Friday 27th April
Aberystwyth Town 5-3 Newtown
Aberystwyth Town ended their 2017/18 JD Welsh Premier League campaign in style as they stormed to a 5-3 victory over mid-Wales rivals Newtown to climb above Llandudno and secure a 9th place finish in the league table. A second half brace from Ryan Wade (76, 89) as well as goals from John Owen (14), Declan Walker (40) and Matthew Jones (80) helped Aber to victory as they took a first half lead, but then had to come from behind in a thrilling game under the lights at Park Avenue.
Aber’s starting line-up included one change from last weekend’s home draw with Carmarthen as Ryan Wade replaced Craig Hobson, with John Owen moving further forward to the lone striker role. As many end of season games do, this one started rather tentatively with Aber controlling the early tempo, but unable to produce any incisive football or clear-cut chances. The first moment of magic came in the 14th minute when John Owen cleverly kept the ball in play on the right touchline before skipping around a few Newtown defenders to get to the by-line; as he looked up into the box he seemed destined to produce a cross, but instead spotted goalie Dave Jones off his line and produced an inch-perfect curling chip which nestled in the far corner of the net to make it 1-0. Town began to stamp their authority on the game and almost doubled their lead on 21 minutes as Tom Owens rifled a shot straight at Jones in goal. Newtown seemed unable to find a foot hold in the game, but on 23 minutes they very nearly found the equaliser as Callum Roberts’ free kick was superbly tipped on to the post by Aber ‘keeper Chris Mullock. Nevertheless, the hosts continued to have the better of the play, and doubled their lead on the stroke of half time as right back Declan Walker ventured into the penalty area before unleashing a powerful strike for his 14th goal of the season to make it 2-0. Aber looked to be cruising towards the half time whistle, but were caught out in additional time as Ethan Jones turned inside and trickled a low effort into the bottom corner to make it 2-1 and give the Robins a lifeline.
The visitors, to their credit, were clearly buoyed by that late first half strike and began the second half on the front foot, as Aber struggled to adapt to losing Malcolm Melvin from the midfield with Kurt Sherlock being introduced in his place. On 52 minutes the Robins missed a golden opportunity to equalise as Ethan Jones again raced down on goal before dragging his shot narrowly wide. But on 54 minutes they were level, as Nick Rushton found himself in space inside the area before his deflected effort ricocheted into the net to make it 2-2. Newtown suddenly had all the momentum, as Aber made a double sub with Jack Rimmer and Luke Borrelli replacing John Owen and Declan Walker. On 60 minutes, the visitors got their noses in front as Ryan Kershaw lined up to shoot and produced a sublime right footed effort that curled into the top corner to make it 2-3. Soon after, they almost extended their lead as first Rushton, and then Mitchell were denied by some excellent goalkeeping by Mullock. Aber were on the ropes, and could easily have given in with one eye on next week’s cup final clash with Connah’s Quay; but instead, they rolled up their sleeves and showed the togetherness and spirit that typifies this black and greens’ squad at the moment. On 76 minutes, the hosts were back on level terms as left back Matthew Jones stood up an inch-perfect cross from the by-line for Ryan Wade to head the ball into the net and make it 3-3. The swing in momentum back in Aber’s favour was evident, and Town were very nearly in front just two minutes later when Sherlock attempted an audacious chip from the halfway line that clipped the top of the crossbar and landed on the roof of the net. But on 80 minutes, Aber did get themselves back in front as local starlet Matthew Jones reacted brilliantly to snap up the rebound from Sherlock’s long range effort and slide the ball below Dave Jones to make it 4-3. It was a devastating blow for the visitors who were clearly stunned by Town’s brilliant fight-back, and on 89 minutes victory was sealed as Joe Phillips played in Wade who ran through on goal before producing a clever finish to guide the ball beyond Jones and make it 5-3. Aber could still have extended their lead further in stoppage time as Sherlock was denied a thoroughly deserved goal by a last-ditch goal line clearance, but it proved insignificant as the black and greens ended their league campaign with an excellent home performance.
The win means Aber finish the 2017/18 JD Welsh Premier League campaign in 9th place, topping last season’s 10th placed finish, and of course with next Sunday’s huge JD Welsh Cup Final clash with Connah’s Quay Nomads still to look forward to. The victory also extends their unbeaten run to four games, as they carry all the momentum into next Sunday’s final in what is sure to be a memorable occasion for everyone involved with the club.