Hughes header a history repeating derby deja-vu

Ask any Port Talbot Town fan for their most memorable derby goal in recent years and the majority of the Burns Road End regulars will fondly talk of the events that occurred at local rivals Afan Lido on the 26th December 2003. The two sides were juggling for supremacy in the town at the time as Afan Lido adjusted to the promotion of Port Talbot Town to the Welsh Premier League just a couple of seasons before as one of the fiercest games between the two clubs took place on a wet Boxing Day afternoon at the Lido.

Man of the moment Craig Hughes

The game had all the traditional dramas of games between the two sides with the referee being the busiest man on the field as local pride took over the implementation of any tactical plan. A local event for the people of the town, both clubs benefited from a ten-fold increase in attendance when the two rivals came together, and the game of 2003 did not disappoint. For the record, Port Talbot Town won 2-1 with a late winning header from Craig Hughes as he sprung above the opposition defence to capitalise on a superb cross from the right. Then on the 16th April 2011, something all too familiar happened all over again. Continue reading

Saints sitting pretty in latest Aesop variation

The Greek fabulist Aesop was attributed to the famous old fable of the hare and the tortoise and a new re-enactment of the story has evolved from the current Principality Welsh Premier League season. The modern-day comparison reached a poignant stage in the story last week when The New Saints overtook, and then extended their lead, over Bangor City at the top of the table without breaking a sweat while their rivals continued to reacted to letting go a one-time sixteen point lead by further losing ground on their consistent professional rivals with yet another defeat.

The title race began back in August as Bangor City took the proverbial approach of the hare by incredibly winning their opening fifteen league games as their rivals, as steady but also as slow as the hare’s opposing tortoise, dropped four points from their opening five games as the Welsh Premier League began its new-look campaign with results that justified its claim of being the most competitive season in the league’s history. Included in Bangor City’s run of fifteen wins was a 4-3 win over The New Saints, but for all the potential of their flying start, The New Saints have moved into the crucial part of the campaign with the advantage and now look favourites to retain their title of league champions. Continue reading

Legg up

Abi Davies takes us across Swansea Bay for the local derby between Andy Legg’s Llanelli and Lee Trundle’s Neath.

Friday nights Welsh premier league game saw Andy Dyer’s Neath travel to Llanelli with the hope of extending the gap between themselves in 3rd and Llanelli in 4th.

With the last meeting between the two sides resulting in a 4-0 victory to Andy Legg’s side, Neath looked adamant they were not going to allow history to repeat itself, looking the brighter of the two sides in the early exchanges with ex-Swansea city players Lee Trundle, Chris Jones and Chad Bond combining well and causing the Reds back line countless problems.

Dyer’s side were handed their first chance to capitalise on their dominance after Llanelli keeper Ashley Morris handled the ball outside the area, having been put under pressure by Chad Bond. Trundle stepped up to take the free kick but his effort fired just over the top corner. Continue reading

Team bonding exercise

Despite what you may think or believe, this veritable organ is not just thrown together willy-nilly. As if! There is a plan, an overall structure and a strategy to deliver for our shareholders. Shareholders? Shareholders? Yes indeed. At this point we need to bow, curtsey and generally laud praise in the direction of the mysterious GTC Media. A shadowy, shady company operating from a state of the art office adjacent to an exclusive London golf course, sending email missives to us on a daily basis as to what we should be doing and where. Enron would be proud of the complex structure of legal entities, preferring the glamour of the Isle of Sheppey rather than the Caymans or the Bahamas.

In the past few months they have expanded their operations relying on some new talent to breathe life into our website. Two such stars, unearthed in the valleys of the Tawe in Wales have been Mark Pitman and Abigail Davies. Talk about knowing their subject, these two could win Mastermind, University Challenge and Blankety Blank on their own with their knowledge of the Welsh game at all levels.

What's wrong with stopping in inside lane to take a snap?

