Wednesday 25th March 2015.
Tredegar Town 0-4 Pontypridd Town.
Welsh League Division Three.
The Leisure Complex, Tredegar.
Attendance: Circa 40.
If it involves my car, I’m a lazy person.
Like most people my age that grew up in the Rhondda, I got my license the moment I turned 17. I passed my test a few months later and got myself a C reg black Ford Fiesta Popular Plus, I thought I was the absolute image of coolness thrashing my paltry 997cc leaded petrol engine around Tonypandy night after night, terrifying local residents by pumping A’s ‘A Vs. Monkey Kong’ album out of my 6 (yes, six) speakers.
Like all my friends who passed around the same time as me. The car represented freedom. It allowed me to be able to leave the Valleys and explore the wider world. It was a crappy old Fiesta with rusty and bubbling wheel arches that did 0-60 in 4.2 weeks, but for me it represented freedom and an increased sense of mobility. It made my world a lot bigger and more accessible.
I treated that car like it was the good Lord himself. I washed it every single Saturday morning without fail, I changed the oil every two months without fail, I serviced it every three months without fail and if anyone so much as suggested discarding a McDonalds wrapper on the floor behind the drivers seat, so help me God, they would have been eating their last meal on this Earth.
That car was worth about £200. Funnily enough, my current car – a black Ford Fiesta (old habits die hard), valued at around fifty times that amount – has all manner of rubbish dumped behind my seat. I’ve long since retired from servicing my own vehicle and the last time I remember giving it a proper clean was about this last time last year, the day before it’s last MOT.
Following Cardiff City’s 1-1 Boxing Day draw at Charlton we returned to the car to find one of my tyres completely flat and bulbed down the side. I chucked the spare on and made my way back to South Wales down the M4. It took me a mere 2 months to replace the old wheel.
So it could be considered a breakneck speed miracle it took me a mere 2 weeks to get hold of a set of jump leads to restore power to my wife’s car after our unfortunate incident a few weeks back that almost put paid to my weekend in the Ceredigion League.
Wanting to get some proper miles on the car to make sure the alternator was doing its job, I chose to take my wife’s car up to Tredegar. This meant I was able to rely on my old trusty dashboard mounted sat nav (The cigarette lighter fuse in my fiesta blew nearly 27 months ago! – you see what I mean about my laziness as a motor vehicle owner?).
Tredegar is a town steeped in a rich industrial heritage. It also has a long history of civil disobedience. The town was at the centre of political riots in 1868, rising from the town’s democratic refusal to relect Colonel Clifford, a longstanding Liberal who was considered a local idol at the time. Local rioters smashed local pubs and hotels and looting ensued in the chaos. The military were eventually called in to restore peace.
In the altogether more peaceful riot of the Welsh League Division Three promotion race (…collective groan), the town’s football team Tredegar Town found themselves going into tonight’s floodlit showdown with Pontypridd Town, sitting in 3rd place.
With the impressive Llanelli Town and Ammanford all but securing first and second places in the league, third place is very much still up for grabs and a set of about three or four teams realistically could stake a claim on securing that final promotion place.
Sitting three points ahead of fourth placed Cwmamman United (whom had 2 games in hand over Tredegar Town), it was vital that Tredegar came away from this match with all three points to put the pressure back on Cwmamman to win their games in hand.
Pontypridd Town have had a funny few weeks as of late. Their league position puts them in the awkward spot of being completely safe from relegation yet probably a little too far off the promotion places to mount a late challenge. In recent weeks they have impressively beaten high fliers Ammanford, Lliswerry and Cardiff Corinthians in fine fashion, whilst faltering against league strugglers Treharris Athletic Western, Caerau and Newport Civil Service.
With wins against such impressive competition, you’d argue that a consistent Pontypridd Town could actually mount a serious title push next season. The Broad brothers (Dominic and Damian, both holding player manager roles at the club) have dramatically turned around the fortunes of the Pontypridd side, who now play with a solid fluency and exude a real team attitude, no doubt helped by the team bonding experience of last Summer’s infamous Valencia excursion. Their impressive run in the Nathaniel Car Sales League Cup was only cut short by a 3-2 defeat at current Welsh League Division One champions Monmouth Town. All this for a side who survived relegation to the South Wales Amateur leagues by a single point in the 2013/14 season is quite an achievement.
