AFAN LIDO 0 PORT TALBOT TOWN 3.
Headed finishing from Carl Payne and Lewis Harling either side of the interval, along with a stunning strike from skipper David Brooks, provided the all-important festive cheer for Port Talbot in their Boxing Day clash with local rivals Afan Lido at the Marston’s Stadium. (reports Robert Clement).
There were several players in the starting line-up’s that had switched colours following the previous fixture last season, with Lido having Chris Hartland and Matthew Thompson from the Gen-Quip Stadium, while Payne, Daniel Thomas and Daniel Sheehan moved in the opposite direction, switching from red to blue.
There was one change to the Lido side following their 0-0 draw against Aberystwyth, with Kristian James absent, having accumulated a series of yellow cards, with Josh Doyle taking his place. Meanwhile for Port Talbot, Payne, Ryan Green and Jeff White returned, after the 1-0 defeat at Carmarthen, to replace Dylan Blain, Adam Wright and Lee John.
Following an evenly balanced opening period by both teams, it was Port Talbot who threatened to establish the breakthrough after seventeen minutes with Matthew Crowell releasing fellow team-mate Thomas from just inside the Lido half.
The wide operating player quickly accelerated forward to link with Lewis Harling, with him then setting up Brooks, but the Steelmen’s skipper having shown intention and invention, fired a right footed drive narrowly wide of the near upright from eight yards.
Within nine minutes of that scoring option, it was Afan Lido who responded with Hartland advancing confidently into the heart of the Port Talbot rearguard, only to have a stunning shot palmed over the top by Craig Richards.
The visitors continued to work hard to create an additional scoring chance after twenty seven minutes, with a Payne cross into the danger zone being nodded wide of the far post by White.
The Steelmen showed fight and spirit to move ahead four minutes later; once again it was fast fluent football that allowed Harling to combine with Sheehan, Crowell them made himself available with the Bridgend born midfielder delivering a low cross from the edge of the penalty box, but it was a Dean Hudson attempted clearance that arrived at the feet of Brooks, who grabbed the opportunity to drill a low shot into the far bottom corner of the net.
With the form guide favouring Port Talbot, it was a second goal that arrived after thirty seven minutes following a foul by Josh Doyle on Brooks. The by-line delivery from the edge of the eighteen yard area by Crowell was superbly met with a glancing header from Payne, with the ball flashing past Chris Curtis and into the far corner.
Having stamped their authority on the game during the opening half, Port Talbot were quickly out of the blocks following the break to increase the scoreline within a minute of the restart, and once again show their attacking authority and determination.
Payne picked out the supporting White and he delivered a pass into the path of Sheehan; the former Swansea City youth product then superbly flighted a delightful accurate cross into the six yard area, and Harling confidently nodded in from close range.
There was a response from Lido midway into the half, with Leigh De-Vulgt halting the progress of Mark Jones, but from Kieran Howard’s free kick the danger was cleared by midfielder James Bloom.
Port Talbot Town boss Scott Young provided his post match reaction, following his first seasonal derby clash with local rivals Afan Lido in the Martson’s media suite, with him agreeing that it was a super victory.
“Yes, I think that it was a convincing 3-0 win in the end, a good first half performance, slightly disappointing in the second half, but I thought that we could have put them to the sword a bit more and grabbed one or two more goals really”.
Young reflect on the opening forty five minutes, where the Steelmen did particularly well against the strong wind and rain.
“Certainly, I asked the lads to go against the wind and be brave in possession, and try to get on the ball and stop them from posing a threat, and they did it”.
He then commented on it putting him in a great frame of mind as he looked forward towards the next derby clash quickly coming up on Saturday.
“It’s another derby game and anything can happen, it’s a new day, we’ve got to show the same attitude, desire and match them for that, and hopefully our quality will get us another result”.
“During the first forty five minutes we played some exceptional stuff and maybe deserved to come in up one or two more, but to be fair to Afan Lido in the second half they had a right go and kept us at bay”.
Young was asked if he agreed that Jeff White be nominated man-of-the-match.
“Listen, from one to eleven, they were all outstanding, Jeff’s come back into the team after being rested for the Carmarthen game last week, Ryan Green for a centre half was exceptional, he showed his quality and strength today, but every one of them, man to man were a different class”.
The Tonypandy born former Cardiff City defender added, “It was important for us to bounce back after the defeats against The New Saints and Carmarthen, with this being a must win game today if we have aspirations to get into the top six, and they’ve gone and got the three points for us, so we’ve done well”.
Afan Lido manager Paul Reid was later asked how to explain his team’s performance, following the derby defeat.
“Non existent”, he remarked. “We were beaten by the better side and I thought that we didn’t turn up from one to eleven, we’ve got no excuses; the boy’s let themselves, the team, the club, and the supporters down”.
He added, “These local derbies are always passionate affairs, I think that was the easiest game that referee Bryn Markham-Jones will have”.
“I don’t think there was one bad tackle in the game for either team, normally there is a lot of passion and banter between the benches, but it was quiet and just one game to forget, but saying that, I think it’s the first time I’ve had to say in six or seven weeks about my team; I’ll always back them, but today it was just a real lack lustre performance from every single one of them”.
Reid was asked about the conditions, especially with his former club appearing to adjusting to them much better.
“The circumstances were the same as when we played Newtown away, we passed the ball around and played some great football, but today was just one of those games that we just have to forget”.
“Fair play to Port Talbot they got the ball down, passed it around and created chances, and if it wasn’t for Chris Curtis in goal then it would have been a few more; he kept us in it with some cracking saves, but we still get beat 3-0”.