Port Talbot Town recorded an impressive 4-1 victory over Bridgend Street at Victoria Road in the Welsh Football League thanks to goals from Tom Neville (2), Jack Underwood and Conor Harris (pen), with Jeffrey White seeing red for the away side. In what was a tasty-looking fixture with both teams pushing for promotion to the JD Cymru South, it was the Blues who ran away with things to move up to 2nd place.
The Blues side got off to the best possible start with Tom Neville scoring his first goal for the club since arriving from Cwmbran Celtic in impressive fashion. Jack Underwood was fouled in front of the home dugout and Jordan Pike delivered a good free kick into the box. It was cleared as far as Tom Neville who rocketed a sweet volley into the bottom corner with just two minutes on the clock.
Bridgend Street settled well despite the early setback with former Port Talbot striker Jeffrey White heading over from close range after a good cross from Michael Murphy. It was then Murphy himself providing danger from the wing as he went on a good run only to see his effort well blocked by captain Ryan Morgan.
Murphy again was causing havoc on the right and had a claim for a penalty after a coming together with Jordan Pike. Nothing was given either way regarding a foul or a dive. Bridgend Street were rewarded for their attacking pressure after 18 minutes with a stunning drive and strike from outside the box that went in off the post from Jeffrey White. James Harris had no chance in goal and the scores were level at 1-1.
It only took four minutes for Port Talbot Town to go back in front though, with Tom Neville once again on the scoresheet. He found himself running through the away defence and slotted home brilliantly to send the fans at the Burns Road End into raptures.
They were celebrating again just five minutes later after a clever low free kick from Jordan Pike was poked home from Jack Underwood in front of goal. The celebrations were joyous as the Blues lead 3-1.
It was soon nearly 4-1 with Morgan Thomas and Tom Neville, looking for his hat trick, working well together but neither could quite find their way through the defence. Bridgend Street continued to attack and after some good skill, Norton Ferreira saw his strike deflected wide.
The away side nearly pulled a goal back in first-half stoppage time with Ferreira again threatening, but his shot was blocked by John Hall. Another former Port Talbot Town player, Paul Fowler, then sent a free kick straight into the wall as the home side went into the break with a comfortable 3-1 lead. They were great value for it.
Bridgend Street came out of the interval needing to strike early and they showed good initiative through Paul Carro who advanced from the full back position but couldn’t find anybody in the box to slot home.
There was a shaky moment on the hour mark with Jason Martin seemingly striking Tom Blizzard but despite the referee awarding a foul, no card was given. Blizzard himself then went into the referee’s book for preventing an away counterattack in cynical fashion.
Tempers boiled over after 65 minutes with Jeffrey White given his marching orders for an elbow on Jordan Pike right in front of the home dugout. Tempers boiled over with former Blues player David Brooks, now of Bridgend Street but missing out with a wrist injury, irate with Pike for reacting how he did. After a lengthy consultation with the linesman, the referee showed White the red card and the away side were down to 10 men.
Port Talbot didn’t have much of an attacking incentive despite the numerical advantage, seeming more content to see out the game with the 3-1 lead they already had. Ryan Morgan saw his cross-come-shot theatrically tipped over from Suleimane Susso in goal, but Michael Murphy continued to threaten who found Ferreira in the box who comically saw an overhead kick go sideways.
Karl Evans went into the referee’s book after receiving a yellow card for a late challenge on Conor Harris with his side seeming to accept defeat. Jack Underwood continued to look bright for the Blues and after some fantastic work on the wing, his cross was fumbled by Susso in goal, but Tom Neville saw his close-range effort well kept out from the keeper to deny him his hat trick.
The home side continued to search for a fourth goal with Morgan Thomas, Tom Blizzard, Jack Underwood and Tom Neville all combining well with the latter once again denied his hat trick from close range.
The yellow cards kept coming with Ferreira this time being cautioned for a foul on Blizzard, who then himself unleashed a thunderous strike from outside the box that Susso pushed wide to prevent a fourth goal for the home side. Blake Morgan could only strike wide after finding space from the resulting corner.
James Harris showed he was still alert despite not having much to deal with in the second half, producing a superb save low to his left after a good turn and strike from Callum Smith who had come off the bench for Bridgend Street.
As the game petered out into stoppage time, Morgan Thomas burst through the defence and was brought down by a late challenge from Michael Nessbert. Conor Harris stepped up to slot home comfortably and seal an impressive 4-1 victory over their promotion rivals.
We caught up with manager Mark Pike who was obviously delighted with his side’s victory: “I have got to give credit to this young team. They are learning all the time. Having five players out (Jackson Hall, Owen Williams, (big) Ryan Morgan, Chris Silva and Matthew Beynon) just demonstrates we have such a great squad. The togetherness is unbelievable.”
“To see Tom Neville on the scoresheet and Blake Morgan getting 15 minutes as we build him back up after injury was brilliant. We are working so hard on our organisation and today it paid off.”
“I have to give credit to Bridgend Street. Their style of play is exceptional, and they retain the ball well. They have an abundance of experience and talent with former Port Talbot Town players Jeffrey White and Paul Fowler instrumental in the way they play.”
“I do think the red card for Jeffrey White was a bit harsh, but if you raise your hands and catch a player then you are at the mercy of the officials.”
“On the day, it was an even and physical game where we were clinical in the final third. When we needed to defend, we did so ever so well, and I would also like to mention the support once again which was just awesome once again.”
The Blues are back in action next week as we travel to Dinas Powys for an away fixture in Welsh League Division One. Kick off for that one is 2pm and updates will be available across the usual social media platforms.
All image credits: Russell Morris