REPORT BY RICHARD ROWLANDS Aberdare, missing four regulars put up a brave display against Championship dark horses Llantwit Major and it was only a penalty goal that separated the teams after a hard fought encounter. Aberdare gave a starting debut to new signing Luke Davies and who was joined in central defence by Kevin Davies who had to fill the role with the unavailability of Rhys Williams and Levi Jones. It was little surprise then that the hosts took time to settle and the midfield promptings of Llantwit’s Darren Robinson were causing a few flutters in the Aber rearguard with the best early chance falling to Jonathan Butler found by an exquisite through ball delivered by Nathan Jones but to be denied with an excellent full length save from Aber keeper James Harris. Moments later a speculative shot by marauding central defender Sean Williams flashed narrowly wide as the visitors continued to exert pressure. In the twentieth minute, disaster struck as a poorly weighted back pass to Harris saw him forced into colliding with Josh Jones and referee Hollyoake immediately pointed to the spot. Up stepped the experienced  Welsh League campaigner,Anthony Rawlings to strike home for a deserved lead. Aberdare battled  to get parity and man of the match Rhys Tandy was beginning to influence proceedings with his trademark runs down the right flank giving full back Jamie Miller a torrid time but the visitors, with not a little luck held firm with Town’s Myles Case and Seb Haggett who both had produced below par performances against AFC Porth showing greater urgency and direction and Case was unlucky to see his effort from an angle go narrowly wide after good work had seen him shrug off two defenders as he drove into the left hand edge  of the box.  The half ended with a powerful effort from the visitor’s Christian Smith going just wide , a half overall that Llantwit had shaded Half Time: Aberdare Town 0-1 Llantwit Major Rhys Harries who had shown up well in his first start was replaced by the experienced Shaun Chapple but it was the visitors who applied the early pressure with Harris called in quickly to make a smart stop and a booking for Luke Davies taking one for the team to deny a dangerous break. The resultant free kick saw Connor Goldsworthy crash his effort against the cross bar but other than a few isolated raids this was about the last we were to see of Llantwit as an attacking force as Aberdare took command.  Through the promptings of Tandy, Elliot Morris, Jon Phillips and Chapple with Matthew Glassey and Killian Kingstone now finding the space to make runs from defence well into the visitors half. A  Haggett thunderbolt went inches wide and minutes later he turned provider releasing Morris whose shot from the edge of the box smashed against the crossbar and down onto the goal line- where’s VAR when you need it. Another moment of despair arrived minutes later when from a corner, Phillips crafted his header away from keeper Jack Landsdown , only to see it strike the post  and hacked to safety. Phillips was in the action again with a delightful through ball finding Haggett whose effort was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Landsdown to the delight of his battle weary colleagues. Kevin Davies , short of regular first team football, had left nothing on the pitch and received a great ovation as he left the pitch to be replaced by Dai Gregory who was to prove a seamless substitution as the defence dealt comfortably with the intermittent raids.  As the minutes ticked away, the visitors proved themselves very adept at running down the clock , not always to the official’s satisfaction  and certainly not the home supporters though from the other side of the fence they would call  it game management. Aberdare’s final chance, though probably better described as an half chance was engineered by Chapple  but his rocket  screeched over the cross bar from twenty yards. The final whistle was music to the ears of Llantwit’s players and fans who knew they had escaped with a vital three points in their promotion bid but Aberdare will know that if they can constantly reproduce this form for the remainder of the season then a mid- table slot is not beyond them after such a turbulent season on and off the field. Man of the Match: Rhys Tandy
Team Line-Up 1 James HARRIS 2 Matthew GLASSEY 3 Kilian KINGSTON 4 Luke DAVIES 5 Kevin DAVIES 6 John PHILLIPS 7 Elliott MORRIS 8 Rhys TANDY 9 Myles CASE 10 Seb HAGGETT 11 Rhys HARRIES Substitutes 12 Shaun CHAPPELL 14 Dai GREGORY 15 - 16 - 17 -
Llantwit Major
Aberdare Town
Welsh League Div 2
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