MG Nathaniel Cup Semi Final
Saturday 23rd November
STM Sports 2 Aberystwyth Town 1
Aber Town’s League Cup hoodoo continued as they fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat away to Cymru South contenders STM Sports in this season’s MG Nathaniel Cup Semi Final. Marc Williams’ diving header on 27 minutes had Aber dreaming of a first ever Final appearance but goals from Callum Bateman (pen, 38 minutes) and Josh Graham (55 minutes) put STM ahead. Aber laid siege to Sports’ goal from then on but the hosts held on to progress into the Final in the Black and Greens’ place.
On a rainy day in the Capital Aber started well and confidently, passing the ball around with their hosts sitting deep. Adam Hughes lobbed over the bar after a few seconds, then glanced a header over the bar from Wes Baynes’ corner minutes later. Tom Price sent a volley wide before Lee Jenkins surged through and just missed the target from distance. Joe Phillips then curled an effort past the post, and a Mathew Jones cross also swept past the post. Paulo Mendes had a shot saved before unleashing another from 30 yards, which was saved. A howitzer from Mathew Jones fizzed wide and then Aber had a warning when on a rare break Lamin Conteh fired over from an excellent position. Phillips had yet another attempt cleared off the line so Aber’s lead when it came was richly deserved. Tom Price sent in a deep cross from the right which was headed back by the influential Jenkins, and Williams dived to head home from ten yards to delight the super travelling support. Joey Evans hit Connor Roberts from ten yards, and that looked a costly miss as Aber threatened to put the game to bed. Phillips drifted across the box and sent an attempt past the far post, and with Aber defending well, including from dangerous free kicks they seemed in control. However in a trice Conteh drifted across the back line and Roberts was adjudged to have fouled him in the area, for a penalty, which Bateman sneaked in despite Roberts’ best efforts. Mendes had an effort saved from 8 yards before a penalty shout, and Price hit the side netting after a great cross from Phillips, so despite the visitors being well ahead on points, at the break the score remained 1-1.
Into the second half, Hughes played in Price bearing in on goal, but the Swansea loanee couldn’t quite get the ball under control. Then with STM Sports settling, Graham drifted into a pocket down the left and sneaked in to finish well into the far corner to give the hosts an unlikely lead. Roberts then did well to deny Batemen, and Geoff Kellaway and Luke Boundford were thrust on for the final thirty, soon followed by Alex Boss. The subs gave Aber added impetus and with STM tiring Aber dominated the final stages. Boss set up Williams for a volley from the edge of the area which was saved, and with another downpour starting Matthew Jones was so unlucky to see his cross cannon off the crossbar. Hughes sent in another decent cross but Williams headed wide; Boundford knocked on a header for Kellaway to test home keeper Benjamin Boyer, and then had another shot cleared for a corner. Chance after chance came but it was just not Aber’s day: Lee Jenkins saw a goalbound header tipped over the bar by Boyer, and although Graham chipped wide at the other end almost all the action was in STM’s penalty box. Price’s super shot from outside the area brought the save of the day from Boyer to protect STM’s lead, and then Baynes’ excellent cross from the right was headed agonizingly wide at the back post by Boundford. Lee Jenkins fired an injury time effort over the bar and to the visitors’ dismay, the win was STM Sports’.
Aber had 23 attempts on goal today against seven by the hosts, and although the result has to be judged a harsh one on the balance of play, there is no getting away from the fact that the Black and Greens missed a great opportunity to make a Cup Final this afternoon. Everyone at Aberystwyth Town Football Club congratulates STM Sports on a magnificent achievement and somewhat of a footballing fairytale in reaching their first national Cup Final. Aber will now have to lick their wounds and aim to make good for today’s defeat at home to Cefn Druids in the JD Cymru Premier on Friday evening (ko 7.45pm).
Photo courtesy of Colin Ewart