Rhyl's David Forbes celebrates side's third goal against Bangor City (Daily Post)
Rhyl manager Greg Strong hailed the character of his players as they recovered from a dire opening day defeat by beating Bangor in their own backyard yesterday.
Two early goals from ex-Citizen Paul McManus, and a decisive second-half strike from Dave Forbes, sealed the points for the Lilywhites, who strangled the life out of the hosts with some outstanding defending.
The Lilies’ 3-0 home loss to Aberystwyth on Saturday was largely down to inept defending, yet 48 hours later at Nantporth, a water-tight display by the back-line was key to their victory.
“As a group we were a different team today,” said Strong.
Rhyl FC boss Greg Strong
“I was frustrated on Saturday; it was 16 or 17 months since we’d lost a game, but what a response from the lads today – it just shows what character they’ve got.
“What won us the game was our work ethic – the way we worked as a team.”
Bangor boss Neville Powell was less than impressed with his team’s defending, which was shoddy in all three goals.
“We’ve got to stop giving soft goals away,” he stressed.
“The first goal (which led to a penalty) was two yards offside so that gave us a bad start.
“We got back into it, but then gifted them a goal straight after as no-one picked McManus up.
“To be fair, before they scored their third, it looked only a matter of time before we scored again, but that third goal knocked the stuffing out of us.
“Rhyl defended well; they were more streetwise than us.”
Watched by a crowd of 918 at The Book People Stadium, the North Wales coast derby got off to a dramatic start when the City defence was caught flat as McManus played a through ball to Forbes, who was tripped by keeper Lee Idzi.
The offender received only a yellow card, but McManus sent Idzi the wrong way from the spot.
Two minutes later, Declan Walker’s cross was only cleared as far as Rob Jones, whose fierce left-foot strike from 20 yards provided the equaliser.
Less than 60 seconds after, though, Matty Woodward centred low from the byline and an unmarked McManus lashed into the roof of the net.
City dominated the rest of the half, forcing a succession of corners which came to nothing.
The best chance fell to Les Davies, who somehow missed the target when presented with a free header from a Damian Allen flag-kick.
Rhyl could have grabbed a third when they again beat the offside trap, but Jonathan Bathurst drove wide.
Bangor started the second period well, the impressive Walker driving in a shot-cum-cross which diving substitute Chris Jones missed by a whisker.
Then on the hour the Lilywhites were handed a third goal on a plate.
Michael Johnston’s poor back-pass sold Idzi short, Forbes won a tackle against the keeper and slotted into an empty net.
Thereafter, Bangor had the majority of the possession, but lacked penetration against a formidable Rhyl rearguard.
A minute from time, City were thrown a lifeline when Walker’s wayward shot landed kindly for Sion Edwards, who thundered a strike into the top corner of the net to make it 3-2.
However, there was to be no equaliser as the visitors deservedly pocketed the points.