Mark Jones named a strong starting line-up for a potentially difficult opening match of the season with new signings Lee Kendall and Neil Thomas both making their league debuts for the side while Druids named former Port Talbot Town goalkeeper Rob Thomas in their starting line-up amongst a number of new signings at Plaskynaston.
Port Talbot started brightly and pressured the home defence from the start with Martin Rose and Drew Fahiya a constant problem for the Druids backline. Port Talbot forced a number of corners in the opening exchanges but failed to make their dominance count until the 34th minute. Drew Fahiya found himself in space inside the area and drilled an unstoppable shot past Thomas to open the scoring. Port Talbot continued to pressure with their defence rarely troubled and Kendall a virtual spectator as the home side struggled to make an impression on the game. Port Talbot continued to remain on top of the game in the opening exchanges of the second half but were controversially denied two strong penalty appeals as both Drew Fahiya and Martin Rose were brought down in the area as referee Kevin Parry waved away the protests from the visitors. Druids went in search of an equaliser and began to ask some questions of their own at the other end but Kendall was more than aware to the half chances that they managed to create.
Port Talbot had chances to increase their advantage but were continually denied by both Thomas in the Druids goal and by his defence. New signings Lloyd Grist and Mark Jones appeared as second half substitutes to make their Welsh Premier League debuts for the side as Port Talbot held on to their lead despite the Druids coming close to an equaliser in the closing stages of the game.
17th August 2009 – South Wales Evening Post
Port Talbot of to fine start in Super-12 push
For the first time in six years, Port Talbot Town began their Welsh Premier campaign with an opening-day victory, though the 1-0 triumph at Elements Cefn Druids was hard-earned. The goal that separated the sides arrived in the 34th minute, Liam McCreesh setting up Drew Fahiya who made no mistake. It brought the Steelmen three points in their quest to join the 10 elite clubs who will comprise next season’s Super-12 League.
Up to eight top-tier clubs could find themselves back in the feeder leagues next season, a perilous thought for any club that has invested heavily in players and facilities. Manager Mark Jones has no doubt where his priorities lie. “This season is not about Europe, it’s about making sure we finish in the top 10,” he said. “We had a good pre-season and carried on today. We dominated, and should have scored more goals as Lee Kendall did not have a single shot to save.” Kendall was one of only two of the seven new signings to make the starting line-up — Neil Thomas was the other — as Jones kept faith with the old guard. “We have what I believe to be a competitive squad, and to win and keep a clean sheet was the perfect beginning,” Jones added.
17th August 2009 – Western Mail
Steelmen end six-year wait for first-day win Port Talbot continued where they left off last season with three points on the opening day, the first time the Steelmen have won on day one for six years. Despite seven new signings, manager Mark Jones decided to start with a team based on the old guard.
Only goalkeeper Lee Kendall and midfielder Neil Thomas made their debuts. But despite their superiority, Port Talbot had to settle for Drew Fahiya’s 34th-minute strike. “It’s nice to win first time out and keep a clean sheet,” Jones said. “We should have scored more but I’ll settle for a 1-0 win. We had nine shots on goal and continued in the same vein as we have pre-season. It’s a crucial season, but we have the players to achieve super 12 football next year.”
16th August 2009 – Wales on Sunday
Fahiya strike downs Druids
Cefn Druids not only started with a new name but almost a complete new side with seven new faces on parade at Plas Kynnaston for this opener. It was the visitors who had the game’s first chance when midfielder Liam McCreesh was set free and left with only keeper Rob Thomas to beat but he tipped the ball over for a corner.
The stalemate was broken in the 34th minute when McCreesh broke down the right flank and squared for Drew Fahiya to beat Thomas from close range. It was almost the hour mark before the hosts created their first clear-cut chance and it followed some inspirational play for Josh Russell who fed Bobby Jones but Lee Kendall saved well.
15th August 2009 – www.cefndruidsafc.co.uk
Elements Cefn Druids’ season got off to a losing start as Drew Fahiya scored the only goal of the game at Plaskynaston. Fahiya was gifted plenty of space on the edge of the Druids penalty area to receive Liam McCreesh’s pass, allowing him to shoot across debutant goalkeeper Rob Thomas and into the bottom corner of the net with eleven minutes of the first half remaining. There were five players who were making their first competitive appearance for Druids in the starting line up with Bobby Jones, Kieran Quinn, Martin Welsh and Josh Johnson joining Thomas with Josh Russell making his second debut after rejoining the club in the summer.
It was the visitors who controlled larger portions of the opening exhanges with McCreesh going close in the 24th minute, but Thomas did enough to tip his effort over the bar. The closest Druids came to getting on the scoresheet in the opening half was when Quinn fired over from 20 yards just before the interval. At the other end Lee Kendall had to be off his line quickly to deny Bobby Jones in the 54th minute. Druids made a tactical change on the hour with Waynne Phillips being replaced by forward Craig Whitfield as Druids looked to get back into the game. The striker was able to beat his man down the left flank in the 77th minute, but his attempted pull back inside the penalty area was blocked by the retreating Port Talbot defence. Druids’ best chance of an equaliser came with six minutes remaining when Lee T Jones’ cross was headed wide by substitute debutant Gary Penlington.
Port Talbot had a golden chance to double the advantage with two minutes remaining but Martin Rose headed over Neil Thomas’ cross from close range when it was perhaps easier to score. As time was running out Druids applied some concerted pressure on the Port Talbot goal as the home side looked to use Adam Hesp’s long throws to cause panic in the visiting defence, but the chances failed to materialise and Fahiya’s strike proved to be the winner.
Principality Welsh Premier League
Saturday ,15th August 2009
at Plaskynaston, Cefn Mawr
Elements Cefn Druids 0-1 Port Talbot Town
Elements Cefn Druids
Port Talbot Town
Drew Fahiya (34 minutes)
Referee – Mr Kevin Parry
Elements Cefn Druids
Team – Rob Thomas, Lee T Jones, Lee Bamber, Waynne Phillips, Adam Hesp, Daniel Barnett, Josh Johnson, Kieran Quinn, Bobby Jones, Josh Russell, Martin Welsh
Subs – Gary Penlington (rep Welsh – 66), Tom Rowlands (rep Bamber – 70), Craig Whitfield (rep Phillips – 60), Josh Griffiths (Unused)
Yellow Cards – Lee Bamber (11), Waynne Phillips (42) Red Cards – None
Goalscorers – None
Port Talbot Town
Team – Lee Kendall, Leigh De-Vulgt, Scott Barrow, Karl Lewis, Matthew Rees, Lee Surman, Lee John, Neil Thomas, Martin Rose, Liam McCreesh, Drew Fahiya
Subs – Mark Jones (rep Rose – 90), Lloyd Grist (rep John – 82), Gareth Phillips (Unused)
Yellow Cards – Neil Thomas (60) Red Cards – None
Goalscorers – Drew Fahiya (34)
Attendance – 106