WITH a large chunk of their regular squad absent to toast impending nuptials, Penarth Hockey Club’s 1st XI were forced into drafting in members of the second team for what promised to be a tough encounter with promotion-chasing Cardiff and Met B at Sophia Gardens.

The home side, comprising mainly students from the city’s Metropolitan University, are proving to be table-topping Lydney’s only opposition in the push for season honours, and appeared to be even stronger than usual as Penarth rocked up with an under-strength side.

Right from the first whistle, the Cardiff team imposed itself and, despite some determined resistance from Penarth, took an early lead following a swift build-up. Although the visitors replied in short order, as a fierce cross from Phil Lane was inadvertently diverted past his own ‘keeper by one of the Cardiff defenders, it proved to be a rare bright spot for the Vale side.

Cardiff were quickly back in control and enjoyed one of those afternoons where every touch in the ‘D’ brought some sort of reward, either a penalty corner or - on the majority of occasions - another goal. Despite the best efforts of centre backs Joe Wells and Tom Haran, the half-time score of 5-1 effectively ended the game as a contest, although Penarth emerged from the interval determined to ‘win the second half.’

With stand-in captain Chris Baker belatedly pushing forward after sacrificing his scoring record to fill the right half position in the first period, Penarth were able to exert a little more pressure on the Cardiff end, but the hosts continued to enjoy the better fortune in front of goal.

Although Penarth goalkeeper Mark Harris produced a virtuoso display of shot-stopping to deny Cardiff another hatful of goals, he was still beaten a further three times as the home side overwhelmed the visiting defence to make the final score a rather unflattering 8-1.

Despite the result, Penarth remain fourth overall, and will no doubt welcome two final fixtures against more lowly opposition as they attempt to repel Cardiff and Met’s C team in the final standings.

This weekend sees the 1st XI in action against Whitchurch B at Barry Sports Centre, while the 2nd XI return after a weekend off looking to avenge a surprise defeat by the same opposition’s E side earlier in the season.

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 6-7pm and seniors 7-8pm.

Further information can be obtained from club secretary Dave Stevens (