Port Talbot Town advanced from the fourth round of the FAW Trophy with a thumping 4-1 victory over Blaenrhondda at Victoria Road. A Jack Underwood hat-trick along with a goal from Tom Neville saw the Blues bounce back in style after last week’s disappointing 2-1 league defeat at Dinas Powys.
The home side definitely looked like they had something to prove from the get-go with attacking pressure applied from the first whistle. The first chance of the game fell to Jack Underwood after Jordan Pike caused chaos with a low corner, but the Blaenrhondda defence managed to clear before the striker could tap in. There was another similar situation moments later with Morgan Thomas this time being the one unable to contact the ball towards goal.
Port Talbot had their deserved lead after twenty minutes with some brilliant play in the middle from Conor Harris resulting in a fantastic through ball to Jack Underwood. He was calm and collected in front of goal and comfortably slotted past the keeper from 16 yards to make it 1-0.
The attacking pressure only intensified with the lead and Matt Baker nearly doubled the lead just four minutes later, only to drag his effort wide from outside of the box. Tom Neville also went close moments after following a flapped cross clearance from Luke Evans in the away goal, but the defence managed to clear.
As the game reached the half hour mark, Blaenrhondda turned it on its head with a breakaway goal. Mario Armand did well to advance play from midfield and after a great initial save from James Harris, the away side recycled the ball and Stevie James met a cross with a fantastic header into the top corner to bring the scores level.
The home side were momentarily affected by the goal that was against the run of play with Blaenrhondda looking bright and having an attacking impetus for the first time in the match. However, there was a big penalty claim turned away after Jordan Pike went down in the box. Nothing was given. James Harris was called into action just before half time, producing an excellent save down to his left to ensure the scores were level at the break.
The Blues came out of the traps firing in the second half and it took just eight minutes for them to regain the lead. Jordan Pike continued to cause chaos with his set pieces, and he delivered a sublime free kick that was met by the head of Jack Underwood from close range to fire the Blues back ahead.
The pressure kept coming with Tom Neville going close after an hour, but his effort was forced wide under defensive pressure. He then linked well with skipper Ryan Morgan to find Morgan Thomas in the box, but his effort was blocked wide. The resulting corner found its way to Conor Harris who hit a sweet half-volley straight at the keeper.
Port Talbot had their justified reward for the attacking intent shown on 64 minutes with Tom Neville tapping in from close range after a fantastic corner routine between Jordan Pike and Matt Baker.
Eight minutes later and the Blues had their fourth. Ryan Morgan did well on the wing and delivered a superb cross to find Jack Underwood unmarked in the box. He met the ball with a sublime header that was fired into the top corner in front of jubilant fans at the Burns Road End.
Blaenrhondda showed no sign of giving up despite the three-goal deficit with Shane Davies brilliantly finding his way past the home defence. He then skipped past James Harris and looked destined to score, but Jordan Pike cleared his effort off the line to keep the 4-1 lead intact.
It was the away side who continued to find a route back into the tie with time running out. Deacon Groening went close with a low strike from the edge of the box going wide before Shane Davies had a powerful shot well saved by James Harris at the left post. That was enough to see out the game for the Blues who advance into the fifth round of the FAW Trophy with a comfortable win.
Port Talbot Town manager Mark Pike was pleased with the reaction of his side following last week’s defeat.
“It was great to get that win. Last week was so poor so it was important that the boys showed character to put it behind them and get the win that puts us into the next round,” said the gaffer. “Blaenrhondda played their part and are a decent team who would do well in the Welsh League system.”
“Today was about our strikers and I am very pleased for Jack Underwood. His work rate was phenomenal and as a reward for his hard work he bagged himself a well-deserved hat-trick.”
“I am very pleased with the result, the second half in particular, and now we focus on next week’s league game against Abergavenny.”
You can catch that Welsh League Division One meeting with Abergavenny Town next Saturday (30 November) at Victoria Road. Kick-off is 2pm.
All image credits: Russell Morris.