PENARTH Hockey Club returned to action in fine fashion after the festive period, recording two victories that mirrored the opening weekend of the Davis Wood Hockey League season.
Penarth HC 4-2 Wotton-under-Edge
After the long Christmas break, the 1st XI were keen to start the second half of the season with a bang, and welcomed Wotton-under-Edge to Barry Sports Centre having beaten the same opposition 4-1 in their earlier fixture.
Wotton started the better of the two teams and had the upper hand in the early part of the game. As they controlled much of the first ten minutes, Penarth relied on the sharpness of goalkeeper Mark Harris, who made a couple of good saves to keep the sides on level terms.
Inspired by Harris, Penarth started to get a foothold and, with securing greater possession, were able to build through the new-look midfield of Gareth Herman, skipper Mark Thomas and Richard Baker. With some good interplay, the trio eventually found the evergreen Phil Lane in space in the ‘D’ and his drive to the baseline saw the ball squared to Sam Wooding, who slotted past the helpless Wotton keeper.
Despite the goal, the game turned into a scrappy encounter, with neither team showing a great deal of quality. Penarth were then the architects of their own downfall, as two spells of sloppy defending allowed Wotton to score twice and go into the break 2-1 up.
Taking full advantage of the interval to regroup, Penarth started the second half looking like a different team. Dominating possession through some well-structured passing moves, the home forwards linked with Chris Baker to find plenty of space in the final third. But it wasn’t a forward who scored the equalising goal, however, as club stalwart James Davies eventually fired the ball into the roof of the net, following an inch-perfect pass from Chris Baker.
Wotton had no answer to the intensity that Penarth were now displaying playing and, after a brilliant turnover just outside the ‘D’, the ball was squared to Richard Baker, who wasted little time in putting the Bears back ahead.
Penarth now looked to secure the victory going into the last period of the game and, while the defence of Davies, Dave Stevens, Sam Docherty, Tom Harran kept things tight at the back, the space created as Wotton pressed forward allowed Chris Baker to find Lane with another square ball, and the veteran put the game to bed.
Trinity St Davids 1-2 Penarth HC ‘A’
The 2nd XI similarly looked to start the second half of their campaign with another victory over weaker opposition, but had to travel west through some appalling weather to do so.
Trinity had propped up the division from the outset, and the visitors knew that a win, as well as a hatful of goals, was the only result that would satisfy absent captain Nick Pratt. However, the four-week break since any meaningful action meant that the team – missing a few regular faces – were more than a little rusty (even before the rain).
Once a couple of umpires had been prised out into the inclement conditions, it was clear that Penarth would dictate the outcome of the game, and taking an early lead through Richard Bromily – with his first ever goal – provided the ideal start. A couple more chances came and went before Craig Llewellyn followed suit with another strike from just inside the ‘D’ to make it 2-0.
The game should have become a landslide but, with a combination of wasted chances and basic errors, Trinity remained in touch to the half, making a couple of breaks into the Penarth 25 underlining the threat that remained, despite the hosts having only a few experienced players.
While the first half had been largely dry the rain returned after the break making conditions underfoot tricky and opportunities harder to take.
Penarth continued to dominate without adding to their advantage with Tom Parkinson in particular needing the goalmouth to be a couple of feet wider.
A Llewellyn short corner strike was then illegally stopped on the line but the resultant penalty flick was well saved by the Trinity keeper, before Paul ‘Freddie’ Thomas eventually put the game beyond doubt with the visitors’ third goal. Doubt still remains as to whether the lob was a deft piece of skill from the veteran and the result of a misfortune on the defender's part, but Thomas was in no doubt that the goal was his.
With Penarth keeper Calum Grant called into action just once in 70 minutes, the game was as one-sided as the result suggested, but the Vale side might be grateful that goal difference is unlikely to be a deciding factor in their league fate this season.
This weekend sees the 1st XI hosting Gloucestershire side Cleevilians at Barry, while the 2nd XI travel to Hawthorn looking to avenge the six-goal drubbing handed to them by Llan and Caerphilly back in October.
Penarth Hockey 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 6pm-7pm and seniors 7pm-8pm.
Further information can be obtained from club secretary Dave Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org