Derby Day part 2 – The new steel city derby

Mark Pitman reports from The GenQuip Stadium as Port Talbot Town were held by local rivals from literally around the corner, Afan Lido in the Welsh Premier League. Gareth Elms was on hand for the photo’s.

Once a traditional festive derby in the Welsh Premier League, the last time Port Talbot Town and Afan Lido competed against each other with league points at stake was back in 2004-2005. Local pride was shared that season as Afan Lido claimed three points at Port Talbot before Port Talbot repeated the feat at Afan Lido, and honours remain even after the first festive game since Afan Lido’s return to the top-flight this season after this 2-2 Boxing Day draw at The GenQuip Stadium. Afan Lido have claimed the upper-hand with two Welsh Cup victories since the two sides last met in the league, the most recent being earlier this month, but this latest share of the points sets up an interesting return fixture in January.

Afan Lido went into the fixture with a three point advantage over their local rivals and approached the match in better form. Manager Andy Dyer has turned his side into over-achievers this season and his quickly-assembled squad have already taken points off the top four teams in the league table. By comparison, opposite number Mark Jones has not seen his side win since October, and has suffered defeats against the only three teams below them in the Welsh Premier League table this season. Dyer and his side also have the advantage of a Welsh Cup victory over their rivals, but went into the match without suspended defender and captain Carl Evans, while Jones had the rare luxury of having a full-strength squad to choose from for this much-anticipated derby. Continue reading

Saints suffer at the Seaside

Mark Pitman reports from The Marston’s Stadium as Afan Lido upset the Welsh Premier League leaders. Gareth Elms was on hand for the photo’s.

Afan Lido eased their Welsh Premier League relegation worries on Friday night with the result and performance of the season. League leaders The New Saints arrived at the Marston’s Stadium looking to return to form after a rare home defeat to Bangor City the week before. Andy Dyer’s side had already defeated the only other full-time club at home this season when they edged past Neath back in August and more recently had frustrated a list of clubs challenging at the top of the table with draws against champions Bangor City, Llanelli and Neath. Addressing their limitations with a defensive line-up had suitably upset their superior opponents, but the fact that the side had not scored more than one goal in any of their previous fifteen league games this season explained their place in the bottom two.

The New Saints have seen their lead at the top cut in recent weeks but a 3-0 win over Afan Lido at Park Hall earlier in the season offered an indication that the club could and should retain their place at the top of the table following this latest fixture. While Bangor City were claiming a memorable 4-3 win at Park Hall the week before, Afan Lido were slumping to a comfortable 3-1 reverse at bottom-half side Airbus UK Broughton in a match that their usually solid defence had been easily exposed. The New Saints have consistently challenged at the top of the Welsh Premier League over the last decade and the chance of the side losing two consecutive games meant that the smart money was firmly on the visitors for this latest match. 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

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