South Wales Hockey League
Newcastle Emlyn 2 Gwent 3rds 1:
Newcastle Emlyn Ladies returned from their Christmas break with a well deserved victory, edging out Gwent 3rds in a three goal affair.
The tempo was high from the off in what was the team’s first game since early December. Despite Gwent sitting towards the bottom of the table it was never going to be an easy ask of the Ceredigion ladies who were missing a number of regular players and have only trained once this year due to a waterlogged pitch.
Emlyn’s first goal came in the opening minutes, after an assist from youngster Sioned Davies found Enfys Davies towards the top of the circle and a tremendous hit reached the backboard to make it 1-0.
Gwent were just as desperate for the win however, coming straight back with a dangerous attack down the middle. But the Emlyn defence was outstanding once again, led by player of the match Ellie Lloyd in the centre, Heulwen Evans, Sara Hatcher and Heledd-Mai Lloyd were joined by newcomer and junior player, Rosie Hughes, who had an absolute stormer of a game playing Sweeper, making life very difficult for the Gwent forwards.
Gwent’s response came swiftly and despite a strong defence and some impressive saves by goalkeeper Angharad Jenkins, Emlyn conceded a goal to make it all square at half time.
Going into the second half, it was clear that both teams had taken things up a notch and frustrations were starting to show in the Gwent squad. Nia Davies was very strong down the right wing, bringing the ball up the field and into a great position for attacks by the forwards. Her efforts in defence must also be noted and her fitness was a welcome addition to the Emlyn side.
A penalty corner was awarded and Emlyn capitalised with some clever passing between Mel Williams, Amy Heighton and Enfys Davies getting the better of Gwent, with Davies slipping the ball behind the defenders to make it 2-1. Tails were up after this and the ball remained largely in Gwent’s half with Sami Connolly initiating some lovely passing between the midfield and forward players. Youngsters Ffion Davies and Lol Maskell offered well-needed support in midfield and upfront, and made real problems for Gwent with their speed in attack and defence. A final penalty corner in Emlyn’s favour would have made it 3-1 but the goal was disallowed and the game ended at 2-1 to Emlyn.
This Saturday the ladies in red have a tough game at home, playing Cardiff Uni 4ths who currently sit at the top of the league table.
A busy weekend will culminate on Sunday when Emlyn play in the semi-finals of the Hockey Wales Cup tournament at the Sports Wales National Centre, Cardiff. Emlyn are the defending champs having won the cup last year and will take on Cardiff University 3rds in a bid to reach the finals once again.