Port Talbot Town were eliminated from the FAW Trophy following a penalty shootout defeat to Risca United. The two sides finished level at the end of 90 minutes, with a further 30 minutes of extra time resulting in a 1-1 draw following late drama. Jordan Edwards netted for the Blues, but a late strike from Matthew Thomas sent the tie to penalties with Port Talbot coming up short.
It was a bright start from the home side with Dylan Llewellyn continuing the form he showed in Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory over Pontardawe Town with some great attacking play on the wing. His cross found Jordan Edwards in the box who headed wide from close range after 4 minutes.
James Harris was called into action on a number of occasions, firstly after 7 minutes to deny Matthew Thomas after he was put through on goal. Up the other end, Llewellyn continued to cause havoc down the right and after he was brought down by Conner Hanford, Jordan Pike went close with a free kick from the edge of the box.
Pike was again in the thick of the action again just minutes later as he nearly repeated his goalscoring heroics at Monmouth Town, this time clipping the crossbar direct from a corner. On the half hour mark, James Harris was again called into action to this time deny Taylor Marsh at his near post. In an even affair, it was all level at the break.
As the second half kicked off, there still seemed no way of splitting the sides with Jordan Edwards having a blocked effort from inside the box, whilst Matthew Thomas then struck the bar for the visitors with a lovely shot on the turn.
After an hour, Risca grasped a hold on the game and had a number of chances to take the lead with the strong wind in their favour. A good ball on the wing found Taylor Marsh, but he got his shot all wrong sending it high and wide. Callum Porter then delivered a powerful drill from outside the box forcing Harris into a smart save before Thomas Pratt saw a curling effort go just wide. Thomas was again denied for the away side with Jordan Pike producing a fine block inside the six-yard box to keep the scores level.
Port Talbot found their way back into the game with Jordan Pike’s free kick nearly ending up in the net off Rhys Jones after a misjudgement in the Risca defence. Pike was then so close to winning the match two minutes from time as the ball found its way to him after being cleared from his own corner and his beautiful sliced strike that was destined for goal was headed off the line to take the match to extra time.
After a goalless ninety minutes, it took less than 120 seconds of extra time for the game’s first goal. John Hall took over free kick duty and using the wind to his advantage delivered a sublime ball in with Jordan Edwards rising to head home and give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
The first period of extra time was broken up by two lengthy spells of treatment, the latter of which resulted in Owen Williams being forced off through injury. There was then a huge chance for Risca as Matthew Thomas struck wide from inside the box.
After a quick change of ends, Port Talbot continued to attack in search of a match-sealing goal with captain Ryan Morgan’s wicked effort being well saved from inside the box. Tom Blizzard met the rebound, but his shot was blocked as Risca managed to clear.
Risca piled forward in the second period of extra time in their hunt for an equaliser and they nearly had it seven minutes from time, but James Harris produced an incredible save to keep out a header from a packed penalty area.
The tie was nearly over in the 116th minute when Morgan Thomas unleashed a sensational dipping half volley from 20 yards, but the ball agonisingly struck the bar and went over. Port Talbot Town were left to rue that strike against the woodwork as one minute later Matthew Thomas was free inside the box for Risca and slotted home the equaliser that sent the match to penalties.
Risca United were perfect with their four penalties, whilst Jackson Hall and Jack Underwood had their strikes saved after Jordan Edwards had scored the Blues’ first penalty. It was a cruel way to go out of the FAW Trophy with a 4-1 penalty shootout defeat occurrig for the second time this season following a similar defeat at Ton Pentre in the Welsh League Cup.
Manager Mark Pike reflected on his side’s shootout defeat after match: “I am disappointed to go out of a second cup on penalties, but in all fairness it was a game of defences. Both sides were outstanding defensively and we found it difficult to break Risca down in the same way they did to us.”
“On the whole over ninety minutes, I thought we edged it and we could have and probably should have sealed the game in normal time, particularly in the last ten minutes with Blizzard and Morgan Thomas going agonisingly close.”
“I thought we dominated extra time until the last five minutes of the second period with Morgan Thomas, Ryan Morgan and Tom Blizzard all going close.”
“It was another great goal by Jordan Edwards and it’s great to see him scoring in all of his starts so far.”
“The equalising goal was a sucker punch. We were pinned back slightly but switched off at the vital moment. You can’t leave your man spare in the box as good teams react and punish you which is what happened.”
“Going out on penalties was a bitter blow but that is cup football. Risca are a good outfit and they move the ball ever so well. We wish them well for the next round.”
Port Talbot Town are next in action on Saturday 18 January with a return to Welsh League Division One action. Garden Village will be the visitors at Victoria Road for a 2pm kick off.
All image credits: Russell Morris