With centre back Sam Barnes pulling up in the warm-up, Jack Rimmer was recalled to the starting XI as Louis Bradford moved inside to replace the injured veteran. A back five of Pennock, Rimmer, Jenkins, Bradford and R. Davies (of which Bradford and Davies were deputising) meant Aber fielded a backline and keeper with an average age of 19.2 – surely a record of late! Despite the team’s youth, Aber got off to a brighter start with Gwion Owen continuing his energetic displays by covering every blade of artificial grass from the first whistle to the last. Aber’s first chance came from an excellent piece of skill by ex-Hereford left back Rhys Davies who got the best of his opposing full back to deliver a ball to the powerful forehead of Steff Davies who was unable to direct it goalward. Soon after, with Gwion Owen being scythed to the ground several times already, Jamie Veale delivered an indirect free-kick into the Bont area which was smartly cleared by the hosts.
An impressive first 15 was soon forgotten however, as some miscommunication at the back resulted in Nathan Wood picking up the ball from 25 yards and walloping it home past Pennock. Further attempts to play out of defence remained unfruitful, as Bont were in the ascendancy with the ball at their feet. Ex-Aber winger Kostya Georgievsky looked his usual energetic self down the Aber left, causing concern among the Aber faithful with a rasping effort just wide of the post on 23 minutes.
As the mist continued to roll in, Welsh football fans were reminded of a certain never-to-be-spoken-about game in the Faroe Islands some weeks back, though not quite the same rewards awaited the victors in this case. A chance for Rhys Davies on 32 minutes was against the balance of play as Bont continued to pressurise – Gwion Owen and Lee Jenkins standing strong especially. On 34 minutes came Bont’s best chance of the game to double their lead, as a ball over the top escaped Jenkins and left the on-rushing striker 1-on-1 with young Pennock. Luckily for the Green Army, the bounce of the ball caused problems for the attacker as his half-volleyed effort flew well past the post towards McArthur Glen Retail Park.
The visitors were brandished some yellow cards by referee Bryn Markham-Jones who subsequently waved away penalty shouts from the visiting players when Jonathan Evans was caught by keeper Ashley Morris. Aber went into half-time just one goal down, knowing better was needed in the second. A half-time rinsing from manager Gavin Allen seemed to do the trick right away, as Aber returned to the field a different team. Just 2 minutes into the half, a corner was dropped into the danger area, where 18 year old Louis Bradford (initially *unknown player* due to the mist) latched onto the loose ball to volley home, and suddenly it was Aber who were in the ascendancy. Steff Davies saw a glancing header painstakingly miss the post to double the lead before a knock on a Bont player required treatment and slowed Aber’s momentum.
The final 30 minutes was a rollercoaster, with Pennock making an excellent stop from a Bont volley and another headed effort from Davies not quite finding the net. A number of changes for Aber followed who saw two more chances thwarted, the best coming from skipper Marc Williams who chipped the on-rushing keeper, only for Morris to recover well and flap the ball to safety.
The final 10 minutes presented an enormous obstacle for the Seasiders, as Mathew Jones was wrongfully shown a 2nd yellow card when he had not been shown a 1st. Despite rampant protests by his teammates and general confusion among the very few on-lookers trying to make sense of the misty human-shaped blobs in the distance, Aber were down to 10 and forced to hold on for dear life. Having, quite literally, weathered the storm for the game’s final moments, the 4 added minutes went by without concern as excellent game management from Allen’s men saw an end to a game that had it all.
With the run of the green firmly against them, Aber battled hard to come away with a deserved point that kickstarts the campaign. The Black & Greens turn their attentions to a Friday night duel with newly-promoted Flint Town who make the journey to the Ceredigion coast. Again, the game will be held behind-closed-doors and thus admission for fans will not be permitted, though the fence-watching and bus-parking genius of the Green Army knows no bounds! Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi gyd am eich gefnogaeth parhaus – thank you all for your continued support!