The second half of the season has been a busy one for Cardiff & Met 1st team, with representation at the Euro Hockey Indoor Challenge I, the England Hockey National League, and seeing player depart for the Commonwealth Games and the semi-final of the Welsh Cup!
Catching us up on how the Performance Club have been doing…Team Manager, Rebecca Daniels…
We started the second half of the English National league away at Isca with a solid 4-1 win, with all of our goals being scored in the second half. Our second fixture in February saw us welcome Cheltenham to the Sport Wales National Centre. A goal fest occurred with Cardiff taking all three points with a 5-4 victory. Finally we welcomed Team Bath; a strong performance with a 2-0 win secured three victories and the perfect start to the second half of the season. With the Commonwealth Games approaching Cardiff & Met sent a young team to the Euro Indoor Hockey Challenge I where the team were able to gain experience and secure our position in the challenge.
With heavy snow at the start of March this meant our fixtures against Fareham and Havant away would be re-arranged. Our first fixture in March saw us welcome University of Birmingham (UOB) to Cardiff. Cardiff & Met looked the most dominant taking a 2-0 lead however they then allowed UOB back into the game. Once again Cardiff & Met gained three points from a 3-2 victory.
With the hope of no further snow disruption, Cardiff & Met travelled to Fareham. Upon arrival the snow began however we were able to fulfil the fixture. Fareham started well taking a 2-0 lead going into half-time. Cardiff stepped up a gear for the second half and instantly gained two goals back. Cardiff took the lead and it looked as if they would clinch victory. However, in the final minute Fareham gained a penalty corner which was well executed resulting in a draw. Cardiff & Met travelled across to Exeter in the hope that the following day their fixture would be fulfilled prior to the departure of the Commonwealth Games athletes. Unfortunately the weather got the upper hand and the fixture was cancelled. A strong Cardiff & Met representation was selected for the Commonwealth Games: Luke Hawker, Rhys Gowman, Alf Dinnie, James Fortnam, Ioan Wall and Jacob Draper. We are extremely proud of all of the boys selected. We wish you the best of luck in Gold Coast.
The final weekend in March was a busy one with an away trip to Havant on Saturday and our final home fixture of the year against Olton. This gave the young players in the team an opportunity to gain experience in the National League. Cardiff & Met started extremely well in Havant taking a 4-1 lead. However, Havant were determined to not give up and continued to apply pressure securing their attacking opportunities. Once again the final minute became a crucial one and Havant were awarded a penalty stroke, which was later changed to a corner following a decision between the two umpires. Havant executed the corner and equalised the scoring; a disappointing result for Cardiff & Met after having such a valuable lead.
With the clocks going forward, a later start for the official final league day, Cardiff & Met were ready and raring to go in their final home fixture. The point from the previous day guaranteed a second place finish in the league; however Cardiff & Met were fully aware a win was needed against Olton to continue to challenge league leaders the University of Exeter. Cardiff led at half-time 2-1 and led for the majority of the second half. With thirty seconds remaining, once again, the opposition found the back of the goal. The game ended in a third consecutive draw for Cardiff & Met resulting in the University of Exeter securing the league title.
On Saturday 7th April Cardiff & Met travelled across to the University of Exeter to play the league winners. The final National league game of the year saw the top of the table clash. A fantastic encounter until the final whistle. With goals from Cardiff & Met from Jacob Connock, Ieuan Davies and Charlie Hunte the game was level at 3-3. Cardiff & Met looked as if they had sealed victory with a fantastic individual goal from Rhys Bradshaw. Rhys dribbled from half way and smashed in a reverse from the left hand side of the D at a very tight angle with eleven minutes remaining. However the University of Exeter were determined to get the win and secured two late goals taking the victory 5-4.
Cardiff & Met would like to extend a congratulations to the University of Exeter and now look forward to the Hockey Wales Cup Final.
Photo credit: Irfon Bennett