Aber Heroics Guarantee Safety in the Most Dramatic Style Possible: Aberystwyth Town 3 Caernarfon Town 2 Match Report
JD Cymru Premier
Saturday 22nd April
Aberystwyth Town 3 Caernarfon Town 2
The biggest Cymru Premier crowd of the entire season watched the Black and Greens conjour up an unforgettable great escape at home to Caernarfon Town yesterday afternoon. In the definition of a must win game Aber fell behind to Rob Hughes’ second minute opener, although Harry Arnison equalised six minutes before the break. When Laurie Bell put the visitors back in front just before half time things looked bleak, but Mark Cadwallader equalised on 55 minutes, and Niall Flint’s incredible 94th minute winner caused utter bedlam and delight and secured the Black and Greens’ place at the top table for 2023/24.
The high stakes game, and Aber’s recent last minute heroics in a series of key Play Off Conference matches caught the Ceredigion public’s imagination, and 1120 people turned up on a balmy April day for Park Avenue’s biggest crowd for seven years. Aber started well with an early corner but were then caught on the break when the hosts broke and Darren Thomas picked out Rob Hughes down the right, who slotted past Matt Turner in the goal for a devastating early blow. Town had not won a game from behind all season but that did not deter them and they went on to give a brilliant performance going forward. Alex Darlington crossed for Iwan Lewis to sidefoot just wide, then Flint fired just over. Arnison had a shot blocked for a corner, Darlington had a header deflected for another corner, and Sam Litchfield headed Flint’s corner just wide. Apart from a Darren Thomas effort over the bar it was all Aber, and Cadwallader was next to have an effort blocked before Thomas at the other end brought a brilliant save out of Turner in the home goal, who tipped over the bar. Aber survived a penalty shout but then Jack Thorn saw a header saved by Ryan Woods in the goal and at the other end Hughes tested Turner again. Litchfield saw another header cleared off the line, Cadwallader had an effort blocked and Flint was denied by Woods: but the pressure finally worked when Arnison followed up a blocked first shot to head home a well deserved equaliser from the edge of the area, to delight the huge home crowd. However just before the break Bell nodded home a near post header from Ron Hughes, and the Cofis were back in charge. Another Aber corner caused more mayhem in Caernarfon’s box with an attempt cleared off the line, and Darlington’s effort flashed wide so that despite a really positive performance Anthony Williams’ men were behind at half time and staring into the abyss.
The visitors started the second half on top and Joe Faux had low shot saved, but Cadwallader then found Darlington whose deft lob was just tipped over by Woods. Then came a huge moment as Darren Thomas surged straight through and rounded Turner, but then somehow and as if from nowhere Iwan Lewis made a miraculous game saving challenge to block what would have been a killer third from the Cofi Messi. Flint spooned a chance over from close range, and then brought a point blank save from the keeper but Aber were not to be denied and following a melee in Caernarfon’s box and a crossbar rattling effort Cadwallader kept a cool head to nod home a huge equaliser, his fifth in Black and Green since joining in January. Caernarfon stayed honest and Dan Gossett had a shot saved by Turner before Noah Edwards was denied. With Aber desperate for a winner the indefatigable Flint saw a cross shot saved, and Darlington headed over the bar with twenty to go – to show that if Aber were going down, they were doing so fighting. Flint had yet another low shot saved, then sub Steff Davies had a header blocked for a corner. Sion Bradley crossed for Bell to glance a header just wide at the other end, and Faux curled an effort inches wide - then on 82 minutes came the prayed for news through that Pontypridd had taken the lead, and Aber were finally out of the bottom two. An incredibly tense ending ensued with the Seasiders knowing that one more goal would probably guarantee safety – Sub Johnnie Evans’ cross was gathered by Woods, and Cadwallader headed wide, but then three minutes into four added, Litchfield went on a swashbuckling run down the right, played a deft one two with Evans and crossed for Flint to score with an amazing diving header at the back post – and Park Avenue could celebrate safety! Two minutes later the ref’s whistle confirmed the news that Aber were staying up, amid truly extraordinary scenes of delight and joy on the Ceredigion Coast.
What A Club! This final day escape will be remembered for years to come and Anthony Williams’ players deserve the highest credit for the resilience, determination and sheer will power they have displayed to bring the Black and Greens to 38 points. The celebrations at the end showed a community and its club as one and give Aberystwyth Town Football Club a real opportunity to build for a positive season next time round – back in the Cymru Premier. And what song was playing at the end? Of course: Yma O Hyd! Thank you Green Army for all your wonderful support this season: we can’t wait for 2023/24.
Fantastic photos courtesy of Rhys Barron Photography