PENARTH Hockey Club bounced back from a frustrating series of results to post an unbeaten weekend that was just one goal shy of producing a first ever 100 per cent strike rate since the return to fielding four teams.

Exeter University ‘B’ 1-6 Penarth

For the second time in three weeks, Penarth’s senior side were on their way down the M5 to face unfamiliar academic foes, this time in the form of fellow newcomers to the Championship division Exeter University.

The students found themselves at the opposite end of the table to the high-flying Penarth and, after getting back on the victory trail at home to Cheltenham the previous weekend, the Bears were keen to kick start a winning streak with a favourable run into the Christmas break.

It was Exeter, however, who started hottest and, within the opening minutes, created the game’s first big chance by working the ball out to the left byline before cutting it back to a striker who had burst in front of the Penarth defence to deflect it goalwards. Fortunately, visiting goalkeeper Adam Putt was alert to the danger, and dived low to his right to pull off a fine save and save the Bears’ blushes.

Penarth also had resident firefighters Ben Croxall and Matthew Stollery to help extinguish the early Exeter inferno, with the former launching a trademark aerial to his partner in pyromancy, who made a darting run behind the defence, controlling the ball with his first touch before finding Jack Jopson, whose perfectly-timed run across his marker allowed for a sublime first time touch to beat the ‘keeper.

With the students shell-shocked, it wasn't long before Penarth grabbed a second, and it was that man Jopson again, flying high from his first goal to produce a near carbon copy, this time arriving at the back post to tip in after some fine work from Andrew Willemite on the left wing resulted in a pin-point cross. Penarth were now well in the ascendancy and added a third before half-time as debutant Jamie Wheeler proved quickest on his toes to pounce on a loose ball resulting from a saved David Joyce shot and put the Bears in full control.

To their credit, Exeter started the second period full of intensity and purpose, but Willemite quickly dampened their enthusiasm by adding a goal to his earlier assist with a fine finish from a well-worked penalty corner. Celebrations were cut short as Willemite had to be subbed off in some distress, struggling to catch his breath after a severe winding, but the Bears were now mauling their opponents, creating chance after chance.

Wheeler would cap off a fine debut by bagging a brace after another mazy run from Chris Baker - who has rediscovered his mojo in recent weeks – saw him round the ‘keeper and leave the ball for Wheeler to sweep home into the empty net. After a string of goal-of-the-season contenders in recent weeks, Laith El-Khatib threw his hat into the ring with another screamer as he controlled a chest-high ball before smashing home on the half-volley into the top corner to complete the rout.

With the game locked away, Penarth switched off in the dying seconds and, in failing to clear their lines, allowed the university to grab a consolation goal and ruin the clean sheet. However, after grinding out a tough draw against the odds at Plymouth University and then filing impressive back-to-back victories in recent weeks, the Bears are back up to second in the standings with three of their remaining pre-Christmas fixtures coming against teams in the bottom half of the division.

Goalscorers: Jack Jopson (2), Jamie Wheeler (2), Andrew Willemite, Laith El-Khatib

Penarth‘A’ 7-1 Aberystwyth University

After a run of fixtures against the leading sides in De Cymru and The Marches Two, Penarth ‘A’ welcomed Aberystwyth University to Stanwell knowing that they needed a win against another team at the wrong end of the table to reignite their season.

The Bears started the game well and took an early lead, Richard Baker dispossessing an Aber defender in his own ‘D’ before squaring to James Kidby to slot home. With momentum rolling, the home side added a second soon after, with Baker again proving pivotal as his work down the right flank found Kidby, who turned provider to square the ball across goal for Sam Chick to tap home.

The game was largely one way traffic - Penarth made it 3-0 midway through the half as Dave Watkins set up Ollie Burland to fired home on the reverse and maintain his 100 per cent scoring record since joining the Bears – and when the home side didn’t have it all their own way, fantastic defence kept Aberystwyth at bay as the students pressed for a way back.

With the university repelled, Penarth racked up a fourth goal on the half-hour mark, with Sam Salisbury and Baker again causing havoc down the right flank before the latter found the net for a well deserved goal of his own Phil Lane then added further salt to the visitors’ wounds by putting a fifth on the scoreboard before the break, slapping high into the roof of the net to give Penarth a comfortable cushion going to the interval.

The second half saw more of the same, with the home side creating the better chances before eventually getting a sixth goal midway through the half, Chick firing home from an acute angle after a Watkins set-up.

To Aberystwyth’s credit, they kept pushing for a consolation and nearly had one but for Scott Fulton-Brown producing a sensational treble save to keep them at bay shortly before Chick rounded out the Bears’ scoring by firing home a penalty corner to complete his hat-trick late inn the game.

