Friday 27th February 2015
Ton Pentre 2-1 Taffs Well.
Welsh League Division One.
Ynys Park, Pentre.
Attendance: Circa 140.
It’s been a tough week at work, we’ve been pretty busy, had a hell of a lot going on. It’s pay day today, we’re coming towards the end of the month. Everyone feels a sense of relief as we leave the office this evening.
My colleagues, the clever ones at least, will probably be relaxing on the settee with a bottle of wine, propping up the bar at their local or crawling along the pavement on Wind Street in Swansea with their hands running through other people’s vomit caked into the asphalt.
I find myself queuing at ‘A Fish Called Rhondda’, arguably the Rhondda’s most famous of potato eateries, due in no small part to it’s film-pun name, which WalesOnline brings up at least once every three months in some kind of tedious Hollywood/Cymru link.
I order a simple Regular Chips with Gravy, which turns out to be sublime, and pretty good value at about £2.30 or so. The size of the Regular Chips are pretty huge and I find myself struggling to force the last four or five chips down, the Large Chips (also available) must be enough to feed a 5-a-side football team. We walk down to Ton Pentre’s Ynys Park ground with our meals in hand, ready for a night under the deepest of Rhondda floodlights.
As we pay the £4 admission and buy a half time raffle ticket for £1 (spoiler: there were no winners on this blog) it occurs to me that this is now the third time I’ve watched Ton Pentre play in three weeks. A feat that started with a repeat of this same match in the Nathaniel Car Sales League Cup, three weeks back at Taffs Well’s Rhiw Dda’r ground.
The Wellmen came out on top in that match, despite Ton Pentre arguably having the better of the game. A stern Taffs Well defensive line, coupled with a misfiring Bulldogs strikeforce lead to the game ending 1-0 to The Wellmen.
Taffs Well have the better of initial exchanges, forcing Ton Pentre shotstopper Neil Collins to pull off some sublime saves, including one memorable save where he entered a one on one with a Taffs Well striker, going into the challenge as second favourite but taking the ball cleanly. Collins, comes off worst in the challenge and both men needed a few minutes of physio treatment before they could continue.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve watched Ton Pentre a lot recently, and I know there are still an awful lot of teams I’ve yet to watch in this league. But I really must say that I strongly believe that Neil Collins of Ton Pentre, is the best goalkeeper in the Welsh League. Collins, oozes class and pulls off some absolutely sublime saves with minimal fuss. I really struggle to fathom why he doesn’t find himself playing at a higher level. That comment is no slant on Ton Pentre, or the Welsh League. I’ve come to love both. I just cannot understand why a goalkeeper like Collins isn’t plying his trade professionally in the Football League?
Collins goal however, is penetrated after ten minutes as the Ton defence is torn apart by a series of slick Taffs Well passes. The ball finds its way to Taffs striker Mondo, who slots the ball home from six yards. There is little Collins can do to stop the shot, short of some kind of gymnastic feat.
With the lead in hand, Taffs Well look the better side in the first half. Only series of great saves by Collins between the sticks prevents the Wellmen from winning the game in the first half. One save in particular from a furious Toppar shot from twenty yards out comes to mind.
The first moment of controversy in a game that kept the referee and his officials busy, occurs on the half hour mark. A brilliant Taffs Well cross leads to a striker, whom I believe to be Mondo, sending a looping header towards the Bulldogs goal. Neil Collins is caught a little bit and struggles to keep the ball from rolling over the goal line. Collins finds the whole of his body behind the goal line, except for his hands, which stop the ball from going over the line. It’s one of those scenarios that Sky Sports would show instant zoomed in replays, with computer animated simulations of whether ball did indeed cross the line.
Did it cross the line? It’s tough for me to say, I was standing behind the goal, but the incident happened so quick. I think it’s one of those situations where the referee would never have given a goal, but goal-line technology would have probably given the goal.
Am I saying that the Welsh League need to implement goal-line technology immediately? Maybe.
The first half withers to a close. Ton Pentre will admit themselves that they’ve made very little leeway in this half, struggling to get the ball into the Wellmen’s half enough. The surface is difficult, but arguably better than it was on Saturday for the visit of Aberdare Town.
The ground announcer announces the winning ticket for the raffle prize, unfortunately my ticket is about 110 numbers short, so I resign myself to the fact that I have to put my work clothes in the washing machine on Sunday and get myself back into the office on Monday morning, because my dream of retiring and living off the winnings has been cruelly taken away from me. I make a mental note to buy a raffle ticket at every ground where I’m offered one along the way. Any winnings will either be donated to charity, or will be spent on buying a retirement home in the south of France, depending on the size of said winnings.
In the second half, the Rhondda Bulldogs come out with some renewed intent, looking a different side to the team that seemed to watch the first half pass them by a little. Jamie Davies comes extremely close to leveling affairs a couple of minutes into the first half, unleashing a furious shot on goal which is blocked by a defender’s trailing foot.
Ton Pentre push men forward, in a similar style to two weeks ago at Rhiw Dda’r, however tonight feels a little different. At Rhiw Dda’r, despite their dominance in the second half, I never felt that they would get an equaliser. The Wellmen were defending resolutely in that match, but tonight I’m certain that Ton will get something out of the game.
