Hockey Club denied in apocalyptic encounter

First published in Sport

WEEK two of the second half of Davis Wood Hockey League action saw Penarth Hockey Club battling the conditions as well as determined divisional rivals, eventually emerging with contrasting results.

While the 1st XI were overcoming strugglers Cleevillians by a 3-2 scoreline at Barry Sports Centre, the Seconds were travelling to hinterland of Hawthorn to take on old rivals Llanishen & Caerphilly.

Llanishen & Caerphilly ‘A’ 3-1 Penarth HC ‘A’

The 2nd XI produced a battling display in what can only be described as ‘apocalyptic’ conditions at Hawthorn High School, but left unrewarded for their endeavours.

Despite fearing that they may need to start the game short-handed, Penarth were at full strength by the opening whistle, but knew that the task ahead, against one of the De Cymru 2 division’s leading teams, was a tough one, having lost 0-6 in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season.

Determined not to suffer a repeat of that scoreline second time around, Penarth began resolutely, with good marking preventing the home side from getting an early breakthrough, and gradually allowing the visitors to exert pressure of their own. Indeed, it was Penarth who came closest to opening the scoring with Dave Watkins thwarted by the Llan & Caer ‘keeper before the hosts had really forced Calum Grant into action at the other end.

The game remained in stalemate for much of the first half, with Watkins and Freddie Thomas both going close for the Vale side while the Penarth defence continued to stand firm, but the deadlock was broken ten minutes from the interval when Llan & Caer threw extra players forward, catching the visitors short-handed in their own ‘D’. This time, Grant and the defence were unable to prevent the goal, leaving Penarth one down as the sides turned around.

Encouraged by their performance, the Bears came out fighting in the second half and were rewarded almost immediately as a quick ball from the back found Dave Thomas in space on the left, before his square ball was forced home from a tight angle by the deserving Watkins.

Parity lasted just a couple of minutes, however, as Llan & Caer were able to restore their advantage from a penalty corner. Despite the setback, and the momentum switching back to the home side, Penarth’s defensive quintet of Ian Smith, Craig Llewellyn, Graeme Jones, the returning Paul Roberts and outstanding Richard Bromily continued to hold firm, giving the visitors the belief that they could still get something from the game.

The weather, meanwhile, continued to worsen, with torrential rain occasionally turning to hail, galeforce winds repeatedly dislodging the goalposts and skies darkening to the point that proceedings were halted in order to request floodlights. Keen to resume in the pursuit of at least a point, Penarth held firm until the closing minutes, when the home side were able to sneak a third past the hapless Grant.

The result and performance were both a vast improvement over October’s match-up, but not adding any points leaves Penarth fifth in the division and facing a key fixture against nearest rivals Neath in Barry this coming weekend.

The 1st XI, meanwhile, travel to Hereford eager to beat up on one of their division’s weaker participants as they continue push for a top three spot in De Cymru & The Marches 1.

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 between 6-7pm and Senior between 7-8pm.

Further information can be obtained from club secretary Dave Stevens (d_stevens81@hotmail.co.uk)

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