Holland The Hero As Champs Suffer Defeat At Steelmen

Port Talbot Town 2-1 Rhyl

Lloyd Grist returned the the starting line-up for the visit of the current league champions Rhyl while Lee John was named on the bench despite suspensions ruling out Daniel Thomas and Gareth Phillips. Port Talbot started the better of the two sides and that was how it stayed for the majority of the opening half as Mark Jones side turned their possession into chances and it was no surprise when Liam McCreesh opened the scoring for the home side after 17 minutes. A shot from the edge of the area by Martin Rose rebounded off the post into the path of McCreesh and he made no mistake from close range. Minutes later McCreesh could have added a second when he found himself one on one with Rhyl goalkeeper Jack Cudworth but his attempt to lift the ball over the advancing keeper was foiled as Cudworth stretched to block the effort.

Port Talbot continued to dominate with Rhyl restricted to long range efforts on the counter-attack, Mark Connolly and coming the closest with a shot from the edge of the area after 30 minutes. Port Talbot pushed forward for a second and forced a number of corners before the referee brought the half to a close. Rhyl came out for the second half with a more positive approach and began to take control in the early exchanges. After a short period of possession the visitors eventually equalised when new signing Robert Turner found himself in space and scored with a low shot at the near post.

Port Talbot were soon back in control of the game however as they forced the visitors into losing possession and caused problems for Rhyl with their pace from wide positions. The introduction of substitute Nicky Holland would prove decisive as on 86 minutes he picked up the ball on the edge of the area and curled a superb shot into the far corner of the net. The goal left Rhyl rattled and both Martin Rose and Scott Barrow hit the post before referee Huw Jones blew the whistle for full time and hand Mark Jones side a well deserved three points against the champions.

18th January 2010 – Evening Post

Holland the hero as champs suffer defeat at Steelmen

Nicky Holland ended a difficult week on a high as his 86th-minute goal gave Port Talbot a thrilling 2-1 victory over champions Rhyl at the GenQuip Stadium. After committing himself to the Steelmen despite being courted by another top-flight club, Holland found himself on the bench for the eighth time this season, with only one start. But given the nod in the 81st minute by manager Mark Jones, Holland produced a quality finish to seal three precious points for his side. A brilliant move involving Scott Barrow, Matthew Thompson and Lloyd Grist ended with the latter finding Holland 12 yards out. A neat shimmy left Rhyl player-manager Greg Strong off balance, providing space for an exquisite finish into the top-right hand corner of the net. “I was itching to get on to show what I could do,” said the 20-year-old. “When the opportunity arose I was screaming to Lloyd to pass to me and fortunately I hit it well. “I have been biding my time on the bench waiting for the chance to come. “I wanted to stay as there are a great bunch of lads here, a great manager and we are in a great position in the league.”

Boss Jones added: “He’s a great lad. I called him into the office this week and told him what a contribution I felt he could make to this club. “I’m delighted for him and also Lloyd Grist who is recovering from the loss of his mother only a few weeks ago. I thought his attitude was magnificent today under very difficult circumstances.” Aberystwyth’s 2-0 win at Prestatyn, their fourth victory in a row, leaves Port Talbot in fourth, but they have games in hand over two of the clubs above them. Next week’s visit to The New Saints could be the defining moment in their campaign. Port Talbot dominated the champions in the first period but their only reward came in the 17th minute, Liam McCreesh pouncing on a rebound off the post from the excellent Martin Rose to fire the Steelmen in front.

But for a solid goalkeeping display by Jack Cudworth and the willingness of Rhyl’s back four to put their bodies on the line, Scott Barrow, McCreesh and Neil Thomas could have added to the tally. Rhyl’s improvement brought its reward when debutant Robert Turner flashed a superb drive past Lee Kendall. Holland had the final say, although Rose missed a sitter from six yards to add to the tally. “This was a very big win for us,” said Jones. “We are now putting pressure on the top three and it takes a good team to forge a win against Rhyl after they hit back in the second half. We were getting worried in the dugout so this was a victory for the players. Their desire and attitude saw us through and we now face another enormous challenge.”

