Aberystwyth Town's players earned some much-needed match practice as they played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Evo-Stik South Premier Division Central side Halesowen Town at Park Avenue on Saturday afternoon. In a game of few clearcut chances, Rio Ahmadi gave Aber the lead on 9 minutes, before Jordan Goddard equalised for the visitors within 60 seconds of the second half restarting.
Aber's new youthful and exuberant looking side started the game on the front foot, with attacking midfielder Paulo Mendes going close within the opening five minutes as his curling effort sailed narrowly over the crossbar. But soon after, the black and greens got themselves ahead as Steff Edwards went on a marauding run down the left flank before providing an inch perfect cross for new striker Rio Ahmadi to poke in at the front post and make it 1-0. It was the early lead that Aber's vibrant play deserved, as the seasiders sprayed the ball around with an impressive confidence and swagger. The visitors struggled to get any rhythm going in their play, as Aber's midfield duo of Mathew Jones and Jack Rimmer stamped their authority on the game, dominating possession and pressing the ball in energetic fashion. The back four of Wes Baynes, Lee Jenkins, Ryan Wollacott and Steff Edwards looked steady and solid, giving Yeltz striker Roland Agbor very few chances to use his pace and run in behind the back line. As half time approached, Aber continued to look the more likely side to get the second goal, as Joe Phillips and Alec Williams threatened with pace and trickery down either flank, whilst goalkeeper Leigh Jenkins provided a commanding presence in the penalty area, dealing expertly with any crosses and corner kicks that came his way. Town went into the break with a slender, but much deserved advantage much to the joy of the home supporters.
Visitors Halesowen started the second half in much brighter fashion, and within 60 seconds of the restart they were level, as Jordan Goddard unleashed a swerving effort into the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards, giving their vocal travelling supporters something more to shout about. Unfazed, Aber maintained their composure and continued to pass and move the ball at a high tempo. Substitutes Nashawn Blake, Liam Berner, Tom Evans and Harri Rowe were all introduced, and certainly provided some added impetus, but the visitors to their credit, began to grow into the game themselves. As the second half wore on, both sides evidently began to tire as they so often do in early pre-season friendlies, but it was the hosts who went closest to winning the game - twice hitting the woodwork in the closing stages. It wasn't to be however, as both sides took a share of the spoils with the game ending 1-1.
An excellent pre-season effort from a new look Aber side, who played some football that Town's supporters will have enjoyed watching, and will be hoping to see more of in the coming weeks leading up to the JD Welsh Premier League kick-off against Llandudno on August 10th. Aber's next fixture see's them take on AFC Telford United in a pre-season friendly next Friday evening at Park Avenue.