Port Talbot Town suffered their first league defeat since November, capitulating to a 4-0 home loss at the hands of a ruthless Garden Village. Four goals in a blistering 19-minute spell for the visitors enabled them to enact revenge following the Blues’ 5-0 victory in the reverse fixture in October.
Things could have been so different with a big chance going begging for Port Talbot after just four minutes. (Big) Ryan Morgan played Jordan Edwards through on goal with a tackle-come-pass and one-on-one with the goalkeeper, the striker could only slot agonisingly wide.
The Steelmen would be left to rue that miss as just three minutes later Garden Village opened the scoring in impressive fashion. From the edge of the box and facing away from goal, Darryl Hughes finished brilliantly into the top-left corner to give the away side a 1-0 lead.
There was a nasty incident on the 11-minute mark as Dylan Llewellyn was knocked unconscious, whilst somehow committing a foul according to the officials, and was replaced by Morgan Thomas.
Port Talbot seemed to be affected by the serious-looking injury to the winger, as just two minutes later and Garden Village doubled their lead with Alex Giardelli finding space in the box to fire home past James Harris emphatically.
Things went from bad to worse after 21 minutes with Giardelli doubling his tally with a tidy finish into the bottom right that evaded Harris. It was a long way back from there, but the home side’s misery was compounded on the 26-minute mark as Harris tried playing out from the back. His pass was intercepted by Darryl Hughes who curled into an open goal from 20 yards with the ball just trickling the right side of the post to make it 4-0.
The Blues finally seemed to settle and work their way into the match with Jack Underwood breaking the offside trap and forcing a good save out of the away keeper, but the damage was already done as Port Talbot went into the break 4-0 down after a dismal half of football at Victoria Road.
The second half was more of an even affair with the visitors content with their comfortable lead and Port Talbot trying to find an unlikely way back into the match. Conor Harris had the first meaningful effort of the half as he struck at the keeper from outside of the box. Jack Underwood was inches away from meeting the shot with any touch likely to result in a goal, but it just wasn’t to be.
There was a fine strike for the visitors on the hour mark with Curtis Morgan unleashing a delicate curling effort that John Hall did brilliantly well to deflect the goal bound effort wide. Ten minutes later and he was in action once again forcing a strong save out of James Harris in the home goal.
Port Talbot continued to search for a way back into the game, but chances continued to go begging. A fine Jordan Pike corner was headed inches wide by Jordan Edwards who did brilliantly to flick the header on, but it fell the wrong side of the post.
After 80 minutes, substitute Blake Morgan, who impressed with his desire and drive after coming on, was viciously fouled in the box with a swiping kick with the referee forced to award a clear Port Talbot penalty. To compound the day’s misery further, Conor Harris stepped up and put the penalty wide at the Burns Road End for his first spot kick miss of the season.
The Blues continued to attack in the hope of a consolation goal and Morgan Thomas tempted his luck with a nice chipped effort, but it was a comfortable save in the end. Owen Williams then nearly forced an own goal as his cross was headed onto the bar where it bounced twice before going out for a corner. It was one of those days for Port Talbot Town as the referee’s full-time whistle was very much welcomed.
We caught up with Port Talbot Town manager Mark Pike after the game for his thoughts on a tough afternoon: “It was our worst first-half performance of the season. It started so well with Jordan Edwards finding himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper but it went agonisingly wide as early as the fourth minute.”
“Within the first 20 minutes we are two down gifting the away side the lead. After 25 minutes we are feeling sorry for ourselves and are soon 4-0 down. At any level, committing simple and basic mistakes that are so avoidable is going to result in getting punished and that is what happened.
“4-0 down at half time, I changed the shape and second half we competed really well and deserved to claw back the four-goal deficit. We could have got level with two goalmouth clearances, a missed penalty and striking the bar on two occasions whilst limiting the away side to just one chance in the second 45 minutes.”
“On reflection, I felt we deserved something from our second-half performance, but you cannot go chasing a four-goal deficit. Whilst it’s painful, it is important to recover from it. This is my worst defeat in three years and it really hurts, but that’s football.”
“These players will go through brick walls for me and this club and I know they will bounce back. There is no better game to bounce back in than away at Risca next week. We regroup on Tuesday night for training and start to work on consistency all across the park. The players know they didn’t perform and to give them credit this is probably the first time this year that has been the case. Hopefully it will also be the last time. I can only apologise to the great supporters we have for today.”
Port Talbot Town return to action next Saturday (25th January) in an away league fixture at Risca United pitting 2nd versus 3rd from Welsh League Division One. The Blues will be looking to avenge their FAW Trophy penalty shootout defeat from last week with a 2pm kick off scheduled at CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence.