corner of the match, and an expert finish from man-of-the-match Chris Hardy restored the margin with half-time approaching.
Ashmoor, however, were given a chance to remain in the game just before the break, with a penalty corner of their own, and, at 3-2, there was all to play for in the second half.
Penarth again started well and, once more, quickly regained their two-goal cushion with another Hardy penalty corner, but the strike maybe came to quickly as it seemed to make the home side a little disjointed for the first time in the match. Despite absorbing increasing amounts of pressure, the change of momentum saw Ashmoor score two late goals and the game eventually finished 4-4.
Although they would probably have been happy with a share of the points against the Premiership leaders, it was ultimately a game Penarth will feel they should have won. Despite the disappointing finish, it was another positive result moving towards the business end of the league season, and the good all-round team performance provides a lot of positives to take into the up-coming games.
Goalscorers: Joe Thomas, Laith Khatib, Chris Hardy (2)
Cheltenham ‘B’ 5-1 PENARTH ‘A’
The 2nd XI knew they were in for a tough encounter travelling to face a Cheltenham team that had proved a difficult opponent in a home fixture the Bears won 3-1 but could just as easily have lost.
Their task was made no easier with a scratch side bolstered by the inclusion of some third team regulars to ensure a squad of 12, and former 1st XI and club captain Mark Thomas coming back into the squad after a long absence through injury.
The opening exchanges saw the visitors looking unsurprisingly disjointed, with Cheltenham playing some fine passing hockey to stretch Penarth and create chances at will. Despite man-of-the-match Adam Putt putting up some initial resistance by making numerous saves, the pressure eventually told with Cheltenham capitalising on Penarth’s inability to clear their lines to open the scoring.
Unfortunately this was a sign of things to come, and Cheltenham added a second soon after, again with Penarth failing to clear the ball after initial saves from Putt.
Penarth had chances on the counter attack and Dave Joyce could have pulled one back against the run of play, with Lewis Ingram driving forward and finding the striker in position to shoot, but the Cheltenham ‘keeper was not as charitable as he had been in the reverse fixture, making a decent save to preserve the home side’s two-goal cushion.
The save also proved pivotal at the other end, as Cheltenham then counter-attacked before converting a penalty corner for a 3-0 lead after just 25 minutes.
To add injury to insult, Penarth were reduced to a bare 11 on the stroke of half-time, as Sam Chick pulled his hamstring with Penarth on the counter attack. Chick’s final touch of the game was enough to play a through ball to Joyce, whose vicious shot was well saved by the ‘keeper, hitting both the crossbar and the post before being cleared by the defence.
Penarth now faced a mammoth task to take anything from the game and, unfortunately, their hosts were relentless in their attack, adding a further two goals in the second half. Joyce managed to grab a consolation goal late on, ironically from one of his tamer efforts as he benefited from a close range deflection which crept past the wrong-footed ‘keeper.
Having slipped to fifth in De Cymru & The Marches 2, Penarth now face an uphill struggle to make the top two spots, and will need to win a number of ‘six-pointers’ and hope other results go their way if they are to achieve promotion.
Goalscorers: David Joyce
Whitchurch ‘F’ 2-7 PENARTH ‘C’
With the 3rd and 5th XIs having the weekend off due to the uneven number of teams in the respective divisions, the remaining match pitted the De Cymru 3-leading Fourths against a Whitchurch side currently propping up the rest of the table.
Determined to hold onto top spot, despite nearest rivals Gwent, Penarth secured a comfortable 7-2 victory over their game, but limited, opponents, with a brace apiece for Rob Harrison, Simon Marchant and the excellent Greg Cross, plus another from Joe Ramage.
Penarth remain a point clear of their pursuers in the division, but are the only side to have so far played 12 games, meaning that they remain vulnerable to any slip-up in the coming weeks. The 5th XI continue to hold third overall in the same division.
Goalscorers: Rob Harrison (2), Simon Marchant (2), Greg Cross (2), Joe Ramage
Four of Penarth’s five sides will be in action this weekend, with the 1st XI crossing the Severn to face Firebrands in Bristol (12.00pm start) in their bid to keep moving up the Premiership table. The Seconds play their first home game of the new year, hosting Bristol & West at Stanwell (1.45pm start), while the Thirds return from their bye week with a trip to Swansea (12.30pm start) as they look to continue their win streak. With the 4th XI taking their turn for a week off, the Fifths complete the schedule by visiting Bridgend (3.00pm start).
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 (email@example.com) for further information.