Two second half goals in five minutes sank a spirited Aberystwyth Town Ladies side in the Women’s Welsh Premier League on a blustery and overcast afternoon in Ceredigion.
In a competitive affair, the Seasiders had taken the lead thanks to Libby Isaac’s strike early in the second half but a swift brace followed by a late goal after a counter attack saw the visitors leave the Ceredigion coast with all three points.
Aber started the game brightly and carved out three good chances in the opening quarter of an hour. After just two minutes, a great ball down the right flank from Lucie Gwilt found Eloise Jenkins on the edge of the area. The winger was able to beat her opponent but her shot was well stopped at the near post by visiting stopper Vicky Beddows.
The opposition keeper was again on hand to prevent Aber taking the lead just minutes later as Bethan Roberts’ drive from 25 yards out was comfortably stopped before Tanya Wilde’s speculative long-range shot failed to trouble the goal with the match twelve minutes old. At the other end, home keeper Ffion Ashman saved well from Courtney Thomas’ half volley following an excellent delivery from a corner.
After a busy opening fifteen minutes in which Aber enjoyed the better of the affair, the game calmed and there was very little in the way of goal mouth action. The Blues were enjoying the majority of possession but the Seasiders looked threatening on the break.
In fact, it took until two minutes before the interval for the next chance of note as Roberts again troubled the keeper from distance. Her effort looked to be looping in but Beddows footwork ensured that the goal remained untroubled at the interval.
After a sedate opening stanza, the opening of the second was anything but. From the kick off, Aber looked to seize the initiative and were pressing the Steelwomen’s goal from the off. The introduction of last week’s match winner Niamh Duggan added another dimension to Aber’s attacking play and it was her work down the right that set up Eloise Jenkins. Only a brilliant last-ditch block from visiting captain Chelsey Harris prevented an early second period goal.
But Aber didn’t have to wait long until they did take the lead. In the 49th minute, a long clearance over the top of the Port Talbot defence was chased down superbly by Wylde. Beddows came out to clear the danger but her efforts landed kindly at the feet of Libby Isaac who had the simple job of rolling the ball into an empty net from 30 yards out.
However, the visitors were behind for only minutes. The visitors worked the ball well down the left hand side and the ever dangerous Lauren Amor met the low cross in the penalty area to level the scores.
The goal stunned the home side and they were to be dealt a further blow just five minutes later. A cross was once again the source of the danger but this time, Rachel Ball met the ball with her head to the jubilation of the South Walians. Manager Andy Evans responded with the introduction of Charlotte Chambers and Kelly Thomas in search of a leveller.
Despite the disappointment, the home side went in search of an equaliser but the Port Talbot defence were well organised and able to repel anything thrown their way. They too came close to extending their lead as Amor forced Ashman into a smart stop whilst Maisie Miller’s superb shot from the left flank struck a post.
With Aber pilling forward late on in an effort to get the equaliser, Port Talbot put the game beyond doubt with an excellent counter attack. Despite Ashman saving brilliantly from Miller’s initial effort, the rebound fell kindly to Courtney Thomas who was able to find the bottom corner to put the game beyond doubt.
Although disappointed, Aber were not disheartened and with the last kick of the game, came close to reducing the arrears. Isaac was again the danger woman as her volley from an Eloise Jenkins’ cross landed narrowly over the crossbar.
Although the Ladies will be disappointed not to take anything from the game, there were plenty of positives for Andy Evans and his staff to mull over going into future games, starting with the daunting task of an away trip to Cardiff Met next Sunday.
Starting Line Up
Ffion Ashman; Beth Roberts, Caroline Cooper © Libby Isaac, Tania Wylde, Ffiona Evans, Dwynwen Davies, Lucie Gwilt, Flavia Jenkins, Josie Pugh, Eloise Jenkins
Sian Meleri Evans, Kelly Thomas, Alaw Davies, Charlotte Chambers, Niamh Duggan
Photo Credit: Chris Howells
Aber maintained their unbeaten home record at home since the resumption of top flight football with a 1-1 draw against top 6 chasing Penybont.
Harry Franklin’s second goal in as many games gave Aber a half time advantage before they were pegged back by Mael Davies’ close range finish with an hour gone. The Seasiders played the final seconds of the game with ten men as substitute Gwion Owen received a second yellow card deep into stoppage time.
