The greatest derby in the world


Mark Pitman reports from The GenQuip Stadium as Afan Lido claim another Welsh Cup win over their rivals. Gareth Elms was on hand for the photo’s.

The first competitive match between local rivals Port Talbot Town and Afan Lido for over four years was a very different affair to famed previous encounters, but the only consistent of derby days passed was on hand to head home the headlines as the scoreline once again went in favour of the visitors. The two sides, separated by a couple of streets in the South Wales town, last met when they were drawn together in the Welsh Cup back in 2007 and a 1-0 win for the Lido was as good then as it was again in this latest contest. The fixture had a string of similarities in terms of the competition, the venue, the score, the goal and the importance, but the personal and the passion of previous derby days were very sadly missing.

The scene was set for another intense encounter between two sides battling for local supremacy, but the match echoed little of what has made this fixture so famous over the last decade. Over the years the fixture has been memorable for midfield battles, red cards, penalties and controversy in front of a crowd quadrupled for a one-off occasion. Sadly, this latest instalment lacked it all. Since the last time the two sides met, both teams now have different managers and while Leigh De-Vulgt, Lee John, Martin Rose and substitute Dylan Blain remain for the home side, the only name still on the Lido team-sheet from that 1-0 win in 2007 was Carl Evans. Although Evans played briefly for Port Talbot Town after that win, he like so many others before eventually him found his way back to Lido, and it would be his winning goal that would decide the tie. Afan Lido left-back Craig Hanford should also receive a mention at this time, he was part of the Port Talbot Town side that lost the 2007 fixture. Continue reading

Belle has a ball with a brace for the Blues


Mark Pitman reports on the Welsh Premier League as Port Talbot Town claim a welcome win over struggling Airbus UK Broughton at The GenQuip Stadium. Gareth Elms was also there to provide the photo’s.

Cortez Belle scored twice for Port Talbot Town in front of the live S4/C cameras as Mark Jones side claimed a much-needed win after three consecutive defeats on Saturday. The summer-signing has proved to be the clubs most influential players this season and his return to the front-line after recent failed experiments in midfield and defence meant that fan favourite Martin Rose could only take a place on the bench for the visit of Airbus UK Broughton. Managed by former Middlesbrough defender Craig Harrison, the Wingmakers claimed their only win of the season last weekend with a 3-2 victory over fellow-strugglers Newtown, but rarely looked capable of building on that result on their visit to South Wales.

The match also provided the stage for two goalkeeping debuts as a result of two injuries for the regular shot-stoppers of both clubs. Port Talbot Town were without Kristian Rogers and handed a Welsh Premier League debut to Polish keeper Bartek Fogler, while Airbus UK replaced the injured Niki-Lee Bulmer with 40-year old veteran Andy Mulliner, as the former TNS goalkeeper was tempted out of retirement to make his 471st appearance in the domestic top-flight. Mulliner is best remembered for his heroics in the 1996 Welsh Cup Final. By comparison, Fogler was just 11 years-old when Mulliner was lifting the famous old trophy, and was now up against him on his first Welsh Premier League appearance. Continue reading

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

Palmer issues reminder to Jones with opening goal


Mark Pitman reports on a surprise win for Carmarthen Town over Port Talbot Town in the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League. Gareth Elms provides the photo’s.

The Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League is a close-knit affair and each week a number of players and managers find themselves in action against their former employers. This popular South Wales fixture between Carmarthen Town and Port Talbot Town offered just that expected sub-plot as visiting boss Mark Jones brought his Port Talbot Town side to the club that sacked him four years before. Joining Jones in his re-acquaintance with Richmond Park was substitute Sacha Walters following his summer switch between the two clubs, but the night would belong to a former Port Talbot Town player in the home squad who would make a much bigger impression on the game than he did during his brief time at his opponents.

Nicky Palmer signed for Port Talbot Town just over twelve months ago as the club prepared to compete in the UEFA Europa League. Palmer was signed as an experienced campaigner from Carmarthen but started on the bench for his new club in their opening European game at Finnish side TPS Turku. Palmer made the starting eleven for the return leg however and almost scored inside the opening few minutes before the side slipped to a convincing 4-0 defeat. This brief foray into Europe would prove to Palmer’s only appearance for the club and he eventually returned to Richmond Park having been unable to earn himself a place in Mark Jones side. The visit of Port Talbot Town would however offer Palmer the chance to avenge his lack of opportunity, and the form of Port Talbot Town at Carmarthen over the last few seasons would suggest he had every chance of achieving just that. 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

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