Tuesday 10th November.
Barry Town United 4-1 Risca United.
Welsh League Division One.
Jenner Park, Barry.
Attendance: Circa 100.
I always love a visit to Jenner Park, it’s one of my favourite grounds in Wales. I remember going to loads of games there as a teenager back in the days when Barry Town were just starting to assert themselves as a dominant force in the Welsh game.
Sadly, I’ve never played on the pitch. Being a Rhondda kid, our teams rarely travelled outside of the county borders.
The ground has recently been upgraded to include a 3G surface, which has funnily enough meant that as late as tonight Barry Town United have yet to play a home league game this season. This fact shows just how much progress the club have made given their current league position and never having set foot on Jenner Park in the league since last season.
Therefore although Barry Town United currently sit 8 points behind leaders Goytre in Division One it could be said that they look something like dark horses for that precious Welsh League title and the associated promotion to the heights of the Welsh Premier League come next April. Especially when you consider that 14 of their remaining 20 games after tonight will all be played at Jenner Park.
Risca United were a team I’d never watched play before so I was quite excited to see what they were about.
The club gained promotion to Division One on the final day of last season when Caldicot Town, who themselves looked destined for promotion with a couple of months of the season to go, let their foot off the accelerator and Risca United’s increasing form towards the end of the season saw them scrape past Caldicot into the final promotion spots with groundshare-buddies Aberbargoed Buds and tonight’s opponents and runaway Division Two champions Barry Town United.
Established in 1946, ‘The Cuckoos’ have represented the town of Risca in the Welsh League since the 1990/91 season when they returned to the league following a 30 year absence.
A brief dalliance under the name Risca & Gelli United during the mid 2000’s in Welsh League Division 3 lasted four seasons before the club returned to their original name of Risca United.
The club moved from their old ground Ty-Isaf Park during the Summer break to the relatively new and impressive Caerphilly Centre for Sporting Excellence where they ground-share with fellow Division One side Aberbargoed Buds and Cardiff City Ladies among others.
Barry Town United have done a superb job in getting the 3G surface installed so quickly. Unfortunately the clubhouse wasn’t open this evening, tonight proved to be a game too soon as renovation works were ongoing. However this simply meant I, like many others, took the opportunity to pop over to the off-licence across the road from Jenner Park during the half time interval for a Double Decker and a Red Bull.
And so onto tonight’s match.
Barry Town United moved up to 5th spot in Division One of the Welsh League with a challenging victory against a Risca United side who put them under a great deal of pressure at times.
The Barry Town United side started the match in a furious fashion, looking to take the impetus to their Gwent rivals who defended resolutely during the opening stages.
The first real opportunity of the game fell to Risca’s Kyle Williams who beat two men before running into the box. Williams will feel he could’ve done better as he lashed his shot well over the crossbar.
Barry Town United took the lead in the 42nd minute after a couple of minutes of intense pressure on the Risca United goal. Barry striker James Dixon was afforded a second bite at the apple after his first shot was well saved by Risca stopper Aaron Colwill but the rebound fell straight back at Dixon’s feet. Dixon made no mistake from six yards and gave the Jenner Park side a 1-0 lead.
In first half injury time, Jordan Cotterill made an even bigger nuisance of himself when he laid on a beautiful ball for James Dixon who looked to have rounded Risca goalkeeper Aaron Colwill who mistimed his challenge and brought down the Barry striker inside the box.
The referee didn’t hesitate in awarding a penalty to Barry Town United. Bobby Briers stepped up to the spot and despatched a lovely penalty to double his side’s advantage going into the half time interval.
Risca United upped the tempo in the second half and started to put the frighteners up a fair number of the Barry Town supporters sat near me in the stand. The Gwent side were unlucky not to get a goal back in the 56th minute when Matthew Russell headed against the far post after seemingly beating Paul Morean in the Barry Town United goal.
Barry Town United had a golden opportunity to seal all three points midway through the second half when Drew Fahiya outpaced Jon Payne down the left channel and unselfishly passed the ball across the six yard box to James Dixon who defied the laws of gravity in scooping the ball well over the crossbar from close range.
A minute later Risca United scored a deserving goal, although the nature of the goal caused some controversy. A defence splitting pass into the box was controlled, seemingly by the hand of Matthew Thomas who then slotted home clinically from six yards out. The referee and linesman didn’t spot the infringement and as such awarded the goal despite complaints from the Barry Town United defence.
This goal gave Risca United the belief that they could take something from this game and they pushed forward in numbers to try and steal a point or more from the match.
In the end it was Risca United’s desperate search for an equaliser that proved to be their downfall as a Risca attack broke down and Barry counter-attacked quickly. Jordan Cotterill found himself on the half way line with only the Risca goalkeeper Aaron Colwill to beat.
Cotterill rounded the goalkeeper inside the centre circle before slotting the ball into the awaiting empty net from 40 yards out to restore his side’s two goal cushion.
Barry Town United made certain of the three points in the final minute of normal time after a good old fashioned physical battle on the touchline between Kareem Leigh and Ryan Evans with Leigh proving the victor.
Leigh ran into the box at pace and placed the ball into the path of substitute Rhys James who slotted the ball home from six yards to round off the scoring in the game.
The 4-1 scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on a Risca United side who for large parts of the second half offered quite a threat and had the Barry Town United defence pinned back on the the eighteen yard box for a large proportion of the second half.
This was a simple case of one side being a little more clinical in front of goal.
All in all, a positive return to Jenner Park for Barry Town United, who will surely now kick on and win a number of their large amount of remaining home games?
I’d like to wish the very best of luck to both Barry Town United and Risca United for the rest of your seasons. A very big thanks again to all at Barry Town United for your ongoing hospitality and friendship.
My Man of the Match: Jordan Cotterill offered a constant threat and was clinical in front of goals and for that, Cotterill wins this dubious accolade.