Port Talbot Town made it three wins on the bounce and moved up to 2nd place with a fine 2-0 victory at Monmouth Town, completing a league double in the process. Goals from Jack Underwood and Jordan Pike were enough to send the Blues home with all three points.
In a feisty affair, it was the home side who started brighter forcing James Harris into a good save after five minutes to deny Robert Atkinson’s cross-come-shot. Tempers flared moments later after Elliot Ford’s late challenge on Tom Blizzard prompted an angered reaction from the Steelmen. Amazingly, there was no card brandished.
Port Talbot grew into the game with a sublime through ball from Matt Baker finding Tom Neville in front of goal, but he couldn’t muster enough power to trouble the goalkeeper. Seconds later and Jack Underwood was nearly on the scoresheet with his goal bound volley being cleared despite some defensive confusion from the home side.
James Harris was once again called into action on the twenty-minute mark to deny Samuel Oxley in a one-on-one situation where the striker looked destined to finish. Tom Neville was then inches away from putting Port Talbot ahead with his wicked volley going slightly wide.
The momentum of the game continued to swing in both direction with a dazzling run from Robert Atkinson seeing him create space on the edge of the box, but his effort was well wide in the end. Owen Williams then tried his luck from a similar position for the Blues and he produced a fantastic save from the Monmouth ‘keeper to ensure the scores stayed level.
The goalkeeper was once again required for Monmouth Town as he kept out a divine Tom Blizzard free kick from 25 yards. (Big) Ryan Morgan then headed over from the resultant corner which meant it was goalless at the break.
After the interval, both sides had big chances with neither able to find the finishing touch. First it was Elliot Ford who lacked power for Monmouth with the Blues then going up the other end, but Tom Blizzard couldn’t quite find the finishing touch required to put the away side in the lead.
Not for the first time, James Harris kept Port Talbot in the game after doing well to hold a powerful Robert Laurie strike from inside the box.
Just after the hour mark, Blake Morgan replaced Tom Neville and he made an instant impact that turned the game on its head. Almost immediately he was found by Jack Underwood’s cross but headed wide within the six-yard box. When the roles were reversed, Morgan did sublimely on the work and pulled back for Underwood who fired the Blues into the lead from 10 yards to spark wild celebrations on the bench and in the stand.
Six minutes later and that lead was doubled with Jordan Pike’s first ever senior goal for the club. It came in bizarre circumstances with a wicked delivery from a corner finding its way straight into the far corner. He was clearly overjoyed to be on the scoresheet.
Conor Harris was keen to get in on the action with quarter of an hour left. He first saw a deflected effort trickle wide from 20 yards before a sublime drive on the edge of the box crashing wide off the post. He was desperately unlucky.
The Blues showed no sign of letting up with their attacking impetus. Tom Blizzard was incredibly close to making it 3-0 with a thunderous free kick that resulted in a good stop from the Monmouth keeper.
The away side were not lying down though with Nicholas Harrhy producing an eye-catching turn before his volley went well over. Any signs of a comeback for Monmouth were extinguished with five minutes remaining after Lewis Davies was sent off for a second yellow card. Dissent after a foul on Jordan Pike saw him receive his marching orders and the game petered out from there.
It was a brilliant victory on the road for Port Talbot and manager Mark Pike was expectedly delighted with his side’s performance. We caught up with him after the match where he reflected on the win.
“Monmouth is a difficult place to come to and with a heavy pitch it was important that we had a good game plan,” said Pike. “We worked on it this week and the lads certainly didn’t let us down. They executed it superbly.”
“I said to them at half time that the first half was almost immaculate, but I wanted more endeavour going forward. In the second half, we went out there and dominated throughout. We were magnificent.”
“A special mention for Rhys Jones at centre back. He’s a young 16-year-old lad who was absolutely superb. Also, a mention for Jordan Pike on scoring his first senior goal for the club.”
“This win demonstrates that we are definitely going in the right direction. This game has gone now, and it is important we continue to work hard this week in preparation for another difficult encounter at Aberbargoed.”
“Our fans yet again were in full voice throughout and it is very, very much appreciated. We need to keep this support going because it’s so important for these young lads.”
The Blues stay on the road next week in Welsh League Division One with an away fixture at Aberbargoed Buds (14 December). Kick-off for that one is 2pm with live updates across the club’s official social media.
All image credits: Russell Morris