REPORT BY RICHARD ROWLANDS
The opening fixture of 2018 saw Aberdare still reeling from the aftermath of the departure of several players and going into this fixture with
Dai Gregory getting a late call up as a fill-in keeper and Manager Wayne Powell giving new signings, local product Mario Scaccia and ex
Risca United’s Killian Kingston their debuts in midfield.
All three were to provide excellent performances in what turned out to be a thrilling encounter with no little controversy.
Central defender Matt Flynn started up front in this rejigged line up and things started well with who was to be man of the match, Rhys Tandy
making now one of his familiar right flank raids and crossing for Elliot Morris to steer home.
But as was to be the theme of the day, the visitors were soon level with Breig Matthews converting from the spot after Elliot Gowan had
been brought down in the box.
A third goal within five minutes was to arrive when from a Seb Haggett corner the ball found its way to Morris who smashed home past the
helpless Lewis Gibbs in the West End goal.
Minutes later there was a chance for a quick fire hat trick but his shot from a free kick flashed past the post.
The assault continued with debutants Sciacca and Kingston showing up well and it was the latter who got himself on the score sheet when a
measured cross from that man Tandy found him at the far post powerfully heading home for a two goal cushion.
With only a half hour on the clock, back came the visitors with a second penalty. Rhys Williams was adjudged to have handled in the area
and Matthews was rather fortunate to celebrate his second with Gregory’s great effort partially saving the spot kick only to see it squirm over
the line as he desperately attempted to clutch.
Controversy was to reign at the other end when Tandy flummoxed three defenders and as he prepared to fire appeared to be tripped. Amid
howls of protest referee, Hollyoake yellow carded the winger for simulation. This was to prove one of two pivotal decisions both detrimental
to Aberdare’s hopes in this pulsating match .
Half Time: Aberdare Town 3-2 West End
Supporters of both sides had been provided with an exhilarating first half and were treated to even more dramas in an equally thrilling
second period which opened positively for the hosts.
An early corner found the West End defence wanting and Tandy in a melee of players found Phillips, who had celebrated the birth of a
daughter just before Christmas, joyously hook in for a two goal cushion.
Just ten minutes later the second vital decision was to come about following a mid- field “handbags” incident but with the Assistant referee
intervening resulting in a rapid second yellow for Matt Flynn and a sending off.
From what had appeared was going to be a comfortable home win, West End now found renewed energy and Elliot Gowan should have
reduced the arrears blasting over from only five yards out.
Just past the hour the visitors did, with Matthews sneaking in to score after the defence had failed to deal with a looping ball into the box.
The last half hour saw Aberdare comfortably holding their own but with the pitch becoming more and more sticky legs began to tire as the
ten men held out.
Ex Cardiff Met player Tom Rees came on for his debut and Cory Thomas for Seb Haggett who had ran himself to a standstill in his lone
striker role following the dismissal of Flynn.
Calamity came a minute into injury time when Phillips bundled over a player who appeared to be going nowhere and Mr Hollyoake pointed to
the spot yet again and Matthews gratefully struck home his third spot kick and overall a fourth for a day he will long remember.
There was still time for the visitors to construct another dangerous move and there were clear calls for another penalty as Gregory collided
with Matthews with the ball flying over the crossbar.
With the final whistle fans of both teams applauded the players off the field though may be not so warmly the officials.
Man of the Match: Rhys Tandy
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