10-goal thriller wraps up hockey club season

First published in Sport

PENARTH HC VETERANS 5

STRATFORD VETERANS 5

WITH the Penarth Hockey Club's annual meeting and club dinner already in the rear view mirror, it was left to the Veterans XI to wrap up the 2013-14 season with a match against a touring Stratford side led by former Penarth player Ian ‘Pug’ Powell.

The visitors arrived in Barry on the back of a heavy defeat the day before, and still appeared to be suffering the effects of a night out in Cardiff as Penarth dominated the early possession. However, an inability to convert pressure into anything resembling a chance on goal allowed Stratford to remain in the game, and ultimately make the Vale side pay.

Miscommunication in the Penarth defence allowed the tourists two soft goals midway through the half and, when a penalty corner found its way in at the near post, Stratford had been allowed a three-goal head start before the Bears realised that the game was slipping away. Fortunately, a goal from Marc Sawyer minutes before the break allowed the home side to remain in touch, but there was a lot of stern talking once the very untraditional half-time refreshments had been imbibed.

The words appeared to have the desired effect as Penarth again took control, but it was Stratford who again scored first, this time as the result of a double deflection that steered the ball past the hapless Matt Birch.

Fired by the misfortune, the home side went straight back down the other end, where Sawyer was able to add his second of the game, but Stratford soon returned the deficit to three goals.

With less than 10 minutes remaining, the game looked over, but Penarth refused to give in and, when a deflection at the other end produced an own goal and made the score 5-3, hopes were raised further. With Stratford trying to play out time, Penarth were afforded more space and a quick hit out from the back produced a flowing move that was rounded out by Derek Wooding’s measured finish.

Just three minutes were left and, with Stratford again trying to keep the ball, Penarth’s tenacity allowed one final attack, which Sawyer coolly completed with a shot into the far corner.

On reflection, a draw was probably a fitting result for a well-contested game.

AGM AND DINNER

The club's annual meeting produced few surprises, with all officers being returned and Mark Thomas and Nick Pratt retaining the captaincy of the 1st and 2nd XIs respectively. Dave Watkins was made a life member after many years of service in the front line, and thanks were offered to kit sponsor Scafftag for their ongoing support.

The annual dinner, staged 24 hours later at Penarth Athletic Club, allowed those in attendance to reflect on a successful season, with the 1st XI finishing fourth in De Cymru & The Marches 1 and the 2nd XI improving to sixth overall in De Cymru 2.

A couple of entertaining captain’s reports ended with Chris Baker and Craig Llewellyn picking up the respective player of the year accolades, with Baker unsurprisingly netting the top goalscorer trophy after a prolific campaign. Sam Wooding was awarded the young player of the year nomination after making his mark in a first full season with the 1st XI. Clubman of the year was rightly awarded to the tireless Graeme Jones for his efforts as fixture secretary.

As usual, the formalities ended with an impassioned address from president Alan Carter that had the audience alternating between attentive silence and knowing laughter, before the focus was turned towards 2014-15.

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