Cwmamman United moved off the bottom of Division One with a win at Taffs Well in freezing conditions on Tuesday evening.
Ashley Curtis was the match-winner, making the most of a lapse in concentration at the back by Taffs Well to score the game’s only goal two minutes before half-time.
The result is a remarkable turnaround for Cwmamman United following Saturday’s 5-2 home defeat to Caerau Ely and the dismissal of Mark Snell as manager 24 hours before this fixture.
With Eirian Rees in temporary charge, the Carmarthenshire-outfit put in a performance full of grit and determination. Taffs Well enjoyed long periods of possession but lacked the cutting edge in the final third to break down a resilient Cwmamman side.
Both sides went into the game amidst disappointing seasons. For The Wellmen the familiar inconsistencies on the pitch of recent seasons, as well as upheaval in the dugout, means they are on course for another mid-table finish. After promotion from Division Two, Cwmamman United have struggled to adapt to the higher level and their only league win this season came on August 19th.
Taffs Well’s problems this season have largely come on the road, with Llanelli Town the only side to have won at Rhiw Dda’r at the start of the evening. Given their home record, and Cwmamman’s lowly position, it was no surprise to see The Wellman (managed by Nana Baah on the night) start in the ascendancy with an attacking line that included top scorer Sam Johnson, Leon Jacka, Jamal Roberts and Marcus Jones.
Despite the early pressure, the first opportunity for Taffs Well came from a mistake in the away defence. Cwmamman goalkeeper Rob Jones’ poor clearance went straight to Jamal Roberts, who tried his luck with an early shot from distance but couldn’t test Jones as he scrambled back. T
hen came a chance for Leon Jacka from a left-wing cross, but a poor first touch meant the opportunity went begging. A vicious inswinging corner from Jamal Roberts forced Jones into an unconvincing punch away from goal, before Marcus Jones fizzed a shot over the bar from 20 yards after neat Taffs Well build-up play.
Surviving this period unscathed, Cwmamman began to offer something on the counter as Chris Allen battled well against Taffs Well centre backs Ricky Hodge and Craig McDonnall and the runs of Colin Harris posed a more mobile problem. Speculative efforts Declan John and Harris registered the Cwmamman United’s earliest shots at goal, but with their first real chance of the game, the visitors broke the deadlock.
After a foul on Chris Allen, referee Leigh Jones played advantage and Ashley Curtis ran in behind a static Taffs Well backline. With no offside flag the wide man calmly finished past Josh Heyward-Gould in goal from close range and Cwmamman took a narrow lead into the dressing room at half-time.
With something to hold on to, Cwmamman were happy to sit back after the break and concede possession to their hosts. Early in the second-half Tom Burridge and Jamal Roberts both tried their luck from distance, the latter forcing an acrobatic tip around the post from Rob Jones. As the game moved towards the hour mark, The Wellmen enjoyed their best period of attacking play since the opening stages of the match.
Good build play on the left between Abdul Mohsin and Warren Jones on the left provided a chance for Sam Johnson six yards out, but he tried to take a touch rather than go for goal first time, allowing Rob Jones to dive and smother the ball.
Shortly after a superbly weighted reverse pass by Leon Jacka sent the pacey Marcus Jones through on goal, but he took too long to get a shot away and was eventually crowded out by the retreating defence. Another chance went begging for Johnson in the middle, his lack of conviction where he usually profits symptomatic of a performance that seemed to betray a shortage of confidence.
With Taffs Well’s attacking running out of steam and ideas, Nana Baah turned to his bench but the introduction of Sam O’Sullivan, Kyle Williams and Elijah Chilekwa in attack didn’t add any new thrust.
As the clock ran down and The Wellmen resorted to launching long balls forward, Cwmamman were able to defend their 18-yard line with relative comfort and even had a few moments on the break when more composure or better decision-making may have added to their lead.
After more than four minutes of anguished added time, Leigh Jones blew the final whistle to evoke jubilation among the Cwmamman United players and management. An ugly but hard-fought win that takes them up to 14th in the table and possibly a template for how they may escape the threat of relegation this season.