As a token of their gratitude I was sent down the M4 to take the team out as a thank you. Some companies whisk their staff off to Las Vegas for a few days of sin, others arrange a weekend on the piss in Prague, and more refined corporations take their key people on a trip to Glyndebourne. GTC? Well how could we really grumble about a trip to see Port Talbot Town versus Llanelli, the Flanking Swansea Derby. Continue reading

Neath celebrate as mid-season split derby produces

Neath 2-1 Port Talbot Town – Welsh Premier League – 8th February 2011 by Mark Pitman

The introduction of a mid-season split in the Principality Welsh Premier League this season has been a much-debated and confusingly criticised idea, but this local derby at The Gnoll in front of one of the biggest crowds of the season made the decision more than justified as this Tuesday night encounter on a wet Tuesday in February produced a highly entertaining match. Port Talbot Town went into the game needing at least a point to guarantee a place in the top six for the second half of the season and also to avenge a home defeat against their rivals earlier in the campaign, while Neath, and their collection of superstars, were determined to continue their run of form and increase the pressure on the clubs at the top of the table.

Port Talbot Town manager Mark Jones went into the match without two of his most influential players as captain Liam McCreesh sat out the derby through suspension having been sent off the weekend before while striker Martin Rose, the clubs top scorer for the last few seasons, suffered a re-occurrence of the groin injury that has forced him to miss a number of games already this season. As with most derbies in the Welsh Premier League there was the usual former club twist, this time it was Neath defender Matthew Rees, who earlier in the season had captained Port Talbot Town in their first ever European campaign. Continue reading

New-money noisy neighbours salvage a point

Neath 1-1 Llanelli – Welsh Premier League – 18th January 2011

Our Welsh wizard Mark Pitman visits The Gnoll for a local derby on a cold Tuesday night:-

The Manchester City of the Principality Welsh Premier League welcomed rivals Llanelli to The Gnoll for what would be the second of five successive home games for the noisy neighbours of the top-flights South Wales clubs. Recent signing Matthew Rees, who captained Port Talbot Town in the UEFA Europa League earlier this season, was handed his first start in the all-black colours of the Eagles, but it was the actions of the traditional man in black that would be the subject of controversy at the end of this much-anticipated derby match.

As with most South Wales derbies in the Welsh Premier League, there was a strong Swansea City influence on show for the 500-plus crowd. The alternative option of watching Cardiff City on TV no doubt had some influence on generating the decent Swans-based attendance that Neath had asked for in the match programme, but their optimism was not matched at the turnstile, as only one gate was open as the crowd queued down Gnoll Road as the kick off quickly approached. Another popular theme with derbies in the Welsh Premier League are the sub-plots involving managers, coaches and players who have connections with both clubs and again this match was no different. Former Arsenal, Chelsea and Wales star Peter Nicholas is one of the many backroom staff that occupy the Neath technical area on a matchday, and for this derby he would be up against Llanelli manager Andy Legg, the player he signed while he was manager of Llanelli, and who subsequently replaced him in his job. Continue reading

Entertainment reigns against the seaside elements

Prestatyn Town 1-1 Port Talbot Town – Welsh Premier League – 15th January 2011

Often associated with the seaside, Prestatyn Town welcomed the worst elements of the beach to Bastion Road for this Principality Welsh Premier League match against Port Talbot Town. A strong wind and sand covered playing surface did little to inspire any football purist in attendance and their concerns were proved correct as both sides struggled against the conditions in this scrappy yet surprisingly entertaining match.

In previous matchday blogs I have highlighted issues that do not help the reputation of the Welsh Premier League and the incidents that only support the doubters belief that the league is nothing more than a pub league with European qualification. By comparison I have also highlighted the positives that the steadily improving league can boast. Unfortunately I have another negative incident to report, as Port Talbot Town arrived at Prestatyn with the same colour kit as the home side, forcing Mark Jones team to take to the field in the red Prestatyn Town away shirts. Continue reading