By Matthew Slugg

FOR the third weekend in succession several days of rain meant that just one of Penarth’s five senior fixtures was possible as the dreadful May conditions again played havoc with the local cricket schedule.

Fifteen Penarth fixtures have now been abandoned in just four weeks of the season.

The first team trip to Clydach and third team fixture at Bay Dragons were early victims of the wet conditions, followed by the fourth team game against Porth and a Sunday fixture against Machen.

All of which left the way clear for the second team to enjoy the limelight as neighbours Cardiff made the short trip to the Athletic Field for a contest between two teams who will expect to challenge for honours at the top of the table come August.

As it had last week, the quick drying field and strong breeze meant only a slight delay and reduction in overs was necessary.

And on winning the toss there was no surprise to see the visiting skipper David Elias invite Penarth to bat first on a pitch that had clearly been affected by the midweek monsoon.

The dangerous Cardiff attack put pressure on the Penarth openers with an accurate spell but Jon Ellis and Jamie Hitchen largely weathered it without concern until Hitchen misjudged a full length ball from Ciaran Doley and lost his leg stump.

At three, Nitin Mathias showed his undoubted quality in partnership with Ellis and the two made solid progress as Cardiff rotated their bowling options in search of a breakthrough.

That breakthrough arrived when Ellis was LBW to former Penarth man Cameron Jeffers but the in-form Greg Cross brought some further momentum to the innings as Penarth pressed on in search of a defendable total.

Mathias eventually fell to Matthew Johns for a classy 39, followed by skipper Gareth Jenkins for a breezy 18 but Greg Cross brought up an undefeated half century with the only six of the day from the final ball of the forty overs to see his team to a strong position at 166 for 5.

There was little doubt Penarth would have settled for that score having lost the toss but the improving conditions were certainly in Cardiff’s favour and so the challenge was clear to a home side faced with an experienced and powerful batting lineup.

Penarth began in perfect fashion as Rhys McGowan bowled Umar Qureshi for just 3, before managing to deflect a ball on to the stumps at the bowler’s end in his follow through to account for the other opener Andrew Thomas for the same score as Cardiff fell to 12 for 2.

As the home side increased the pressure there was further joy for Penarth as Johns wafted loosely at Tom Pascoe’s first ball and had his off stump removed.

Cardiff looked to rebuild through the experienced David Kirtley and his younger partner Daniel Herbert but the game took a significant step Penarth’s way as McGowan produced the ball of the day to remove Kirtley in the last of his eight overs to finish with 2 for 18.

The Cardiff fightback came through Herbert and David Kett who added a half century partnership to put their team right back in contention.

In fact the game seemed to have swung Cardiff’s way before Pascoe returned to the attack to grab the initiative back with the wickets of both Kett and Herbert in quick succession.

Cardiff were still very much in the hunt but 16-year-old Rhys Mottram claimed the wickets of Jeffers and Elias and Pascoe claimed a fourth in the shape of Doley to put Penarth within one wicket of victory.

It fell to Bines and Young to try and guide Cardiff home, but with ten balls remaining the pressure told as the youngsters attempted an ill-advised quick single and Mottram and Matthew Slugg combined to execute the run-out and secure a hard fought 9-run victory in an excellent advert for second XI cricket.

The weather also contrived to ruin the week’s junior cricket schedule with only two matches out of six possible.

The under 11 Greens visited Lisvane and the under 13 Greens hosted St Fagans with both opponents running out deserved winners on the day.

The weather also meant a delay to the much-anticipated launch of All Stars and Dynamos programmes for younger cricketers on Friday.

With a remarkable 150 children registered Penarth are officially the 15th biggest club in these age groups in the UK. Hopefully the sun will shine this Friday.

With the forecast finally improving there are hopes for more cricket this weekend as the first and third teams welcome Chepstow and Ton Pentre to Penarth, while St Fagans and Monmouth will host seconds and fourths respectively.

The weekend programme will be completed by the visit of Cardiff University staff to the Athletic Field on Sunday with seven junior matches in midweek. You can keep up with the action by following the club on Twitter and Instagram (@penarthcricket) and Facebook.

The club would like to extend their thanks to sponsors David Baker and Co, Curo and Churngold.