Hockey club1st XI return to top spot
2:01pm Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in Sport
PENARTH Hockey Club’s 1st XI stretched its unbeaten run in De Cymru & The Marches Division One of the Davis Wood Hockey League to four games and returned to top spot. Unfortunately, the 2nd XI continued to ride a results rollercoaster in De Cymru 2.
CARDIFF & MET C 2
PENARTH 1st XI 4
GOING into the weekend, Penarth were one of only two teams to have won all three of their opening fixtures and, with close rivals Cardiff & Met B suffering an earlier 2-1 defeat, needed to remain unbeaten to go clear at the top of the table.
However, the Bears knew they had a challenge on their hands, having only managed a 1-1 draw against their opponents in a pre-season friendly.
Despite that, Penarth started well and could have been ahead within the first minute when Chris Baker flashed the ball across the goal, only for Sam Wooding to see his touch on strike the post and go wide.
Baker soon made Penarth’s dominance pay, however, firing the Vale's only senior club into the lead with a drag flick. The vice-captain then grabbed a second minutes later, beating several players before slotting home.
Looking for more goals, the visitors pushed forward, but this left them exposed at the back, and Cardiff & Met pulled one back with a well-worked short corner routine.
The second half was a more edgy affair, with both teams struggling to keep possession. Cardiff had several chances to equalise, but it was the visitors who eventually struck first, with Baker ghosting through the defence before squaring the ball to Tom Harran, who calmly slotted home.
Unfortunately, the Vale side then proved the theory that you are most vulnerable immediately after scoring, and promptly conceded following a defensive error by Sam Doherty.
The home side again had chances to equalise, but it was Penarth who finally grabbed the decisive goal. Baker had had the Cardiff centre backs in his pocket all day and was allowed to dribble unchallenged from within his own half before slotting the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs to complete his hat-trick.
Table-topping Penarth hold a three-point advantage over a trio of sides sharing second place.
PENARTH A 2
GWENT A 4
DESPITE being buoyed by a hard-fought victory in Neath, it was business as usual for the 2nd XI as they faced early De Cymru 2 pacesetters Gwent at Barry Sports Centre.
Unfortunately for the hosts, a combination of injuries and unavailability meant a number of changes, and influential players such as Richard Bromiley, Zbig Sobiersierski and skipper Nick Pratt had to play despite carrying injuries.
Despite that, the home side gave a good account of themselves in the early stages, with the veteran trio of Rob Harrison, Richard ‘Click’ Clarkson and Freddy Thomas all featuring as the control of midfield ebbed and flowed.
The deadlock was broken when Gwent snatched the lead midway through the opening half, but Penarth refused to be bowed, and some incisive 'scissor' play - reminiscent of that which proved so deadly at Neath - was finished off by James Kidby’s first goal of the season.
The to-and-fro nature of the game continued as Gwent restored their lead but, once more, Penarth refused to lie down and, following another incisive passing move, Clarkson coolly lifted ball over the advancing ‘keeper to level scores.
Turning around at 2-2, skipper Pratt emphasised the importance of not conceding an early goal but, as had happened in their last home game, Penarth did just that, allowing Gwent to claim a third lead of the game.
Despite a tiring Penarth midfield still chasing gamely, the visitors were gradually dominating the vital part of the pitch, forcing man-of-the-match Calum Grant to make a series of excellent saves to keep the home side in the game.
Penarth were not entirely without chances of their own, however, and, as the incisive hockey continued, Graeme 'Bomber' Jones was unfortunate not to get on the end of a move at top of the ‘D.’
With time running out and the home side desperately pushing forward to get the draw they felt they deserved, Gwent delivered a breakaway sucker punch to make the game safe.
Despite the result dropping Penarth back to fifth in the division, Pratt was pleased that his ailing line-up had been able to compete for long periods with a side sure to feature in the end-of-season promotion shake up.
This weekend, the 1st XI face their toughest challenge of the season so far hosting a second-placed Lydney side that have scored 19 goals in their last three games. The Seconds, meanwhile, have no fixture, hopefully allowing time for their various injuries to heal before returning to action in early November.