ABERYSTWYTH Town maintained their excellent recent home form as they beat Llandudno 3-1 in an entertaining Friday night (Feb 9) JD Welsh Premier League clash at Park Avenue.
Goals from John Owen, Declan Walker and Craig Hobson secured Aber’s sixth win in eight home games in all competitions, despite Marc Williams’ second half strike threatening a comeback for the visitors. The victory sees Nev Powell’s side climb to within three points of ninth placed Llandudno, and to within just five points of seventh place in the JD Welsh Premier League Play Off Conference.
Aber manager Nev Powell made one change to the starting eleven that lost away at Barry Town last weekend, with Malcolm Melvin replacing Craig Rogers, resulting in Ashley Young dropping back to the centre back position.
On a freezing night at Park Avenue, Aber started like a team on fire. Within just five minutes, the hosts took a deserved lead as John Owen gathered a loose ball on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area, before making space for a low, right-footed shot that flew into the bottom corner of the net beyond the reach of goalkeeper Alex Lynch.
It was evident that the early goal had given Town a boost, as they pressed for a second goal with Malcolm Melvin seeing his tame effort easily collected by Lynch in goal. However, on 21 minutes the visitors were handed a golden opportunity to get back into the game as Tom Dix was fouled in the penalty area and awarded a penalty kick.
Sam Hart stepped up, but dragged his spot kick wide of Chris Mullock’s post – much to the relief of the home supporters. Soon after, drama ensued at the other end as Aber were awarded a penalty of their own, with Hart adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area. Declan Walker stepped up this time, and thumped home the spot kick into the top right hand corner to make it 2-0.
Aber began to take control of the game as they exerted continued pressure on the visitors back line, with Damien Allen and Melvin controlling the midfield expertly.
On 34 minutes, Ashley Young whipped a dangerous cross into the penalty area that was cleared in the nick of time by Llandudno defender Danny Shaw, as Aber saw out the first half comfortably to go into the break with a two goal lead.
Visitors Llandudno started the second half in much brighter fashion, evidently buoyed by the half time team talk of assistant manager Matty Williams.
On 48 minutes, with their first attack of the second half, they found a way back into the game as Danny Hughes played in Wes Baynes, who crossed for Marc Williams to convert at the near post and make it 2-1.
Suddenly the momentum of the game swung in favour of the visitors, as they began to commit more players forwards in search of an equaliser.
On 50 minutes, they very nearly found a second goal as Danny Shaw’s header clipped the crossbar, before Danny Hughes saw his brilliant half-volley sail inches wide of Chris Mullock’s far post.
Aber were hanging on to their slender advantage, as Ashley Young and Ryan Wollacott battled for every ball in the heart of the defence.
On 63 minutes, Craig Hobson was introduced for the hosts in place of Damien Allen, and Town almost immediately regained some control of the game thanks to a tactical switch from Aber’s management team.
Four minutes later, Hobson latched on to a brilliant pass by Melvin to race through on goal before being denied by an outstanding fingertip save from Alex Lynch.
Soon after, Aber’s number 9 was again in the thick of the action as he came close to converting after a goalmouth scramble, before seeing his back post header cannon off the base of the post and out for a goal kick. The visitors refused to go down without a fight, and on 84 minutes they again went close as Chris Mullock produced a brilliant save to deny Sam Hart.
As the game entered the final minutes, Town used all their game management nous to see out the win.
In stoppage time, the victory was duly sealed as John Owen scampered down the left wing before cutting into the penalty area and putting the ball on a silver platter for Hobson to bury his fourth goal of the season and make it 3-1.
Another fine victory at Park Avenue for Nev Powell’s side, who will be glad to get back to winning ways after last weekend’s away defeat at Jenner Park. With their eyes now firmly set on 7th place in the league table, Town will prepare for another tough home game against Prestatyn Town on Friday evening (Feb 16) in the JD Welsh Premier League.
Nuemann set to make first start for Wales
FULLBACK Lisa Neumann will make her first start for Wales at Donnybrook this Sunday (Feb 25) (15:00) in Round Three of the Women’s Six Nations.
The 23-year-old from Pembrokeshire is the only new player in the starting line-up to face Ireland. Meanwhile, loosehead prop Cara Hope could win her first international cap from the bench.
