Seaside frustrations for pre-season favourites

Mark Pitman reports from Aberystwyth Town and Afan Lido in a double seaside visit to the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League.

An early split has emerged in the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League table after just six rounds of games, and while Aberystwyth Town and Afan Lido, both find themselves in the wrong half of the table with an equal return of four points but both sides have a game on hand on the rest of the domestic top-flight. Things looked much better for the two clubs before a ball was kicked in August as they occupied the top two places, but their rise was due only to alphabetical placings over ability, and their respective lack of finishing this weekend has left them has left them in desperate need of a quick victory.

Both clubs have struggled for different reasons so far this season. Alan Morgan’s Aberystwyth had a player sent off in each one of their opening four games of the season, while Andy Dyer’s new-look newcomers Afan Lido had the unenviable task of taking on three of the best teams in the league in their first few fixtures. Both sides had recorded one win each ahead of this weekend however, Aberystwyth defeating Newtown 4-1 while Lido earned the shock result of the season with a 1-0 win over Neath, and this weekend both sides would find themselves back at their respective seaside grounds for the visits of Port Talbot Town and Airbus UK Broughton. Continue reading

Changes better than a rest for Jones and Boyle

Mark Pitman reports from Port Talbot Town and Neath as both managers make a stand following surprise defeats to return to winning-ways. Gareth Elms was on hand for photo’s.

The Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League is a competitive one indeed, so much so in fact that after the third round of fixtures last weekend, not one of the twelve clubs could boast a perfect record. The big surprises of last weeks fixtures occurred at Carmarthen Town and newcomers Afan Lido as established club Port Talbot Town and title-favourites Neath were respectively beaten by their supposedly inferior opponents. This weekend the two defeated sides had the luxury of respective home games to return to form and managers Mark Jones of Port Talbot and his Neath counterpart, Terry Boyle, made their feelings about their defeats known in their team selections.

This weekend’s action would prove surprisingly memorable if only for the fact that there were no draws in any of the six fixtures. Close games in the domestic top-flight are common place and a share of the points has become one of the most popular choices with punters looking for a safe bet in the expanding market of the Welsh Premier League. This weekend would prove to be the exception however, as champions Bangor City, The New Saints, Prestatyn Town and league leaders Bala Town joined both Port Talbot Town and Neath in picking up maximum points from their fixtures. Significantly, the weekend’s football action began in Cardiff on Friday night, as Wales earned a rare and unexpected victory over Montenegro and their success seemed to inspire a change in the tide of results in the national league.

Port Talbot Town 3-1 Newtown – Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League – Saturday, 3rd September 2011
Mark Jones was openly critical of his sides performance in their defeat against his former club last weekend and surprised the committed band of ever-expanding ‘1901 Ultras’ before kick off by announcing four changes to his starting line-up for the visit of new-look Newtown. Kristian Rogers returned in goal as expected but outfield summer-signings Sacha Walters and Lewis Harlin joined David Brookes in the starting eleven. More surprising however were the three names left out as top-scorer Martin Rose and winger Lee John were both named on the bench and no-nonsense midfielder Gareth Phillips remained seated and suited in the stand. It was a clear indication from Jones that nobody was guaranteed a place in his side and the victory only emphasised that competition for places in his side is as strong as ever before. Continue reading

Airfield launches a new-era of optimism

Mark Pitman takes a look at a much-changed Port Talbot Town squad as they open the new Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League season at Airbus UK Broughton.

Port Talbot Town last played a competitive game in May and it would prove to their most disappointing of the season as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Prestatyn in the Welsh Premier League play-off semi-final. A win would have left Mark Jones’ side a derby win away from Europe and with minutes remaining the South Wales club were a goal ahead. Prestatyn scored twice in the last few minutes to edge their way into the final however, and the defeat proved significant for the summer and pre-season campaign that would lay ahead for Jones both on and off the field.

Paul Cochlin, Cortez Belle, Matthew Crowell, Dylan Blain, Kristian Rogers and Paul Keddle were not even Port Talbot Town players in May, but less than three months later, the six summer signings were starting for the club on the opening day of the season at Airbus UK Broughton. Another new signing in Chris Hartland was named on the bench, some others didn’t even make the cut, but the fans had travelled in numbers to offer their vocal and instrumental support for the start of what is a new-era with a very new-look side. Continue reading