For the second game in a row, Gavin Allen named an unchanged team as he stuck with the eleven charges that defeated Newtown seven days previously.
On a blustery and overcast afternoon, Penybont started the brighter of the two sides. A dangerous cross into the box was headed wide of Connor Roberts’ goal early on. Despite the visitors dominating the ball, the young centre back pairing of Lee Jenkins and Louis Bradford of Aber were equal to their opposition and were successful in limiting Bont’s attacking threat with a Kane Owen shot in the 23rd minute being the only breach of the Black and Green backline early on.
As the half progressed, Aber settled into the contest and took the lead with half an hour on the clock. Skipper Marc Williams flicked the ball over the visiting defence onto midfielder Franklin. The former Evesham man charged into the penalty box and cooly slotted the ball past the onrushing Ashley Morris to give the Seasiders the advantage.
Penybont reacted well to the disappointment and in fact did have the ball in the back of the net but the assistant referee had adjudged attacker Sam Snaith to have been in an offside position. Davies, Owen and Lewis Harling all went close for Rhys Griffiths’ side but Aber’s defence held out comfortably as it had throughout much of the first half.
The second period followed much in the way of the first with Penybont enjoying much of the possession without being able to break down their opponents. Aber were still dangerous on the break and only a post prevented Lee Jenkins from doubling the home side’s lead following a great corner from Matthew Jones.
But just seconds later, the visitors did get the leveller. Opposition manager Rhys Griffiths tinkered with his system and personel and it paid immediate dividends. The ball was worked out to the right flank before Davies cut past two defenders to bury the ball into the back of the net.
With half an hour left to play and needing a win to confirm their position in top 6 for the first time, Penybont sensed a winner and dominated possession. Roberts was forced into a save from a Harling shot as they looked to turn their dominance into goals.
But Aber defended resolutely and weathered the visiting storm well. In fact, they came the closest during the middle third of the half to taking the lead. Jones and Jenkins combined brilliantly again from a set piece and only an acrobatic tip over from Morris kept the score at 1-1. From the resulting corner, two chances fell to Aber, first to sub Jon Owen who’s effort was stopped by Morris’ feet then to Jack Thorn who’s follow up was narrowly wide.
With the game hurtling towards an exciting conclusion, both keepers pulled off spectacular saves to keep the parity. Roberts somehow managed to claw out Mason Jones-Thomas’ goal bound effort while Aber sub Jonny Evans forced Morris into a brilliant save to prevent his lob giving Aber all three points with just two minutes to play.
There was still time for a nervy finish as Gwion Owen was given a second yellow card for stopping a dangerous looking counter attack but the Black and Green’s defence were able to marshal the danger expertly.
A draw was a fair result from an entertaining affair at Aberystwyth University Park Avenue and maintains Aber’s unbeaten home record since the restart. With 8 points gained from 15 available since football returned three weeks ago, the Seasiders head into next Friday’s final game until the split in buoyant mood, eager to add to their revival.
Aberystwyth Town vs Penybont
JD Cymru Premier
Saturday 27th March – 2.30pm KO
MATCH BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Aberystwyth Town will be looking to continue their 100% home record since football resumed at the start of the month, with the visit of Penybont to Ceredigion tomorrow.
Following last week’s 1-0 victory over Newtown in the Mid Wales derby, the Black & Greens points tally since the restart stands at an impressive 7 points, with 6 of those taken at home. This has lifted Gavin Allen’s men to 9th in the league and the team now have the opportunity to end the first phase on a real high.
January signing and last weekend’s goal scorer Harry Franklin continues to impress in midfield, whilst Connor Roberts has rightly drawn plaudits during this last week for his goalkeeping heroics, which included saving a penalty late on to ensure Aber claimed all three points.
Penybont currently sit in 4th place, and therefore arguably offer the toughest challenge yet since the restart. They have had a terrific season so far, in what is only their second season at this level. A point from their remaining two fixtures should be enough to see them qualify for the Championship Conference (Top 6), whilst a win would guarantee it.
Since play restarted, Penybont have played 6 matches, more than any other side in the league. They have won 3 of these matches, including doing the double over their nearest rival for 4th spot, Barry Town United, and also gained an impressive draw at home to league leaders Connah’s Quay Nomads.