18th January 2010 – Daily Post

Rhyl title hopes fading fast after defeat

Substitute Nicky Holland’s 84th-minute winner at the GenQuip Stadium surely brought an end to any lingering hopes Rhyl may have had of retaining their Welsh Premier League title. The Lilywhites slipped to fifth place after suffering a fourth league defeat in 11 matches, of which they have won just two. Following Saturday’s loss to a Port outfit which moved up to fourth, Lilies manager Greg Strong tried to put a brave face on things. “We’ve just got to dust ourselves down and take it on the chin,” he said. “There’s enough in that changing room to go out and beat any team in the league. We don’t fear anyone and for long periods today we were the better team.” Missed chances have been a big problem for the Lilywhites of late and the old habit continued early doors when Mark Connolly’s cross allowed Matty Williams a clear header, but the out-of-form striker failed to hit the target. The visitors were living dangerously at the back and on 17 minutes Talbot keeper Lee Kendall’s quick free-kick found Scott Barrow, whose shot was blocked, the ball ran to Martin Rose, whose left-footer came back off the post, but Liam McCreesh was first to the rebound to score.

Rhyl keeper Jack Cudworth was at full stretch to palm away a Neil Thomas effort, then only his outstretched hand denied McCreesh with Strong clearing the subsequent danger. Before the break new Lilies signing Rob Turner rose well in the box and the ball fell to Williams, who was again woefully off the mark. The champions raised their game after the break and Turner’s shot had Kendall in bother before Phil Doran’s volley did not miss by much. Then on the hour the Belle Vue outfit equalised when Williams and Doran both played neat passes to free Turner whose left-foot screamer beat Kendall at his near post. Rhyl had a decent handball claim against McCreesh in the box turned down before Turner blasted over under pressure from Matthew Rees.

Against the run of play, however, the Steelmen grabbed the decider six minutes from time when Lloyd Grist set up Holland, who applied an exquisite right-foot finish. And Port should have made it 3-1 but Rose missed a sitter with his head from six yards out.

18th January 2010 – Western Mail

Rhyl boss Greg Strong is still defiant

As Port Talbot’s season continues on an upward spiral, Rhyl’s campaign is grinding to a halt. The champions have now gathered just a point a game from their last 11 matches and their chance of retaining their Welsh Premier crown has now virtually evaporated. But player-manager Greg Strong, whose plans have been undermined by financial restraints, remains defiant. “We need to dust ourselves down again after this defeat. In our dressing room we have players who can match the very best in the league,” he said.

The Port Talbot revival under manager Mark Jones, who returned to the GenQuip Stadium for a second spell in December 2008, has been quite remarkable. Just one home defeat during this period and 22 points from their last eight matches has sent the Steelmen up to fourth spot and they have matches in hand on two of the sides above them. Next week’s visit to The New Saints will indicate whether they can push on to the next level. This was a quality match played on a magnificent surface despite incessant heavy rain, and it was fitting that the winner, four minutes from time, was superbly constructed and taken. Scott Barrow, Matthew Thompson and Lloyd Grist combined neatly to supply substitute Nicky Holland and his little shimmy gave him the space necessary to fire home a classic goal. It was a stunning end to a complex week for the 20-year-old, who had been courted by another top tier club but rejected their advance.

“We are in a great position with a great manager and a great set of players and I was itching to get on and luckily the chance came and I took it,” Holland said. “It’s been difficult being on the bench, but the lads have been doing so well I decided to bide my time and then make the most of the opportunities that came my way.” Jones praised Holland’s attitude and also paid tribute to defender Lloyd Grist. “I was so pleased that Nicky opted to stay as he’s a big part of this club’s plans,” he said. “And Lloyd was magnificent. A few weeks ago he lost his mother, which was devastating, but the appetite he showed today was magnificent. “This was a very big result for us. We should have been three up at half-time, but to come back again as we did was all down to the players.” Port Talbot bossed the first half, but their only reward came in the 17th minute when Liam McCreesh pounced on Martin Rose’s fiercely-struck shot which rebounded off the post. Rhyl upped their game after the break and debutant Robin Turner levelled in the 57th minute after excellent work by Phil Doran and Matthew Williams. But Jones’ men were not to be denied and Rose could have made it 3-1, but headed uncharacteristically meekly wide from six yards.

