Matthew Jones became the third Aberystwyth Town player to notch a hattrick in this season's Welsh Cup as Aber secured safe passage into the last 16 of the competition at Aberystwyth University Park Avenue.
Following three apiece for Harry Franklin and Owain Jones, who himself was on the scoresheet today, in the last round, the Comins Coch man grabbed the headlines this time round with two spot kicks and a thunderous drive to put the Seasiders’ name into Monday night's draw.
With boss Antonio Corbisiero naming an unchanged starting eleven from the side that defeated Newton last Friday evening, his side started the game brightly and carved out two good opportunities in the opening minutes with both falling to striker Raul Correia. The former Bala man dragged a shot wide after a good interception from Jamie Veale inside the Druids half before some great work from Jones and Jack Rimmer saw him miss the target by a matter of inches.
The home side did make their early pressure count when on 17 minutes, Gregor Zabret started a swift counter attack which saw Owain Jones chip the onrushing Michael Jones in the visiting goal. The ex-Swansea man made no mistake as he weighted his chip to perfection to give the men from Ceredigion the lead.
To their credit, the goal galvanised the visitors with both Pavel Vieira and Ben Wynne both creating half chances but it was Aber who doubled the lead with game half an hour old. Correia was again the danger man as he was felled by Vieira inside the area. Jones sent his namesake the wrong way to increase the Black and Green’s lead and grab his first of the afternoon.
Jones etched his name onto the scoresheet again deep into first half stoppage time. A corner was half cleared and the former Shrewsbury Town youngster thundered a strike from 25-yards out which nestled into the bottom corner to put Aber into a strong position going into the half time interval.
The Ancients carved out two good chances to begin the second stanza as Aber-born Charley Edge curled a shot wide and Max Davidson saw a shot go over the bar. At the other end, the lively Correia was unfortunate not to increase the lead further as his chip found its home on the roof of the net.
The Ancients pulled one back with ten to go as the busy Wynne rolled the ball home from close range and they sensed they could push for the most unlikely of comebacks.
As a result, the Ancients were leaving more space in behind the midfield which Jonathan Evans was happy to exploit. His first effort was superbly stopped down low by Jones. Just a minute later, last week’s goal hero drove at the Druids defence and was felled in the area by Edge. The spot kick offered Jones the chance to complete his hattrick to which he made no mistake, finding the bottom right hand corner.
There was nearly a 5th for Aberystwyth late on as substitute Harry Franklin, making his first appearance since returning from injury saw his shot well stopped by Jones and cleared away to safety.
Aber will be pleased with their afternoon's work in front of a crowd of 363. Aber face the daunting task of heading to League leaders The New Saints next Friday night. After today's game, they will go full of confidence!