Attendances at Park Avenue were up again this season by 11% to an eleven year high of 417 for Corbettsports Welsh Premier League games, and 432 overall, as Aberystwyth Town supporters lapped up the team's first ever appearances in the UEFA Europa League, and the WPL Top Six.
With the closure of the regular season last Sunday came confirmation that Aberystwyth Town have retained their place as the third best supported club in the WPL, and the most popular Welsh Prem Club south of the A55! The figure also ranks Aber as the eighth best supported Football Club in Wales.
Figures were given a huge boost back in July when 1026 attended Park Avenue's first ever Europa League tie as Aber hosted Derry City. A number of promotional events followed throughout the season to keep the support up, incorporating a Sponsors Day, Student Promotions for Freshers Week and Halloween, a School Visit from Ysgol Llwyn Yr Eos, a Word War I Commemoration event, as well as a Family Fun Day, Academy Day, a DIGS League offer and a Club Photo.
Marketing Director Thomas Crockett said: "This is of course a great opportunity for us to thank our superb and loyal fans for another season's support. The increase this year is heartening as it has consolidated and built upon the 20% rise we saw the previous season. Park Avenue is always an exciting place to be and the large portfolio of events would not have been possible without our fantastic Marketing Team, namely Tom Bates, Martin Smith, Chris Hefferan, Matthew Wallace and Tomos Ings. Our aim is to keep working to reach our target for Aber to become the best supported Club in the WPL."
Park Avenue offers unbelievable value for money with the lowest priced Admission Prices in the WPL, at £5 for Adults, £3 Concessions and £1 for Kids and the Club expects the turnstiles to be clicking again a week on Sunday for the Black and Greens' crucial UEFA Europa League Play Off Semi Final, against either Gap Connah's Quay or Port Talbot Town (ko 12.45pm).
Photo courtesy of Chris Howells
The date for the Black and Greens' UEFA Europa League Semi Final game at Park Avenue, against either Port Talbot Town or Gap Connah's Quay, has been confirmed as Sunday 10th May, with a 12.45pm kick off.
The match will be televised live on Sgorio.
The other Semi Final (Port Talbot v Newtown or Airbus v Gap Connah's Quay/Rhyl) will take place the previous day at 2.30pm.
The Play Off Final will take place the following Sunday 17th May, also with a 12.45pm kick off, and will be hosted by the highest ranked team.
As the fourth official put up the board to indicate three minutes of additional minutes at Port Talbot on Sunday afternoon, it wouldn’t be a surprise that the thoughts of a goal in the next 180 seconds was on the cards for either side given Town’s habit of both scoring and conceding in the dying embers of matches over this season, writes Matthew Wallace.
But thankfully, there would be no dramas in the final minutes of the regular season as a resolute back line performance ensured that Aberystwyth secured their first victory since January by a 2-1 score line over Port Talbot Town on the South Wales coast.
The ever-dangerous Geoff Kellaway grabbed the first, heading in after Chris Venables’ powerful drive could only be parried into the Kellaway’s path and then scorer turned provider as the winger’s mazy run down the right hand side accumulated in a shot that was parried to the feet of Craig Williams. Despite former Seasider Luke Bowen grabbing a 50th minute header, Town hung on to claim a big win ahead of the Europa League playoffs and manager Ian Hughes was pleased with the outcome of the match.
“We’re pleased with the way we played today. I thought first half we were terrific. We were switching play well, we had full backs overlapping and the two goals were a great reward for a good performance. Second half was a different kind of game. We had to dig in, show grit and determination but we also looked a threat on the counter attack. Chris Venables has hit a post and we’ve created chances so all in all a pleasing day.”
Despite the victory, Aber don’t gain any league positions but finish the campaign in a very respectable fourth position, the highest the club has achieved since the introduction of the Super 12.
“In terms of league position, today’s game was a dead game so we didn’t want to take any chances. [Antonio] Corbisiero has been struggling with a hamstring for a while so as soon as he felt something we brought him off and the same with Geoff. It was a precaution to save him for another day ahead of the playoffs. We’ve learned a lot over this season. I’m very pleased with the first half of the season and we’ve learned a lot in the second half.”
In terms of those lessons, Hughes was confident he knew where they had come.
“It’s the first time the squad has played against the best week in, week out. It’s a squad game and we need to utilise the squad as often as possible. We picked up four points against Newtown and Port Talbot and although we came close against Bala, Airbus and TNS, we didn’t get close enough so we’ve seen the importance of getting strength and depth and a squad to deal with it.”
A fourth place finish guarantees the Seasiders a berth in the Europa League playoffs, with a Semi Final at Park Avenue the weekend after next. With the Semi Final opponents not confirmed until next week’s Welsh Cup final, it’s not something that Hughes is too concerned about.
“It’s about preparation whoever we play against. We know that whoever we play are going to have a bit of momentum after winning games in the bottom six like we’ve done in previous years. But we’ll prepare well and we’ll be ready when the time comes.”
Aberystwyth Town's Youth Team look to continue their march to retain the Central Wales FA Youth Cup as they take on Llanfair United in the second leg of their semi final at Park Avenue on Thursday evening (April 30th).