“Lisa has been pushing hard for a place in the starting team and she deserves her opportunity this Sunday,” said Phillips, who has enjoyed the benefit of having former Wales international Gareth Wyatt coaching the backs since the start of the tournament. “We have a lot of talented back-three players in the squad, so we think Lisa will slot in well alongside Hannah Bluck and Jess Kavanagh-Williams – two players who pose threats from the wing.”
Phillips recently spoke about his team not being burdened by an “emotional hangover” from the result at the Twickenham Stoop, and insists that preparations for Ireland have been geared towards one thing. “We need to show that we’re improving in the areas that we’ve been working on this year,” said Phillips. “This will be a game between two very evenly-matched teams, and coming off the back of the last match we’re very keen to give a good account of ourselves.”
The last time both teams met in competition was during the Women’s Rugby World Cup in August – a game Wales won by 10 points at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. However, Phillips says that result won’t count for much come Sunday in Donnybrook, particularly after Ireland’s winning performance in a pre-Women’s Six Nations friendly with Wales in Ystrad Mynach earlier this year.
“Ireland were competing for a Grand Slam going into the final game of the competition last year, so we know how much of a strong team they are. The World Cup was a bit of an anomaly for them, so they’ve had a point to prove since then.
“They’ve got a lot of new personnel across the board, but the team is settled and experienced. It’s up for us to show what we’re about as a team. We’ll certainly be prepared for a hugely competitive match in front of a boisterous Irish crowd this Sunday.”
Wales Women team to face Ireland:
15 Lisa Neumann (Scarlets)
14 Hannah Bluck (Cardiff Blues)
13 Kerin Lake (Ospreys)
12 Rebecca De Filippo (Dragons)
11 Jess Kavanagh-Williams (RGC)
10 Elinor Snowsill (Dragons)
9 Rhiannon Parker (Cardiff Blues)
1 Caryl Thomas (Scarlets)
2 Carys Phillips (c) (Ospreys)
3 Amy Evans (Ospreys)
4 Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
5 Mel Clay (Ospreys)
6 Alisha Butchers (Scarlets)
7 Beth Lewis (Scarlets)
8 Sioned Harries (Scarlets)
16 Kelsey Jones (Ospreys)
17 Cara Hope (Ospreys)*
18 Meg York (Dragons)
19 Natalia John (Ospreys)
20 Nia Elen Davies (Scarlets)
21 Jade Knight (Scarlets)
22 Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys)
23 Hannah Jones (Scarlets)
Biggar, Williams and Halfpenny in Wales team to face Ireland
WALES have made three changes to their starting XV to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (KO 14.15) with British & Irish Lions trio Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny all returning to the side.
Biggar has recovered from a shoulder injury to make his 61st appearance for his country and will line up alongside Gareth Davies at half-back.
Halfpenny and Williams join Steff Evans in the back-three with Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams continuing their partnership in the midfield.
Wales have named an unchanged pack for the trip to Dublin. The all-Scarlets front-row of Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Samson Lee feature for a third consecutive game. Cory Hill partners captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row with Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty comprising the back-row.
“It is great to be able to bring so much experience back into the starting XV and into the backline,” said head coach Warren Gatland, who will take charge of Wales for the 100th time.
“It is the first week we have had everyone in the ‘green’ in terms of availability which is a nice luxury to have and a positive ahead of what is a very important test match against a very good Ireland side.
“We have been pleased with the depth we have developed in the back-three and pleased with how those players have gone but having the experience of Dan, Liam and Leigh coming back in is hugely important.
“We have been pleased with how the forward pack has been going and how they have worked as a unit but as always there is pressure for them to perform too.”
Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis are named as the front-row replacements with Bradley Davies and Justin Tipuric completing the forward contingent. Aled Davies, Gareth Anscombe and George North provide the back-line cover.
