Penydarren BGC continued their extraordinary winning run during 2017/18 with a dominant win at Caerphilly Athletic, including a sensational 30-yard strike from Christopher Colvin-Owens.
The Merthyr Tydfil club extend their record to 20 consecutive wins in all competitions this season and the latest win moves them up to 4th in the South Wales Alliance Premier Division.
On a heavy pitch that was deemed playable despite a large puddle submerging one of the corners, Penydarren’s quality and ruthlessness in the last third were too much for a plucky Caerphilly side which had its moments but was eventually undone by profligate finishing and errors at the back.
Given their form, it was no surprise the visitors started in the ascendancy and backed by a good away following. The vision and precise passing of Asa Lloyd was influential in most of Penydarren’s attacking play and he created the best of the early chances.
The most promising came to Ben Jones within four minutes, receiving a Lloyd pass and cutting back to find an extra yard of space, but his effort goalward bobbled wide. Colvin-Owen also had a chance to profit from Lloyd’s creativity, but his first effort at goal was a tame one.
Despite Penydarren’s possession and territorial dominance early in the game, Caerphilly were solid and well-organised, limiting the visitor’s penetration to these few half chances. They slowly grew into the game and created the first clear-cut chance of the match in the 15th minute. John Davies’ free kick from near the goal line found its way to Andrew Kempton unmarked at the back post, but he headed over from inside the six-yard box.
It was a massive let-off for the visitors who, despite bossing the early stages, hadn’t created any clear-cut chances. However, within a minute of Kempton’s missed opportunity, Penydarren won a free-kick in a central position 30 yards from goal. Colvin-Owens stepped up and curled the ball into the top corner to break the deadlock, his punching the air as much an issue of relief as celebration.
The goal galvanised Caerphilly and they produced a sustained period of pressure. Nick Edwards tried to repeat Colvin-Owens’ feat from a similar distance, but couldn’t find the same flight or accuracy and his effort went straight to Penydarren goalkeeper Jonathan Green.
However, from a wider place, Edwards did force Green to tip a second free-kick over the bar. From the resulting corner, Green was again called into action, tipping over Ian Butterworth’s goalbound effort from the edge of the penalty area.
At the other end, Penydarren rallied. A mix-up at the back for Caerphilly seemed to give Ben Jones a simple goalscoring chance, but Caerphilly stopper Mike Marsden recovered to push the effort away. There was also a couple of good headed chances inside the box for target man Nathan Williams, but on neither occasion could he direct his efforts on target.
It looked like Caerphilly had weathered this period and would get to half-time just the one-goal behind, but on the stroke of half-time, a goalkeeping error effectively put the game beyond them.
Kyle Sullivan picked up the second ball from another Asa Lloyd cross, flicked the ball over his head to create space for a volleyed effort at goal. The connection wasn’t what the first skill deserved and the ball bobbled towards goal, presenting a straightforward save for Marsden. However, the ball slipped through his hands and over the line to double the Penydarren lead.
The second-half began with little evidence of Caerphilly feeling sorry for themselves; the opposite as they displayed more aggression with the ball and, on occasions, too much off it. Nick Edwards was booked for a bit of a wild lunge in the opening minutes and could have received a second yellow shortly after for another late – if less gruesome looking – tackle, but the referee was satisfied to just award a free-kick.
What Caerphilly did positively was produced their best spell of the match, enjoying a period of territorial dominance that saw Penydarren camped inside their own half and unable to clear their lines effectively.
Will Toms was at the heart of much of the good players in this period and he had a few half chance efforts at goal, one well blocked as it looked to be heading for the net. Nathan Cook had the best chance, six yards out with the goal gaping he should have halved the deficit, but his effort was straight at Green.
The pressure on Penydarren was not only exemplified by their slightly flustered defending, but an increased physical approach in order to fight back and Alex Lloyd was added to the book for an over-zealous challenge in midfield.
However, Penydarren got through this period unscathed and as the Caerphilly fightback started to lose its momentum, chances to counter-attack began to emerge; the best a superb move involving Colvin-Owens and Asa Lloyd, which ended with Nathan Williams skying over from 10 yards.
The points were sealed beyond doubt in the 65th minute. A corner from the right found substitute Jamie Howells free at the near post and he squeezed his effort inside the post and past Marsden. Another goal that Caerphilly would have been disappointed to concede and coming at the end of their best period of the match.
The home side did keep going but were unable to create any further chances to take some consolation from the game.
On the other hand, Penydarren always looked more likely to add to their tally with increasing space to exploit on the counter-attack. Colvin-Owens had a couple of efforts to add to his earlier strike and Williams was unlucky to mark his hard-working performance with a goal when an effort came back from the post.
With four minutes remaining they did add a little extra glaze to the win, again punishing a defensive mistake when a poor back pass played in Asa Lloyd, who rounded Marsden and rolled the ball into an unguarded net to cap a superb individual performance in midfield.