Tredegar Town play their football at The Leisure Complex. A large field with a decent playing surface situated behind a leisure centre and a local secondary school. The team moved to their new home in 2004, after 36 years at their previous home, The Recreation Ground.
The Complex is an impressive ground for this level of the Welsh pyramid. The ground hosts a refreshments hut in the form of an annexe to the changing rooms building. The match also attracts some local team players, just finishing their weekly training sessions on the surrounding astroturf pitches.
Admission for tonight’s match is a very fair and good value £3, no match day programmes were available, but I blame this on my late arrival (a combination of the one way system outside the ground and car parking being fairly limited tonight, lead to me parking up about half a mile away and walking down).
I arrive just in time to see the match kick off and Tredegar Town win a corner in the opening seconds.
The Complex is a spacious ground, with one of the larger pitches I’ve seen on my travels, making it a good ground for passing teams, which both of tonight’s sides display in abundance.
A single stand behind one of the touchline looks like it could house a hundred or so spectators. Tonight it houses three, as most people line up on the surrounding barrier.
Tredegar Town slightly edge the first ten minutes, holding onto the ball a little better and coming close to opening the scoring after 8 minutes when a long range effort from Chris Quinlan was dispatched at pace. The shot however was always placed too central to be a real threat to the Pontypridd goal and was easily saved.
Pontypridd Town, after this shot, started to grow into the game and were very unlucky not to go into the lead on 13 minutes after the returning Luke Gullick made some headway down the right wing, beating a couple of men. Unfortunately Gullick was unable to see two of his colleagues in a better position on the other side of the box and Gullick was only able to send his shot well wide.
Tredegar Town failed to heed the warning laid down by their Pontypridd counterparts and a few minutes later the Dragons took a deserved lead from the head of Luke Gullick, more than making up for his earlier miss. Gullick’s name will go down on the scoresheet after his close range header, but great credit must be given to Pontypridd midfielder Tom Rutherford, who took on two men in the build up and laid a chipped pass on for Gullick, who made no mistake from about three yards out.
Tredegar faced further problems, as the tricky and pacey full back Lewis Parfitt was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury. Parfitt, had looked like a player with a lot of potential in the opening stages. Making some impressive runs and looking like quite the player. After Parfitt’s departure, Pontypridd took advantage of the opportunities afforded to them down the right wing for the rest of the match.
Pontypridd Town were very unlucky not to double their advantage on 20 minutes and Tredegar were perhaps fortunate to keep 11 men on the pitch as Luke Gullick glided through the Tredegar defence and was tripped by Ian Pettit. Pettit would receive a booking for his deliberate trip, which Sky Sports pundits would refer to as one of those “You’d take a booking to stop him going on and scoring” challenges.
The game throughout the whole of the first half was played at such a high tempo, with both sides looking extremely comfortable with playing one touch football. So much so that my only worry as a spectator was that both sides would burn themselves out before half-time, resulting in perhaps a lacklustre end of the game.
The game wasn’t without it’s niggles it must be said. The referee was called on a fair few times to make important decisions. I didn’t keep a hold of the tally but I think Tredegar Town came away with about five bookings whilst Pontypridd came away with two. I stand to be corrected there however.
One such niggly occasion occurred at a Tredegar Town corner when the referee was called into action to separate some players. It was all nothing really, summed up best by the shout of an elderly gent behind the goal mouth who pleaded “Get on with it, and play some fucking football!”.
Tredegar came close to levelling the scores on 32 minutes after a long throw was sent into the box, Ian Pettit who got onto the throw could only send the ball over the bar from 12 yards out.
Luke Gullick, who proved to be troublesome all night will feel aggrieved that more than a booking wasn’t given to Tredegar’s Liam McCann, who seemed to kick out at Gullick as he made his way around him onto a loose ball. The referee seeing that Gullick kept hold of the ball, allowed play to continue and later booked McCann when Tom Rutherford was unable to make a clean connection on the resulting pass from Gullick.
The first half ended with Pontypridd’s Tom Rutherford coming within inches of doubling Ponty’s advantage. He saw his shot creep inches wide of the back post following a nice volleyed effort.
In the half time interval I made my way, like most, to the refreshments hut to grab a quick coffee to fight off the bitterly cold Blaenau Gwent evening chill. A lovely coffee in a Creme Egg mug setting me back a fair 70p.
