Penydarren kept their unbeaten record alive as they saw off Pontypridd Town, who play three divisions above them, at the USW Sport Park. Two goals from the in-form Chris Colvin-Owens were enough to put his side through to the quarter-finals of the JD Welsh Cup.
It was Penydarren who started the game brightly in the tricky underfoot conditions, moving the ball quickly and making good use of their pacy wide-men to make good breaks down the flanks.
The away side had the first chance in the second minute, when a long kick from goalkeeper Jonathan Green bounced over the head of Zac Iheanacho and played in Ben Jones, who’s shot was parried over the bar by David Burnett.
Both sides took some time to adapt to pitch, with the odd player losing their footing in the opening quarter as they looked to make quick turns.
The Dragons went close in the seventh minute when Andy Smith whipped in a cross from the right, the ball was met by the head of Luke Gullick and Green did well to save low down.
The South Wales Alliance Premier Division side took the lead in the ninth minute. Some confusion in the box from Pontypridd eventually lead to Colvin-Owens picking the ball up and he slid his shot under Burnett to spark wild celebrations from the travelling Pen fans, who came in good numbers.
Their lead didn’t last long however, James Hill equalised for Pontypridd after his shot from the left side caught Green napping and flew in at the near post.
Three minutes later, Penydarren almost took the lead again when the ball fell to Kyle Sullivan from a corner clearance. The midfielder tried a half-volley which he struck well but saw the ball go narrowly wide of the left post.
The home side appealed for a penalty in the 21st minute when Gullick looked to have been brought down just outside the area, referee Markham-Jones waved away their protests.
‘Pen went close in the 33rd minute after Burnett slid in the for ball, missed it, and saw Nathan Williams loop a cross over his head with Colvin-Owens met and nodded just wide of the right post.
Burnett was forced into a save when a good break from Sam Gamble saw him pass to Williams, who unleashed a right-footed curling effort that was well held by the Pontypridd stopper.
Gullick had the chance to give his side the lead going into the break, but his free-kick from the edge of the box was fired just over the bar.
The first moment of note after the break was a penalty appeal from the home side, when Gullick claimed that his shot was blocked by a hand. The referee was having none of it.
Colvin-Owens had the opportunity to get his second goal in the 55th minute when he had a free-kick just outside the area. His effort was tame and the wall was able to clear the danger.
Joint managers Damien and Dominic Broad must have thought his team had taken the lead a minute later when Gavin Beddard’s shot was deflected and flew 20 yards before cannoning off the left post.
Andy Smith forced Green into a reaction save when he received the ball in the area, turned onto his right foot and fired a shot which was tipped over by the Penydarren keeper.
Pontypridd made an attacking move in the 64th minute when they replaced Smith with Jamal Easter. Penydarren brought Conor Kinsey on for Kyle Sullivan in the same stoppage of play.
The deciding goal came a minute later, when the ball was floated into the box and Colvin-Owens waited for the ball to drop and calmly slotted into the left corner, leaving Burnett with no chance.
The Dragons responded by replacing Jack Wheeler with Danny Hooper two minutes later, as they looked for an extra pair of legs in midfield to give them a better chance of breaking forward with their short passing game.
Williams had the chance to put ‘Pen into a commanding position in the 71st minute. The ball was squared to him by Jones and his side footed effort drifted agonisingly wide of the right post.
Scott Hillman picked up the first and only yellow card of the game in the 74th minute for his sliding challenge in midfield.
Adam Johns replaced the goal-scorer James Hill three minutes later.
The away side made two substitutions in the final 10 minutes, as Josh Brogden replaced Adam Lewis, and Conner Keating came on for Nathan Williams.
Penydarren did a professional job to close the game out and secure a win that will be remembered for a long time, as they showed that should they be promoted this season, they should be able to hold their own in the Welsh Leagues.
Speaking after the game, Penydarren manager Kerri Mullins admitted that the win was “definitely the biggest moment for the club.”
Despite the cup-run, Mullins maintained that: “The main priority, it sounds daft, it’s the league”
When asked if he would prefer a home tie in the quarter-final, he said: “We always want to get a home tie and get as big a crowd down the Bont as we can”
Mullins was quick to praise the travelling support “To be fair they’re always great, in fairness we always take a good crowd to most away games. But today, there’s probably teams in the Football League that don’t take that many fans away”
The win means that Penydarren remain in contention of every competition; they’ve won nine from nine in the South Wales Alliance Premier Division, they’re in the quarter-final of the FAW Trophy and today’s win means that they’re now only two games from an improbable Welsh Cup final.
(Featured Image: Jordan Jones)