Cathays United prevailed again against Aber Exiles 1sts on a sunny day at Pontcanna. Looking to build on their recent success in the cup against the Exiles 2nds, Manager James Naik was forced into several changes to his depleted team. It also led to a change of formation from the usual 3-5-2 back to a 4-1-3-2 which had given them success earlier in the season. Injury ruled out Keeper Tom Overs from making a final appearance of the season so Chris Jeacott made his first team debut in goal. In defence there were further debuts for Keirnan Pedder and James Everett at left and right-back with Matt Davies playing alongside Michael Temple at centre-back. In midfield, Naik started in the deeper role of the midfield and in front of him Iolo Tomlinson continued down the left with the returning Dan Poole and Mark Lewis, who made a full debut having previously come off the bench, alongside him. Rory Wigmore and Will Eastwood continued their partnership up front.
The game started at a cautious pace with both teams testing each other out. The first notable action came as the Exiles attacked down the left through Tomlinson and the ball eventually broke to Lewis whose snapshot flew narrowly wide of the upright. The game continued to struggle to spark into life but the better moments were coming from Exiles, Tomlinson shooting wide after a lovely through ball from Wigmore and Eastwood denied a clear shooting opportunity by some fine defending from the Cathays left-back.
Cathays fought their way back into the game and produced the first-half’s best moments in a dominant ten minute spell. Firstly a shot from range was tipped around the post by Jeacott and then he produced another fine save to deny the Cathays striker. From the resulting corner the Exiles struggled to clear their lines with stand-in captain Poole hacking the ball off the line.
The second half began with the Exiles still confident of securing the three points. They started brightly and after ten minutes the breakthrough came. Cathays conceded a freekick 5 yards outside their own box and Mike Temple stepped up and curled it into the top corner with pinpoint accuracy.
The lead didn’t last long however as Cathays were soon level. An outswinging corner from the right was headed in at the back post after some sloppy marking. The Exiles protested that the ball had gone out of play before coming back in but it fell on deaf ears. Looking to win the game manager James Naik made two changes. Firstly, 2nds Captain Nathanial Grant came on for Naik to make his first-team debut and then Aled Evans replaced Tomlinson, also making his debut now in a 4-3-3 system. More neat buildup play followed but the Exiles struggled to find the cutting edge in front of goal. The game was grinding to what seemed to be an inevitable draw but with seconds left on the clock, Exiles lost the ball from a throw-in and as the striker turned in the box he was unceremoniously hacked down by Temple. The ref had no choice but to award the penalty. The Cathays striker stepped up and rolled the ball down the middle with Jeacott commited to going to his left. The referee blew the full time whistle straight away and the Exiles were consigned to another defeat.