Sunday 14th August
The New Saints 2 Aberystwyth Town 1
Aberystwyth Town recovered from a tough first half to take Champions TNS to the wire on Sunday at Park Hall, where Chris Jones’ stunning free kick brought the Black and Greens right back into things before they eventually succumbed to a 2-1 defeat.
There is no denying that the hosts started well, and dominated the first half with an impressive performance. Aber keeper Dominic Richards was busy from the start and made a string of crucial saves to keep his side in it, denying Scott Quigley and Aeron Edwards early on. Adrian Ciesliewicz hit the cross bar with a volley, then Will Bell saved Aber by deflecting Simon Spender’s low volley on to the post. 15 minutes had gone when the ball dropped to Ryan Brobbel from 5 yards out and he tapped home to give the hosts a logical lead. Aber did respond when Geoff Kellaway’s flick on found Jonathan Evans down the right channel, but his shot went wide. Richards then denied Ciesliewicz again, and Ryan Wollacott made a fine block to frustrate Quigley. An injury to Greg Walters brought about a stop in play and the appearance of sub Ricky Watts, but the offensive pattern of TNS’ game continued, and after Edwards had hit the post with a volley they doubled their lead on 38 minutes when Ciesliewicz lobbed Richards from the left pocket and despite a brave effort Cledan Davies was unable to prevent the ball crossing the line. Richards pulled off yet another injury time save and to tell the truth visiting supporters were glad to reach the break at 2-0, with TNS having thoroughly dominated proceedings.
The Black and Greens’ second half showing was much better. A couple of slight tactical switches by Matthew Bishop made a world of difference, and although Richards again did well to deny Ciesliewicz a second, Aber were now competing, and with Watts making swashbuckling runs down the right, a recovery looked possible. Watts set up sub Chris Jones with a delightful flick and the Gower Goal Getter shot wide with his first touch. Kellaway was next to burst down the right and he tested Paul Harrison’s gloves with a low shot, but TNS were still dangerous with Greg Draper and Simon Spender threatening the away goal. However Will Bell and Sam Rodon created an excellent defensive barrier in front of the goal, and with Luke Sherbon also working hard defensively just in front of the back four, the chance of a recovery was there. Then on 81 minutes, Jones himself ran at the heart of the back four and earned himself a free kick, before rifling a brilliant strike right into the top corner for a certain Goal of the Month Contender for August. Luke Borrelli’s free kick was then nodded goalwards by sub Lewis Coyle, and Aber were dreaming of an incredible comeback. Sadly though, it was not meant to be, and the hosts prevailed, though not without undergoing a stressful last 20 minutes.
So Aber’s spirited fightback was not quite enough, but having competed very well away to the Champions in the second half they will take great confidence heading into next Sunday’s equally tough assignment, away to Airbus UK Broughton.