28 Apr CUP GLORY FOR BRIDGEND HOCKEY CLUB
After overcoming strong oppositions in earlier rounds, Bridgend Men’s Hockey Club reached the Final of the Welsh Challenge Cup Competition that was played at the Welsh Institute of Sport stadium in Cardiff on Saturday 25th April 2015, where they played a very strong team from the Cardiff and Metropolitan Club.
With no side dominating the early exchanges, the game took time to settle, although Bridgend kept the ball moving via the midfield of Paul Davies, and later on Steve Murphy, Tom Pearce and youngster Jacob Hodges, who brought his 14 year old brother Tim, who showed no sign of nerves, in to the game, linking well with fellow forward Jon Catton.
Few chances were created early on, but Cardiff’s aggressive tackling tried to upset Bridgend, but their defence of captain Gareth Coleman, John Woodward who saved magnificently on the line, Paul Jones and Rob Evans held firm with some excellent tackling.
Against the run of play, Cardiff took the lead after 12 minutes, when their third shot found the net after a lucky deflection, giving goalkeeper Adrian Hibbert no chance to save, as he had superbly done earlier.
This spurred Bridgend to greater team effort, with Jason Arnold spreading the ball wide to Kris Williams who used his skill and speed to run hard down the right wing, outpacing his opposite number, resulting in a penalty corner for Bridgend, that after a well worked move, resulted in the equaliser well taken by Adam Knapp after 20 minutes.
Cardiff began to show their frustrations as Bridgend took control, and kept their cool as Cardiff players were sinbinned after illegal passages of play. This encouraged Bridgend further, as good passages of play developed from Gareth Coleman and Rob Evans and Denver Beer from defence, Steve Murphy and Jason Arnold in midfield, and Jacob and Tim Hodges and Adam Knapp upfront. This pressure was well rewarded, when Jason Arnold got the final touch to guide the ball in to the net after a superb passage of open play. The lead at half-time was well deserved.
The second half began with Cardiff, as expected, pressurising Bridgend, resulting in five penalty corners in quick succession after ten minutes, only for goalkeeper Adrian Hibbert to bring off a string of excellent saves, to the relief of Bridgend and increasing the frustration for Cardiff. This encouraged the team to settle down, retain possession and mount their own attacks, resulting in Bridgend being awarded penalty corners after 20 minutes, from which Jason Arnold scored his second and Bridgend’s third goal.
This gave some well earned relief for Bridgend, but Cardiff came back strongly as Bridgend began to tire. Rhydian Lewis and Jeremy Ingram relieved tired legs, but the pressure mounted on Bridgend as Cardiff scored their second with 10 minutes to go. Unfortunately it was not possible to bring on Bridgend’s reserve goalkeeper Cliff Harrison, but thanks to him for being part of the squad.
A fierce tussle saw out the last ten minutes, with Cardiff coming close by hitting the post, but Adrian was on hand once again to bring off moore superb saves. Bridgend made a break out of defence as Rob Evans cleared to Kris Williams, who passed to Steve Murphy at the other end of the field, with Jacob Hodges’s well hit shot being well saved by the Cardiff goalkeeper.
With minutes and seconds ticking away, Bridgend held firm and were worthy winners at the final whistle.
An excellent end to the season for Bridgend’s 2nd X1, who also gained promotion from their league after a good run of results at the end of the season. The Cup win was just the icing on the cake.
Well done, team and Club, for which the town of Bridgend can be proud.