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

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

A Fan of football at any level

Tuesday 26th July 2011 – Afan Lido 0 Coventry City 1

Abi simply cannot get enough of the Port Talbot riviera so she was back again. Tuesday nights fixture at The Marston’s Stadium saw a young Coventry side turn out to face Andy Dyer’s newly promoted Afan Lido.

Gregor Rioch’s academy side got the game under way, and from the outset looked confident in possession, spreading the play well finding success down both wings as well as through the centre.

Striker Jonson Clarke-Harris was proving to be one of Coventry’s biggest threats early on, with his blistering pace he was at the forefront of numerous Coventry attacks. With 20 minutes gone Clarke-Harris found himself with space to attack Afan Lido’s defence, however some great work from Carl Evans ensured the young striker could not develop the attack. Continue reading

Swans take a dip on Port Talbot beach

Abi Davies continues her look at Swansea’s preparations for life in the Premier League with a trip to the seaside.  The seaside in this case being Afan Lido aka Port Talbot Beach….She is a braver girl than I am a bloke as she took a dip in the water.

Following on from last Saturday’s double header in which The Swans were defeated at The Gnoll before emerging triumphant against Port Talbot, Brendan Rodgers side made the short trip to take on another Welsh Premier League side in Afan Lido. Continue reading

Neath Trundle into Europe

Mark Pitman reports on an unexpected football fairytale as Neath win the inaugural Welsh Premier League play-off final. Photo’s courtesy of Mike Greenslade.

The celebrations at The Gnoll on Saturday were down to relief more than achievement as big spending Neath made the first step in justifying their substantial investment by qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. The South Wales club hit the headlines with a number of high-profile signings last summer, but while the attentions of the Welsh Premier League were focused on Lee Trundle and their other former Football League stars, a figure from their humble past, Andy Hill, scored the decisive goals that would take Andy Dyer’s side into Europe for the first time.

Neath were formed as recently as 2005 and achieved promotion to the Welsh Premier League in 2007. The club had previously played in the neighbouring village of Llandarcy, but following a merger between Neath Athletic and Skewen Athletic, a new-era begun and the club made a further and significant stride forward with a move the The Gnoll, the home of Neath Rugby Club. An ambitious project for football success began last year and the arrival of players such as Lee Trundle, Kevin Cooper, Kristian O’Leary and Chris Jones amongst others meant that success for the club would only be a matter of time. Continue reading

Euro glory beckons as Prestatyn show spirit of ’99

Mark Pitman reports on a dramatic ending from Bastion Gardens as Prestatyn Town move to within one win of European football. were on hand for photos.

For Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 1999, read Lee Hunt and David Hayes in 2011. The former duo may have won the Champions League for Manchester United in dramatic fashion, but the latter did the same for Prestatyn Town on Sunday in the Welsh Premier League play-off semi-final. The games may seem a million miles apart, but both were among the most important in the history of the two respective clubs, and the goals from Hunt and Hayes mean that Prestatyn Town are now one win away from making their own impact on the European football stage.

The Welsh Premier League has been the subject of some drastic cosmetic surgery this season as the traditional eighteen clubs were reduced to twelve, a mid-season split separated the top and bottom six clubs and the last UEFA Europa League place would be decided not by league placings but by an end of season play-off. The format has confused many, but after nine months of football, five teams entered the inaugural play-off competition last week. Airbus UK Broughton were the first club to be eliminated, and on Saturday it was the turn of Port Talbot Town and Aberystwyth Town to forget a return to European football for another season at least. Continue reading

Blues, and Grist, are back on track

Mark Pitman takes in a much-needed victory for Port Talbot Town in the Welsh Premier League.

It has been an experimental season in the Principality Welsh Premier League with the reduction to twelve clubs coinciding with mid-season split and an end of season play-off for the last UEFA Europa League place. For Port Talbot Town the euphoria of confirming a place in the top half of the table in time for the split was followed by a unwanted but significant line in the fixture calendar that was eventually scrapped on the last weekend of the season.

Since the mid-season split, Port Talbot Town had managed six draws and three defeats as they went into the last match of the season against South Wales rivals Llanelli at the impressive Stebonheath. Manager Mark Jones side had last experienced a Welsh Premier League victory in January, but with a crucial match at Prestatyn in the play-off approaching, a confidence boosting win to take into the match was a necessity and not just a bonus.

The string of recent defeats had been just as frustrating for the loyal and vociferous fans that follow the side across Wales each week as it had been for Jones and his players. With one match remaining to claim a victory, it was decided that the match at Llanelli would double-up as the supporters end of season party, and alternative transport in the form of the train was confirmed as part of the pre-match build-up. Wetherspoons provided breakfast, beer and a base to discuss tactics for the day ahead as a dozen fans began their journey to Llanelli. Continue reading