Resilience is a trait that Aberystwyth has in bucket loads. For consecutive winters, the Town has been lambasted by everything that Mother Nature can throw at her. This weekend was no different. Gertude pounded the Cardigan coast with everything she had. Rain lashed down on the hallowed turf of Park Avenue and the bitter wind swirled around the famous old ground, writes Club Media Assistant Matthew Wallace.
In the face of these storms, the Town and its people have rallied around and come back stronger than ever before. Following four consecutive home defeats, the Seasiders had to show all the resilience that makes Aberystwyth the incredible place it is with a famous 1-0 victory over Port Talbot Town, a team that Town had twice lost to earlier in the season.
On a horrendous evening, 172 brave souls were rewarded for their loyalty when Rhys Griffiths headed home Craig Williams’ pin point free kick.
“It was a big game for us as a team, squad and club. It was important to get something on the board, a win or a draw. The players have dug in very deep and got a big win. We had a few players carrying knocks and they put their bodies on the line and we appreciate all they have done tonight. There was commitment, there was passion and there was a willingness to drive on and win the game.” Interim manager Wyn Thomas told Matthew Wallace in a post- match interview for Aber Town’s Youtube Channel.
The game looked set to end in deadlock until marksman Griffiths met Williams’ free kick superbly at the far post to send the home supporters into raptures. “It was a great delivery from Craig Williams, it was right on Rhys’ forehead and he’s done what he’s been doing for many, many years and I’m so pleased he did.”
Following the 78th minute winner, Aber were able to register a victory thanks to a first clean sheet in five attempts. “The defensive effort was pleasing tonight. It’s been frustrating because in certain situations we just need to clear the ball. We spoke about it at half time and second half we were terrific. We cleared the ball, we turned when we needed to and we could get further up the park and with the attacking talent we have, we had every chance to win the game.”
With the Black and Greens out of the Welsh Cup, Thomas’ men can enjoy a well earned fortnight off before a trip to Rhyl on Friday February 11th. But despite no competitive action, it will be far from fun and games for the squad as they look to build momentum ahead of an assault on 7th place.
“It’s going to be hard work and more hard work. The players have raised the bar tonight and we need to keep that going. We’re going to be working on set plays and the basics. It’s going to be a busy, busy time. Rhyl are a good side but it’s a Friday night game which is one the players all enjoy. We will be ready for that challenge."
To view the full interview, and another with goalscorer Rhys Griffiths, visit Aberystwyth Town’s Youtube Channel here.
Dafabet Welsh Premier League
Friday 29th January
Aberystwyth Town 1 Port Talbot Town 0
Attendance - 172
Aberystwyth came out on top in the driving rain against Port Talbot as the first games of the second phase kicked off at Park Avenue. Rhys Griffiths' late winner was enough to ensure three vital points as Aberystwyth aim for that all important 7th position.
The home team were dominant for the majority of the match, with Ross Stephens, Sion James and Jonathan Evans controlling proceedings in midfield. Geoff Kellaway proved an useful outlet down the wing as his surging runs, pace and trickery made things exceptionally hard for the Port Talbot full backs. The visitors struggled to forge an opening throughout the first half, the only real efforts coming from Martin Rose who, when found free in the 6 yard box, failed to score when it seemed harder to miss. However despite the dominance and the odd test of Port Talbot keeper, Steven Cann's goalkeeping ability, the sides went in level at half time.
The second half was very similar to the first, but as the pitch started to deteriorate, Port Talbot came into the game more. Rose hitting the first meaningful shot on target forcing a top drawer save from Aber's man between the sticks, Mike Lewis. Jonathan Evans failed to find the net with a curling effort mid way through the half though his performance alone was as important and he was rightfully greeted with a standing ovation towards the end of the match. The break through finally came in the 78th minute courtesy of a powerful Rhys Griffiths header, sending the Dias into raptures.
It was clear to see that this was a much improved Aberystwyth side to the one that faced Newtown in the last game before the split and they were well deserving of the victory. Credit to the famous Port Talbot fans who, once again, cheered their team until the end in spite of the torrid conditions. Next up for the Black and Greens is an away trip to Rhyl in February as the team looks to build on the vital 3 points gained here.
Report by Tomos Ings
Photo courtesy of Chris Howells
Aberystwyth Town Interim Manager Wyn Thomas has bolstered the defensive options at his disposal by signing two defenders ahead of tonight's Dafabet WPL match at home to Port Talbot Town.
Ryan Batley be well known to Town Supporters, as he returns from Haverfordwest County for his third spell in Black and Green, while young prospect Kane Owen, signed from Afan Lido, was a promising member of Cardiff City's Academy side until last season.
Batley signed for a second spell with Aber Town in August 2014 after the versatile defender returned from a spell in Australia with Northern Tigers, and was a Member of the Squad which finished in fourth place last season. The Portsmouth-born defender was promoted to Llanelli's first team squad from the Under-19s for season 2009/10. He then won a call-up to the Wales Under-23 semi-pros in November 2009 and joined Aberystwyth for a first spell on a short term loan in October 2011, before returning to Llanelli at the end of December. The left back, who can also play at centre-back, was one of the players to remain with the Reds during the January 2013 exodus after financial problems, before he signed for Afan Lido in the 2014 summer following Llanelli's demise. He spent the first few months of the 2013/14 season with Lido, before switching to Northern Tigers in Australia.
