Port Talbot Town were held to a 1-1 draw with AFC Llwydcoed at Victoria Road with Jack Underwood heading home the equaliser. However, it was a day of frustration for the Blues who had several chances to win it and will certainly feel that this was two points dropped rather than a point gained.
The home side looked to bounce back from last week’s 1-0 home defeat to Risca United and welcomed back both Jackson and John Hall to the starting line-up with Morgan Thomas also returning on the bench.
All signs looked positive, but Port Talbot had the worst possible start after falling behind to a Morgan Andrews free kick from 20 yards inside seven minutes. He expertly guided the ball past the wall into the bottom corner, with James Harris well beat.
There was nearly an instant home reply as (big) Ryan Morgan had the ball in the net five minutes later with a neat chipped finish, but the whistle had already gone for offside and the effort was ruled out. The chances kept coming as the Blues applied attacking pressure with Conor Harris seeing his sweetly struck effort going just wide following Jack Underwood’s flick from a Jackson Hall free kick.
There was a coming together between Tom Blizzard and Lewis Holder resulting in a scuffle that had to be broken up before Conor Harris was again denied a goal. A goalmouth scramble was the result of a Jordan Pike corner and Harris struck from 10 yards out, but his effort was blocked on the line by a resolute Llwydcoed defence.
Captain (little) Ryan Morgan was nearly on the scoresheet as a dazzling run from the wing saw him find space and shoot from the edge of the box, but his effort was blocked and went wide for a corner. Somehow there was no foul given after he was snapped at from behind after taking his short.
A quiet spell ensued from the 20-minute mark, but Dylan Llewellyn attempted to spark the game into life with a run from the left wing, but he dragged his long-range effort well wide.
In a rare away attack, Craig Williams nearly doubled the Llwydcoed lead with a silky half-volley on the turn from the edge of the box and James Harris produced a stunning save down at his near post. He ensured that Port Talbot were only one goal behind at the break.
The Blues came out of the traps firing on all cylinders in the second half and were nearly instantly back on level terms. Liam Jones went into the book for a cynical elbow on (little) Ryan Morgan with Tom Blizzard testing a shaky Brett Davies in the away goal with a free kick from 20 yards. His effort was tipped over, but the threat was not over as (big) Ryan Morgan headed just wide from the resultant corner.
Eight minutes into the second half and Port Talbot Town had their deserved equaliser. A great ball in from (little) Ryan Morgan was deliciously flicked on from Blizzard and Jack Underwood fired home with an unstoppable header leaving the keeper rooted to the spot. The Blues were level.
Port Talbot were not happy with just an equaliser though, but the game stopped suddenly when Lewis Holder produced a horror challenge on skipper Ryan Morgan. He somehow escaped with only a yellow card and was lucky not to get his second after the earlier scuffle with Blizzard. Davies nearly dropped the Jordan Pike free kick that resulted.
Jack Underwood nearly had another goal on the hour-mark with his strike going just wide from a long ball pelted forward. He was nearly at it again ten minutes later after a sublime cross from Conor Harris was just too far ahead of the Blues’ strike. Jackson Hall eventually retrieved the ball from wide but saw his effort saved at the near post.
Goal scorer Morgan Andrews nearly won it for Llwydcoed fifteen minutes from time with a great run forward past the home defence and his strike at goal was well kept out by Harris low at the left post.
Morgan Thomas replaced Dylan Llewellyn for his first game after three weeks out and he went very close to sealing a Port Talbot win after Davies flapped at his shot and was lucky to see Thomas’ block of his attempted clearance not end up in the net. Thomas was inches away from a stoppage time winner as he lapsed on a defensive mistake, but his shot was saved.
It was a frustrating day of missed chances for the Blues, but with many teams elsewhere in Welsh Cup action, Port Talbot Town stayed in third place in Welsh League Division One, sitting one point above Penydarren in the promotion places.
We caught up with manager Mark Pike who was full of praise for his side’s second-half reaction: “Another game passes us by, it’s still early days and I can see a group of lads that are starting to gel together which was very evident in a superb second-half performance.”
“Our effort, fitness, application and quality throughout was excellent,” added the gaffer. “It was a cheap goal to concede and so avoidable. They [Llwydcoed] came to us with a game plan and in all fairness, they made it difficult and it worked for them.”
“Again, we missed so many good chances and whilst it was frustrating, it is extremely positive that we can create so many and I’m confident we can keep creating them.”
Pike was less pleased with how the first-half panned out: “That first-half performance was not good enough and the lads know it. I asked for a reaction and I got it. We move onto next weekend’s cup game in a positive mood and I will be looking at the boys to start that game in the same way we ended this one.”
“I have got to mention the support once again. It’s absolutely brilliant to see the supporters get behind this young team in numbers. The players and staff really appreciate it.”
Attentions now turn to the FAW Trophy with a 3rd round clash at Victoria Road this Saturday (26 October) against Abertillery Bluebirds. Kick-off for that one is at 2.00pm.
All image credits: Russell Morris.