While work is ongoing at their Old Road ground to ensure all the correct boxes are ticked with the incoming Tier 2 ground regulations.
On the pitch Briton Ferry Llansawel (BFL) have been making a good fist of life in Welsh Football League Division One after earning promotion from Division Two last season.
Early season form, including some heavy defeats, suggested it would be a big task for BFL to retain their Division One status on playing merit, but improved results through the autumn months mean Carl Shaw’s side – 12th in the table – have a 12 point cushion between themselves and the bottom three. Nevertheless, Shaw admits the campaign has been one of mixed fortunes.
“[The] Season so far been up and down. It’s a very hard division this year and difficult to put a run of positive results together. Hopefully we can keep our good form going forward and finish away from the bottom of the table. I don’t want to be heading into the end of the season looking at the table every 2 minutes!”
That good form has seen steady progress in the league, as well as some success in the cups, including a run to the quarter-finals of the Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Cup. Last weekend Briton Ferry Llansawel achieved their best result of the season so far, defeating Welsh League leaders Haverfordwest County away from home, despite finishing the game with 10-men.
“It was a fantastic win last week the boys worked really hard and got their rewards. I hope it’s a big point of our season and will give the boys a lot of confidence going forward.”
There is another big game this weekend as The Reds welcome Goytre United to Old Road, a local derby as just six miles separates the two clubs. The reverse fixture was postponed in October, but Shaw’s side have already secured a victory over Goytre United at Old Road in the Welsh Cup (a 3-1 success in the first round). After a sticky run of form ended Goytre United’s hopes of a title challenge, Lee John’s side have picked up again (unbeaten in seven) and currently sit 4th in Division One.
“Friday night is going to be a very difficult game for us. I know Lee very well and they have hit form again. We played them earlier in the season in the Welsh cup; on the day we played well and had a very good win so hopefully the boys can take some confidence into the game.”
It’s the first of three consecutive Port Talbot-area derbies for Shaw’s side and he says they are positive for the clubs and the league. Despite a mutual respect existing between the four Port-Talbot area clubs in Division One, local bragging rights will be very much at stake.
“I think it’s great to have these derbies and obviously the crowds are better as well. Most of the players and staff have connections with all the local sides so always adds something to the games. All clubs have got good relationships with each other but it’s always nice to win against local teams.”
The ‘mini-league’ involving Briton Ferry Llansawel, Goytre United, Afan Lido and Port Talbot Town has already produced some entertaining games this season, none more so than BFL’s incredible 5-3 at Port Talbot Town in November. Shaw reflected on that night as ‘one of the best’ nights in his time at the Old Road club.
“The game earlier on the season against Port Talbot was probably one of the best 45 minutes any of my teams have played in the 8 years I’ve been here. It was a fantastic game and a great advert for the league. We were 3-1 down at half time and your always thinking get a goal and see what happens. The boys didn’t stop and just kept going and going, scoring 4 unanswered goals and winning 5-3 was great in front of a very good vocal home crowd. A night not to be forgotten for a long time.”
There can be no doubt all in attendance under the floodlights at Old Road on Friday night will be hoping for a similarly thrilling local derby.
(Featured Image: Briton Ferry Llansawel)