Ashmoor 2-1 PENARTH
After a great start to the new season, which began with victory at Plymouth Marjon, Penarth’s 1st XI returned to Devon looking to avenge the defeat inflicted upon them at the end of last season that effectively decided the Championship title.
Ashmoor had proven to be the Vale side’s only real rival for overall success in 2017-18 and, after splitting wins home and away, denied Penarth a third straight divisional crown as both sides ascended to the highest level of regional hockey.
Despite making a fast start after their lengthy journey, the Bears found themselves a goal down inside 20 minutes, and struggled to get themselves into the game. Facing increasing pressure as the half went on, they did well to keep their hosts within reach, frustrating several opportunities to extend the lead as the game approached half-time, and went into the interval still only trailing by a single strike.
Although Penarth had the chance to regroup during the break, the second half started as the first had finished, with Ashmoor largely on top, and their home side’s intensity was quickly rewarded with a second goal after a well-worked set piece. This appeared to spur Penarth on, however, and the visitors were finally able to increase their own tempo, bringing themselves more into the game as the half went on.
The Bears grabbed a lifeline with ten minutes to go, as Ollie Burland converted for his first goal of the league campaign, but, despite being the more commanding team during the closing stages, Penarth couldn’t find an equaliser and Ashmoor held on for a hard-earned 2-1 victory.
More disappointingly for Penarth, the game was dominated by the sort of ill-discipline that they hoped to eradicate in 2018-19, and it cost them dearly. Results elsewhere meant that the defeat drops the Bears to fourth in the Premiership table, but they will look to bounce back this Saturday as they take on Bristol-based Firebrands at Stanwell in their first home game of the new season.
Goalscorer: Ollie Burland
PENARTH ‘A’ 3-1 Cheltenham ‘B’
Penarth’s 2nd XI were looking to bounce back from their opening day defeat with a home game against Cheltenham, but were well aware that the visitors had won their first De Cymru & The Marches 2 fixture comprehensively.
Knowing that they would need to up their game to get any points on the board, the Bears made the perfect start, with Phil Lane dispossessing the Cheltenham midfield high up the pitch and feeding David Joyce on the edge of the D. Joyce then unselfishly found Matthew Stollery lurking unmarked at the back post, and he made no mistake from close range to give the home side the lead.
Unfortunately for Penarth, however, that was not a sign of things to come, as Cheltenham then proceeded to have the better of the first half and, but for man-of-the-match Adam Putt making a string of saves, the visitors would have led at half-time.
Despite having had little possession to speak of, Penarth typically countered well and could have had a few goals of their own had it not been for some sloppy finishing but, despite knowing what needed to be corrected in the second half, the Bears had a distinct sense of deja vu from the restart.
Fortunately for the home side, they again grabbed an early goal through Stollery to bolster their advantage, but still found themselves under the cosh for large periods. Only some resolute defending and further quality goalkeeping kept the home side two goals clear heading into the final ten minutes, but nerves were definitely rattled when Cheltenham grabbed a controversial lifeline with time still on the clock. Although the game could have gone either way at this point, Stollery quickly calmed the Bears’ fevered brow as his cross took a kind deflection off the Cheltenham goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick and seal the win for Penarth.
Goalscorers: Matthew Stollery (3)
PENARTH ‘B’ 1-5 Whitchurch ‘E’
The 3rd XI made their first home appearance of the season holding top spot in De Cymru 2, but knew that their opening day victory over a hapless Llanishen & Caerphilly side would be no real indicator of form in what is expected to be a closely-fought division.
Old rivals Whitchurch, who appeared to be headed for relegation until padding their results late into last season, provided the opposition in week two, and arrived at Stanwell with an experienced line-up determined to prevent the Bears from coming anywhere close to their opening weekend tally.
Although the Bears had the better of the opening exchanges, it was clear that they needed to raise their game in all areas, especially when Whitchurch snuck an opening goal against the run of play. As often happens in encounters between the sides, things turned feisty midway through the half, inadvertently sparked by a gruesome finger injury sustained by Penarth midfielder Scott Munro-Morris. With the veteran needing hospital treatment, and remaining substitute Adam Morse having to provide transport, the Bears were left to play out the game without replacements, and their task got harder when Whitchurch doubled their lead from a well-taken penalty corner.
Knowing that they remained in the game after seeing out the half with no further scoring, the home side got a boost early in the second period when a considered long ball from left back Graeme Jones set up a break that was deftly converted by James Kidby to halve the deficit. With momentum appearing to swing their way, Penarth then struck the post no fewer than three times in a ten-minute spell, but were unable to pull level, allowing Whitchurch off the hook.
The visitors then proceeded to show their hosts how to finish, producing a clinical closing period that yielded three goals without reply and giving the final result a slant that both sides agreed did not reflect the contest as a whole. Despite the defeat, Penarth continue to head the De Cymru 2 standings on goal difference thanks to their one-sided opening day result, but no fewer than five of the seven teams in the division are now tied on three points, underlining just how competitive the season will be.
Goalscorer: James Kidby
PENARTH ‘C’ 1-0 Gwent ‘C’
The 4th XI were again in action at Stanwell, and picked up where they had left off in the intra-club derby from the previous weekend as they entertained one of two Gwent teams in De Cymru 3.
The game was graced by some excellent free-flowing hockey from two young teams, but the first half remained goalless, largely due to a world-class save by goalkeeper Mark Harris that kept the home side level. The veteran was making his first appearance for any side since undergoing major surgery in the summer, but showed little sign of having been away from the game for several months.
Although they had started as the slower of the two sides, Penarth gradually took control as the game went on, with Rhys Meddins, Zayn Zaman and Tom Lumsden all outstanding. The deciding goal eventually came in the second period, with man-of-the-match Iwan Meddins smashing the ball into the roof of the Gwent net to double Penarth’s points haul and keep them firmly on top of the division.
Goalscorer: Iwan Meddins
Gwent ‘D’ 4-1 PENARTH ‘D’
The new 5th XI were also in action against Gwent, but came up against a very strong opponent at Cwmbran Stadium, including one player who clearly didn’t belong in the bottom tier of South Wales hockey.
Like the Fourths, Penarth started very slowly and found themselves three goals down after only ten minutes. They eventually pulled one as Matthew Birch converted a penalty corner to put himself in the record books as the first-ever scorer of a goal for a Penarth 5th XI, and the game then continued in an even vein, with chances for both team. Despite the defensive excellence of Richard Bromiley, there was one last sting in the tail for the visitors as Gwent added a fourth goal with the very last touch of match, but it was a promising upturn for the Vale side in their inaugural league campaign.
Goalscorer: Matthew Birch
This weekend again sees all five Penarth sides in action, with the 1st XI making their home debut against Bristol-based Firebrands (1.45pm start). After successive home games, the Seconds are on their travels, crossing the Severn in the opposite direction to tackle Bristol & West, while the 3rd XI will hope to use home advantage when they host one of two Swansea teams in De Cymru 2 (3.30pm start). The Fourths cross the capital to face Whitchurch, leaving the 5th XI to open proceedings at Stanwell as they take on a Gwent side making their second visit to Penarth in as many weeks (noon 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.