Bridgend 2-1 Devizes
On a standard wet, rainy day in South Wales, Bridgend first team sensed their opportunity to grab their first win of the season against a struggling Devizes team who earlier in the day had their hearts broken by their egg chasing elite losing the Rugby World Cup final. The welsh side were determined to join in and spoil their day.
The game started off well for the ravens applying pressure on their defence attaining ball possession and taking opportunities as they came. This pressure soon resulted into a penalty stroke to which James Griffiths stepped up and calmly lifted the ball past the goal keepers pads. The heavens continued blowing a fierce gail, lashing with rain preventing both teams the ability to play free flowing hockey. Bridgend could well have gone 2, perhaps 3 goals infront with some fine display of hockey skills through Dave Allen, Mike Hodges and Osian Jones. However, these opportunities went begging as Devizes slowly came back into the game through some chances of their own. Adrian Hibbert held strong with several superb save yet, the opposition found their opportunity to equalise through open play. The ravens continued to control the game and soon after conceding, Bridgend restored their lead via Osian’s through ball for Dave to display a cool finish. Devizes won a short corner moments before the half time whistle yet, the strong wall of the Ravens’ defence (Rhys Owen, Ross Shaw, John Woodward, Rob Evans) proved to be pivotal as they kept all 5 short corners out without conceding. Half time 2-1.
Second half became a scrappy affair with both teams struggling with the elements. Again, frustratingly, Bridgend could well have scored another 2 or 3 yet, Rob ‘orc’ Evans with his new Indian stick, which he only bought recently on his holiday, was keen to fix this and score his first goal of the season, only to see his 1 and only opportunity squander wide by centimetres. Bridgend tried hard to increase their lead but it wouldn’t come. Good defence made sure that the points were Bridgend’s
After a well fought match in horrendous conditions, a roar could be heard from the Ravens dugout after the final whistle was blown as the Welsh team held on to win their first game of their season. Next week, away at Leominster.
Bridgend 2’s VS Stroud
Captain Nick Anthony’s Ravens travelled to the market town and civil parish in the centre of Gloucestershire, Stroud.
Stroud Hockey Club came into this game 2nd in the De Marches Cymru 2 League only having conceded 5 goals and scored 24 goals in 5 games. Averaging 5 goals for and 1 goal against meant that Stroud were always going to a challenge.
Nick Anthony’s Ravens came into this game with a record of 9 goals for and 9 goals against suggesting the Ravens have a strong defence but a poor scoring record when compared to Stroud.
The team talk was to try to absorb the definite onslaught of attack that was inevitably going to come Bridgend’s way and then when we have any opportunities to make the most of them and keep them in the game.
The chosen 11 were; Adam Hawas in Goal, David Collier and Gareth Collier in Defence along with Phil Rees (Phil Brooks) and Andrew Jones (Aj Jr). The Midfield was Jason Arnold, John Rubery, Nick Anthony and Andy Schofield. Rhodri Owen and Ian Whitelock played upfront tasked with putting the ball in the net.
The Ravens started well and their defence was put under immense pressure immediately and conceded two penalty short corners. Both short corners had the exact same outcome, the ball was pushed out to top of the D, then a dummy flick forcing Hawas to step out of the goal to narrow the angle and the ball was flicked to Hawas’s left passed the post and towards Phil Rees who was guarding the line and post but on both occasions the Stroud attacker got the better of the defenders and picked the ball into the goal.
With the Ravens now 2-0 down after 20 minutes, they started to play a higher attack which led to them winning their own short corner. It was key to make the most of these opportunities and get something from the penalty short corner and this was exactly what the Ravens did. Jason Arnold pushed the ball out to John Rubery at top D, an initial shot was saved by the keeper but the rebound came out to Captain Nick Anthony at the top of the D who hit the ball with intent and smashed it passed the Stroud Goalie who could but watch it go in.
Just before half time, Stroud once again pressed hard against the Bridgend Defence and as a result of poor marking by midfield and the Ravens Defence being overwhelmed, an unmarked attacker stood in front of Hawas in Goal and a pass was lasered into to the D, Hawas called for Andy Jones to mark the attacker but it came too late. The ever ready Stroud attacker deflected the ball pass Hawas before Andy Jones could get close enough to challenge.
The first half ended 3-1 and the team talk was to throw caution to wind and go after more goals at the expense of all else.
The first half had been very physical for Bridgend and the second half was not going to be any different. Stroud conceded another goal from a brilliantly executed short corner routine, Jason Arnold pushed the ball out to Andy Schofield at the top right of the D and Andy struck the ball with precision, slotting the ball passed the Stroud Goalie bringing the score to 3-2. Stroud won another 5 Penalty corners in the second half forcing Hawas to pull out all the stops to prevent the score from going into double figures. But Stroud still managed to score another 3 goals.
The Game ended and 6-2 and the Ravens scored around 30% of Strouds conceded goals to date in the season, a feat that may other teams in the league failed to do.
Man of the match was Andy Jones and another tough game next week facing the ravens as they are to face 2 of the top 3 teams in the next couple of weeks.
Aberystwyth University 6 – 0 Bridgend Mens C
In 480 B.C. a state of war existed between Persia, led by King Xerxes, and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas, king of the Greek city state of Sparta, led his badly outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaited the Spartans, their sacrifice inspired all of Greece to unite against their common enemy.
And now you’ll understand how Bridgend, cannily adopting the role of Spartans in their current league position propping up the base of the lowest league in Wales, felt as they progressed towards their date of destiny with the runaway league leaders, Aberystwyth university.
With bible black skies yielding unremitting rain and winds strong enough to frighten ferry operators, Bridgend’s task was ridiculous. Let the club therefore record the names and ages on a permanent memorial to this valiant stand, for they fought with a ferocity and commitment rarely witnessed by an understandably disappointing crowd in Llandysul.
The forward ‘line’ was actually the Herculean figure of Jack Steer, recently turned 75 years old. Aberystwyth quickly realised that they had to mark him.
A 5 strong midfield flanked by the wild eyed Nick and Dave, both gentlemen of a later generation, gave the students pause for thought, whilst the core of Dafydd (15), James (15) and your highly belligerent correspondent (age irrelevant) made certain that they would at least wear some bruises and shed some sweat.
Meanwhile the defence of Barnaby (15), John T, Derek Bananaman and the Lazarus figure that was Matthias (cleared to play by a hospital physio only 24 hours before the game following a recent car crash), displayed outright animosity to the students from the first whistle.
And that ‘just’ leaves Capt Cliff, inspirational in goal and easiest the busiest man in Ceredigion on Saturday afternoon.
6-0 was the final result but, sitting in the changing room after the game, soaked to the skin, there were smiles and handshakes between the Bridgend warriors. They had lost, yes, but the gallant 11 had played and fought as one and it was surely only the atrocious weather on the journey home which prevented a marching band from welcoming them home to Bridgend. Well played, Spartans!