Port Talbot Town were knocked out of the JD Welsh Cup in the 2nd Qualifying Round following a resounding 3-0 defeat to Trefelin at a wet and windy Ynys Park. An acrobatic Chris Hartland strike and a Damon Thomas brace were enough to give the home side the derby day spoils.
Things could not have started any worse for the Steelmen, as with the first chance of the game the ball found its way into the Port Talbot box and former Blue Chris Hartland did brilliantly to take the ball and smash an overhead volley into the top left corner to give Trefelin an early lead.
It nearly got worse shortly after as a kerfuffle in the away defence nearly resulted in a Matthew Beynon own goal following some clever improvisation from Hartland on the floor, but James Harris, returning to the side after missing last week’s penalty shootout League Cup defeat at Ton Pentre, scrambled the ball off the line to prevent a goal.
Chris Hartland found inspiration from his early goal and he was causing havoc down the right wing against Jordan Pike and nearly doubled his tally after twenty minutes, but James Harris saved well to keep his effort out.
The chances kept coming for Trefelin who looked brighter and full of energy than their opponents and their lead was agonisingly close to being doubled when their captain Ceri Williams struck the post from close range.
Nico Watkins made his Port Talbot Town debut, but that was cut short just before the half-hour mark as he came off injured and was replaced by Tom Neville. He made an instant impact by injecting life into the left wing and after some great work on the flanks with Conor Harris, his cross was so close to being met by Dylan Llewellyn from six yards out, but the ball was just too far ahead of him to make a connection.
Conor Harris looked like the player who could get the Blues back into the game and he did superbly in midfield with some flashy footwork allowing him to find space and attempt to catch Chris Curtis off guard in goal, but his speculative long-range effort went just over.
Tom Neville continued to impress on the left and following some excellent work, he delivered a delightful ball across goal to find Conor Harris, but Curtis somehow kept out his strike on the line to maintain the home side’s lead.
Former Steelman Joseph Jones put in a dominant defensive performance at the back and he was nearly rewarded with his second goal of the season against Port Talbot when he met a corner with his head, but he only managed to guide the ball straight into the hands of James Harris.
Trefelin would double their lead right before half-time though when Damon Thomas broke through and found space and time in the box which allowed him to calmly slot past Harris in goal and give the home side a 2-0 lead at the break.
Port Talbot started the second half brightly and Conor Harris nearly immediately clawed one back for the Blues with a strike from the edge of the box, but Curtis kept his effort out. Ben Rose-Miles was nearly on the scoresheet too from a corner, but his shot was well blocked by a stubborn Trefelin defence.
Damon Thomas looked hungry for his second as he fired over on the hour mark and then saw his calm effort strike the post after Ben Rose-Miles lost possession in the middle of the pitch.
Chris Hartland was close to getting on the scoresheet once again with a free kick, but James Harris comfortably saw it wide. Trefelin did have the ball in the net again five minutes from time, but Jordan Edwards saw his effort chalked off for offside.
With a minute left of regular time, that third goal came after a Port Talbot mix up allowed Damon Thomas to go through on goal and he rounded Harris in goal before tapping into an empty net and send Trefelin through to the Welsh Cup 1st round proper.
It was the first time this season that the Blues failed to score, and manager Mark Pike was understandably disappointed with the resounding defeat. “Conceding an early goal was a blow, but I thought we created good chances to get back in the game,” said the gaffer. “We were just not good enough in front of goal today.”
“Another blow came just before half time with Trefelin picking us off for a poor mistake on the halfway line when we were on top of the game. It was always going to be an uphill battle from that moment.”
“We were better in the second period, taking a few more risks but we just couldn’t get back into it. Their third goal was always going to happen as we pushed for a way back into the match on the counterattack.”
“To say I’m disappointed is an understatement, but I wish Trefelin all the best in the next round.”
Attentions now return to Division One in the Welsh Football League after a three-week run of cup fixtures. The Blues will travel to Garden Village next Saturday (5 October) for the first league away game of the season. Kick off for that one is at 2.30pm.