THE Penarth Hockey Club set themselves up for a strong finish to the season with two comprehensive victories over old rivals Whitchurch in the penultimate round of games in the 2013-14 Davis Wood Hockey League.
WHITCHURCH B 2
Knowing promotion was out of reach following the defeat against Cardiff & Met the previous weekend, Penarth went into the penultimate game of the season hoping to secure fourth position in De Cymru & The Marches 1 with a victory at Barry Sports Centre.
The home side started the game well and it wasn't long before Chris Baker picked up the ball just outside the opposing ‘25’ and skipped past three defenders to smash the ball into the bottom corner.
With Penarth dominating the opening encounters, and having been frustrated against Cardiff the previous weekend, it wasn't long before Baker exacted further revenge, doubling the Bears’ lead after latching onto a superb aerial ball from Sam Docherty.
With half-time approaching, Penarth took another stride towards making the game safe, with Baker again playing a major role. This time the forward’s possession ended with a square ball to the back post, where Sam Wooding tapped in.
No doubt spurred on by the deficit they faced at the interval, Whitchurch started the second half in better form and reduced the arrears. Penarth knew that they had to get the next goal to ensure they remained in control, however, and Baker provided the strike to make it 4-1and completing another hat-trick in the process.
Although Whitchurch scored next to make it 4-2, Penarth finished the game with a fifth goal after Matt Birch picked out Wooding at the back post to allow the youngster to add his second of the afternoon and cement a comfortable victory for the Vale side.
With 36 points from 21 games, Penarth have now secured fourth spot in their division, and finish the season at Aberystwyth University with the pressure off.
WHITCHURCH E 2
PENARTH A 7
The 2nd XI’s visit to Treforest to take on another of Whitchurch’s myriad teams had echoes of the senior side’s game, with an early lead coming close to being erased before the Bears pulled away in the final quarter.
Looking to avenge a 3-1 home defeat in the first half of the season, Penarth again rolled out their new-look formation, but came under early pressure from a well-organised Whitchurch squad. Having resisted a string of penalty corners, largely due to some slick goalkeeping from Calum Grant, the visitors struck on the break – just as captain Nick Pratt had planned – with leading scorer Dave Watkins finishing clinically at the other end.
With Whitchurch reeling, Penarth wasted little time in adding a second, with Richard Clarkson picking up a rebound from the Vale side’s opening penalty corner to fire home. When Derek Wooding added a third shortly afterwards, all but pinching the ball off Clarkson’s stick, it appeared that a rout may be on the cards, but the half-time whistle sounded to interrupt the scoring at 3-0.
As with the 1st XI game, it was Whitchurch who struck first after the interval, although the penalty corner strike which brought them back into the game already appeared more than a little high as it took a deflection of Richard Bromily’s stick and flew into the roof of the net.
Buoyed by their good fortune, the hosts quickly added a second, again somewhat controversially as there was some doubt whether a hopeful strike from outside the Penarth ‘D’ took the necessary deflection to constitute a legal goal.
With the scoreline now only 3-2 in their favour, however, Penarth knew they had to fight back lest another strong position go begging.
Ironically, it was the loss of the influential Clarkson to injury which precipitated the game’s final twist. Subconsciously reverting to their old style of play, Penarth extended their advantage with a second goal from Watkins before Tom Davies completed another swift back-to-front move with the visitors’ fifth.
Whitchurch were now restricted to sporadic breaks, the majority of which were ably dealt with by the defensive combination of Bromily, Zbig Sobierserski and Craig Llewellyn, while Penarth’s forwards continued to take the chances that came their way. The sixth goal saw Watkins complete his hat-trick following a nice build-up through youngsters Davies and Rory Vizzard, and the veteran then returned the compliment by setting up Vizzard for a strike of his own to complete the scoring.
The victory allowed Penarth to move back above Neath into sixth in De Cymru 2, but further progress into the top half of the division will require an unlikely 32-goal victory over rivals Cardiff & Met in the final game of the season this weekend.
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 Sports Centre every Wednesday, with the juniors in action between 6-7pm and seniors between 7-8pm.