Manderwood Pembrokeshire League Division 1: Hakin United 3-1 Pennar Robins

At half time a hammering seemed on the cards - but a nervy second 45 minutes followed for Hakin before they were able to claim the three points against Pennar at The Obs this afternoon.

The Vikings were cruising after first half goals from Justin Harding, Daniel Armstrong, and Nicky Woodrow, and although Pennar came back into it through Ben Adams' strike, it was still a deserved win for The Vikings and the margin could have been greater were it not for away keeper Stuart James.

And yet the outlook could have been different had Adams found the target after going clean through early on, before Kristan Bennett's side took control.

Twice Harding went close, miscuing a shot from Woodrow's knock down then firing a left foot volley over.

But 11 minutes in the striker got his goal, managing to guide Woodrow's deflected cross into the bottom corner despite falling off balance as he shot.

More Hakin pressure followed and the ever tricky Adam John had a penalty appeal turned down, before Pennar began to threaten.

Adams was central to their attacking play and his probing run and lay off teed up Nick Willis to shoot wide from 20 yards, before Adams himself weaved through the Hakin defence only to shoot straight at James Manson.

But the shift in momentum was brief as Woodrow lobbed over when clean through, and on 34 minutes it was 2-0 as Ryan Wilson's free kick fell perfectly for an unmarked Daniel Armstrong, and he made no mistake with his close range header.

Although Pennar then fashioned another big chance, centre back Josh Clarke surging upfield and latching onto Sam Southcott's through ball, only to be denied by an onrushing Manson.

It proved crucial as at the other end Woodrow forced James into a smart low save and then just before the break the keeper did well to tip up John's looping header - but this time there was no denying Woodrow as he nodded in the rebound.

At 3-0 it seemed a long 45 minutes was in store for The Robins, but they came out with a greater intensity and after Adams had a penalty shout waved away, the striker reduced the deficit as he beat Manson to a loose ball and slotted home left footed.

The visitors then had to withstand pressure but James kept them hanging in there, tipping Harding's low free kick around the post before repeating the feat from Ryan Wilson's volley.

Shane Walsh also shot inches wide after a one-two with Woodrow and Hakin's failure to kill the game off almost cost them when Willis' cross bounced over via the bar.

And with time running out Pennar sub Dan Kitts, debuting after switching from Lamphey, forced Manson into a sharp diving safe with a vicious long range strike.

That would have set up a frantic finish, but in injury time it was Hakin who had two late chances as Wilson's fierce drive was pushed over by James, with Armstrong heading over from the resultant corner.

Stuart MacDonald (Hakin assistant manager): "I thought we were comfortable in the first half and should have buried the game then. But credit to Pennar they upped the tempo second half and made a fight of it.

"We got the points in the bag though and that is what's important."

Chris Lloyd (Pennar manager): "We gave a better showing of ourselves second half and I'm glad about that. But then we did have that early chance and not long after we were 1-0 down. That's the difference with us and a side like Hakin.

"But we showed a lot of character and we have something to build on for the visit of Merlins Bridge next week."

Man of the match - Ryan Wilson: I've always considered Wilson an underrated player in Pembrokeshire football, and his quality was evident today.

His floated free kick for Daniel Armstrong's header was inch perfect and he brought assurance to The Vikings, especially when the game got ragged at times in the second half. And were it not for two good second half saves from Stuart James, he would have been on the scoresheet too.

James himself was a contender and Ben Adams carried Pennar's main threat. It's easy to see why he's been amongst the goals this season.

Hakin winger Adam John was as tricky and testing as ever, but Wilson gets the nod.

Can Hakin catch up?

As per every season, Hakin are already in that familiar position of needing to win games in hand to challenge for the title. The Lamphey withdrawal and adjusted table means even after today, they are 12 points off the top and have played less games than the four sides above them.

So they simply have to keep winning to keep in touch with those above them. Having lost twice already, they can ill-afford many more slip ups. 

Coaches Bennett and MacDonald will be happy with the result, if not entirely satisfied by the display. Hakin had chances to kill the game off but at the same time, did ride their luck and three times James Manson thwarted one on one situations.

But they have become masters over the years of finding a way to get results even when not at full tilt. And I certainly wouldn't rule them out of any title race.

Positives for Pennar

You could look at today one of two ways. On the one hand, were it not for Stuart James then Hakin could have been out of sight.

On the other, had Pennar taken the few clear chances that did come their way, they may have had a result.

The Robins have now not won in the league since September 1st but Lloyd can take genuine positives from today. Adams and Sam Southcott have forged a good understanding up front and in the last 40 minutes, sub Dan Kitts showed enough to suggest he will be a very handy addition. Indeed, as sad as it was, Lamphey folding will benefit clubs around them, Pennar included.

Bridge next week will be another tough test, and Pennar can't afford to give away soft goals like Hakin's second today, where Daniel Armstrong ghosted in unmarked.

But show the same character, and they will test The Wizards.

Hakin United: James Manson, Jake Merry, Leigh Marchant, Daniel Armstrong, Camron Thomas (Ali Ouzman 77), Craig Nicholson, Ryan Wilson, Adam John, Shane Walsh (Billy Davies 57), Nicky Woodrow (Jake Merry 70), Justin Harding.

Pennar Robins: Stuart James, Jason Donohoe, Josh Clarke, Rhys Griffiths, Connor Roberts, Josh Dearsley (Rhys Lucas 76), Dan Power (Jack Phillips 60), Rhys Sture (Dan Kitts 52), Nick Willis, Sam Southcott, Ben Adams.

Referee: Helmut Rheinhardt.