Friday 22nd December
The New Saints 4-0 Aberystwyth Town
Aberystwyth Town fell to a resounding 4-0 defeat at the hands of current JD Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints at Park Hall on Friday evening. A hat-trick from Greg Draper (6, 21, 83) along with a Chris Marriott strike were enough for the hosts to see off Aber on a disappointing night in Oswestry for Nev Powell’s side.
Aber made one change to the line-up from last weekend’s victory over Prestatyn, with Luke Borrelli replacing Malcolm Melvin in central midfield, and the tandem of Ryan Wade and Craig Hobson asked to lead the line in attack again. It was the hosts who started on the front foot, as Aeron Edwards prodded a gilt-edged chance over the crossbar from Jamie Mullan’s cross after just 2 minutes. The warning signs were there for Aber, but they were not heeded as The New Saints took the lead on 6 minutes. Tricky winger Mullan again scampered down the right flank before crossing for Greg Draper to head the ball in from close-range to make it 1-0. Despite the early setback, the goal seemed to spark Nev Powell’s side into life as they began to keep possession with more confidence and work their way towards the hosts’ penalty area. Aber captain Jonny Spittle saw his header sail narrowly over the crossbar from a corner kick, before Ryan Wade produced a fingertip save from Saints ‘keeper Paul Harrison after an excellent right-footed strike. However, on 21 minutes the hosts doubled their lead in clinical fashion; Jamie Mullan was again in the thick of the action as he played a neat one-two with Simon Spender before crossing for Draper to head past Chris Mullock from close-range yet again and make it 2-0. The second goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Aber somewhat, as the Saints took full control of the game with some neat interplay down both flanks. On 31 minutes it was 3-0, as left back Chris Marriott went on a marauding run forward before unleashing a left-footed strike into the top corner of the net. To their credit, Aber continued to battle and seek a way back into the game, buoyed by their fantastic vocal supporters who added a sense of atmosphere to the occasion. Craig Hobson forced another save from Harrison on 37 minutes but the visitors were unable to create any more clear-cut chances before the half time whistle.
The second half started with an early substitution for Aber as Jack Rimmer was introduced in place of Craig Hobson, with Luke Borrelli being asked to play as the lone striker. The hosts struggled to replicate their first half rhythm and flow as Aber stifled their attacking play. The first notable chance of the second half fell to the visitors when Declan Walker fired a low effort narrowly wide of the post, before the Saints went up the other end and almost added a fourth through substitute Alex Darlington. Aber continued to plug away with Ryan Wade and Joe Phillips threatening to get in behind the hosts’ back line on more than one occasion. However, on 83 minutes the Saints did indeed add a fourth goal as Greg Draper grabbed his hat trick as he slotted the ball home from Chris Marriott’s fizzing low cross. Even then, Nev Powell’s side refused to lie down as they looked for a consolation goal that the fantastic away supporters so thoroughly deserved. On 85 minutes, Harri Horwood and Geoff Kellaway were introduced in place of Joe Phillips and Luke Borrelli respectively, and soon after, Ryan Wade produced one last curling effort that stung the palms of Paul Harrison in goal. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be on the night, as Aber failed to find a way past the hosts’ resolute back line.
Town’s players and fans came together at the end of the game, to show their appreciation for each others’ efforts on the night; a move which really highlighted the spirit and determination that is now required as Nev Powell’s side turn their attentions to Tuesday’s massive clash away at Carmarthen Town.