Owen joined Afan Lido in August 2015 after impressing in a number of pre season matches, and made the left back position his own with some impressive displays. The 21 year old was formerly with Cardiff City and less than 18 months ago was picked by the Western Mail's Terry Phillips as a potential star of the future. Kane played his part as Cardiff City won back-to-back Development League titles in 2013/4 and 2014/5.
Ryan will wear Squad Number 21, while Kane will wear 23. Everyone at Aberystwyth Town FC welcomes Ryan and Kane to the Club and wishes them the best of luck in their time at Park Avenue.
Dafabet Welsh Premier League
Friday 29th January (kick off 7.45pm)
Aberystwyth Town v Port Talbot Town
Aberystwyth Town bid to make a fresh start to their Dafabet WPL Campaign on Friday night as they host Port Talbot Town for the first of ten Play Off Conference matches.
A run of poor results, culminating in a 2-1 home defeat to Mid Wales rivals Newtown saw the Black and Greens miss out on a Top Six place for 2015/6 - so Aber will have to try and earn a UEFA Europa League Play Off place by winning the bottom section and snatching seventh place. Town are currently three points off seventh, and their total of 26 points to date leaves them in ninth as things stand, two points ahead of Friday's opponents.
Central Midfield duo Chris Venables and Luke Sherbon will both miss the game due to suspension, but Ross Stephens and Geoff Kellaway are recovering from injuries which kept them out of the Newtown game and may be in contention. Goalkeeper Mike Lewis is on course to make his 100th WPL Appearance for Aber Town on Friday night.
Interim Manager Wyn Thomas told atfc.org.uk today: "Obviously the boys are disappointed with how things turned out and hopefully we can change things around. However all our talking needs to be done on the field from now on."
Thomas also confirmed that the Management Team plan to take advantage of the transfer window, which closes next week: "The Club is working hard to strengthen the squad, and we hope to see a few names being added to the Squad before the transfer deadline closes."
Port Talbot defeated Aber 2-1 on their last visit to Park Avenue three weeks ago, so sweet revenge will be on the Black and Greens minds. Kick off on Friday is at 7.45pm and admisson will cost £6 for Adults, £4 Concessions and £1 for Children.
Club Student Liason Officer Jed Woocock send us the following article, written by Phil Kirby earlier this week:
On the 20th of January 2016 history was made when two female players took part in a DIGS league game, in Aberystwyth, a game which resulted in a 9-5 victory for Panthers. Annie Thomas and Emily Owens both started, and also both managed to get on the score sheet, giving two notable performances. Niall Jones, a Panthers player and AUFC President was clearly impressed with his teammates, “It was just a very proud day for us” and the referee Brian Williams goes so far as to say “the two girls put in near man/woman of the match performances!”. One of the girls of the hour, Annie Thomas, who also hit the crossbar with a free kick, seemed to have enjoyed the experience immensely “It was a lot of fun, the boys were really supportive and welcoming, and it gave us a good challenge to try and adapt to playing a different style of football”.
Yet this has sparked an argument, as there is now a debate in the DIGS league as if to allow female players to regularly take part. DIGS president Jed Woodcock is for the idea, “If a person wants to play football then who am I to stop them because of their gender?” and this seems to be the general consensus of Aberystwyth University and its students, as there has been overwhelming support for the involvement of these two female players, from the Student Union and its officers all having pledged their support, to social media where many having been voicing there encouragement.
There has been long standing stigma regarding women’s place in football, that it is a man’s game. However in the past twenty years there have been significant progress for equality in the beautiful game, organisations such as Kick It Out have highlighted discriminatory behaviour and worked to eradicate it, and women’s football has become increasingly popular. A prime example of this is the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, where several viewing records were broken, and where England reached an impressive 3rd place, and it has to be said is far better than their male equivalents achieved in the 2014 men’s World Cup.
This history-making DIGS game yesterday highlights how the attitudes to women’s place in football have changed. There was full support from everyone at the game yesterday and this vote tomorrow I have little doubt will be in favour of women being allowed to play regularly, and then we can get back to the main reason we play football, the fun.
Aberystwyth Town's Play Off Conference Fixtures have again been amended, with both Carmarthen games now scheduled for the respective Saturdays rather than the Friday nights as originally planned.
The definitive fixture list is as follows:
Fri 29th PORT TALBOT TOWN (HOME) ko 7.45pm
Fri 12th Rhyl (Away) ko 7.30pm
Sat 20th Haverfordwest County (Away) ko 2.30pm
Sat 27th CARMARTHEN TOWN (HOME) ko 2.30pm
Fri 11th Bangor City (Away) ko 7.45pm
Fri 18th Port Talbot Town (Away) ko 7.45pm
Fri 25th RHYL (HOME) ko 7.45pm
Fri 8th HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY (HOME) ko 7.45pm
Sat 16th Carmarthen Town (Away) ko 2.30pm
Sat 23rd BANGOR CITY (HOME) ko 5.15pm