They are of course managed by seven-time Cymru Premier Golden Boot Winner, Rhys Griffiths, who spent a season at Park Avenue in 2015/16, netting 7 goals in 21 appearances. Other recognisable faces in the visitors line up are Kane Owen & Kostya Georgievsky, who both had brief spells at Park Avenue in 2016, and Ceredigion native Mael Davies, who was a teammate to some current Seasiders in Junior football.
It was an eventful game at the KYMCO Stadium when these two teams met earlier in the season on MD2. Nathan Wood gave Penybont the lead in the first half, before Louis Bradford equalised for Aber early in the second, as both sets of players had to deal with extremely misty conditions on the night. The game then took a bizarre twist late on, as Mathew Jones was red carded for two bookable offences, despite never having received a first yellow! Aber’s ten men held on to gain a creditable drew, which took them off the mark for the season.
This is the second of three home matches in a row, and whilst we cannot yet invite the Black & Green Army back into Park Avenue, you can follow all the action on our Twitter feed @AberystwythTown. As always, your support is very much appreciated by all at the club
Aberystwyth Town collected an important three points this afternoon against mid Wales rivals Newtown AFC. With the visitors on an impressive run of form since the restart, Town battled hard throughout securing the win thanks to a dinked finish from youngster Harry Franklin, after Newtown were reduced to 10 men on 54 minutes and later denied from the spot on 83 mins.
After a disappointing result but strong showing away at Jenner Park, Town faced another tough challenge in Newtown who had collected 9/12 points since the restart. Aber named one change to that team with Mathew Jones returning from suspension in place of Rhys Davies at left-back.
The game’s first event was a yellow card for the visitors before 60 seconds – a trend throughout the game with the referee keen to keep a tight grip on events. In line with Town’s games this month, the Seasiders were first to get ahold of the ball and press the opposition half. A pair of chances came in the first ten minutes for Town as a Matty Jones free kick was deflected by the wall before a trademarked Lee Jenkins run saw the ever-impressive youngster deliver a ball just over the head of Jamie Reed from the right flank.
Another chance from a Jones free-kick went amiss before the visitors had their first attempt on goal with a sliced half-volley not troubling the hero-to-be Roberts.
Town weathered some pressure from the visitors before regaining control, with the midfield trio of Thorn, Veale, and Franklin linking excellently with fullbacks Rimmer and Jones to create chances for the attackers. With skipper Marc Williams leading by example, Town looked best placed to go ahead before the half, but it was Newtown who created the best chance as the dangerous Ofori latched onto a cross but fired over.
On the stroke of half-time, Matty Jones delivered another free-kick into the area where Harry Franklin was brought to the ground having shot wide to rampant penalty shouts from on-lookers. Referee Bryn Markham-Jones waved away protests and brought an end to a goalless but exciting half.
Newtown came out of the blocks firing for the second half with a huge chance for The Robins fired over from close range. After a sustained 10 minutes of pressure, the game was flipped on its head as Newtown’s Ofori was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Jenkins, giving Town a man advantage for the remaining 35 minutes and forcing The Robins into changes.
Aber piled on the pressure thereafter, with Jack Rimmer finding space at right-back to loft balls into pockets of space for Marc Williams and Harry Franklin to pounce upon, the latter crossing to Reed who fired at the keeper. A long-range effort from Alex Fletcher tested Roberts on 67 minutes before Aber introduced Jon Owen for Owain Jones on 70 minutes.
On 74 minutes, Aber’s best chance of the game fell to Lee Jenkins in the box from closer range but a stupendous save from Dave Jones kept things level, though not for long. On 77 minutes, a Jon Owen flick caused an errand header across the defence by Newtown where Harry Franklin got in front of his man to pick up the ball. Bearing down on the goal from the right side, the youngster waited for the impressive Dave Jones to come rushing before lofting the ball to the far corner to the delight of those in attendance.
Town couldn’t count their chickens quite yet though, as minutes later Newtown were awarded a penalty for a challenge on the edge of the area. Despite shouts of it deserving a free-kick rather than a spot-kick, Alex Fetcher stepped up to face the veteran Connor Roberts from 15 yards. In a war of wits, Roberts came out on top with a fantastically athletic leap to his left side to deny Fletcher, proving himself as one of the league’s premier shot-stoppers.
