Port Talbot Town bounced back in style at the Centre for Sporting Excellence, running out 3-0 winners against 2nd place Risca United. It was a welcomed return to form for the Blues after a dismal 4-0 home defeat to Garden Village last week and they were also able to avenge the FAW Trophy penalty shootout defeat against the hosts a fortnight ago, inflicting their first home loss of the season in the process.
It was an accomplished and professional Port Talbot performance from start to finish. James Harris was in inspired form after conceding four last week as he saved brilliant to tip a Matthew Thomas header over the bar after seven minutes.
Port Talbot settled well and (big) Ryan Morgan had the first chance for the away side going very close with a header from a corner, but it went just inches wide. Tom Blizzard then went close with a sliced effort from outside of the box falling the wrong side of the post. The chances kept coming for the visitors with Conor Harris striking just wide from a free kick in a strong first twenty minutes.
On twenty-one minutes, the Blues deservedly broke the deadlock with some sublime work from Jack Underwood on the wing allowing him to get his deflected cross into the box. That deflection completely wrong-footed Jack Willmott in the Risca goal, allowing Conor Harris to head in from close range and put Port Talbot 1-0 up. He was visibly delighted to have scored with his head, letting his feelings known to the buoyant away fans behind the goal.
Risca responded well to going a goal down with the game becoming more of an even affair thereafter. Thomas Pratt had a speculative effort for the home side comfortably held by James Harris before a fantastic strike from Jordan Edwards at the edge of the box forced an equally good save.
With seven minutes to go before half time, Risca were in the ascendancy and somehow didn’t score following a chaotic goalmouth scramble. James Harris did brilliantly to keep the ball out before he was helped by his defence who temporarily cleared the danger. Matthew Thomas then found space in the box but could only strike straight at Harris from six yards out.
Just two minutes before half time, Port Talbot delivered a sucker punch to the hosts as they doubled their lead in sensational fashion. John Hall sent a brilliant pinpoint cross into the box that was met by Owen Williams with a fierce volley to fire home past the Risca goalkeeper and double the away lead before the break.
With a two-goal lead behind them, it was a professional performance from Port Talbot Town in the second half as they stuck to their shape and weren’t taking unnecessary risks. They nearly added a third inside three minutes of the second half with (little) Ryan Morgan’s cross nearly dropping under the bar.
Thomas Pratt dragged a shot wide for the hosts, but with the Blues in control chances were at a premium. Just after the hour mark, the away side were forced into their first change with a serious-looking ankle injury to Owen Williams seeing him replaced by Chris Silva.
Risca continued to look for a way into the game, but it was the away defence that was standing resolute and enjoying the 3G surface. There was a huge chance for the Blues on 72 minutes with John Hall smashing wide from a corner at the back post as the minutes continued to trickle down.
Some magical work on the wing again from Jack Underwood saw him produce a superb nutmeg advancing towards goal but when he found room for the shot, he couldn’t quite produce the power needed to add a third goal. He nearly had a goal shortly after meeting a loose ball following a Jordan Edwards backwards header, but his strike was saved.
In stoppage time, Jordan Edwards had his deserved goal after an excellent performance in which he worked hard and never stopped running. It was that running that enabled him to score his fourth goal in five starts since joining from Trefelin as he met a loose back pass and squeezed it past the keeper to make it 3-0 and cap off a tremendous victory.
We caught up with Port Talbot Town manager Mark Pike after the match for his thoughts on a fantastic win: “After last week’s performance it was important that I saw a reaction today and I got it.”
“We worked hard in the week in training on our shape and organisation. We took some risks with that today and the lads executed the game plan superbly. Our work rate, patience and quality was absolutely nailed on today.”
“Credit again to Risca who are a great outfit with great coaches and some very good players. They play the game in the right way and the three games we have had against them this season have all been so very close.”
“Today was no different, but I think we edged it and came out deserved winners. Attentions now turn to next week against Croesyceiliog.”
You can catch that fixture next week as Port Talbot Town return to home action against a team we are yet to play this season. Kick off for that one is 2pm.
All image credits: @therovingsheep