REPORT BY RICHARD ROWLANDS
On a run of six successive defeats Aberdare travelled west and came back with three precious points after a greatly improved performance.
But as pleasing as some of the football displayed, was the attitude of the players ,showing grit and determination throughout ,on a sunny
spring day in the Swansea valley.
There were returns to the starting line- up for Elliot Morris, Killian Kingston and Levi Jones and each produced the goods as Aberdare moved
up two places , with their league destiny now in their own hands after fashioning an eleven point gap on Dinas Powys , the Vale outfit
having three games in hand.
Playing on an excellent playing surface in front of a decent crowd ,swelled by a coach full of “Ground hoppers”, Town began brightly with
Kingston, Rhys Tandy and Jones showing up strongly as they took early control but it was twelve minutes in before their first clear chance on
goal with a Morris effort couched by experienced Pontardawe keeper, Steve Reeve.
The Aberdare rear guard of Phil Clarke, Matthew Glassey, Rhys Williams and man of the match Luke Davies were comfortable and coping
well with intermittent home assaults as Town remained threatening.
Levi Jones threading a delightful ball to Seb Haggett whose shot flashed just wide of goal and minutes later, this time set up by Rhys Tandy ,
Haggett was again involved as the half drew to a close when he latched on to a sloppy back pass only to be denied by Reeve who cleared
the immediate danger forcing away for a corner.
It had been a very satisfactory first half performance lacking just that crucial goal but just like London buses two turned up within a minute or
so early into the second half .
Half Time: Pontardawe 0-0 Aberdare Town
Haggett was again involved with a sweeping cross field ball to the right hand edge of the host’s penalty area , a ball well anticipated by
Kingston with a lung bursting run who cut inside only to be upended by the keeper who had rushed from his goal line to snuff out the danger
. Up stepped Haggett to rifle home and give Town a well merited lead.
From the kick off Town quickly regained possession and Rhys Tandy with one of his signature runs gave him the space and time to cross
into the danger area where Morris despatched his header clinically into the Pontardawe net.
After such a desperate run the confidence was now almost visibly to be seen running through the veins of the Town players and another
Tandy ball into the area saw the ball shave the head of Irishman Kingston and cleared to safety.
As the game entered its final twenty minutes the home team made a few tactical changes allied with substitutions and pushed forward whilst
Aberdare were now content to hold on to what they had .
Rhys Tandy entered referee, Tim Drean’s book with a mistimed lunge on the edge of the penalty area and from the free kick keeper James
Harris, produced a superlative save to maintain the two goal advantage.
In what was now becoming a rare raid on the home defence , Jon Phillips leapt high to direct a header on goal tipped over by Reeve and
from the resulting Tandy corner ,the ball came back to him and his cross found the head of Morris who glanced wide of the post for what
would have been the sealer.
Haggett, to warm applause, left the field with a thigh pull with Myles Case taking up what is sometimes a thankless lone striker role but to
which he applied himself well.
Veteran Pontardawe midfieder Gary Taylor was pulling the strings for the hosts as they ramped up the pressure looking for the goal which
they knew would put Aberdare, after such a confidence sapping run, under pressure but it was until the ninety minute mark had past that
James Harris who had been impeccable in his handling of high balls into the box all afternoon , misjudged one , allowing Josh Roberts, up
from his central defensive role to head in.
With Aberdare supporters pleading for the ref’s whistle a good six minutes of injury time saw desperate back to the wall defending and it was
a nerve wracking time as Taylor marched up to take a free kick, central to goal and a few yards outside the box only to see the wall do it’s
job and young Levi Jones desperately clear from the melee of players converging on the rebound.
A vital win had been achieved and with four games left to play if Town can garner a further four points then safety should be assured.
Man of the Match: Luke Davies
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