17th January 2010 – Wales on Sunday

Port Talbot maintain push for the top with win against leaders Rhyl

The Welsh Premier match of the day was played out at the GenQuip Stadium and in-form Port Talbot maintained their push for a top three place with victory over reigning title-holders Rhyl. The Steelmen are proving irresistible at the moment, and not even the champions could resist them, with Port substitute Nicky Holland the hero with the winner six minutes from time. Port Talbot Mark Jones has galvanised his players into a formidable side, and despite a Rhyl purple patch around the hour mark, Port Talbot proved the stronger outfit. They started the livelier and went ahead after 17 minutes when Scott Barrow unleashed a shot that rebounded into play off a post and Liam McCreesh netted the rebound. McCreesh almost doubled the Port Talbot tally a few minutes later when he was in on goal and executed a delicate chip, only for Rhyl keeper Jack Cudworth to tip the ball over the bar. Rhyl were a little shell-shocked by Port Talbot’s early salvo but nearly hit back after half an hour when Matthew Williams shot wide. The visitors needed to show their title mettle and did better at the start of the second half as they looked to get back on terms.

They finally got on the score sheet on the hour mark as Robert Turner chased a ball over the top and in between two defenders to beat Lee Kendall with a crisp finish. That set up an enthralling final half hour and it was the hosts who were able to raise their game one decisive time. They went close to restoring the lead on 70 minutes when Martin Rose hit a post from close range before they struck the hammer blow. Substitute Nicky Holland popped up on 84 minutes to curl the ball into the far corner of the net. The Steelmen refused to rest on their laurels and Barrow almost put the result beyond doubt in injury time when he hit the post from wide out.

16th January 2010 – www.welshpremier.com

Super sub Holland wins it for Steelmen

Port Talbot have leapfrogged their visitors Rhyl following their 2-1 triumph at the GenQuip Stadium. The hosts took a 17th minute lead through influential midfielder Liam McCreesh, but debutant Rob Turner equalised on the hour for the Lilywhites. The winner came from sub Nicky Holland three minutes after he replaced Neil Thomas in the Talbot midfield. Despite limited game time this season, the ex-Llanelli man committed himself to the Steelmen’s cause this week, and his strike and Mark Jones’ astute decision to bring him on reaped rewards for the Blues. “I wanted some fresh legs on the field and full credit to Nicky, he thoroughly deserved the winner. We deserved that win today,” said a jubilant Jones.

Principality Welsh Premier League

Saturday, 16th January 2010

at The GenQuip Stadium, Port Talbot

Port Talbot Town 2-1 Rhyl

Goalscorers

Port Talbot Town

Liam McCreesh (17)

Nicky Holland (86)

Rhyl

Robert Turner (60)

Referee – Mr Huw Jones

Port Talbot Town

Team – Lee Kendall, Leigh De-Vulgt, Lloyd Grist, Karl Lewis, Matthew Rees, Lee Surman, Scott Barrow, Neil Thomas, Martin Rose, Liam McCreesh, Drew Fahiya

Subs – Lee John (rep N.Thomas – 81), Nicky Holland (rep Fahiya – 81), Matthew Thompson (rep Lewis – 72)

Yellow Cards – Drew Fahiya (71) – Red Cards – None

Goalscorers – Liam McCreesh (17), Nicky Holland (86)

Rhyl

Team – Jack Cudworth, Martyn Naylor, Greg Stones, Shaun Dowling, Greg Strong, John Leah, Mark Connolly, Phil Doran, Robert Turner, Matthew Williams, Tyrone Kirk

Subs – Chris Williams (rep Kirk – 73), Gareth Owen (Unused), George Horan (rep Naylor – 88)

Yellow Cards – Matthew Williams (77), Greg Strong (86) Red Cards – None

Goalscorers – Robert Turner (60)

Attendance – 226