On the fifth day of Christmas…..The best game of 2011


“On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, beautiful football that we all want to see”

With over a hundred games to chose from in 2011 we have seem some brilliant games…and some utter dross.  We have a saying at GTC Towers – “A great day out spoilt by 90 minutes of football” which is nearer the truth on most occasions. We drew inspiration from those games that made us smile, that when we got home and CMF said to me, “how was the game?” I would enthuse about my afternoon/evening.    So here we go.

3rd – Götland 2 Isle of Man 4
We’ve already mentioned that one of the best away days of the year was the Island Games and this was the first game in our festival of football.  The tournament kicked off at 2.15pm.  At 2.15pm and 8 seconds Götland were one nil up.  What followed was a festival of football where Isle of Man raced into the lead and could quite easily been four or five goals to the good by half time.  Neither team had defence in mind as they threw everything forward in sweltering conditions.  The only downside?  No beer.

2ndWhyteleafe 4 North Greenford United 3
This was one of those classic cup ties full of incident.  The cup in question was the FA Trophy, the two teams from respective levels in the Isthmian and Southern Leagues.   When we pitched up at South Whyteleafe and wandered the country lanes looking for the ground little did we know we would be on the end of a seven goal 34 minute cracker.  At half time when we supped our beer in the club bar, looking back at a relatively dull scoreless first half, little did we know that a monster of a game would be unleashed in the second period. North Greenford raced into a 3-1 lead only for Whyteleafe to pull level and then they were awarded a controversial last minute penalty.  With tension mounting in the 50 or so crowd, Whyteleafe scored and took the prize money and a place in the next round.

1st – Neath 0 Real Betis 8
In years to come people will talk about the 4th August 2011 and the events at The Gnoll in Neath.  I will sit down my Grandchildren in thirty years and tell them the tail of Jonathan Periera Rodriguez who arrived in the small town of Neath in the Welsh valleys as a mere squad player for La Liga’s Real Betis, and left a hero.  When he left the pitch after sixty five minutes he had scored all seven goals for the Spanish side in the most one-man performance I have ever seen.  He literally was the difference between the two sides and the stats after the game showed that he had seven chances in his time on the pitch.  Quite how a La Liga side came to be playing against a Welsh Premier League side is in itself a mystery especially as they rolled into town in their branded coach.  Just for the night…

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

The worst game I have seen in my life


In the first of two reports on Welsh games from the weekend, Abi Davies heads down to the Port Talbot Riviera to see what she describes “The worst game I have seen in my life”…Bet you cannot wait to read on now!

Terry Boyle’s Neath side made the short trip to Port Talbot on Friday night to take on Andy Dyer’s Afan Lido.

The two teams made contrasting starts to the season, with Afan Lido going into Friday’s game still searching for their first point since promotion to the Welsh Premier League, while Neath travelled to The Marston aiming to retain their 100% winning start to the campaign, having already completed comprehensive victories over Aberystwyth and reigning League Champions Bangor. Continue reading

Welsh Premier League round up – Saints and Citizens suffer in weekend slip-up


Mark Pitman watches both The New Saints and champions Bangor City suffer respective defeats in the Welsh Premier League. Gareth Elms provides the photo’s.

The Welsh Premier League title was decided on the last day of last season as the top two sides played out a convenient fixture at Farrar Road. Bangor City went into the match against The New Saints with the slight advantage after the two sides had built up a comfortable lead over the chasing pack and the final fixture of the campaign would decide the title. Bangor City claimed the necessary result on the day to take their place in the Champions League while The New Saints embarked on a summer of rebuilding ahead of the new Welsh Premier League season.

The newly-sponsored Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League campaign kicked off last weekend at The New Saints but they were held to a 1-1 draw by a significantly-strengthened Bala Town side, while Bangor City were back at Farrar Road and in a memorable fixture, Nev Powell’s side claimed a very creditable 3-2 win over Welsh Cup winners Llanelli. This weekend the two sides were both on the road to the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot, where they would, unsurprisingly, take on Neath and Port Talbot. For all their dominance of the previous campaign however, both would make the long journey home with nothing to show for their efforts, as a new contender for their title ambition emerges. Continue reading

The seven deadly sins


He may only be 5foot 5inches tall, but last night a The Gnoll, in the Vale of Neath, Jonathan Pereira Rodríguez was walking as tall as one of the legendary giants that roamed these parts.  Few strikers can boast a 4 goal haul in a competitive match, let alone a 5 goal salvo.  A double hatrick is as rare as Stan Collymore letting a caller on his show actually get a word in.  But to score seven is almost unheard of in modern football.  At 9pm when he left the pitch to a standing ovation, Jonathan Pereira joined an elite club.  For not only was his seven goals the sole difference between the teams on the pitch, but he became the only player currently playing in Europe to score seven goals in a game twice.

But let’s rewind to Monday 1st August first.  That magical day happened to be CMF and my 13th Wedding Anniversary.  A blissfully happy day, spent with the little Fullers on the beach of the Gower Peninsula.  At 2pm I received an email from our good friend Mark Pitman. Continue reading

Neath continue to Trundle to the start of the season


After their impressive victory over Premier League side Swansea City, Neath continued their preparations for the forthcoming Welsh Premier League season with a comprehensive victory over Western Football League Premier Division side Merthyr Town, and who was there to see it for us at The Gnoll?  Yep, you’ve guessed it, Abi Davies, South Wales own Georgie Thompson.

The Eagles got the game under way and were quick to show their intent, coming close to breaking the deadlock early on with efforts from Kristian O’Leary and Kerry Morgan testing Merthyr keeper Joe Perry. Continue reading

The Swans finish underNeath but over Town


In a bizarre arrangement, Swansea City played two back to back friendly games on Saturday against local Welsh Premier League sides.  First up was a visit to The Gnoll, home of Lee Trundle’s Neath, before heading down to Michael Sheen’s club, Port Talbot Town.  As always Abi Davies and Mark Pitman were on hand to give contrasting views on the afternoon’s festivities.  First up is Abi with the events at The Gnoll.

Neath 1 Swansea City 0 – The Gnoll – Saturday 16th July 2011
Swansea City continued their preparations ahead of their début season in the Premier League with back to back friendlies against Welsh Premier League sides Neath and Port Talbot.  Brendan Rodgers named equally strong sides for both games with a mixture of first team and youth players featuring.

The game as The Gnoll was the first chance Swans fans had to see Danny Graham in action following his £3.5 million move from Watford.

Steven Caulker also made his Swans debut against Neath two weeks after agreeing to join the newly promoted Welsh side on a season long loan. Continue reading