Port Talbot Town maintained their unbeaten start in Welsh Football League Division 1 as Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Monmouth was followed up by an enthralling 1-1 draw with local neighbours Trefelin as Conor Harris’s opener was cancelled out by a Joseph Jones strike.
This was the first-ever league meeting between the sides following Port Talbot’s demotion from the second tier and Trefelin’s promotion from Welsh League Division 3 last season and the sides were evenly matched on a fine Tuesday evening in front of a bumper crowd at Victoria Road.
It was a feisty affair with both sides looking to claim local bragging rights and the tackles were flying in from the start. Jackson Hall brought down former Blue Danny Thomas after just two minutes and a couple of moments later Owen Williams was on the end of a sharp tackle from Jamie Latham, another former Port Talbot player. Danny Thomas was lucky to escape a caution as he aggressively kicked the ball away following the foul.
Trefelin applied the early pressure and were targeted the right wing, but successive corners amounted to nothing. Port Talbot were pushing for an opening goal and had a penalty shout turned down in the seventh minute as goal-scorer Conor Harris was brought down in the box by yet another former Blue, Trefelin’s scorer Joseph Jones. Nothing given.
Chances continued to come for both sides with Ben Rose-Miles looking lively up top for Port Talbot in his first start of the season and he nearly opened proceedings after thirteen minutes but he couldn’t quite get onto a through ball as former Talbot player Bailey saved and Harris saw his follow-up effort blocked. Two minutes later and Trefelin had a big chance of their own as Ryan Griffiths headed over from close range.
Twenty minutes in and the game had its first goal as a delightful Ben Rose-Miles pass put Conor Harris through and he whizzed past the Trefelin defence and coolly slotted him to give Port Talbot the lead.
Trefelin hit back five minutes later as a Michael Waters corner was met by an unmarked Joseph Jones in the box and he smashed the ball into the roof of the net to give the visitors an equaliser. They took the initiative and could have gone ahead two minutes later as a delightful Damon Thomas effort from the edge of the box had James Harris beat in goal, but the ball struck the post to keep the scores level.
The game was end to end and Ben Rose-Miles will feel he should have done better as a long ball over the away defence found its way to him in the thirtieth minute, and one on one with the goal gaping, he decided to head straight into the hands of the Trefelin ‘keeper instead of going with his feet. A huge chance went begging.
Things settled down for the rest of the half with the impressive Matthew Baker receiving a harsh yellow whilst Joseph Jones escaped caution for a similar challenge on Ben Rose-Miles. The referee brought a thrilling half of football to an end with the scores at 1-1.
Trefelin would control large parts of the second-half with no end product, but Port Talbot had chances of their own. Opening day scorer Morgan Thomas was brought down on the edge of the box by Bailey in goal who was cautioned but Jordan Pike blazed the resultant free-kick high and wide.
Port Talbot’s best chance of the half came in the fifty-seventh minute as Morgan Thomas found his way into the six-yard box, but his shot was saved by Bailey and Jackson Hall saw his rebound well blocked.
The visitors were throwing everything at a stubborn home defence as Danny Thomas saw a tame effort easily kept out by James Harris. Some excellent work on the wing found Damon Thomas in the box but his acrobatic volley went well over.
Jack Underwood came on for Port Talbot in search of a later winner and a follow-up to his goal that sealed victory over Monmouth, but it was Trefelin who came closest to snatching the three points.
Jamie Latham wiggled his way past the home defence but blazed his shot well over. The visitors were then millimetres from a winner in stoppage time as Damon Thomas floated in his free-kick but the powerful header that met it was excellently kept out by an impressive James Harris save. The resultant loose ball was scrambled away, and Port Talbot held on for a hard-fought point, a result manager Mark Pike believed his side deserved.
“In the end a fair result,” said the Port Talbot Town manager. “Clear chances were few and far between throughout, but I was disappointed to concede the way we did with the corner. I thought we could have done a bit better there.”
“However, the goal by Conor Harris was superb and one of the best moves of the game. I thought Ben Rose-Miles had a great opportunity to put us back ahead before half-time too with his header.”
“Trefelin had a lot of possession in the second-half, but they didn’t really hurt us until stoppage time where they nearly stole it. James Harris pulled off a great save to keep the game level and grab a deserved point for us which was a fair result for both teams.”
A third-successive home game awaits on Saturday (17 August) as Aberbargoed Buds visit Victoria Road for another WFL1 fixture. Kick-off for that one is 2.30pm.