Port Talbot Town returned to action in Welsh League Division One with a hard-fought 2-0 win over AFC Llwydcoed at the Welfare Ground. Late strikes from Jackson Hall and Bailey Embling-Jones were enough to eventually see off a stubborn home side who finished the game with 9 men.
There were blustery conditions in the Welsh Valleys on Saturday afternoon with the wind having a big impact on proceedings. James Harris was forced into action early on to produce a superb double save to deny both Cian Cable and Carl Mabey.
Jordan Edwards had the first chance for the visitors, but he got the angles all wrong to fire wide. It was a scrappy affair and a common theme of the game soon emerged with Llwydcoed committing a number of fouls and having four yellow cards in the first 15 minutes, including one for their manager.
Port Talbot settled well after a scrappy start with Jordan Pike nearly finding Jackson Hall at the back post with a free, but he was just inches away from tapping in. Jordan Edwards and Rhys Jones then linked well to find Tom Blizzard whose effort didn’t have enough power and fell straight to the keeper.
John Hall rose highest to meet a Pike corner, but it was headed over before Blizzard again went close, this time striking just wide from the edge of the box. Cian Cable was then put in out wide for the hosts, but when the best option was to pull back into the box, he decided to shoot into the side netting to the relief of the Blues.
Cori Mabey had a huge chance then for Llwycoed as he was put through clear on goal, but he got his effort all wrong and slotted well wide. Jordan Edwards did well to then break through for Port Talbot, but he couldn’t get enough elevation in his chipped effort as the home keeper held comfortably to ensure the first half ended goalless.
The second half couldn’t have started any worse for the hosts with Lewis Holder receiving his second yellow card in the 48th minute meaning Llwydcoed were down to 10 men for most of the half.
They didn’t let the man deficit show though as they continued to create chances with Ross Daniels finding his way through before dragging well wide and James Harris was then forced into a superb save low at his right to keep the ball out amidst a crowded penalty area.
Adam Llewellyn was on for his league debut with 25 minutes to go and shortly after Jackson Hall did brilliantly to find Jordan Edwards unmarked in the box. His goal bound effort was excellently blocked on the line as Llwydcoed remained determined to keep the scores level. The chances continued to come for Port Talbot with Tom Blizzard’s wicked strike scraping the side netting as it went agonisingly wide as the clock continued to tick.
Port Talbot Town would finally make the breakthrough in the 85th minute as Jackson Hall fired home reacting quickest to the rebound from Tom Blizzard’s saved strike. There were joyous celebrations as he scored his first league goal for the club, and an incredibly important one it was.
There were bizarre scenes with two minutes to go as Llwycoed were reduced to 9 men. Luke Davies received a second yellow card after receiving the ball on the edge of his own box, flicking it up and heading back to the goalkeeper for an artificial back pass.
Llwydcoed’s misery was compounded in stoppage time as Bailey Embling-Jones made an instant impact by striking from the edge of the box and through the goalkeeper’s hands to make it 2-0 and secure the three points on the road for a resolute Blues.
We caught up with Port Talbot Town manager Mark Pike after the victory and he was clearly delighted with the result: “It was not the best game for the neutral, but I am extremely pleased to come away with three points.”
“It was a difficult game that was made harder by the home side with their dogged persistence to stop us playing on a heavy pitch where we had plenty of good opportunities to score and the majority of possession.”
“Their game plan looked like it was working until we found the breakthrough with five minutes go through the desire of Jackson Hall to get onto the loose ball. It was a deserved opener that was followed up by young 18-year-old Bailey Embling-Jones coming on in the final minute and scoring from 18 yards. I am so pleased for the young lad.”
“Patience was the key today and having not played for five weeks made it more difficult to get going. Our intensity and quality could have been better in patches, but at the end of the day and at this part of the season it is all about gaining three points and that’s what we did.”
Port Talbot Town will be back on the road in Welsh League Division One on Wednesday night (11 March) as they travel to Jubilee Way to take on Caldicot Town (7.15pm kick off). You can catch all of the updates on the official Twitter account.