There was still time, however, for the students to have the final say, and they grabbed a late consolation goal to deny the Penarth defence a first clean sheet of the season, but tougher games lie ahead of the Bears, who will need to take another three points away at Gwent this weekend to continue climbing away from the teams at the foot of the table.

Goalscorers: Sam Chick (3), James Kidby, Ollie Burland, Richard Baker

Penarth ‘B’ 5-1 Whitchurch ‘E’

The third XI completed their first round of matches in De Cymru Two by hosting cross-town rivals Whitchurch in their continued bid to close the gap on the top three in the standings.

Both sides started the game at a good pace, moving the ball well when they held possession, and it was Penarth's ‘keeper Luke Williams who was called upon to make a number of excellent saves in the first ten minutes while his team-mates wrestled for control of the ball. Whitchurch also had an excellent young ‘keeper guarding the net, keeping the game scoreless when, at times, it looked like Penarth were about to take the lead, emphasising how important the first goal would be.

Fortunately for the Bears, it was Penarth who made the breakthrough, albeit with a touch of fortune as right winger Thomas Ricaux inadvertently lobbed the Whitchurch ‘keeper with a pass and found an unmarked Dan Munro Morris, who then rounded the goalminder’s desperate dive to slot the ball home.

Penarth soon doubled their lead, this time with a smart move down the right that resulted in Scott Munro Morris showing he could equal anything son Dan was capable of by diving at the ‘keepers feet to force the ball over the goal line using the reverse side of his stick - and picking up a blood injury for his efforts.

At two down, the visitors began to show signs of cracking and Penarth were finally able to take control of the game and play the way they have become accustomed to. The defensive combination of James Davies and Simon Wilkinson had no problem starting attacks from the back, while Adam Morse - playing in a central midfield role – could find forwards in wide areas as Penarth pressure led to confusion in the opposition ‘D’ and a resulted in a string of penalty corners.

Although the set pieces were wasted, Penarth soon added to their tally, again with a dose of good fortune for Ricaux. The Frenchman had been a danger all game, and was rewarded when a shot which looked like it would fly wide of the post was haplessly deflected past the wrong-footed ‘keeper while still in mid-air.

The Bears would score once more before the break as, in arguably the move of the match, the younger Munro Morris ran at the heart of the Whitchurch defence before unselfishly feeding Ricaux instead of gambling with a shot of his own whilst under pressure.

The half-time lead allowed wing backs Richard Cousins and Rob Harrison the licence to attack in the second period, creating acres of space for Matthew Birch in the top left corner and enabling him to link up with David Kidby to threaten the Whitchurch ‘D’. Penarth really should have added to their lead, and it was poor finishing more than the exploits of the Whitchurch ‘keeper that kept the score at 4-0. This gave the visitors a boost of confidence and Penarth’s hope of a clean sheet was broken by a quick counter-attack that left Williams no chance.

Despite Whitchurch’s consolation goal, the final 20 minutes remained under Penarth’s control and the home side were rewarded with a fifth and final goal was from a late penalty corner, with Morse feeding Kidby, who smashed the ball home with a rifle of a shot.

Goalscorers: Thomas Ricaux (2), Dan Munro Morris, Scott Munro Morris, David Kidby

Whitchurch ‘F’ 0-0 PENARTH ‘C’

Travelling to face their close rivals Whitchurch with news of the successes of the other senior sides filtering through, the fourth XI knew the onus rested on them to complete a clean sweep and secure a first four-win weekend for the club since the side was reintroduced to league competition in 2016.

However, despite dominating both possession and territory throughout - and, as in the previous week, forcing a succession of penalty corners - a combination of bad luck, profligacy and fine goalkeeping and defending by the home side kept the rampant Penarth side at bay.

Man-of-the-match Joe Ramage was tireless in midfield for the visitors, and his penetrative runs were the cornerstone of much of Penarth's superb approach play, but he and his team-mates were unable to prevent perhaps the most one sided 0-0 draw many will have experienced. Victory would have been sufficient to lift the Fourths into fourth place in De Cymru 3, but the shared point still saw the ‘C-Siders’ move above Bridgend in a closely-match table.

Goalscorer: n/a

Three of the four Penarth sides will be in action this weekend, with the third XI getting a break to close out the first part of their league season. The first XI return to Stanwell to take on City of Bath (1.45pm start), taking to the field immediately after the fourth XI’s encounter with table-topping Neath in their first home game for four weeks (noon start). The second XI, meanwhile, head for Cwmbran Stadium for their crucial mid-table fixture with Gwent (2.30pm start).

Penarth Hockey Club always welcomes new, old and returning players, umpires, supporters, friends and helpers regardless of age and ability. Training takes place on Wednesdays at Stanwell School, with the juniors on the pitch between 6.15pm and 7.15pm and the seniors between 7pm and 8.15pm.

Anyone interested in joining the club at senior or youth level can contact club secretary Dave Stevens ( for further information.