Saturday 21st February 2015
Ton Pentre 1-4 Aberdare Town
Welsh League Division One.
Ynys Park, Pentre.
Attendance: Circa 120.
“Clydach or Pentre?” I debated with myself all morning. I’d fancied a trip to both clubs since the start of the year, but the weather had got in the way a few times, both clubs suffering from recent postponements.
A quick check of Twitter and I’d found out that both matches were on, despite the heavy rain in the South Wales valleys on Saturday morning. When I woke up at about 9am, I was convinced I’d be struggling to find a match that would beat the weather. Luckily as the morning went on, the sun reared its head and things started to look a little better.
I tossed a coin, I debated, I asked my wife for help with the decision. Until about midday I was going to the Cambrian & Clydach vs. Haverfordwest County match. In the end I justified with myself that I should get myself up to Ynys Park for the Ton Pentre match as Cambrian & Clydach’s 3G pitch would rarely get any postponements. I thought I’d better get myself up to Ynys Park while I could, especially with the weather being as bad as it has recently.
Ton Pentre, a village in the upper reaches of the Rhondda Fawr valley. Neighboured by Treorchy, Pentre (a different village, Pub Quiz question there for you) and Gelli villages. Ton Pentre is a town which like most other villages in the Rhondda has struggled since the closure of the mines, but has slowly started to recover in recent years with the increased number of jobs in the greater Cardiff area and has the whole Rhondda area has established itself as a bit of a commuter belt.
Ynys Park is a lovely ground of the old school variety, no more than 5 minutes walk from nearby Pentre train station which connects the village to Pontypridd and Cardiff. Admission for this afternoon’s match was £4, with a well made match day programme setting me back a further pound.
I’d arrived at the ground a little too close to kick off to sample the ale on offer at the clubhouse which is incorporated into the changing room buildings, so I made my way into the ground to take a quick look around.
Ynys Park has two stands for spectators to take shelter from this afternoon’s misty rain. The biggest of the two is a standing area behind one of the goals that could probably house a thousand or more fans. The stand also houses the club’s food hut. A full kitchen facility is offered, serving burgers, chips, coffees, cold drinks and the “Bulldog Burger”, a Man vs. Food style offering designed for the biggest of appetites.
The second stand is a smaller but more modern building with three rows of plastic seats, positioned at the half way line it offers the best views of the match. I took shelter from the on/off rain in the stand behind the goal and took my place.
Ton Pentre made a couple of changes from the lineup that took to the field at last week’s Taffs Well cup tie. Aberdare Town, sitting in 14th position needing to get some points on the board to allay any fears of potential relegation.
Aberdare Town started the match brightly, only a superb save by Pentre keeper Neil Collins after two minutes prevented them from taking an early lead.
The Cynon Valley men would take the lead a few minutes later from a well executed Jordan Coles volley from outside the box which beat Collins in the Pentre goal to his right.
Neil Collins pulled off a number of excellent saves in the first half, without which a disjointed Ton Pentre side may have found themselves out of the match in the first fifteen minutes. A superb save from a Jordan Coles shot which seemed destined for the back of the net comes to mind.
The Rhondda Bulldogs finally awoke into the game on 20 minutes, as a Jayme Wearn header was saved from close range by Ellis Nash in the Aberdare goal.
With this renewed impetus, it seemed that Ton Pentre would claw their way back into the game. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, this proved not be the case as Aberdare went two goals to the good on 27 minutes as an Aberdare winger cannoned a shot across the penalty area and beat Collins by inches.
With a 2-0 deficit, Ton Pentre started to push forward in numbers. Coming close before half time with efforts from Connor Berry and Jayme Wearn coming close to opening their scoring.
Aberdare Town’s No. 6 made himself the victim of some humorous verbal offerings from the assembled Ton Pentre core supporters on the touchline, after the Aberdare player was thought to be dictating some decisions repeatedly to the referee.
Tempers looked to boil over just before half time, as Ton Pentre’s Adam Lewis was cut down perhaps cynically on the wing after beating his man and looking to be in a good position to make a cross. The referee, was arguably slow to the incident, but some good man management from players on both sides prevented this incident becoming nothing more than a simple coming together.
Ton Pentre went into the half time interval with something to build on, as they got a goal back with seconds to go before the whistle. Pentre striker Jayme Wearn controlled the ball on his chest neatly from a team mates pass and turned to volley the ball home from the penalty spot. A superb goal.
With the lead shortened, Ton Pentre would surely come out for the second half with all guns blazing and were very unlucky not to equalise immediately after the restart as the referee adjudged the Aberdare goalkeeper Ellis Nash to have been fouled in the build up.
From here on in, unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Aberdare Town really took control of the game.
On 55 minutes, only a superb last ditch tackle by Tom Davies of Ton Pentre, prevented an Aberdare striker going through for a one on one.
Two minutes later, Jordan Coles of Aberdare Town took a powerful shot from the edge of the box which took a wicked deflection that lobbed Collins in the Pentre goal. A couple of players scrambled to kick the ball away to safety but just fell short. With the score at 3-1, Aberdare Town piled the pressure on their Rhondda counterparts.
Aberdare Town would capitalise on a defensive mix up five minutes later. A ball was neatly spread across the box to Luke Jones of Aberdare Town who made no mistake from 12 yards out, firing the ball home into the top right corner of the goal. Neil Collins in the Ton Pentre could do little to stop this effort as it fizzed into the net.
Ton Pentre played some really nice stuff from the midfield, unfortunately they were unable to make the final ball count and were unable to capitalise on the large periods of possession they had.
Neil Collins in the Pentre goal in particular, despite being on a side that lost 4-1, had a great game and was very unlucky to see his goal penetrated so many times. Without some of his spectacular saves, Pentre could have been looking at a bigger defeat. Collins, pulled off an absolutely phenomenal save with five minutes left as an Aberdare striker unleashed a furious shot from the penalty spot which Collins knocked over the bar.
Both sides have games in hand over their relegation rivals, but will be reminded that at the moment anyone from 11th place and below finds themselves at risk of dropping come the end of the season. AFC Porth, surely find themselves too far adrift to save themselves this season and you’d argue that Pontardawe Town may find themselves with too many points to make up. However Ton Pentre will surely feel that they need to win a number of their games in hand to feel secure again in this division.
My Man of the Match: Luke Jones of Aberdare Town, who was a constant threat throughout the match. Without wanting to sound patronising, I’d have to give a special mention to Neil Collins in the Pentre goal, who gave a superb performance despite being on the end of a 4-1 defeat.