On a tough pitch at Dyffryn Banw a fortnight ago, the young Seasiders emerged with a 3-3 draw, coming from behind to give themselves a great chance to progress with Home advantage and a final which will be against Llanidloes Town.
With no first team action next weekend why not pop down and support the young Seasiders, who kick off at 7.45pm.
Corbettsports Welsh Premier
Sunday 26th April
Port Talbot Town 1 Aberystwyth Town 2
Aber Town brought down the curtain on the regular section of a Super season with a morale boosting 2-1 win at Play Offs rivals Port Talbot's ground this afternoon. Goals from Geoff Kellaway and Craig Williams ensured that the Black and Greens crossed the 50 point barrier for the season and enter the Play Offs in two weeks time in high spirits, and Chris Venables was confirmed as the WPL Golden Boot winner for the second season running for his amazing 28 goal haul from midfield.
On a lovely sunny day in Aberavon the game was preceded by a Guard of Honour for retiring referee Mark Whitby who has been a superb servant to the League for so many seasons. An open and entertaining game ensued despite a bobbly surface. The homesters' Liam McCreesh fired over the bar from close range early on, but then in the ninth minute Aber took the lead. Venables' rasping 30 yard shot was parried by stand in keeper Connor McFenton to Kellaway, and the Felinfach Flier headed downwards to score a vital opener for Ian Hughes' men. Martin Rose brought the first save of the day from visiting keeper Mike Lewis, then Kellaway fired wide with a speculative effort. Venables headed a Williams free kick over the bar, then Williams himself was denied by McFenton. Dan Sheehan drew a comfortable save from Lewis, then Luke Sherbon fired just over as the chances kept coming. Chris Davies then narrowly missed the target for Aber before they finally got a deserved second eleven minutes before half time, when Kellaway's shot was deflected straight to Williams who pounced to conquer. When a few more half chances went begging the half time score stayed at 0-2, with Aber good value for a lead, even though Talbot had also enjoyed their moments.
Aber started the second half on the front foot with Mark Jones putting himself about, but then the Steelmen had a real go. Rose, and Chris Davies brought decent saves from Lewis, but six minutes in a corner on the left was floated straight to the head of Luke Bowen, who finished easily to halve the deficit. Rose had a dangerous shot deflected wide, and the visitors appeared to have survived an onslaught. Venables had a shout for a penalty denied, then Mark Jones headed just wide from a Kellaway cross. Venables then had a headed goal from a corner disallowed, and Kellaway shot wide with Aber cutting through the home defence at ease. There was no room for complacency however, and Rose then, right through on goal, inexplicably missed the target with a deft lob. Ross Stephens volleyed over, Venables hit the post, before narrowly missing once more with a cultured lob. The irrepressible Venables was then denied again by McFenton and it was clearly not going to be the Golden Boot's day! Talbot did launch a late foray in added time, and McCreesh tested Lewis for a final time, but the visitors held on valiantly and gained a deserved win on the South Wales coast.
The Black and Greens could not have picked a better time to find their form, and they now know they will host Gap Connah's Quay (if TNS win the Welsh Cup), or Port Talbot (if Newtown win the Cup) in the UEFA Europa League Play Off Semi Finals on Saturday 9th or Sunday 10th May. Aber's WPL season is of course certain to end in drama, hopefully in three weeks time with a Play Off Final victory. See you in two weeks down Park Avenue!
Corbettsports Welsh Premier League
Sunday 26th April (ko 1pm)
Port Talbot Town v Aberystwyth Town
Aberystwyth Town head South early on Sunday morning for a lunchtime showdown with Top Six Rivals Port Talbot Town, as both sides aim to gain a psychological advantage prior to the UEFA Europa League Play Offs in two weeks’ time.
Aber, certain to finish 4th, and Port Talbot, certain to be 5th, are the only two sides as yet guaranteed to contest the Play Offs, and their head to head record to date in 2014/5 is all square. Aber won 2-1 at the GenQuip in September, before Talbot came back with a resounding 3-0 victory at Park Avenue just before Christmas. Honours were even in an exciting 2-2 draw, again in Aber last month, so the scene is set for another close game.
Both sides will inevitably have half an eye on the Play Offs, and Aber will be resting Stephen Wright who has a calf strain. Town Manager Ian Hughes will need to decide whether to persist with the eleven that did so well for 89 minutes against Bala last Friday, or whether to freshen things up with some new faces.
Port Talbot have rallied since the appointment of Andy Dyer, gaining impressive wins at home to Airbus and away to Newtown, after their gutsy draw at Park Avenue.
Two of the League’s Top Marksmen will be on show on Sunday. Aber’s Chris Venables notched his 28th goal of the season last Friday night, beating Gavin Allen’s previous goalscoring record, whilst the Steelmen’s Martin Rose on 18, is the WPL’s joint second highest goal getter.
The Coach leaves Park Avenue at 9.30am, and a return journey costs just £10 for Adults and £5 Concessions. Bring your Sunday Best Support!