Port Talbot Town started life in the Welsh Football League Division One, now the third tier of the Welsh pyramid, with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Monmouth Town thanks to goals in either half from Morgan Thomas and Jack Underwood.
There was some doubt early in the day whether the game would
go ahead, but in blistery and wet conditions the Blues started strongly. A team
made of mostly familiar faces saw a slight change in formation with manager
Mark Pike opting to deploy Jackson Hall in a defensive midfield position while
starting (little) Ryan Morgan on the right-wing. It certainly paid off.
Monmouth had a few early chances but never seriously threatened with John Hall and (big) Ryan Morgan looking comfortable at the back. James Harris did not have anything of note to do and whilst Port Talbot controlled the early exchanges, chances were few and far between.
That all changed in the fifteenth minute when a delightful Jordan Pike corner from the right found Morgan Thomas unmarked in the middle for a simple tap in at the Burns Road End and his second-successive opening day goal for the Blues.
Port Talbot had the ball in the back of the net again ten minutes later following a delightful chipped-finish by Dylan Llewellyn being ruled out for a narrow offside. The Steelmen had found their rhythm and with Conor Harris and Owen Williams impressively controlling proceedings in midfield, the Blues led at half-time.
Monmouth improved in the second-half finding space on the wings, and it was only a save of the season contender from James Harris that kept them out as he impressively tipped a long-range effort wide. With all three substitutions made before any from their opponents, the visitors were believing they would soon draw level.
A fracas saw the second-half nearly boiling over as Jordan Pike was involved in a little confrontation but nothing came of it and no cards were shown. Pressure was being applied to the Monmouth goalkeeper and there were signs of a mistake following some failed clearances, but with bad weather hitting at intermittent spells, it looked as if Port Talbot were going to hang onto their slender lead.
Monmouth piled forward and were duly punished on the counter as a long clearance forward found the Blues’ number 9 Jack Underwood racing through on goal and after a delightful first touch and stride forward, he slotted a composed finish into the back of net much to the delight of the jubilant home fans, players and coaching staff alike.
Manager Mark Pike was pleased with the victory and we caught up with the gaffer to reflect on the opening day win: “We went into the game with four key players missing due to injury, holidays and pending international clearance.”
“On the back of that I am delighted to have won the game and not concede a goal. It is now important that we build on what was a solid performance in all areas of the pitch in quite horrific conditions. It was the perfect way to start.”
The games come quick and fast at the start of the season as our attention now turns to Tuesday night where we host neighbours Trefelin BGC as we look to make it two wins from two in the WFL1. Kick-off for that one is 6.30pm.