Newtown seemed deflated after Roberts’ heroics and created little else, with Jenkins and Bradford once again putting in a very solid performance together. It was Town who had the chance to make it two on 90+3 minutes when a counter attack led by goalscorer Franklin saw four Town attackers bearing down on goal but his cross was blocked for a corner. With that, the referee blew the final whistle on a chilly Park Avenue afternoon.
A hard-fought and well-earned victory against strong opposition in good form, Town make it 7/12 points since the restart where performances have perhaps merited more. With results elsewhere, Aber leapfrog Cardiff Met on goal difference into 9th position as we approach our penultimate Phase 1 game next Saturday against Penybont FC at Park Avenue. Despite the cancellation of Tiers 2 meaning relegation is averted, Town still have plenty to play for over these next 6 weeks.
As ever, thank you all for your continued support – the Green Army continues to be greatly missed on days like these!
Aberystwyth Town vs Newtown
JD Cymru Premier
Saturday 20th March – 2.30pm KO
MATCH BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Aberystwyth Town return to Park Avenue tomorrow to take on Newtown in the early anticipated Mid Wales derby. Originally scheduled for 22nd December but delayed because of the lockdown, this is a fixture that is relished by both sets of supporters and one with a lot of history.
With the ruling on Thursday night that the JD Cymru North & South leagues will not go ahead this season, relegation from the JD Cymru Premier now looks unlikely. Therefore, both Aberystwyth Town and Newtown will celebrate 30 years in the top flight next year – the only clubs who will be able to do so - as the league reaches a significant milestone.
This fixture has been played more than any other in Cymru Premier history. In the first season of the league, then known as the Konica League of Wales, the Black & Greens recorded a double against the Robins. Andrew Radford was the hero of the first game, netting a hat-trick in a 6-1 victory at Park Avenue, before the Seasiders triumphed 3-1 at Latham Park in the return fixture.
In recent years, this fixture has proved to be significant for both sides. In 2015, Newtown memorably qualified for Europe at Aber’s expense – winning the Playoff Final 2-1 at Park Avenue in front of a crowd of over 1000 spectators. Three years later, it was Aber’s turn to celebrate in the Welsh Cup Semi-Final at Bala, as Declan Walker’s double sent the Seasiders into the Welsh Cup Final for the 3rd time in 9 years.
In the present day, both sides come into this fixture on the back of some good form following the restart. Chris Hughes made some astute signings in January, bringing in players who not only offer a lot of quality, but know both the league and Newtown as a club well. Shane Sutton, Lifumpa Mwandwe, Alex Fletcher and Callum Roberts all have previous experience at Latham Park and their presence has been felt already, as Newtown have won 3 of out 4 games since the restart, only losing to top of the table Connahs Quay. These results have lifted the Robins to 8th place in the league – 8 points clear of the bottom two.
Nick Rushton is Newtown’s top goalscorer this season, with 6 goals from 17 appearances. Tyrone Ofori has 5 in 15, whilst James Davies and Jordan Evans have both scored 4, from 16 and 18 appearances respectively.
Aber’s own form is much improved since the re-start, with last weeks late defeat at Barry Town United the only time Gavin Allen’s team have lost a match since play resumed, although the performance at Jenner Park certainly warranted a share of the spoils at the very least. Aber’s own new recruits are impressing, with Jon Owen & Jamie Reed already on the scoresheet and Harry Franklin catching the eye in midfield, whilst Harri Horwood made his first appearance since his return to the club at Barry.
There are many players who have worn both the Black & Green of Aber and the Red of Newtown with distinction. Aneurin Thomas, Kevin Morrison & Jonathan Williams represented both teams in Europe, whilst in recent years Gavin Cadwallader, Rio Ahmadi, Luke Boundford and Ross Stephens have all played for both sides.
The current teams also boast players who have played for both. Jamie Reed hit 10 goals in 24 games for Newtown after signing in 2017, despite a bad injury hampering his time at the club; whilst Sam Barnes and Jack Thorn have also represented The Robins over the past couple of seasons. Newtown captain, Craig Williams, spent two years at Park Avenue under Alan Morgan from 2010-2012 before returning to Latham Park and Ryan Edwards made the switch down the A44 in January 2020 after 18 months at Park Avenue.
