|19/03/2016||1:45 pm||Milsom Harries Cup||2015/16|
Aber Exiles 1sts triumphed over their counterparts in the eagerly anticipated Milsom Harries cup tie. Following their dramatic late equaliser against Splott Park Rangers, manager James Naik made three changes. Mike Cross and Kieran Patel came into the back three instead of the absent Michael Temple and the rested Matt Davies and Rhodri Charles-Williams replaced Dan Poole with Tom Richards moving into the number 10 role.
Seconds Manager Matthew Rowley resisted making wholesale changes following the disappointing performance against Pontcanna Rangers last week. Steven Bowen came into the team at right back having impressed in training for several weeks with James Everett pushed onto the wing, Adam Compton making way. Having impressed off the bench last week Keirnan Pedder made his first start in place of the absent Carl Thomas, Liam Butler returned with manger Rowley dropping to the bench and Ben Jones and Yusuke Suzuki replaced Aled Evans and Mark Lewis, the latter called up to the firsts bench.
The game started at an intense pace with the firsts looking to kill off the tie early on, however a clearly fired up seconds defence held firm in the opening stages, getting bodies behind the ball to frustrate the opposition. After around 10 minutes though the first goal came. The ball was worked out to Charles-Williams on the left wing and his shot took a deflection of seconds captain Nathaniel Grant and deceived keeper Chris Jeacott. Jeacott felt he could have done better with the shot but was bamboozled by the spin of the ball.
Not to be disheartened the Seconds rallied and continued to frustrate the Firsts who were guilty of not moving the ball around quick enough at times. As the half progressed with the same pattern of play the frustration became more and more visible as they failed to carve out any serious threat. Danger man Will Eastwood in particular was well marshalled, the 2nds defence ensuring there was always more than one man around him when he got the ball.
Towards the end of the first half the Seconds created their best chances of the game. First Suzuki lashed over from the edge of the box after good work down the left hand side from Everett and Matty Thomas. Then on the stroke of half time, a corner was cleared out to captain Grant 25 yards out and his sweetly struck volley fizzed over the bar with the keeper a spectator.
The second half kicked off with the words of Firsts manager Naik clearly still ringing in his player’s ears. They flew out of the box again looking for a decisive second goal. Some nice footwork from Eastwood bought him half a yard of space and he smashed a shot against the frame of the goal. The Seconds nullified the early pressure but the intensity of the defensive effort from the Seconds was starting to tell.
Around the hour mark the pressure finally told with two quick goals. First a free kick just inside the opponents’ half from Richards was whipped into the box and found Eastwood in the box and he made no mistake with his finish this time. Then, with the Seconds still trying to put the goal behind them, the ball was worked to Iolo Tomlinson, who had switched from the right to the left at half time and was having far more impact, and he slotted the ball home to all but end the tie as a contest.
Both teams rung the changes to try and get some fresh legs on the pitch but the intensity of the match was far less than before. The Seconds tried to get back into the game, but struggled to create any meaningful chances despite some good build up play. The final goal of the game came in the last five minutes, Tomlinson pulling the ball across goal to the unmarked Andrew Dixon, on as a sub, who headed into the empty net from around 6 yards out.
Both managers took plenty of positives out of the performance and if the Seconds can show the same desire going forward, a change in their fortune will not be too far away. Scott Phillips was named MOTM for the firsts and Steven Bowen who prevented several potential goalscoring opportunities was named MOTM for the Seconds.
1sts Team (3-5-2)
29. Cross – 55. Brown (C) – 44. Patel
93. Tomlinson – 23. Naik – 77. Richards – 13. S. Phillips – 32. Charles
9. Wigmore – 20. Eastwood
Bench: 5. M. Davies, 4. Dowell, 56. M. Lewis, 66. Dixon, 46. Peacock (all used)
2nds Team (4-2-3-1)
24. Bowen – 14. Butler – 45. Smith – 42. M. Thomas
39. Grant (C) – 52. Everett
80. Suzuki – 57. Pedder – 40. B. Jones
Bench: 53. Moseley, 22. Blower, 25. Kitts, 21. A. Jones, 41. Rowley, 16. Bridge (all used)