Port Talbot Town were held to a 2-2 draw by Croesyceiliog at Victoria Road, letting a 2-goal lead slip with Jack Underwood also getting sent off after goals from Jordan Edwards and Rhys Jones had put the Blues a strong position at half time.
The game started out evenly with chances for both sides inside the first six minutes. The first fell to Alex Bonthron who struck well but it was a comfortable save for James Harris in goal. Jordan Edwards then tested from long range with the bobble on the pitch nearly catching out Jack Harris in the away goal.
Jordan Pike and Jordan Edwards linked well on the wing and the resulting cross was fizzed across goal from the full back, but it was just too far ahead of Jack Underwood who was unable to reach the ball and put it in the empty net. Tom Blizzard then had a headed effort go wide for the Blues with the aid of some strong defensive pressure. Port Talbot continued to attack, and Jordan Pike’s brilliant corner caused chaos in the box with it somehow evading everyone in a crowded penalty area to stay out.
On 29 minutes, Port Talbot Town took their deserved lead with a great quick curling effort from Jordan Edwards catching the keeper out. It was nothing less than the Blues deserved after an impressive opening half an hour.
Six minutes later and that lead was doubled as Rhys Jones connected with a cross in impressive fashion on the volley. That effort was deflected, looping up over a helpless goalkeeper who could only turn and watch it drop into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Zacharia Osborne had a looped effort of his for Croesyceiliog as they searched for a route back into the match, but James Harris was able to see it over quite comfortably to ensure Port Talbot went into the break with a deserved 2-0 lead.
The second half was a completely different game as the visitors controlled large spells from the off. Jamie Bird tried his luck with an audacious 30-yard free kick going over. 11 minutes into the second period and Croesyceiliog had a goal back with Nicholas McGrath finishing well into the top left after capitalising on a poor pass from James Harris.
The game was well and truly turned on its head two minutes later as the visitors struck again to level in quick fashion. Following something of a scramble, Jamie Bird got a shot away with the deflection taking it beyond the reach of Harris in goal to make it 2-2.
Jordan Edwards had a good opportunity to put the Blues back ahead, but with the goal gaping he was taken out from behind with his shot going well over as a result. The referee gave no penalty, claiming the shot was the advantage.
The away side showed no signs of settling for a point and continued to probe the home defence with James Harris producing a sensational save to keep out Bonthron from close range. He was called into action again soon after as he superbly rushed out to close down Zacharia Osborne who was through on goal.
The chances continued to come for Croesyceiliog as they went in search of a late winner. A great corner found Callum Hodges unmarked at the back post, but he somhow headed wide from 4 yards. A superb ball was then flashed across goal but Osborne couldn’t meet it to tap into the empty net.
Any hopes of a Port Talbot winner seemed to be extinguished with ten minutes remaining as Jack Underwood was sent off for an adjudged elbow. It would be a nervy conclusion for the home supporters with ten men. The visitors stayed in the ascendancy with Osborne heading over from a long-range cross.
A late chance came for the Blues on 85 minutes as Tom Blizzard’s free kick hit the target with the keeper fumbling and nearly dropping it over the line. The visitors somehow didn’t win it in stoppage time with Jack Sainsbury forcing Harris into a fine save before Osborne crashed the bar with a header from six yards with the goal begging. Blizzard then struck over the Blues at the death with a well-struck strike but the game finished level with Port Talbot surely kicking themselves.
Brandon Arthur caught up with Mark Pike after the match for his post-match reflection: “A disappointing end to what was a great start. Our first half performance was superb, and we thoroughly deserved to go into the break 2-0 up.”
“The second half was a different story. All of our hard work in the first half was undone by two massive mistakes. A poor clearance from our keeper and we got punished quickly. From this point on we allowed our openers back into the game and they had a good ten-minute spell and got themselves all square.”
“It was just basic errors and a lack of desire to win the second half cost us dearly. We will work on this in the week and go again next week at Caldicot.”
Port Talbot Town are back in league action next week (8 February), making the trip east to take on Caldicot Town. Kick off for that one is 2pm.
All image credits: Russell Morris