Grange Albion denied their City rivals, the chance to claim top spot of the South Wales Alliance League Premier Division with a second-half victory over Canton Liberal.
Canton had the chance to go top, with at least a point putting them top for the time being. Instead, Albion moved further away from the relegation backdoor, with a comfortable 14 point gap now created over Cwm Welfare.
It was an even game to start off with, Liberal were trying to utilise the flanks, whilst Albion opted to go direct, as they tried to exploit Liberal through the middle. Early on, the competitiveness was indicated early on. Stephen Ward was booked for a foul on Christian Churcher in the middle of the park.
The referee was then tasked with waving away a penalty appeal from Liberal. Andre Phillips whipped in a free-kick with Christopher Quick latching onto it. He hit the ball and it hit the full-back, with Liberal adamant that it had struck the arm of the player.
After being turned down for a penalty appeal, Dean Bowden’s men had two good opportunities to draw first blood in the game. Kieran Cotterill forced Gareth Nott to save before the ball fell back out to him at the second attempt, but he hit his shot wide over the bar.
In an end-to-end first ten minutes, Albion’s Liam Beattie was the latest to go close, as his shot whistled past the post.
Kane looked like to be Albion’s danger man and he very nearly got the first goal of the game, as he tried to catch out Fettah with a low shot, but he saved from close range to deny him.
Albion finished the first half strongly, firstly Matthew Phillips headed towards goal from a well-delivered corner from Liam Jeremy, before Liam Beattie strayed his shot wide of the target, before the interval.
Twelve minutes into the first half and the game had its first goal. Phillips forced Nott to dive down low to save with a shot from just outside the box, but Kieran Cotterill was there to bundle in the rebound to give the away side the lead.
The lead didn’t last for long, however. Moments later, Christian Churcher forced Aaron Fettah into a save, before rolling it on the second attempt, after catching him out of his goal.
Phillips was certainly testing Nott and he forced him to fumble, with Christopher Quick trying to bundle in the rebound, but both players caught each other, with Albion being awarded a free-kick.
Albion wanted that second goal and very nearly got it, when Jack Kane calmed the ball down and composed himself for the shot, forcing the keeper into a save.
Disaster struck for Liberal as Stephen Ward was shown his second yellow for a foul in what was turning out to be a physical affair, giving Albion the chance to score from a free-kick, but it came to nothing. Despite being down to ten men, Liberal were presented with a glorious chance to go in front, as Phillips beat the offside trap but couldn’t finish, putting his shot just over the bar.
With five minutes left on the clock, Grange captain Matthew Phillips shot from close range beat keeper Fettah to give Albion the lead as they made the most of the man advantage.
In the dying stages of the game, Kieran Cotterill almost grabbed his second and a late equaliser for Liberal, as he shot from distance after picking the ball up from a throw-in, forcing Nott to initially palm the shot, before claiming it at the second attempt.
Following the save, the game was put beyond any reasonable doubt. Albion broke after Liberal piled bodies forward with Jack Kane carrying the ball down the flank, forcing Fettah to save with his body, before scoring in front of an empty net, to ensure the three points would go to Albion.
(Featured Image: Jordan Jones)
Nott, White, Jeremy, Rodrigues, Alderman, Bevan, Philips (C), Beattie, Churcher, Kane, Rahman
Fettah, Ward, Tajul, Rowley, P Quick, Dye, Cotterill, Pika, Phillips, C Quick, Jeffreys