JD Welsh Premier League
Friday 5th April
Aberystwyth Town 3 Llanelli 2
Aberystwyth Town took another huge step towards the UEFA Europa League Play Offs with a crucial 3-2 win over Llanelli at Park Avenue on Friday night, a victory which returns them to the top of the Play Off Conference with three matches remaining, pending Cardiff Met's result at Cefn Druids tomorrow. A stunning strike from Wes Baynes on 29 minutes gave the Black and Greens the lead, and quickfire goals from Ash Ruane (49 minutes) and Marc Williams (53 minutes) seemed to have the hosts cruising, but Llanelli, who were relegated last night by a Club announcement that they will not appeal their Licence failure, hit back through Lee Bevan (63) and Joe Clarke (83) to set up a thrilling ending, which ended with Aber's fourth consecutive win.
Kick off at a chilly and damp Park Avenue was preceded by a minute’s silence to commemorate Club Stalwart Leighton Wall, who sadly passed away after Aber’s last home game. Aber’s unchanged team started fairly confidently, taking the initiative and soon evergreen Geoff Kellaway was flashing a shot wide of the goal set up by the peerless Marc Williams. The visitors however were showing signs of life themselves: Michael George sent an early effort wide, then home keeper Terry McCormick came out brilliantly to deny stand in striker Joe Clarke what seemed like a certain goal. The chances kept coming and Kellaway was adjudged to have been offside, while scoring from Mattie Jones ball in – and the goal was disallowed. Williams saw a shot saved by Scott Coughlin, then a Mattie Jones humdinger screamed past the post. Jones then had a free kick tipped over the bar by Coughlin, and then finally a super move around the box saw Williams lay the ball back to Baynes who smashed the ball into the net for a super opener. Steff Edwards then attempted a Cantona-esque effort from the edge of the area which dropped wide, and Llanelli were hanging on. McCormick pulled off another super close range save to deny Clarke at the other end, and headers from Declan Walker and Williams missed the target for Aber to ensure that a very entertaining first half ended 1-0 to the hosts.
Into the second half and the hosts started on fire. Four minutes in Kellaway delivered a perfect ball in from the left wing which fell perfectly for Ruane to score his second headed goal in two games. Sub Emile Ngoy tapped in at the other end for Llanelli but his goal, like Kellaway’s earlier, was disallowed for offside, and then a simple ball up the park from the hosts was terribly misjudged by Coughlin and Williams nipped in behind him to score a third, and surely seal the game for Aber. Ryan Edwards and Jones both curled further efforts wide for Town but credit to already relegated Llanelli, they finished the game strongly. When Lee Bevan headed home from a right wing corner to reduce the arrears there was still 27 minutes to go, and with the Reds flooding forward Ngoy headed over soon after. Clarke sent a shot over the bar and Aber’s fans in the Dias started signing to encourage their side to hold out. With seven minutes remaining a tricky run from George down the right saw the ball fall for Clarke who rolled his man and finally got his goal from close range for 3-2. Ruane played a great 1-2 with Marc Williams before sending a wild shot into the new netting in front of the Dias Stand, and after a series of free kicks around Aber’s box Chris Jones’ set piece was headed over by the industrious Ngoy. Back at the other end in injury time Marc Williams then held the ball in the corner, only to roll round a gaggle of visiting players and tickle the ball just past the post, and the job was done.
In the face of a spirited comeback Aberystwyth Town held on for what could be a priceless three points. It was probably not a vintage performance in truth but such complaints are churlish in the face of four straight wins which have put Aber back on top of the Play Off Conference, and their UEFA Europa League dream continues next Friday night, at home to Cefn Druids (ko 7.45pm). Don’t miss it!