NEWTOWN 2 PORT TALBOT TOWN 0.
Newtown manager Bernard McNally received the perfect send off, as he departs Paveway’s Latham Park with a win against lowly placed Port Talbot Town with a goal in each half; Craig Williams made the decisive breakthrough from the penalty spot, then a brave finish by Luke Boundford finally elevated the Robin’s into the top half of the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League for the first time this season. (reports Robert Clement).
With Port Talbot attempting to recover from a home defeat against Bangor City, and Newtown keen to secure an additional three points following their success over Bala Town, it was the Mid Wales side who were provided with a fifth minute chance of moving ahead, only for a twenty five yard Williams free kick to be headed clear by Adie Harris, after Matthew Hearsey had his progress halted by Sacha Walters.
The Steelmen responded seven minutes later, with a swift opening involving James Bloom, David Brooks and Walters; Ashley Evans then finally linked up to force Newtown keeper Chris Mullock to stretch to his left, securing possession of the goalbound delivery.
The best chance of a breakthrough arrived mid-way into the half, but the opportunity was wasted when Port Talbot skipper Lee Surman powerfully headed over the top of the Newtown crossbar, following a Brooks corner.
The Powys outfit found their attacking rhythm after thirty two minutes, with the lively Hearsey cutting infield from the left wing; his cross was seized upon by Boundford whose shot on target deflected off the ankle of Bloom, Daniel Sheehan then made contact with Hearsey in his attempted clearance; referee Kris Hames who had clear vision of the incident instantly pointed to the spot, and Williams stepped forward to despatch the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Two minutes prior to the interval, Port Talbot produced a perfect build-up, featuring Walters and Evans, Sheehan then had a attempted delivery blocked, but the ball spun into the path of the alert Walters, with his cross into the danger zone failing to find a supporting colleague to apply the vital close range finish.
Five minutes into the second half, Mullock maintained Newtown’s lead with splendid reaction to fingertip over the top a close range Martin Rose header from a Walters cross.
A swift attacking run down the right channel by Hearsey threatened to cause problems for the visitors, with the former Dudley Town player cutting infield to set up Boundford who powerfully fired just wide of the upright.
Any hope of Port Talbot gaining anything from the game was dashed with nine minutes remaining, when substitute Callum Wright delivered a worthwhile opening for Boundford to chase, but as the ball bounced just outside the eighteen yard area, he collided with goalkeeper Steven Hall; however in the challenge he managed to apply the vital contact for the ball to advance and trickle over the goal-line, to give McNally a great send off in his final game at Newtown.
McNally later spoke with WPL reporter Robert Clement, with the former Shrewsbury Town midfielder being asked if the three points was the perfect way to sign off here.
“Without a doubt, obviously it was going to be emotional, but I’m leaving a lot of good friends here that I’ve made over the two and a half years, and the team that I’ve put together thankfully now has started to show fruit, but to finish like that has been tremendous for me; that’s a dream comes true”.
“Two week’s ago if you said that’s how it’s going to finish off with two wins, I would have been absolutely delighted, and so I was today”.
It showed before and after the match, in regards to you time here, with the send off you had from players and fans?
“Yes, it was tremendous, even the staff, I was mesmerised when I’ve come down from the dressing room with both teams making a gangway for me, so I’m really pleased with that, and I just hope that Newtown can go forward with what I’ve built on, because it’s a good side we’ve got here, with a great team spirit”.
“You can see that, with a do or die effort, they all work together, and I know that myself and the chairman have said that if we could just finish in that top six just after Christmas time it would be great, because going into the last ten games, for the player’s there’s no pressure on them, and I think that they would prove a point and show that they’re really good players, so fingers crossed let’s hope it’s forwards and upwards”.
You must be pleased to end your reign here on a perfect note?
“It’s been great to get the three points and to play in that manner, the elements were against everybody today, with the swirling wind along with the pitch being very heavy, because it had been rain soaked during the week, but to sign off like that is a tremendous achievement for myself, and I do it with a lot of pride, so I’ll have fond memories of today particularly”.
There was a lack of clear cut chances in the game, but were you pleased by the comfortable nature of the scoreline?
“Yes I was, sometimes you have to grind out results, today the weather was not conducive to good football if I’m honest, but I think that both sides attempted to play football, and it just goes to show the determination and resilience of the team that I’ve put together; they’ve really got that do or die kind of scenario within themselves and they all want to work for each other, and grind out results, which is tremendous for a manager”.
“You stand on the sidelines and for the last five or six games I’ve stood there and thought we’d get a result today, and it’s nice as a manager when you feel that kind of optimism”.
Are you pleased to finish on a clean sheet as well?
“Yes, that’s tremendous as well, Chris Mullock came back in after being injured and he’s done ever so well for us today, he’s very commanding and gave a great performance and I’m delighted for all the players and everybody here at Newtown Football Club. They’ve given me a great opportunity, and hopefully our paths will meet in whatever form in the next few years”.
You’re up to fifth in the league now, could you have dreamed of that position when you took the job?
“I’ll tell you what, three games ago I wouldn’t have been thinking of that, and there’s been a few points that we’ve felt that have been thrown away needlessly if I’m honest, so to think that we’d be fifth, that’s a dream come true, and hopefully they can build on that and go higher and better”.
For the second goal, does the resilience of Luke Boundford sum up the whole side at the moment?
“Yes it does, he’s such a hard worker and with the ball going in there, it was probably 70-30 in the goalkeeper’s view, watching it from the sideline’s, but he’s just gone for it, being as brave as a lion, and you know that he’ll give 100%”.
“I’m delighted for him because things haven’t quite gone his way totally this season, and he’s just shown why he should be in the side, because of his commitment to the game”.
The five times capped Northern Ireland midfielder added, “It’s now a great opportunity for someone new to come here, fifth in the league with a good bunch of players who know how they want to play. It’ll be a very good job for someone to step in, he’s not at the bottom of the division as when Elwyn Preece and I took over, and they are in a great position to take the team forward”.
With fifty year old McNally returning to former club Shrewsbury Town to undertake a coaching role, he concluded, “I’d like to thank everybody for their support given to me here, especially the Directors and Chairman. I’ve enjoyed my time here, even when we’ve had the bad times, and this is great now that we can celebrate the good times”.
Cafodd Bernie McNally y fuddugoliaeth yr oedd ei heisiau ar ei ddiwrnod olaf wrth y llyw yn Y Drenewydd.
Daeth y gôl gyntaf gan Craig Williams ar ôl i drosedd Sheehan ar White arwain at gic o'r smotyn ar 32 munud. Yn fuan ar ôl hanner amser cafodd Port Talbot eu hatal gan y gôl-geidwad Mullock. Sgoriodd Luke Boundford gôl olaf y gêm wedi 81 munud. Roedd Y Drenewydd yn haeddu curo Port Talbot yn ngêm olaf McNally wrth y llyw. Sgôr terfynol - Y Drenewydd 2-0 Port talbot.