On the hour, an absolutely fantastic last ditch tackle by (I believe..) Jenkins in the Taffs Well defence stops Jaymie Wearn from going through for a one on one with Hall in the Wellmen’s goal.
Tricky Pentre winger Leon Jacka finds himself receiving a ticking off from the referee after a series of fouls committed, seemingly, on the same player, Chris Hugh. From this point on, Hugh, like any good defender, makes it his mission to try and rub Jacka up the wrong way for the rest of the match to try and force the referee to take further action. Luckily for the Bulldogs, Jacka doesn’t rise to the bait and has a low key finish to the game.
Jaymie Wearn, he who scored an excellent goal last week against Aberdare Town gets himself on the scoresheet again with twenty minutes to go. Wearn got on the end of a header rolling goalwards, putting the ball into the back of the net from six yards out. He does so clinically, having to dispose of the ball in a split second due to the amount of surrounding Taffs Well defenders.
From here on in, Ton Pentre throw everything at the Taffs Well goal. They are rewarded five minutes later when Shane Davies picks up a loose ball on the left wing, tricking his way into the box and slotting the ball home from an extremely wide angle. Hall in the Taffs Well goal can only watch the ball roll in off his far post.
With the lead, Ton Pentre attempt to close the game down, but this attempted level of calm last only two minutes as a highly contentious moment threatens to stop the game altogether. Taffs Well goalscorer Mondo was set free by a cracking pass from the midfield. In a one on one situation, Mondo comes into the challenge with Neil Collins second favourite. Collins wins the ball cleanly on the edge of the box but Mondo leaves a foot in Collin’s midriff and from my position. (I know a few people have objected to this, I’m just going off what the referee told a spectator near the changing rooms who asked why he was sent off).
Neil Collins, none too pleased with the incident reacts angrily and grabs and pushes the Taffs Well striker. All players from both sides, except the Taffs Well goalkeeper who cannot get to the action quick enough clamber into the action. It looks worse than it is, for the greater part it’s mainly handbags (Think: that Man Utd vs. Arsenal match from the early 90’s). One Taffs Well player in particular, I did not get his name or number, so I’ll not identify him here, did throw punches towards Neil Collins, who at the time was lying on the floor, but as I said I’ll not identify them, as there’s a chance I’ve got the wrong name.
The referee finally regains control of the match a couple of minutes later. Mondo finds himself sent off immediately and makes his way to the changing rooms. To my surprise I find Neil Collins has been sent off as well in the melee. I only find this out when I see him walking behind me towards the changing rooms.
Ton Pentre, without a goalkeeper on the bench, make a substitution and put Thomas Davies, usually an outfield player in goals for the last quarter of an hour or so.
Davies can be very proud of his brief goalkeeping career as he pulled some decent saves in the dying minutes and looked fairly comfortable between the posts. So all credit to him really.
After the incident mentioned, the game comes to a close in fairly unspectacular fashion. Taffs Well make a few attempts on goal, but their efforts are either saved well by the makeshift Bulldogs keeper, or blocked by trailing Ton defenders legs/feet/heads.
Ton Pentre close the game out well, recognising that their lead becomes ever more fragile and intelligently play the ball out to the corner flags.
A free kick in a dangerous position was awarded to Taffs Well in the last minute of stoppage time. The resulting shot looked pretty decent and stood a chance of going in, but a brave Ton head got to the ball first and sent the ball far off target. The referee blew the whistle immediately following this.
An entertaining game was perhaps soured after the final whistle as the players made their way to the changing rooms. A fairly elderly Ton fan, who had come to the ground with his cocker spaniel, made his views known to the offending Taffs Well player, shouting “You threw punches up there. You should have been sent off as well!” onto the pitch. The offending player made his way over to the elderly (I say elderly, he was actually about 55 to 60 and had his dog with him) and stood toe to toe with the man in a fairly menacing manner.
“What are you going to do about it mate?” The Taffs Well player said.
“I’m not doing anything. I’m just saying you threw punches up there. You should have been sent off as well” The spectator replies.
“Yeah, but what are you going to do about it?” The Wellman says back.
“Nothing, like I said. I’m just saying you should have been off” The spectator replies.
“Do you wanna go? I’ll do you” The Wellman says back.
It descends into a bit of farce as a couple of Taffs Well players come a bit closer to investigate. The spectator says something along the lines of “Look, I was only saying he threw punches, he should have been sent off as well” to one of the other Taffs players. The other Taffs Well player, in defence of his colleague says “Look, as long as it’s nothing personal” and walks his colleague away from the situation.
All in all, an entertaining game, perhaps marred by a little bit of anger towards the end, but what’s nice to see is that none of this carries over after the final whistle between both sides as everyone shakes everyone’s hands at the end and any ill-feeling is left on the pitch.
Ton Pentre now sit in a more comfortable position in the table and with so many games in hand look to be secure in retaining their League One status. Taffs Well will be disappointed to lose the match, having taken the lead early on and dominating the first half so much.
My Man of the Match: Neil Collins put in a sterling performance and until his sending off was probably the best candidate. With his sending off in mind, Jaymie Wearn leading the Ton attack probably edged this award.