Last time out (at Latham Park in September) the points were shared, as an 85th minute Neil Mitchell goal meant that Aber had to settle for a draw after Jamie Veale’s excellent strike had given the Seasiders the lead in the first half. With both sides coming into this one in good form, we could well be set for a Mid Wales derby classic!
There is always plenty of excitement when these two teams meet, and tomorrow will be no different. Unfortunately, supporters cannot be admitted into Park Avenue to watch the match; however, you can follow all the action on our Twitter account @AberystwythTown as usual.
Thank you for your brilliant support!
Aberystwyth Town came away from Jenner Park empty-handed this afternoon as a late Nat Jarvis winner gave all three points to the hosts. Despite the scoreline, Aber were on-top for much of the game with excellent individual effort and an impressive team performance, but it wasn't to be on this occasion for Town.
On a day Mother Nature was feeling especially undecided, it was a bitterly cold day in South Wales with strong, consistent winds from start to finish. Naming two changes to the team that beat Haverfordwest County at the death on Tuesday night, Rhys Davies and Owain Jones entered the side for the suspended Mathew Jones and injured Jon Owen.
From the off, Town looked strongest in possession and most threatening in opposition quarters with the impressive midfield trio of Harry Franklin, Jamie Veale, and Jack Thorn orchestrating play and breaking up home attacks. With the wind creating havoc on crosses and balls over the defence, creation of clear cut chances were few and far between with ex-Seasider Mike Lewis commanding his area well to quell opportunities for Reed and Williams in attack.
With the ball at the home side's feet, Aber were disciplined in their shape and confident in their pressing, aided by the barked orders of Antonio Corbisieiro and Gari Lewis from the sideline. Despite the youth of Aber's backline, the central pairing of teenagers Jenkins and Bradford were solid in the air and sound at the feet, as Barry struggled to create in the Aber third.
A clash of heads between Jamie Reed and the Barry left-back Abbruzzese was one of the half's most noteworthy happenings, as the youngster required some treatment and forced Gavin Chesterfield into a first-half sub.
The spritely Marc Williams created a chance for Franklin shortly before the half with a flick over the Barry defence but the youngster signed from Evesham was beaten to the ball by Lewis, before Barry front-man Nat Jarvis headed over on the stroke of half-time to keep the score level at the break.
The second-half began in-line with the first, as Franklin tested Lewis and later set Reed through the middle for an opportunity well defended. A number of chances around 52 minutes left Town scratching their heads how the score remained goalless, with some heroic Barry defending before Owain Jones fired narrowly wide when presented the ball from the cluster.
A spell of possession and chances created for the hosts followed, as Roberts saved well from Wharton, Jarvis fired over the bar from 6 yards and Lee Jenkins cleared a dangerous cross from the left. Aber's earlier dominance counted for nothing as Barry showed their qualities, but the Town defence held strong with all four members contributing well.
As Owain Jones and Jamie Reed made way for Jonathan Evans and Geoff Kellaway, Aber entered the final 15 minutes under pressure but continuing to create for themselves with neat play from the skipper Williams in deeper positions winning free kicks. The skipper was again involved when Kellaway found Franklin who set the ball for Williams to swing a leg, but his half-volleyed effort was running-track bound.
On 87 minutes, Barry took the lead through a pin-point cross-field ball behind the defence where the on-rushing right-back fired a ball across the area for Nat Jarvis to gratefully prod home. Aber faced another final frenzy for points, having fired very late in the previous two matches.
Hewitt replaced Franklin for the game's final change, as Aber threw all they could to find an equaliser but the Barry attackers were smart in their ball retention to limit chances. On 89 minutes, Aber had their final opportunity as a scramble of bodies in the home box saw shots blocked and space covered before the ball ricocheted to Geoff Kellaway 15 yards from goal on the right, whose blazing shot struck the near post, to the dismay of travelling Seasider staff. With that, the whistle was blown after four uneventful added minutes.
An impressive all-round performance that deserved a share of the spoils at the very least, Aber may take the positives from such a showing against a top 4 team who have been a bogey side in recent years, especially at Jenner Park. With continued impressive performances across the pitch, Aber look forward to a meeting with mid Wales rivals Newtown who are currently enjoying a rich vein of form since the restart. Thanks to losses for Cefn Druids, Flint, and Cardiff Met, Aber remain outside of the relegation zone as we approach the split on April the 2nd with some big meetings ahead!
Diolch / Thank you for your continued support!