Aberystwyth Town saw out the first part of the JD Cymru Premier Season in style with a 3-1 victory against bottom side Cefn Druids.
A scintillating first half performance which saw Gavin Allen’s side score three goals put the Seasiders firmly in command of the tie. Despite an Alex Darlington’s penalty and the hosts getting keeper Connor Roberts sent off in the second half, they held firm to earn their third home win since the resumption of top flight football in Wales.
With Marc Williams suspended and former Ancients marksman Jamie Reed carrying a knock, Allen made two changes to his starting charges. Jon Owen and Jonathan Evans came into the starting line up in their places.
On a beautiful April evening in which Park Avenue was bathed in glorious sunshine, the home side made the perfect start to the contest as they took the lead with the game just three minutes old. A long throw from Jack Thorn was flicked on by Lee Jenkins. The header found Owen in the centre of the goal who lashed home a volley into the roof of the net to bag his second goal since returning to Aber in January.
Things got worse for the visitors just five minutes later when Harry Franklin was felled in the area with Nick Pratt showing no hesitation pointing to the spot. Matthew Jones was at hand to double the black and green's advantage, sending the keeper the wrong way in the process.
Aber were dominant in the opening stanza and were enjoying themselves going forward with the front three of Owen, Evans and Owain Jones causing problems throughout the first half. Owen and Evans both had good chances to increase the advantage further but the former Llandudno man’s shot was saved well by Jones whilst a glanced Evans header landed narrowly over the bar.
But Aber didn’t have to wait long until they did increase the advantage and it came from an unusual source. A freekick from the right hand side was whipped into the box, Evans’ initial shot struck the post but the rebound landed kindly to Louis Bradford who just rolled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Despite Niall Flint nearly reducing the arrears with a low shot late in the half for the visitors, there was still time for a golden chance for the hosts. The ever dangerous Evans broke down the left, cut inside but his goal-bound curling shot was superbly stopped by Michael Jones in the Druids goal.
To their credit, Jayson Starkey’s men came out rejuvenated after the break and a much more even contest ensued for the second 45 minutes. The men in red had the majority of the ball but in a similar vain to last week’s game, Aber’s defence were strong in repelling the waves of attacking pressure.
Aber born Druids sub Charley Edge was lively for the visitors and it was through him that the Ancients had their best opportunity. The winger cut inside from the left hand side and his goal bound strike was smartly stopped by Roberts at his near post. At the other end, Owen forced Jones into a good stop.
The game was meandering towards a low-key conclusion when Flint was brought down in the box. Just like the first half, Pratt pointed to the spot to offer Druids a glimmer of hope. Although Roberts stopped Darlington's initial spot kick, the rebound fell kindly to the seven-time league winner to deny the men from Ceredigion a clean sheet for their afternoon's work. Things got worse for Aber seconds later when Roberts was dismissed for allegedly speaking out of turn to the referee.
Reserve keeper Alex Pennock made his way onto the field in place of Evans to plug the gap left by the red card and was called upon in the final minute. Darlington nearly doubled his tally for the afternoon but was denied by the young stopper with a fine stop down low in what transpired to be the final kick of the afternoon.
The win marks the Seasiders’ third win out of four at home since the restart and maintains our unbeaten run in Ceredigion in the process. Aber enter the second phase of the season in 8th position and 8 points behind Haverfordwest County in 7th place; a remarkable turnaround for a side who were bottom of the league less than a month ago. News of our next round of fixtures will be available within the next 48 hours. Keep an eye on our website and social media pages over the coming days!