I found Danny Glorieux, one of Pontypridd Town’s officials and stand-in linesman for the night and chatted for a few minutes about the league in general. Danny being a knowledgeable man with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the league, whom I’ve called upon many times during my adventures so far.
The second half started, showing signs that both sides were showing signs of slowing the intial fast tempo down a little. Long passes were traded between both sides, looking to take advantages of both sides pacey wingers.
Zac Iheanacho, who proved to be a good outlet for a lot of Pontypridd’s attacking play started to make inroads into the Tredegar box in the second half. One such occasion resulting in him beating his marker and laying a delicate pass on for Geraint Passmore. Passmore fired a shot towards goal and could only look on in frustration as he watched his shot go inches wide.
Pontypridd Town were rewarded for their early dominance of the second half on 53 minutes after some excellent play from striker James Hill. Hill managed to chip a deft pass over the last Tredegar defender to the feet of the on running Luke Gullick who then chipped Kris Morris in the Tredegar goal in a similar style to the infamous Andy Cole goal on the last day of the Premier League season against Spurs in the 1998/99 season (look it up on Youtube!). Gullick ran away and was mobbed by his team mates as he celebrated his side’s second goal.
Tredegar didn’t lie back and accept defeat and the Pontypridd Town defence was caught sleeping on the hour as a quick pass was laid through the box to Joshua Jones who unfortunately fired the ball well over from 10 yards out with an open goal at his feet. Jones, who will feel he should have done better in such an opportunity, was faced with one of those scenarios where if afforded the chance again, he’d go on to score 99 out of 100 of them.
Tredegar made strong claims for a penalty a few minutes later, crowding around the referee whilst Pontypridd counter attacked. James Hill, who had a great game was unlucky not to add to the scoring with a fine shot from 12 yards. Hill, saw his shot beat the goalkeeper but be eventually blocked by a Tredegar defender on the line.
Tredegar’s Ian Pettit, who remained a handful until the final whistle, fired a shot well over the bar from the edge of the box after outsprinting a Pontypridd defender to get the opportunity.
There was a period of around ten minutes in the middle of the second half where it looked like Tredegar were going to make a comeback into the match, coming close on a couple of occasions. Pontypridd Town, for their credit, defended resolutely and stemmed the flow of the ball towards their goal.
With ten minutes of the match left, the game and three points were wrapped up by Spanish substitute Carlos Garcia who unleashed a shot from the edge of the box which rebounded back to him off a defenders legs. Sensing he had no visible way through the Tredegar Town defence, Garcia delicately chipped an effort over the flailing Tredegar Town keeper which rustled in the back of the net to make the score 3-0 to the Pontypridd side.
Words simply do not do correct justice for this goal. Such was the sheer brilliance of this effort. This was quite simply, the best goal I have seen this year and a good contender for one of the best goals I’ve ever seen in person.
Garcia was rightly mobbed by his team mates, including his own goalkeeper who must have shared my views with the excellence of the goal, seeing fit to sprint 100 yards down the field to join in the celebrations. Even if he did get a verbal lashing from Damian Broad on the touchline for his efforts.
Pontypridd Town wrapped things up with five minutes left on the clock after a spot of pinball in the penalty area lead to the ball falling to the head of Andy Coleman, who dispatched a poweful header that the goalkeeper was unable to keep from going into the back of the net.
As the final whistle blew, both the happiness of the Pontypridd Town players and the disappointment of the Tredegar Town team was clear for all to see.
Tredegar will feel disappointed that they were unable to consolidate their position in the promotion places and will feel they have handed the momentum over to their promotion rivals going into the last ten games of the season.
Pontypridd Town, can feel proud of an excellent performance, beating a side who were on paper and league position among other factors, more than favourites to take all three points in tonight’s game.
The Broad brothers will go into their final ten games of the season feeling that this season has definitely a positive season so far and no doubt believing they can build upon this next year.
As I walked away from the ground, my walk took me past the Pontypridd Town dressing room, where I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me saying that I overheard at least one of the Broad brothers laying encouragement on his team, asking the team to “..see how far we can finish in this league!”.
As the cliche goes, “Watch this space!”
A big thanks to all at Tredegar Town for your hospitality. I look forward to my next visit.
My Man of the Match: Pontypridd Town, it must be said put in a superb performance. For my money, no player probably ranked worse than an 8/10, if not higher. Having said that, Luke Gullick, returning from injury, was always a constant threat up front and terrorised down both wings. It really was the case of being the best of a good bunch.