Friday 27th February
Bala Town 3 Aberystwyth Town 3
Geoff Kellaway's stunning hat trick enabled Aber Town to get an excellent result at Maes Tegid last night, in a game the Black and Greens came within four minutes of winning. The positive result means Aber's Final league position this season is now likely to be decided by games at Park Avenue, as main rivals Bala and Airbus still have to visit Ceredigion before April 26th.
On a chilly, drizzly night in Gwynedd Bala started stronger and were in the lead within nine minutes, when a defensive clearance inadvertently fell for the unmarked Lee Hunt in the box, and the veteran WPL Goal Magnet made no mistake from close range. Both sides struggled to cope with a heavy pitch, and Bala nearly doubled their lead when Ian Sheridan cut inside from the left flank and curled a shot in, which brought an excellent diving save fom Mike Lewis. Minutes later Lewis again denied Sheridan, this time with his heel, and the value of these two vital saves was underlined on 27 minutes when Kellaway curled a right footed worldie into the top corner of Ashley Morris' goal, from an unaccustomed position on the left side, to equalise and bring the visiting supporters to their feet. Bala however underlined the balance of play two minutes later when Mark Jones curled in a similar effort, from the right, for a super second and a 2-1 lead. Aber hung on a bit for the remainder of the half as Hunt was denied by Chris Davies' excellent challenge, Sheridan yet again cut inside and yet again found Lewis in the way, before Sheridan and Hunt again went close, but after a disappointing first half the visitors were delighted to still be in the game at half time, with the score at 2-1.
The second half was a completely different story, as Aber dominated proceedings and came close to winning the game. A tactical switch saw Luke Sherbon moved to attacking midfield at half time, a position he has always enjoyed, and he was a key player in Town's second half revival. True, Lewis once again had to deny Sheridan after Mark Connolly sent a good ball into the box, but from then on Aber looked a real threat. They equalised on 57 minutes when half time substitute Stephen Wright marauded forward and picked out Sherbon on the right hand edge of the area, and his super ball in to the box picked out Kellaway perfectly, for the Felinfach Flier to notch his second clinically. With Aber now looking much more purposeful, particularly down the flanks, a bit of good fortune saw them take the lead with seventeen minutes left. Craig Williams' ball into the box looked speculative at best, but Morris came for, and dropped the ball, and when it fell to Kellaway twenty yards out, he fired home to claim a brilliant hat trick to bring the prospect of a huge victory into view. Sherbon narrowly failed to head a free kick goal bound, but then back came the hosts, with Connolly and Sheridan both heading over from close range. Then in the eighty ninth minute a Bala corner out on their right found unmarked Centre Half Will Bell, and he headed home purposefully to snatch a draw in a pulsating game. Lewis had to tip over a shot from Connolly in injury time, and the final whistle finally blew on a game which illustrated perfectly why this year's thrilling race for second place in the WPL will go right to the wire.
Aberystwyth's super second half fightback last night could prove to be a huge influence on the remainder of the season, and wins in their three remaining home games, against Port Talbot Town, Airbus and Bala Town would put them well on the way to a best ever WPL position, bringing with it a first ever UEFA Europa League Qualification via the League. However, the Welsh Cup Quarter Final is up next Saturday as Airbus visit Park Avenue for a 2.30pm kick off. Don't miss it!