Ton Pentre’s bid to avoid relegation from Welsh League Division One took another blow as they succumbed to defeat at Goytre United.
Despite a determined performance in which they competed well with their hosts for more than an hour, even clawing back a two-goal deficit before half-time, the Rhondda Bulldogs suffered their eighteenth league defeat of the season. It leaves Ton Pentre rooted to the bottom of Division One with 8 points, having managed just a single win in the league this season. The win means Lee John’s Goytre United remain in contention for a top five finish.
Neither side came into the game with any real momentum. Goytre United had lost their last two matches, while the persistent wet weather in 2018 meant Ton Pentre hadn’t seen any action since March 21st.
However, the home side started in the more positive fashion, particularly through the pace and trickery of Rhodri Cole down the left hand side. As early as the second minute Cole fashioned a shooting opportunity for Adam Jenkins, but his effort was saved by Stephen Hall. Two minutes later Cole broke the deadlock, meeting Sam Johnson’s cross from the right at the back post and finishing from close range.
Goytre United continued to press and the movement of Sam Johnson caused no end of problems for the Ton Pentre defence. Johnson and Cole almost repeated the opener, but for a last ditch interception from a Ton Pentre defender. Johnson then found space on the edge of the penalty box but skied his effort, before some neat play on the edge of the Ton Pentre area saw Liam Griffiths play Johnson through with a reverse pass, but Hall moved quickly off his line to smother Johnson’s attempted dink.
Johnson would not be denied though and in the 24th minute he pounced on Aaron Richards’s long pass from the back and finished low across the advancing Hall to double the lead. The Rhondda Bulldogs were in danger of a thrashing and but for two saves by Stephen Hall from Liam Griffiths the deficit could have been greater.
However, football matches can turn on the merest thing and Ton Pentre found a spark shortly after the half hour. Adam Lewis won possession and the ball was spread to Matthew Smith on the right. The wing-back found Lewis Baldwin in the middle and his snap shot found its way to goal via a deflection. Two minutes later, the bottom side were back on level terms.
Again, Ton Pentre profited from winning the ball high up the field. This time Scott Jones won the ball 30 yards from the Goytre goal, found Baldwin, who laid the ball into the path of Stuart Brock to drive home off the inside of the post from 20 yards. Baldwin and Brock combined again before half-time to create a chance for Cameron Thomas, but the winger’s poor touch denied him a shot at goal. To make matters worse for Goytre United, Sam Johnson was forced off before half-time following what looked like the recurrence of a recent hamstring injury.
The second-half began as open as the first-half was at times, both sides showing intent to nudge ahead in the game. Baldwin rose to meet Matthew Smith’s inviting right wing cross and his downward header forced a smart stop from Luke Marton. At the other end, Griffiths played in Thomas Walters who rounded Hall, but the Ton Pentre stopper recovered to deny Goytre’s top goal scorer this season.
The endeavour of both sides wasn’t being rewarded with clear cut chances and increasingly pot shots from distance became the preferred route to goal. It was unfortunate that a pretty even contest up to this point was nudged in one direction by an individual error midway through the second-half. A long free kick from Corey Francis was fumbled by Hall, presenting Walters with a chance. His effort on the turn came back off the post, but Liam Griffiths was in the right place to earn a reward for his hard-working display and restore Goytre’s lead.
From the re-start Ton Pentre fashioned their best chance to equalise again. Brock found space on the left to cross and found the onrushing Smith but he volleyed over from 10 yards. The Rhondda Bulldogs wouldn’t get another chance to drag themselves back into the game and ten minutes later two incidents put the game beyond their reach.
After referee Ben Williams penalised Lewis Baldwin for a foul on Junming Dong on the right wing, Ton Pentre captain Adam Lewis directed his frustration at the official and was given his second yellow card of the evening (the first coming for a wild lunge in the first half). Upon the restart Thomas Walters curled his left-footed free kick into the far top corner from wide on the right to seal the win and three points for Goytre United.