After weeks of disruption due to poor weather, the Welsh Football League was back to almost full schedule this weekend.
Just two games were postponed and from the 22 games played there were 94 goals scored, not a single nil-nil and plenty of thrills and spills along the way.
There was plenty of drama at the top of Division One, historic days in both Pontypridd and Aberbargoed, for Ton Pentre the long wait for a Welsh League win is over, while at one Welsh League ground the earth literally shook. We’ve got all of this covered and more in the Welsh Football League round-up.
A few weeks ago the Welsh League championship was starting to look like a two-horse race between Haverfordwest County and Llanelli Town. However, Afan Lido on the back of an eight-match unbeaten run in which they took 22 points have emerged among the frontrunners; while Penybont – much fancied at the start of the season – have found form again in 2018.
Going into the weekend’s fixtures Haverfordwest led Division One with 42 points with Llanelli Town, Penybont and Afan Lido a single point behind and separated by goal difference.
On Friday night Afan Lido hosted Briton Ferry Llansawel, who have also hit a purple patch of late, knowing a win would take them to the top of the league. In a tight match at the Marston’s Stadium, Stephen Davey scored the only goal to give Briton Ferry Llansawel a second Port Talbot-area derby win in as many weeks (following last week’s win over Goytre United).
It was the turn of the other title-chasers on Saturday. Llanelli Town travelled to Monmouth Town and found themselves 2-0 up just after halftime thanks to goals from Lee Trundle and Jordan Follows.
In Pembrokeshire, Haverfordwest County and Penybont met in a match that kicked off half hour later. County – who went into the game on a two-match losing streak – took the lead and with Llanelli Town conceding twice late on to drop two points in a 2-2 draw, it looked like the Bluebirds would be moving three points clear at the top.
However, Penybont struck twice in the final quarter through Kane Owen and Marcus Griffiths and held on, despite having a player sent off, to record a fourth victory in five and move to the summit of the Welsh League.
There was a massive game at the other end as bottom two Caerau Ely and Ton Pentre met at Cwrt-Yr-Ala. It has been a difficult season for both clubs, with dramatic changes on and off the field meaning both clubs are essentially in a rebuilding phase. In another tense affair, Josh Luker scored the game’s only goal in the second half to give Ton Pentre all three points. It was the Rhondda Bulldogs’ first league win of the season (in their 20th game).
The victory moves Ton Pentre up to 14th and has cut the gap between them and safety to four points; Caerau Ely drop to the foot of the table in 16th. Cwmamman United’s 3-1 defeat at Undy Athletic means they are now 15th, five points adrift of safety. For the bottom two there is a crumb of comfort in the games in hand they have over both Ton Pentre and Monmouth Town.
Elsewhere, a Chris Ham hat-trick helped Cwmbran Celtic thrash Goytre 4-1 in their Gwent derby. Goytre have now lost three on the bounce, conceding 13 goals, and their potential title challenge seemingly demolished for this campaign at least.
Port Talbot put behind them a difficult few weeks and even survived an earthquake that brought play to a temporary halt, defeating Taffs Well 2-1 at Victoria Road despite fielding a ‘depleted’ side including several players from their U-19 squad. Cambrian & Clydach Vale continued their season of progress with a 1-0 win at Goytre United.
STM Sports extended their lead at the top to four points courtesy of a 4-1 home win over fellow promotion contenders Ammanford and Caldicot Town’s defeat at an ever-improving Aberdare Town. John Phillips stabbing home a late winner at Aberaman Park.
Pontypridd Town moved into second by thrashing a youthful West End side 12-0 at USW Sports Park. It is believed to be a club-record Welsh League win for Pontypridd Town. There were hat-tricks for both Luke Gullick and Gavin Beddard as The Dragons rampaged.
Of the other sides immediately below the top three, Garden Village needed an injury time goal to secure a draw with Risca United on Friday night; a thriller at Stafford Common that ended 3-3. Aberbargoed Buds kept themselves in the hunt with a 3-1 win at AFC Llwydcoed. The match between Llantwit Major and Pontardawe Town was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Windmill Lane.
The battle of the bottom two saw another defeat for AFC Porth, going down 2-0 to Dinas Powys at Dinas Park. Ben Luck’s side are now just two points behind West End in 14th, but despite plenty of points still to play for an unlikely great escape slips even further away from Ryan Betteney’s Black Dragons.
In their Gwent derby, Croesyceiliog and Abergavenny Town drew 1-1, a result that keeps both sides firmly embedded in mid-table.
Trefelin BGC and Swansea University continue to go toe for toe, both recording 5-0 wins – over Penrhiwceiber Rangers and Treowen Stars respectively. There is now a 10-point gap between second-placed Swansea Uni and third-placed Bridgend Street following the Cardiff-outfit’s 3-3 home draw with Pontyclun (all six goals coming in the second half).
On Friday night, Trethomas Bluebirds continued a quietly impressive season with a 4-2 home win over Tredegar Town, moving above their defeated opponents into 4th. Further west, Ynysygerwn secured a big win a relegation six-pointer, beating Caerau 4-2 at Llandarcy Sport.
That put pressure on the sides in the bottom three to try and get something from their games. Treowen remains rooted to the bottom of the Welsh League and 13 points from safety with their heavy defeat at home to Swansea Uni. Ely Rangers were beaten 4-2 by Panteg at Station Road, despite taking a first-half lead. The result of the day arguably belonged to Neuadd Wen though – the Aberbargoed-based side beating Newport City 3-1 to achieve their first ever Welsh League win. They join Ely Rangers on 11 points, however, they remain seven points adrift of safety.
The remaining fixture between Treharris Athletic Western and Chepstow Town was postponed.
(Featured Image: Lewis Mitchell)