Penarth Hockey Club’s two senior sides proved to be the big cheese in their respective fixtures last weekend, with a victory apiece against Cotswold rival Gloucester City to bolster their GoCrea8 league campaigns.
Gloucester City 2-9 PENARTH
The 1st XI set out for their tenth outing of the season with a strong squad, but suffered two late injury blows with Lewis Beedle and Matthew Stollery both being sidelined ahead of what could have proved to be a tricky encounter with mid-table opposition.
Penarth, however started confidently and dominated the early passage of play, creating several good opportunities but failing to capitalise on them, allowing Gloucester to grow into what soon became an evenly-matched game. As the home side started to gain in confidence, they began creating chances of their own, forcing Penarth ‘keeper Adam Putt into action with a save down low to his right with the game still scoreless.
Penarth were having to counter-attack, but did so at pace and were soon able to put together a series of quick interchanges through the heart of the Gloucester midfield. The breakthrough finally came when the ball fell to Jack Jopson at the top of the ‘D’, and his turn and pin-point pass to David Joyce allowed the forward to break his recent goal drought by firing home at the back post to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Within a minute Penarth – and Joyce – had doubled their tally, a skilful run and fierce strike from Ben Croxall bringing a save from the Gloucester ‘keeper that only serve to loop the ball high in the air before it fell to Joyce, who volleyed home with a crisp strike passed the despairing netminder.
Gloucester were clearly stunned to go 2-0 down after sharing the early exchanges and knew that they had to intensify their efforts to reduce the deficit.
After a period of possession and some good interplay in the ‘D’, they were able to create a goal-scoring opportunity and, although Putt again thwarted the initial strike on goal, Penarth were unable to clear the ball and Gloucester converted high into the net to cut the Bears’ advantage.
The visitors, however, were unfazed by conceding and went on the attack straight from the restart, Ross Biggar’s skilful play resulting in the award of a penalty corner just before half-time. This was a perfect opportunity for Penarth to regain a two-goal cushion before the interval, and Croxall obliged by converting at the second attempt after his initial effort was blocked.
Determined to take a firm grip on the game after the break, the Bears came out firing and, after a series of near misses, eventually won another penalty corner, which Chris Baker stepped up to convert for 4-1, before Joyce duly completed his hat-trick by firing home from an acute angle.
Further goals from Croxall and Baker, both following mazy runs and clinical finishes, were met with great applause, but the biggest cheer of the game was reserved for Biggar, who finally scored his first goal for Penarth after becoming a positive addition to the team over the off-season..
Gloucester, to their credit, continued to battle to the end, forcing the Penarth defence to work tirelessly throughout with Aaron Fulton-Brown, Tom Haran, Joe Thomas and Marcus Powell all putting in brilliant performances under the watchful eye of ‘keeper Putt.
The home side did manage to grab a consolation goal on the counter-attack to make it 8-2, but Joyce had the final say by scoring his fourth of the day to seal a thumping win for Penarth, who cemented themselves in second spot in the Championship standings with one game remaining in the first half of the season.
Goalscorers: David Joyce (4), Ben Croxall (2), Chris Baker (2), Ross Biggar
PENARTH ‘A’ 5-1 Gloucester City ‘A’
While the senior side was making short work of their hosts in Gloucester, the 2nd XI welcomed the same opposition to Stanwell knowing that a win against the bottom-placed side in De Cymru & The Marches 2 would lift them to seventh in the table and another step towards end-of-season safety.
Both teams started well, calling the opposing goalkeepers into action before the deadlock was broken as attacking intent was showcased from the start. Penarth, who enjoyed the more numerous and clear-cut chances, eventually found the breakthrough after a quarter of an hour as Rich Baker added to his impressive tally of assists by teeing up James Kidby at the back post. In similar fashion to the Firsts, the lead was doubled soon, Sam Chick’s initial effort being well saved by the Gloucester ‘keeper only for Phil Lane to pounce on the rebound to make it 2-0.
Despite chances at both ends, there were no further goals before the interval, and Penarth knew the next goal would be crucial if they were to kill the game off and prevent Gloucester from causing them a second half headache. Although it took a little time, the lead was extended after ten minutes of the second period as Lane seized on another rebound to fire home.
The Bears, who have struggled for discipline this season, were again reduced to ten men midway through the half when Sam Docherty collected a yellow card following a collision with a Gloucester forward, and the sin-binning allowed the visitors to push forward, forcing Scott Fulton-Brown into a flurry of saves before finally denying Penarth a clean sheet and briefly igniting hopes of an unlikely comeback.
As Fulton-Brown and the defence repelled Gloucester’s efforts, the game broke down in quality in the final quarter, and the visitors were themselves reduced in numbers after seeing a green card for a nasty collision which resulted in Sam Salisbury picking up a facial injury, and a yellow shortly afterwards following a cynical foul with Dan Munro-Morris through on goal.
After the youngster was wiped out from behind by the last defender, Docherty exacted his own measure of revenge by despatching the subsequent penalty corner to make it 4-1 and put the result beyond doubt.
A scrappy second half was capped by a rare moment of quality as Penarth rounded off the scoring with a sweeping Penarth move that began at the back and culminated in Chris McCarthy crossing for Kidby to finish at the back post and make it 5-1.
