WITH Penarth Wanderers Vets FC manager Ronnie Rahman, having from his trip abroad wads eager to get to grips with the latest match in the SW Casual League.

A full complement of players assembled at the Dome, Leckwith for the game against SANDS FC Cardiff.

SANDS is the acronym for Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society. The original SANDS FC was formed in 2018 and is there for anyone affected by the death of a baby.

They have found that playing team sports can aid the grieving process by helping lift someone’s mood and give them a focus, helping to reduce feelings of isolation. Sands United FC has already saved the lives of men left feeling like they had no one to turn to in their grief. Sands United FC Cardiff is now a vital part of bereavement support services.

The Wanderers were buoyed by the positive results of their last league matches and entered into this match with confidence.

Maybe a little too much confidence, as they were soon on the wrong end of two sucker punches from SANDS.

Their keeper, having a kick like a cannon, launched the ball downfield, bouncing once in the middle of the Wanderers half for their nippy little forward to race through and catch the Wanderers defence flat and score. 0-2 to SANDS.

The usual seasonally-enforced changes had been made with Paul Davies stepping into the right-back position. From there he moved upfield and crossed for Martin Chick to plant a firm header into the net - 1-2!

This is usually a difficult score to defend, but bucking the trend, SANDS took advantage of the Wanderers losing possession cheaply and moved the ball quickly up-field to score again - 1-3! Penarth keeper Billy Nolan stood little chance with any of the SANDS goals. Trying desperately, at times, to keep possession it was a fine through ball by Scott Ato for the hard-working Chick to run onto and strike high into the SANDS net - 2-3!

Being behind was uncharted territory for Penarth as they grew more and more nervous, over-hitting or misdirecting passes regularly. Some players were visibly struggling although Darren Scanlan was trying his best and getting into dangerous positions but he had left the shooting boots that worked so well in the previous match at home and nothing was going right.

For this game he was more the support act and managed to get Chick in for his third goal - 3-3. Half time couldn't come soon enough.

The half-time talk was more akin to a Ferguson hair-dryer. Rahman was not happy and demanded more and better. Making a couple of changes Nathan Turpitt came into centre midfield, giving Ray Wills a rest, Caitlin Katany came on wide for Chris Rodd and Mike Roberts came on for Mike Kean. The Wanderers needed to settle, and quickly, so they could start to play like they were capable of.

It wasn't long before Chick scored his fourth (Scanlan get the make of those boots!), but again the Wanderers were pegged back when SANDS equalised - 4-4.

The Wanderers defence was getting stretched and it was only some last ditch tackles by Huw Longman and Dave Lewis, who was already in the ref's book, that kept the opposition forwards out.

This was not the team Penarth were expecting.

Giving SANDS credit, they were making it very hard work and were giving Penarth problems all over the pitch, besides being helped by their goalie's enormous kicks bypassing the midfield. A tactic Penarth were still finding difficult to contend with.

Time was running out and the kitchen sink was taking an almighty hammering along with everything else Penarth could through at SANDS. Chances were being snatched at, the ball was being overrun at times or the wrong option taken. Mike Bracey tried to set up either Chick or Scanlan with a deep free-kick but to no avail.

It was then, in the dying seconds of the game, that Chick popped up again to score again, this time the winner - 5-4. This was shattering for every SANDS player who had put in a tremendous shift and had gone toe-to-toe with Penarth all the way. Well done lads!

This was one of those games where everybody had to buy into the practicalities. as it was far tougher than expected. so the patience of the players on the line, Simon Davies, Mark Ato, Cem Aydin and Alan Robinson should be credited.

After this result Penarth stand joint top of the league with three wins out of three with their next game, a cup semi-final, to look forward to.