A four-goal first-half blitz gave Aberdare Town victory, and three vital points over fellow relegation battlers Dinas Powys in Division Two of the Welsh Football League on Saturday.
A double from John Phillips, as well as goals from Killian Kingston and Rhys Tandy saw Aberdare race into a 4-0 lead inside 36 minutes. While it is only Aberdare’s third victory of the season, they have all come since Wayne Powell took over as manager at Aberaman Park and began a re-structure of the playing squad. In Powell’s six games, Aberdare have now collected 11 points, helping to move them five points clear of the drop zone.
For Dinas Powys it was an afternoon to forget, a big blow to their hopes of finishing outside the bottom two and to avoid potential relegation. Last week’s win at West End provided some renewed optimism, but having played more games than the sides above them, Ben Luck’s side face an uphill task from here.
Despite heavy downpours across the valleys on Saturday morning, by the time kick-off arrived the clouds had cleared and the pitch at Aberaman Park was deemed fit enough for the game to go ahead. Unsurprisingly, then, it was a scrappy start to the match. However, it didn’t take long for the first goal to arrive and it came from the first effort on goal.
In the fourth minute, Aberdare forward Seb Haggett got the better of a Dinas Powys defender on the right side of the penalty box, showing excellent awareness and quality from the goal line to pick out Phillips to sweep home from six yards.
It didn’t take long for the home side to double their advantage either. Dinas Powys were frustrated with what they felt was a softly awarded free kick on the right side of their penalty area, 20 yards from goal. Whether Elliott Matthews misread the flight of the ball or just got himself into a poor position, the Dinas Powys keeper was left flat-footed in the middle of the goal as Killian Kingston’s left-footed free kick around the wall hit the back of the net.
Aberdare’s dream start became even better in the 20th minute when Powys committed one of the cardinal sins of defending, allowing a long punt up field from Aberdare goalkeeper James Harris to bounce. Phillips was sharper to the loose ball, running in behind to coolly slot past Matthews into the corner of the net. Remarkably, Aberdare had scored from all of their first three efforts on goal.
Phillips had a chance to complete a first-half trick with a free kick from a similar range as Kingston’s. This time Matthews got his angles right and parried the ball to safety. Seb Haggett, on one of many rampaging runs in this game, forced another good save from Matthews on the half-hour. Kingston displayed his confidence by almost embarrassing the Dinas Powys keeper again, this time from 40 yards after spotting the Matthews off his line.
At the other end Dinas Powys were unable to create any clear cut chances. There were a number of dangerous balls into the box, several flicks on and loose balls, but Aberdare were always first to the second balls. Jordan Martin had the best chance, firing over from a corner, while right-back Dylan Walsh flashed a drive from the edge of the area wide.
In the 38th minute the result was effectively put beyond doubt. Dinas Powys failed to clear adequately an Aberdare corner; Rhys Tandy controlled on his chest before firing a looping half volley over Matthews to extend the lead to four goals.
The second half was an even scrappier affair with limited chances to speak of. The onus was very much on the hosts to try and find a way back into the game, but on the day the Villagers lacked the quality and creativity to produce chances that might do so. In fact, James Harris didn’t have to make a save of note in the second half until the 81st minute, when Powys substitute Myles Case found some space at the back post but couldn’t get his shot away before Harris was off his line to snuff out the chance.
From Aberdare’s perspective it was very much a case of seeing the result out and whether John Phillips could complete, what would have been, a deserved hat-trick. His best chance to do so came five minutes from the end. Again Haggett was the creator, beating his marker along the goal line and finding his strike partner in the middle 10 yards out. Phillips’ first time effort was on target, but Matthews flung out a strong hand to push the effort away.
It wasn’t to be for Phillips in the end, although Powell allowed the striker the distinction of an ovation from the home crowd with a substitution a minute from the end; a fitting tribute to an outstanding individual performance on the day.