Friday 13th April
Prestatyn Town 0-1 Aberystwyth Town
Aberystwyth Town battled to a crucial three points at Bastion Gardens on Friday evening, as Craig Hobson’s 4th minute strike was enough to see them to victory in a crunch JD Welsh Premier League clash on the North Wales coast. The win sees Aber climb to within just two points of Llandudno and three points of Newtown in the league table, and pulls them further clear of Carmarthen Town as they look to end their league campaign in style before their JD Welsh Cup final date with Connah’s Quay Nomads in May.
Town’s starting eleven saw one change from the line-up that beat Newtown in the cup semi-final last weekend, with midfielder Tom Owens coming in for Joe Phillips. On a tricky playing surface, the black and greens knew it was vital they got off to a good start in the game, and they did exactly that. On 4 minutes, Prestatyn’s attempt at a quick indirect free-kick went horribly wrong as they gifted possession to Ryan Wade, and in a flash he’d played the ball through for Craig Hobson, who ran 20 yards towards goal and fired a low shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Carl Jones to make it 1-0. It was the perfect start for the seasiders, whose travelling tifosi were yet again in full voice as they roared their team on from the stands. Town gained momentum from their early goal, and very nearly doubled their lead on 8 minutes when Malcolm Melvin’s chipped effort was headed off the goal line by Reece Fairhurst. Soon after, Aber’s midfield maestro was again in the thick of the action as his volley went inches over the crossbar, before super John Owen’s glancing header clipped the outside of the post. The visitors hoped they wouldn’t rue their host of missed chances as Prestatyn slowly grew into the game, with Oliver Buckley’s left footed strike going narrowly wide of the post on 25 minutes. Nevertheless, Town stood strong and saw out the first half with their lead intact, marshalled by defensive pairing Ashley Young and Ryan Wollacott who were immense once again.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, with the hosts seeing more of the ball but the visitors creating the better goal scoring opportunities. On 54 minutes, Hobson who’d been a thorn in Prestatyn’s side all game, went close when his flicked header fizzed wide of the post. On 61 minutes Joe Phillips was introduced in place of Ryan Wade as Aber looked to add more speed and trickery to their attacking play, and on 68 minutes they very nearly doubled their lead as Declan Walker’s cross was met by Hobson with a firm header that somehow bounced the wrong side of the post and out for a goal kick. The missed chances were becoming a worry for the Green Army of travelling supporters, as they turned their volume up a notch to give their heroes one final push on to victory. On 77 minutes, Prestatyn created their first meaningful opportunity of the second half as Louis Irvine cut inside and hit a left footed shot inches wide of the post. It was a warning sign for Aber that they would have to battle and scrap for every single ball as the game entered the final 10 minutes. But on 82 minutes, the visitors were gifted a massive chance to finish the game, as Joe Phillips was chopped down in the area by Fairhust and awarded a penalty kick. Top goalscorer Declan Walker stepped up and placed his low spot kick to the right of the ‘keeper, but it was brilliantly tipped around the post by Carl Jones. Yet more drama for the supporters to endure, as their anxiety levels rose to an all time high with just five minutes remaining. Prestatyn tried as they might to find an equaliser, but it looked increasingly unlikely that they would get one as midfield trio Allen, Melvin and Owens fought for every second ball and the back five stood up to any attacking threat the hosts threw at them. Substitute Luke Borrelli almost sealed the victory with a curling left footed strike in added time, but it proved to be insignificant as Aber saw out the final minutes to earn a valuable three points.
A massive victory for the black and greens to follow up last Sunday’s Welsh Cup semi-final win, and Aber will be keen to build on this momentum as they head into two consecutive league games at fortress Park Avenue to end their league campaign. Town will face Carmarthen Town in their next fixture on Friday evening in an 8 o’clock kick off at Park Avenue.