Aberystwyth Town returned to JD Cymru Premier action last night following a month-long hiatus since their draw against The New Saints on the 16th of October. A 55th minute goal from skipper Marc Williams was cancelled out by a 77th minute equaliser by sub Ashton Gleed to share the spoils at Cyncoed on a bitter November evening in the capital.
Four changes were made to the team from their previous outing, with Connor Roberts, Louis Bradford and Mathew Jones returning to the XI alongside Deadline Day acquisition Matias Etchegoyen in place of Alex Pennock, Harri Rowe, Rhys Davies and Jonathan Foligno.
The opening 30 minutes passed without many notable chances to speak of, with both defences keeping on top of their opposition's attacks. As he has throughout the season, Steff Davies' timing of runs in behind the defence worried the men in burgundy all night, with Veale, Etchegoyen and full-backs Rimmer and Matty Jones looping balls his way. On 30 minutes, the game's best chance at that point was created by tidy work from Etchegoyen and Veale, who whipped an inch-perfect ball around the Met left-back to Davies who bared down on goal. However, the covering defender forced Davies wide and narrowed his angle, conceding only a shot into the side-netting. A minute later, another golden chance dropped to Steven Hewitt after the Met keeper's rushing clearance didn't go far, leaving an empty net for Hewitt to attempt a difficult half-volleyed dink. Agonisingly for the travelling Town officials, the ball dropped wide of the post and the score remained level though Aber were on top.
Town never let up their relentless pressing in the middle of the park as half-time approached, with everyone doing their parts to put the home side under duress. With a single added minute, Met's best chance of the half fell to the lighting-fast Warman as he curled the ball narrowly over the bar from 20 yards. With that, the referee blew an end to an entertaining but goalless half.
The second half saw Met keep ahold of the ball to re-open proceedings before Steff Davies had a penalty shout for a bodycheck waved away by the referee on 54 minutes. However, Steff needn't wait long for a goal contribution as Jack Rimmer delivered a delicious ball down his right side to latch onto. As he sped towards the by-line, he managed to get a foot ahead of the defender to cross low to skipper Marc Williams who smartly and deftly flicked the ball past the students' goalkeeper, putting Town ahead.
Town didn't rest on their lead however, continuing to do their part in attack as well as defensively - notably a counter-attack on 70 minutes that released the searing pace of Rimmer to coast past defenders on their heels, but his attempted cross to the recently substituted Jonny Evans was blocked smartly by last-ditch defending. Minutes later, Gwion Owen went close after good play from Mathew Jones set-up the former Rhuthin man, but wide his effort went.
Aber were in the ascendancy to double their lead, but as is the norm in our league - no lead is safe for long. A Met corner on 77 minutes was taken short and delivered to the area where a miscued header on the edge of the box fell to the feet of substitute Ashton Gleed who hit the roof of the net to equalise with a quarter hour to go.
The introduction of Owain Jones offered Town a speedy outlet to find a winner, with Met pushing to find a clincher of their own. On 86 minutes, Mathew Jones set-up the first of Aber's final chances by fizzing a low ball across the home area but no man in green was able to react quick enough. As the game entered its 90th minute, Met were awarded a free-kick from 20 yards out to the agony of travelling on-lookers, but the ever-vocal Connor Roberts showed why he's considered one of the league's elite shot-stoppers by getting low to parry away a potential game winner from Kyle McCarthy.
Just as the game seemed to be drawing to a close, a penultimate attack from Aber garnered an excellent chance for Steven Hewitt from close range but his side-footed effort just couldn't find the corner as some members of the Green Army had flashbacks of a late winner at Cyncoed two years ago from Ashley Ruane; however, it was not to be this time. A final chance for Aber was collected by the Met keeper and the final whistle was sounded.
Certainly one of the more entertaining 1-1 draws in recent memory, Town will accept their away point against resolute opposition though must feel all three were up for grabs. The Seasiders now look forward to another difficult run of fixtures following the postponement of three fixtures versus similarly-positioned teams; Bala (H), TNS (A) and Connah's Quay (H) to come before the run-in to Christmas and New Year.
We go again next Friday night under the Park Avenue lights - it's great to be back!