THE final round of league fixtures before the Christmas break proved bountiful for three of the four Penarth Hockey Club sides in action last weekend, with only the fourth XI mistakenly ending up on Santa’s naughty list when the gifts were handed out.

Penarth ‘A’ 15-1 Lansdown ‘A’

The second XI hosted their Lansdown counterparts at Stanwell looking for a third win in a row to send them into Christmas in the top half of the table.

Penarth expected a tough challenge after only narrowly beating their fellow De Cymru and The Marches newcomers on the opening day of the season, but were given an early Christmas present even before the opening whistle, when the visitors arrived with only ten men and opted to play with a ‘kicking back’ instead of a fully-kitted goalkeeper.

To Lansdown’s credit, the opening exchanges saw them respect the game and attack with real intent, clearly not content with ‘parking the bus’ and putting all ten men behind the ball.

As a result, Penarth struggled to assert their expected dominance until the quarter of an hour mark, Richard Baker breaking the deadlock with a neat finish.

With one goal on the board, the floodgates finally opened, and Penarth’s lead was soon up to 4-0, with Ollie Burland, Chris McCarthy and Phil Lane all adding to the tally.

The next addition to the scoreboard, however, went to the visitors, who grabbed an unlikely goal of their own as just reward for the attacking intent with which they played throughout, committing men forward and catching the Bears on the break.

There was still time for the hosts to restore their four-goal advantage before half-time, meanwhile, with Sam Chick grabbing a fifth shortly before the interval but, during the interval, captain Andy Strong was keen to stress the opportunity to increase the home side’s goal difference by putting Lansdown to the sword in the second period by not letting the intensity drop.

With the visitors having played such attacking hockey in the first half, the Bears were able to exploit their increasingly tired legs to create chances at will and added another ten goals in the second period.

James Kidby added his name to the list of scorers, in the midst of Lane completing a hat-trick by tacking on a brace to his first half strike, Burland claiming his second of the game and Chick taking his personal tally to six.

It was left to the side’s youngest member, however, to put a seal on the performance, as Tom Griffith recorded his first of the season by firing a drag flick high into the top corner.

While Sam Salisbury, Usman Dhami and Baker all claiming numerous assists, each was also involved in extinguishing any hope Lansdown had of adding a second of their own.

Despite the onslaught at their end, the visitors played out the game in a positive manner and were only kept from adding to their solitary goal by some excellent saves by Scott Fulton-Brown and some stout defending from Craig Llewelyn and Dave Stevens, the former picking up a minor head injury in the process.

The final whistle eventually put an end to Lansdown’s torment, and sealed Penarth’s fourth win from the last five games, a run which has lifted them into fifth place in the table.

A poor start to the season still sees the Bears sitting eight points adrift of the promotion places, however, but they will retain narrow promotion hopes if they can continue their recent good form in the New Year.

Goalscorers: Sam Chick (6), Phil Lane (3), Ollie Burland (2), Richard Baker, Chris McCarthy, James Kidby, Tom Griffiths

Penarth‘B’ 5-0 Llanishen and Caerphilly ‘A’

After last weekend’s fixture was cancelled due to a frozen pitch, Penarth’s third XI returned to action looking to repeat the scoreline from their first encounter with Llanishen and Caerphilly, where multiple goals and a clean sheet secured all three points.

The Bears started well, holding possession and spreading the ball to all areas of the pitch, but, despite playing attractive hockey, were not capitalising where it counts most - in the opposition D.

On the few occasions that chances were created, the ball was invariably sent the wrong side of the post, allowing the visitors to remain in the game.

Young Dan Munro Morris, however, was continuing the fine form he has shown all season, causing havoc down the right wing, turning his marker inside out but receiving some heavy tackles for his troubles.

Father Scott also had his part to play, helping to shackle Llan and Caerphilly’s main playmaker along with midfield partner Rob Harrison, and, on the rare occasion the visitors did break through the Penarth central defensive partnership of James Davies and Simon Wilkinson, goalkeeper Luke Williams was alert to the danger, making a few fine saves in a first half which ended scoreless.

After a formation rejig, tactical change and half-time talk about the importance of getting the ball into the opposition D, the second period started pretty much as the first had ended.

