Mixed fortunes for hockey club sides
10:01am Thursday 19th September 2013 in Sport
THE second week of pre-season action produced differing fortunes for the two Penarth Hockey club sides, with the 1st XI on the wrong side of a high-scoring defeat and the 2nd XI claiming a hard-fought, if scrappy, win.
CARDIFF MEDICS 4
Having claimed a narrow 5-4 victory with a very mixed side in their first game of the 2013-14 campaign, Penarth’s 1st XI travelled to the Tal-y-Bont sports complex as their warm-up to league competition continued apace.
Using the friendlies to experiment ahead of the serious business, Penarth, under the leadership of new captain Mark Thomas, debuted a new formation, with familiar faces in unfamiliar positions and newcomers getting another chance to shown their ability.
Despite the welcome return of stalwart Dave Stevens, Penarth found themselves on the receiving end of two first-half goals as the Medics sneaked an advantage with their only chances of the opening 35 minutes.
Having been denied any reward from their own first-half pressure, Penarth continued to press as the second period got under way, and finally made the breakthrough with two goals from Chris Baker in the opening five minutes.
With the Vale side perhaps relaxing after hauling themselves back into the game, the Medics hit back immediately, re-establishing a one-goal advantage less than a minute after being pegged back, but Penarth remained disciplined despite the disappointment and were still in contention for honours until the closing minutes.
Unfortunately, it was the home side that struck next, taking the score to 4-2 with four minutes left as Penarth energy levels fell away. Although Joe Wells gave the visitors a brief glimmer of hope after adding a third goal at the back post, and Baker came close to a hat-trick, only to drag his last-minute shot wide after going one-on-one with the goalkeeper, there wasn’t enough time to complete a second fightback.
With Thomas noting that having a bare XI had not helped a weary team in the final stages, he also called for greater precision in the coming fixtures as Penarth look to fight their way out of the De Cymru and Marches division of the Davis Wood Hockey League.
PENARTH A 2
WHITCHURCH F 1
While the 1st XI were in action in Cardiff, the Seconds got their season under way a little belatedly with the opening match on home ‘soil’ at Barry Sports Centre.
Having had to scratch the planned fixture with Gwent a week earlier due to a lack of numbers, it was encouraging for returning captain Nick Pratt to have a small squad to call on, particularly with many players venturing out of summer hibernation for the first time.
Entertaining old league foe Whitchurch F should have been a gentle introduction to 2013-14 for the Penarth squad, but the rustiness showed despite a number of promising moves down both flanks. Having spurned several chances to open the scoring, Penarth finally made it 1-0 midway through the first half when Dave Watkins found the far corner after a good right-sided build-up.
Penarth were unable to capitalise and, although Whitchurch rarely threatened the home goal before half-time, the game became more shapeless after the break, allowing the visitors more space as they searched of the equaliser.
Penarth managed to double their lead when a melee in the Whitchurch D resulted in the award of a penalty flick, which was coolly converted by newcomer Ben McHardy. If anything, however, that just spurred Whitchurch into greater efforts and, after seeing a series of penalty corners successfully repelled by emergency goalkeeper Graeme Jones, the visitors were given further encouragement by a strike not even the stand-in could deal with.
That was to be the extent of the scoring, however, leaving Penarth the victors but knowing that there is much work to do if the stronger opposition of division De Cymru 2 are to be similarly dealt with.
This coming weekend the 1st XI complete their warm-up schedule with a home game against Llanishen and Caerphilly, while the Seconds travel to Hawthorn to meet the same opposition.
The club always welcomes new, old and returning players, umpires, supporters, friends and helpers regardless of age and ability. Training takes place on the artificial turf at Barry Sport Centre every Wednesday, with the juniors in action 6-7pm and seniors 7-8pm.
Further information from club secretary Dave Stevens (firstname.lastname@example.org)