Newcomer's hat-trick lifts Firsts to league success

FOR the second time in the 2013-14 Davis Wood Hockey League campaign, Penarth Hockey Club found both its sides taking on opposition from the same club and this time honours were split.

WHITCHURCH B 0

PENARTH 3

After a string of disappointing results, the 1st XI needed to get their season back on track and travelling to Whitchurch to face the team that had joined them in relegation the previous season presented the ideal opportunity.

Penarth started the stronger, with some good inter-passing through the new look midfield of Dudley Hill, skipper Mark Thomas, Tom Harris and Chris `Tip Tap' Baker. The quartet created several good openings but, in the early stages, the endeavours went to waste as chances went unconverted.

Despite the frustration, Penarth continued to control the game and, with some excellent running from forwards Math Birch, Sam Wooding, Gareth Herman and Phil Lane, it was only a matter of time before they broke the deadlock. The breakthrough eventually came just before half-time, with the ball being worked well from the back. With gaps appearing in the Whitchurch defence, a probing run from Baker found Hill in space in the D, and the newcomer swept the ball into the top corner.

Although turning around with the advantage, Penarth knew that one goal would not be enough, and their fears were well founded as Whitchurch started the half with a lot more intent. The home side’s best spell eventually resulted in a penalty stroke, but Penarth goalkeeper Mark Harris made a superb save to deny the equaliser.

Harris' heroics then appeared to give Penarth the push they needed to go on and win the game. The Vale side started passing the ball with a lot more purpose, building from the back and Dave Stevens, Sam Docherty, Tom Harran and Joe Wells transferring the ball at pace. This created gaps further up the pitch, which helped Penarth win a number of short corners, and Hill capped a handy performance by deflecting two of these past the Whitchurch ‘keeper to secure both his hat-trick and a welcome victory that cements Penarth in fifth place overall.

PENARTH A 1

WHITCHURCH E 3

Penarth’s 2nd XI returned to action in entertaining old rivals Whitchurch E at Barry Sports Centre, knowing that they needed to take all the points in a well-matched mid-table battle.

Starting strongly, the home side put pressure on the Whitchurch goal but, as has become common in recent weeks, chances were not converted, leaving the Bears open to attack at the other end. Having committed men forward, Penarth were caught on the break, and Whitchurch took full advantage, with a sharp cross being deflected beyond the reach of goalkeeper Calum Grant.

Stung by falling behind, Penarth again pressed forward, but it took a scrappy goal for them to draw level as Tom Davies’ run to the by-line resulted in his cross taking several deflections before trickling across the line.

All square at half-time, Penarth needed an early breakthrough, but it was the visitors who took the initiative, capitalising on the home side’s inability to clear their lines at a penalty corner to make it 2-1; and they followed that with a third just minutes later as the man previously earmarked as the danger man was allowed time and space to convert.

Although they managed to repel further Whitchurch attacks, Penarth seldom looked like pulling one goal back, let alone two, and were left to reflect on a game that they allowed to slip away as they dropped to seventh in the table.

With just one league game remaining before the Christmas break, the two Penarth sides will be hoping to sign off with a win. While the 1st XI host lowly Aberystwyth University in Barry, the Seconds travel across the capital to take on Cardiff and Met F in another important mid-table battle, with both sides starting level on points.

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.

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

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