Penarth were clearly going to have to be patient to get past the resolute Llan and Caerphilly defence, but ultimately didn’t have to wait long, as Graeme Jones stole the ball in midfield and moved it on to Freddy Thomas, who did exactly what was asked for at half-time by playing an early ball into the D, where Marc Sawyer made no mistake in sweeping the ball home past the wrong-footed keeper.

Having struggled so far this season, the next question was whether Llanishen’s heads would drop and if Penarth could capitalise to add to their goal tally.

Richard Cousins was doing all he could to ensure the former, swapping positions with Adam Morse - who moved to centre back to cover for the injured Davies - and running from one 23-yard line to the other, leaving the heart of Llanishen’s midfield in his wake.

Using his pace and quick hands, Cousins set up Sawyer for not just one goal, but another three to add to his earlier strike as the prolific poacher made the most of the pin-point accuracy of the incoming passes to put the game beyond Llan and Caerphilly’s reach.

Having scored four goals to despatch the same opposition earlier in the season, Penarth continued to push for more this time around, with the younger Munro Morris creating numerous chances, but now down the left wing, and was receiving merited applause from the few loyal supporters who had braved the cold.

It was only fitting then that the unselfish youngster was to score the final goal of the game, bravely crashing the ball home at the goalkeeper’s feet after an initial shot was saved.

The 5-0 victory was a welcome end to 2017, and leaves the third XI sitting mid-table in De Cymru ahead of the resumption of hostilities in the New Year.

Goalscorers: Marc Sawyer (4), Dan Munro Morris

Penarth ‘C’ 2-3 Swansea City ‘C’

Penarth C’s final fixture of 2017 saw them entertain a resurgent Swansea side whose recent form had seen them climb to the top of De Cymru 3.

In a cautious opening, two evenly-matched sides vied for the upper hand before the visitors grabbed a somewhat fortuitous lead when a Swansea forward was able to take advantage of weak tackling to give ‘keeper Mark Drakeford little chance.

To their credit, however, the young Penarth side then took firm control of the game from that point on, with the midfield pairing of Iwan Meddins and Greg Cross featuring prominently.

As forwards Zane Zaman and Lewis Ingram ran the Swansea defence ragged, it seemed only a matter of time before the home side redressed the balance, but it was the visitors who scored next, extending their lead shortly before half-time when a rare attack and speculative cross was unwittingly deflected home by the Swansea centre forward.

The impact of this goal was to prove even more damaging to the Penarth side, as a serious injury to ‘keeper Drakeford - sustained in trying to stop the goal-bound deflection - prevented him from returning in the second half.

For the second game in succession therefore, Stanwell was treated to the unfamiliar role of ‘kicking back’, with veteran Ian Brookfield taking on the onerous duty with the writing seemingly on the wall for the Bears.

Despite expecting an anxious rearguard action in the second period, however, nothing could have been further from the truth, with the young Penarth side's continued dominance reducing the visitors to having to defend deep and rely on the hopeful long ball to alleviate pressure and create hopeful half-chances.

When they were able to penetrate a dominant Penarth midfield with this tactic, Zbig Sobiesierski and the hugely impressive Elys Johnson combined with Brookfield to clear any danger and, with the returning Rhys Meddins putting in a man-of-the-match performance at right half, it was only a matter of time before the ‘C-siders’ forced their way back in to the game.

Veteran Ifty Khan calmly converted a penalty corner into the top left-hand corner to give the otherwise impressive Swansea ‘keeper little chance as he halved the deficit, and, buoyed by the strike, Penarth continued to press, creating numerous opportunities that left the visitors hugely grateful to their netminder.

Inevitably, however, it was Swansea who delivered the sucker punch when, once again, a speculative through ball saw the lone forward riding his luck to extended the lead midway through the half, but the character of the Penarth side ensured that they never gave up and they kept pressing forward, often with nine attackers in the hope of getting something out of the game.

This cavalier approach was rewarded when, with five minutes left, Khan converted the latest in a succession of penalty corners to make it 2-3 but, despite further set piece opportunities amid a succession of chances, the home side were unable to find an equaliser as Swansea held on for an extremely fortuitous win.

Goalscorers: Ifty Khan (2)

All four Penarth sides will return to action when the 2017-18 GoCrea8 League season resumes on Saturday, January 13.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all supporters and readers of the Penarth Times.

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.