Goalscorers: James Kidby (2), Phil Lane (2), Sam Docherty
Swansea University ‘C’ 4-0 PENARTH ‘B’
The 3rd XI’s return to action after a break in fixtures the previous weekend could hardly have been tougher as, having played everyone in a division made up of seven teams, they resumed with a morning push back at Swansea University, hoping for a better result than the 7-0 hammering on the opening day of the season.
Despite being the perceived underdog, Penarth started the game well, holding possession and playing in the opposition half, moving the ball at pace as Thomas Ricaux caused problems for student side down the Bears’ left. Sadly, however, Penarth’s possession ultimately led to their downfall, as a lapse in concentration led to a loose pass, forcing ‘keeper Mark Harris into action but with little chance of denying the Swansea forwards as they bore down on his goal.
When the Penarth defence repeated the same unfortunate error soon afterwards, all their good work in the opening period was undone as they found themselves two goals down. Although the Bears continued to create chances of their own, with quick breaks feeding David Watkins – who remained a thorn in the university defence by winning a slew of penalty corners – the opportunities were wasted, while Harris was repeatedly called into action at the other end, producing a number of fine saves to thwart the Swansea attack.
The university team now held the upper hand and, controlling possession, ensured that Graeme Jones and Rob Harrison had their work cut out in a bid to prevent the younger home side from attacking down the wings. The pressure, however, eventually led to another penalty corner, which was expertly dispatched to making it 3-0 at half-time.
The second half started pretty much as the first had ended, with Penarth chasing the ball and having to defend under near constant pressure. Central midfielder Adam Morse was often faced with two or three opponents as he tried to protect his defence but, with the students in full flow and spreading the ball to all areas of the pitch, it was often left to James Davies to put on a fine performance of his own. If he wasn’t bravely the first man out on penalty corners, the captain was to be found as the last defender, making tackle after tackle to set an example to his team-mates.
To their credit, Penarth tried to conjure attacks of their own in the hope of not only getting back in the game but to allow their defence to get their breath back. With Dave Thomas now playing as an extra forward, the idea was to go direct and it nearly paid off as, after a quick interchange with Paul Thomas, Matthew Birch played a pin-point through ball from the half way line to find debutant Tom Sergeant, who was only a whisker away from connecting and steering the ball past the Swansea keeper.
If it wasn’t Davies setting things up from the back, it was Phil Goode hitting 50-yard passes to his team-mates up front, with Watkins almost getting the goal that the Bears’ battling performance deserved, only to see a smart penalty corner go narrowly the wrong side of the post.
To the visitors’ credit, meanwhile, the defence also limited Swansea to just one more goal, converted after an initial smart save from Harris saw a penalty corner strike rebound to a waiting forward, who smashed the ball home, baseball-style, from three yards out, fortunately not hitting post man Harrison, who had no to time to react to the hit.
Although Penarth deserved a few goals of their own, the final scoreline could hardly be debated, but the Bears were much better in the second half and, overall, played much better than the previous meeting, where the 7-0 scoreline had flattered the students.
Bridgend ‘C’ 1-7 PENARTH ‘C’
Only goal difference separated Penarth’s 4th XI from their Bridgend counterparts when they met in a De Cymru 3 basement battle on Saturday, but the Vale side showed the class and ability that has underpinned a string of close games with higher opposition as they romped to a comfortable 7-1 win.
Showing a number of changes from previous weeks due to unavailability, the ‘C-siders’ also started with a new formation designed to exploit the attacking potential of their younger players.
This could not have worked better for the Bears as they dominated possession and territory throughout the first half, with debutant – and man-of-the-match – Greg Cross featuring prominently.
Supported by the excellent Joe Ramage, Elys Johnson and Tom Ramage, Cross led from the front as the ‘C-siders’ ran riot, scoring six goals in the first half alone, with a Marc Sawyer hat-trick and two from Ifty Khan backing up the MoM’s debut goal.
The home side’s response was limited to a sole strike when the otherwise impeccable Penarth defence failed to deal with a cross from the left, allowing the unmarked Bridgend winger to tap in at the far post.
Turning round 6-1 in front, Penarth were determined not to allow complacency to set in, and began the second half as they had finished the first, allowing Sawyer to add to his first period trey. Having extended their advantage, however, the ‘C-siders’ then seemed to take their foot off the gas and, as they lost shape and play became more and more disjointed, Bridgend were able to enjoy a bigger part of the game.
As pressure increased on the visitors’ goal, Penarth were grateful to veteran ‘keeper Jason Harris on a number of occasions, as he defied his lengthy lay-off with a display of calm assurance between the sticks.
Injury to the otherwise excellent Richard Bromiley brought further disruption to Penarth’s shape, but there was no further scares and the ‘C-siders’ ran out comfortable winners to put not only points but further goals between themselves and their rivals as they embark on harder fixtures either side of the Christmas break..
Goalscorers: Mark Sawyer (4), Ifty Khan (2), Greg Cross
All four Penarth sides will be in action this weekend, with the 1st XI looking to move closer to top spot in the Championship standings in a home game with Isca (1.45pm start). The 2nd XI, meanwhile, are on their travels across the border, journeying to top three opponent Wotton-under-Edge for a late-afternoon encounter. The Thirds and Fourths will be long finished by then, with the former away at Whitchurch (11.30am start) and the latter opening proceedings at Stanwell, taking on Gwent (noon start) ahead of the 1st XI show-piece.
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.