Haverfordwest County earned the West Wales bragging rights and the crucial three points in the hunt for a Top 6 berth as two first half goals sunk Aberystwyth Town in Pembrokeshire.
Jack Wilson and Danny Williams’ goals, either side of a twenty-minute delay due to floodlight failure, compounded Aber to their second defeat since the resumption of football following the Welsh firebreak lockdown.
On a bitterly cold evening in Pembrokeshire, Gavin Allen again shuffled his pack with eight changes from Saturday’s defeat away to The New Saints to cope with the busy schedule over the coming weeks.
There was a first start for Louis Gerrard in a back four as well as recalls for Connor Roberts, Louis Bradford, Mathew Jones, Gwion Owen, Steff Davies, Owain Jones and Marc Williams.
The hosts started the brighter and could have been ahead with just thirty seconds on the clock. Wilson, a constant danger to the Aber defence, cut inside from the left flank and curled a shot narrowly wide of Roberts’ post.
Wilson continued to trouble the Seasiders’ defence and had two further opportunities in the opening ten minutes. Firstly, curling a shot wide of the far post then firing a half volley into the side stanchion of the goal.
Meanwhile, Aber did create chances of their own. Hewitt was unable to add to the goal he scored on Saturday as he fired wide following good play from the lively Owain Jones. Jamie Veale’s free kick from 25 yards was well saved by Wojciech Gajda in the home goal and Jones was again a danger man for Aber as he fired over after a good spell of possession for Gavin Allen’s side.
But in the 17th minutes, it was the home side who capitalised on their early dominance. Williams won a flick on in midfield to set up Wilson. Despite the tackle of the covering Bradford, the man from Milford Haven coolly curled the ball low past Roberts and into the back of the net to give Haverfordwest County the lead.
The setback settled Aber and they enjoyed a spell of possession and territory. In fact, they had the ball in the back of the net on the 24th minute although referee David Morgan adjudged there to have been a foul on the keeper before Steff Davies met the ball with his head.
With Aber in the ascendancy, disaster struck as one half of the pitch was eclipsed in darkness thanks to a floodlight failure on one side. The game was stopped for some twenty minutes to allow local electrician Simon Morgan to fix the problem.
With the resumption of the game, the men from Ceredigion continued to press for an equaliser and could have been level almost instantly. A sumptuous ball was played over the top of the defence by Owen which found Marc Williams in the box however, his goal bound effort beat Gajda but not the block of Kurtis Rees on the line.
Against the run of play, County grabbed their second. A corner from the left hand side was flicked on at the front post by Sean Pemberton. The flick caught out the Town’s defence and Williams was left with the simple task of nodding the ball home to double their advantage.
At the half time interval, Jonathan Evans and Jack Rimmer were introduced to proceedings replacing Bradford and Owain Jones who’d been the victim of a strong tackle during the first half.
Despite the changes, it was County who started the brighter and has three glorious opportunities to increase their lead within the first ten minutes of the half. Ben Fawcett was unable to direct a dangerous cross across the six-yard box goal wards, Wilson saw his header cannon off the post and the latter was put through one on one with the keeper but saw his attempts smothered well by Roberts.
It took until near the hour mark for the visitors to muster their first opportunity of the second stanza. Stephen Hewitt latched onto a flick on from a throw in but his volley was well stopped by Gajda.
But in an evening of delays, there came another on half way through the second half as the twenty third man on the field, Morgan, had to be replaced by fourth official Alex McInch following a leg injury.
As time progressed, Aber spent more time in the Haverfordwest’s half but could not work the all important breakthrough. Substitute Rimmer forced a superb acrobatic stop from a rasping 25-yard thunderbolt and debutant Gerrard’s hooked volley was gratefully caught but a grateful Gadja.
Despite seven additional minutes, the hosts defensive unit maintained their shape and solidity to gain the clean sheet and the all-important three points.
A disappointing evening for Aber who’ll look at this as a golden opportunity missed to maintain the pressure on the top 6. However, Aber can look towards home comforts for the next four games starting with Connahs Quay on Friday evening.