Wales Team to play Ireland:
Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (75 Caps)
Liam Williams (Saracens) (45 Caps)
Scott Williams (Scarlets) (53 Caps)
Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (3 Caps)
Steff Evans (Scarlets) (7 Caps)
Dan Biggar (Ospreys) (60 Caps)
Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (29 Caps)
Rob Evans (Scarlets) (22 Caps)
Ken Owens (Scarlets) (54 Caps)
Samson Lee (Scarlets) (35 Caps)
Cory Hill (Dragons) (12 Caps)
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (115 Caps) CAPT
Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (15 Caps)
Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (9 Caps)
Ross Moriarty (Gloucester) (19 Caps)
Elliot Dee (Dragons) (4 Caps)
Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (7 Caps)
Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (28 Caps)
Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (59 Caps)
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (54 Caps)
Aled Davies (Scarlets) (7 Caps)
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) (13 Caps)
George North (Northampton Saints) (70 Caps)
Aber earn a point against Prestatyn
ABERYSTWYTH Town battled to a 1-1 draw against a resolute Prestatyn Town side, in a frantic JD Welsh Premier League clash at Park Avenue on Friday night (Feb 16).
Geoff Kellaway’s 78th minute header was enough to earn Aber a point after Damian Ketley had given the visitors a 20th minute lead, in a game where the home side saw a host of golden opportunities go begging.
Aber manager Nev Powell named an unchanged side from last weekend’s home victory against Llandudno, and his side got off to a bright start as John Owen struck his half volley narrowly over the crossbar after just 2 minutes.
Soon after, Aber were on the attack again as Declan Walker tried his luck from range, before Owen dragged his left footed effort wide of the post.
But it was the visitors who took the lead in the 20th minute with their first effort on target. After Noah Edwards’ corner kick was headed clear in the penalty area, the ball ricocheted for Damian Ketley who prodded the ball home inside the 6 yard box to make it 1-0.
Aber responded well to going behind, continuing to play the ball through the midfield trio of Tom Owens, Damien Allen and Malcolm Melvin, and on 30 minutes came close to finding the equaliser as Ryan Wade volleyed straight into the palms of Carl Jones in the Prestatyn goal.
The hosts continued to press for a way back into the game as Jones saved Tom Owens’ tame header, before Joe Phillips’ curling effort sailed just over the crossbar, but it was to remain 1-0 at half time with much work to do in the second 45 minutes.
Aber striker Craig Hobson was introduced at half time in place of Joe Phillips, as Town looked for an immediate impact from the target man.
Soon after the restart, the hosts saw another glorious chance go begging as John Owen chested the ball down in the penalty area before seeing his shot bounce off Jones and behind for a corner.
Then, on 54 minutes came the game’s most controversial moment, as the referee brandished a red card for Prestatyn sub Zebb Edwards after he appeared to use foul and abusive language.
This swung the momentum of the game in Aber’s favour even further, as Geoff Kellaway and Luke Borelli were introduced in place of Tom Owens and Ryan Wade.
On 70 minutes, Kellaway almost had an immediate impact as he scampered down the left flank before crossing dangerously, only for Dave Hayes to produce a vital block.
Then, on 78 minutes Aber finally found their equaliser, as Malcolm Melvin cut inside before providing an inch-perfect cross for Kellaway to glance home an excellent header beyond Jones to make it 1-1.
Suddenly the home supporters found their voices as they urged their team forwards to find the winner.
To their credit, the 10-man visitors were defending admirably, harrying and hassling Aber all over the pitch.
On 82 minutes, Town thought they’d found the winning goal, as John Owen deflected in Hobson’s glancing header, only for the linesman’s offside flag to deny the front man.
As the game entered the final minutes, Aber continued to huff and puff without blowing the house down.
In the dying seconds, the hosts pushed for one final opportunity, as Ashley Young launched the ball into the penalty area, where Declan Walker’s attempted overhead kick fell to Damien Allen, who’s right footed shot flew agonisingly wide of the far post.
Unfortunately it just wasn’t Aber’s night as they were forced to settle for a point, in a game that could have been so different had they taken their opportunities.
Nevertheless, Nev Powell’s side still remain 10 points clear of bottom side Prestatyn Town, and move to within 4 points of the Europa League play-off spot in the JD Welsh Premier League table.
Aber must now turn their attentions to Sunday’s (Feb 25) huge JD Welsh Premier League clash with west Wales rivals Carmarthen Town at Richmond Park, kick off at 5:15pm.
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