A week behind schedule, Port Talbot started off their league campaign on the road at Cwmbran Celtic and more than made up for lost time with an away win on the board.
It didn’t take long for the Blues to apply pressure on the home side with an array of attacks that tested within the first 10 minutes of the game. Nikki Parvin forces Lewis Watkins in to a smart save early on to prevent an early lead. Two consecutive free kicks for the away side asked further questions of the Cwmbran defence. Parvin was involved again when the second free-kick wasn’t cleared. Dylan Thomas was able to get on the end of his cross but his half-volley flew over the bar.
Blake Morgan was close to breaking the deadlock in this one around the 20 minute mark of the game. His header from Thomas’ cross going agonisingly close. At this point, Port Talbot were approaching double figures for attempts at goal and the confidence was really starting to show on the pitch. Dylan Thomas linked up well with Morgan Thomas with a through ball threaded in to Morgan dealt with by the onrushing keeper.
It felt like a matter of time before an away goal and this was to come from the spot. Keane Watts made his way in to the box and his pass to Dylan Thomas was met with Iolo Jones’ foul. Dylan picked himself and converted the penalty to give PTT a deserved lead.
Minutes later this lead was doubled. Morgan Thomas collected the ball on the edge of the home area and finessed the ball across the box and in to the top corner. A fine individual effort. His efforts in the final third were nearly rewarded with a second goal if it wasn’t for a fine save from Cwmbran’s Watkins in between the sticks.
James Harris was finally called in to action in the latter stages of the half. Louis Feeley’s shot from distance forced a strong save from the PTT keeper. In the last action of the half, Kieran Miller got on the end of a corner. His unmarked header going just past Waktins’ near post as the Blues went in to the half with a 2-0 lead.
Cwmbran started the second half much stronger and tested early on. Some fine passing and movement from Celtic’s Ham, Jones and Feeley saw Louis Feeley’s shot going just wide of the post. Morgan Thomas was still coming close for Port Talbot. A volley from 20 yards out warranted a third goal for the Blues. Keane Watts added to this pressure when a 30 yard run in to the box and shot at goal was saved comfortably by Watkins.
As the game entered the final stages, Cwmbran started to look the better side and asked questions of the Blue’s defence led by Jackson Hall. Chris Ham came close for Celtic and should have really put the ball in to the back of the net when his effort from close range went over the bar.
In what was a relatively calm game, Kieran Miller was brought down while Port Talbot countered which sparked life in to both benches as they rushed on to the field of play. This was quickly defused though with two yellow cards issued.
The away defence finally buckled going in to added on time. Josh Bull grabbed himself a goal but this was to be only a consolation as the referee blew for full time a minute later. Port Talbot, against a lot of people’s expectations, came away from Celtic Park with maximum points and will no doubt have changed the minds of a lot of critics going forward in to the 2018/19 season. This was a win that was thoroughly deserved for Mark Pike’s first league game in charge.
Featured Image: Lewis Mitchell