Given Aber’s parlous run a 3-1 Welsh Cup defeat at home to Cardiff Met at the end of January was not a surprise, although Wollacott’s headed opener did see Aber lead in a game for the first time since the previous round; however Town supporters could be forgiven for a pessimistic outlook as, like in Phase I, a visit from Llandudno opened Phase II.
Geoff Kellaway’s brilliant strike, allied to an injury time goal line clearance from Steff Edwards earned Aber a very valuable point which stopped the rot, and Kellaway was on great form the following week as the Seasiders won 4-2 at Llanelli to move up to seventh place. Goals from Mendes, Baynes and Kellaway just before half time gave Neville Powell’s men a cushion, and another strike from Kellaway secured the game. Town’s Druids bogey struck again the following week and despite Marc Williams’ first Aber goal a 3-1 defeat dampened Aber’s enthusiasm, but as in the first phase, a defeat at the Rock heralded another great run.
Town faced Cardiff Met at home in late February with five at the back, and the game plan worked superbly as a defensive masterclass, allied to a double strike from the impressive Marc Williams earned a 2-0 win which kept his side right in the hunt for a Europa League Play Off Spot. Two games in a truncated March saw The Black and Greens beat Carmarthen at home 3-2 (Wollacott, Kellaway, Surman og), and Llandudno 2-1 away, thanks to Ash Ruane and yet another blockbuster from Kellaway which caused supporters to rush the length of the field to celebrate. Despite Mendes’ late red card Town then beat Llanelli at Park Avenue to formally relegate the Reds, with Baynes, Ruane and Marc Williams scoring, and with four wins in a row and three games left Town had played themselves into serious contention.
Their final home game, a 0-0 draw at home to Cefn Druids attracted a good crowd, thanks to a Ticket promotion offer, but the most memorable incident of the night was probably the floodlights failing in injury time. The valuable point however meant that two wins in their last two games, away to Met and Carmarthen, would guarantee a UEFA Europa League Play Off Spot.
Sadly Aber’s form was once again to desert them when it mattered most, and with the injury hit Seasiders looking tired Cardiff Met fully deserved their 1-0 win on a hot day at Cyncoed, meaning that Carmarthen away was a dead rubber. A much changed and very youthful Town side suffered a second half collapse, and despite Mendes’s customary Carmarthenshire cracker and Jamie McDaid’s first goal in Green, Aber ended the season with a painful 6-2 defeat.
In truth an eighth placed finish on 44 points was a marked improvement on the two previous seasons, and most Aber supporters would have gladly taken that back in August 2018, however after two dizzying runs of victories in October-November and February-April it could of course have been so much better. The season gives new Manager Matthew Bishop a solid base to build on and with most of the first XI already committed for next season, more continuity will help the squad develop.
As Assistant Manager Gavin Allen told Sgorio after the final game: “The biggest thing for us this year was staying up. I have said that four or five times but I will not be saying it next season. Next season is about making the Top Six – and the hard work has already begun”.
Aberystwyth Town FC will announce a pre-season schedule soon with friendlies likely to start the second week of July.
Match highlights available on Sgorio's website here.