Friday 3rd March
Rhyl 2 Aberystwyth Town 2
Aberystwyth Town overcame a nightmare four hour journey last night to return from Rhyl with a valuable point which was the least they deserved after a positive performance at Belle Vue. Josh Davies' fifth minute opener for the hosts was cancelled out by a penalty from Mark Jones (15 minutes) and a low strike from Geoff Kellaway (27), but Toby Jones' 83rd minute free kick evened things up again, ensuring the points were shared in a match Aber could not afford to lose.
The Black and Greens' Coach was delayed for 90 minutes by an accident near Bala, and the team arrived just five minutes before the regulation kick off, meaning the start was delayed by half an hour. Phil Baker, signed on loan from TNS the day before, came straight into the Centre of defence along with Sam Rodon, and Mark Jones once again lead the line. The visitors however made an excellent start with Kellaway bringing an early save from Dan Lavercombe, before firing over seconds later. Despite a positive start Aber got caught on the break and Davies turned before firing low into Chris Mullock's lead to give Rhyl the lead. Notwithstanding this setback Aber bossed the first half and responded brilliantly. Effervescant Macolm Melvin curled a shot which tested Lavercombe again, Dan Alfei fired over and Luke Borelli's left wing cross lead to a powerful Melvin header which was blocked. Next Baker aimed a free kick into the area and Jones was fouled in the area, only to pick himself up and blast home the equaliser from the penalty spot. Before long Aber had the lead they so richly deserved, as a Baker free kick once again caused consternation and Kellaway pounced to volley home Aber's second through a crowd of players. Rhyl won a free kick in a dangerous area which Zyaac Edwards fired straight at Mullock, but then normal service was resumed as Melvin and Jones down the right set up Kellaway who brought another save from Lavercombe. Despite Aber's dominance of possession and chances Steve Lewis did have a shot cleared off the line by Alfei right at the end, but home supporters could not complain about Matthew Bishop's men leading after a dominant first 45 minutes.
Rhyl were losing a must win game and of course they responded after the break, dominating the first five minutes without creating any meaningful opportunities. Then Sam Rodon headed back for Kellaway to fire another goalbound salvo which was blocked, and minutes later Kellaway was again denied by a terrific save in a one on one down the right. With Baker and Rodon fronted by Sherbon and Crowther at the back dealing well with the inevitable arial barrage Aber were still a threat going forward with sub Lee Healey firing in a terrific ball across the goal which evaded everyone. Healey was then released down the right to set up Alfei but the Swansea based right back couldn't quite finish the chance. As the game deteriorated into a stop start affair it seemed that only set pieces could threaten Aber's lead and so it was, as a free kick conceded in a central area gave Jones the chance to curl a brilliant free kick into Mullock's net for an equaliser which was very harsh on the visitors. With Aber tiring after a very long day, the game entered injury time at 10pm and Cledan Davies' free kick almost dropped in at the far post, before a Rhyl corner with 20 seconds of injury time to go caused palpitations which proved to be unfounded, as an enjoyable game ended all square.
Given last night's circumstances the Black and Greens must be complimented on putting on a stirring attacking performance, and although the win was not there for the Seasiders on this occasion, further similar performances in Aber's last six matches will bring greater rewards for sure. Their next opponents are Mid Wales rivals Newtown next Friday night at Park Avenue, with entertainment guaranteed.
Atfc.org.uk apologises for the delay in producing this match report. It was a late night!