Cambrian & Clydach Vale piled further misery on local rivals Ton Pentre with a dominant 5-1 win in the Rhondda Derby at King George New Field on Friday night.
Storm Brian brought torrential downpour to Clydach Vale for practically the duration of this fixture, but arguably a bigger storm is brewing up the A4058 at Ynys Park.
This latest defeat means Ton Pentre remain rooted to the bottom of Welsh Football League Division One and are still winless in the league.
If losing to your local rivals is bad enough, the manner of this defeat will be worrying, as well as successive four goal defeats for the side since the re-appointment of Kevin Richards as manager and five league defeats in a row altogether.
Meanwhile it is onwards and upwards for Craig Hughes’s side, this result meaning they have won four league games on the bounce at home – an incredible testament to the turnaround Hughes has presided over this season on their own patch after Cambrian managed just one home league win in the whole of last season.
It is also five wins from the last six league games for the Cam Army, taking them up to sixth in the table at the full time whistle.
With a bumper crowd in attendance, what was expected to be a full-blooded affair started off fairly tame. There was the usual midfield competitiveness, but the challenges were honest rather than edgy and neither side was able to produce much in the way of creativity.
The best chance in these opening exchanges fell to Liam Reed in the third minute when a loose ball from a corner fell at his feet, but he mis-kicked six yards out and the chance went begging.
Most of the action came from the touchline with Ton Pentre boss Richards vocal, barking orders at his players, offering encouragement, demanding work rate and organisation.
His ventures up the touchline drew the ire of the referee who repeatedly warned Richards against encroaching on the field, eventually leading the man in black to pause the game to issue a telling off.
Given there wasn’t a lot of goalmouth action in the first ten minutes, it came as a bit of a surprise when Cambrian opened the scoring in the 12th minute.
Set-plays have been a big feature of Cambrian’s attacking play this season and it is obvious they work hard practising them. It was no different tonight as Cameron Keetch and Corey Shephard – who recently re-joined Cambrian from the Bulldogs – caused Ton Pentre’s backline all sorts of problems with the quality of their delivery for the entire match.
For the first goal, Shephard’s diagonal free kick brought the chance for captain Mark Crutch to hook home from close range after Gareth Welsh’s knock down.
The home lead didn’t last long though. Ton Pentre’s first attack from the restart won them a free kick on the left flank. With everyone expecting Leon Jacka to launch the ball into the box, he instead played a side rule pass down the line to Nathan Facey, he beat his marker and delivered a super cross for Sam Small to head home at the near post.
It was a superbly executed routine by the Bulldogs and parity was no less than they deserved at that point of the game.
While the early goals livened up the game, Corey Shephard was booked for a challenge on Andre Griffiths and a yellow card was reciprocated to a Ton Pentre player shortly after, there was little in the way of clear openings.
Lee Price tried his luck with a cross-come-shot from the right wing and hit the side-netting, while Liam Reed was released in the insight right channel and took his shot early outside the box, forcing a good save from Ryan Griffiths. Lee Price had a second bite from the second ball, but again Griffiths was on hand to keep the scores level.
Ton Pentre’s best opportunity to take the lead came through a Jacka free kick a few minutes before half time. Given his ability, Ton Pentre’s top scorer this season would have been disappointed that his effort hit the wall – on the follow up, a team-mate fired a long range shot well wide.
As the match headed towards half-time, both bosses were no doubt mentally preparing their motivational team-talk for the interval to try and inspire a winner. Certainly had the first half ended level, neither side could complain too much, given how little there was between them in the opening half. However, Cambrian’s players wanted it more.
Livewire Reed again found himself with a chance at goal inside the box, this time his effort came back off the post – and it appeared Ryan Griffiths got a hand on it to make the save, but the ball rebounded back across goal towards Lee Price who fired home off the underside of the crossbar from point blank range.
It was always going to be a challenge for Ton Pentre to come back from such a blow on the stroke of half time given their recent woes and Cambrian’s players sensed their vulnerability, seeking the kill early in the second half.
Lee Price should have scored his second of the game in the 48th minute, finding himself on the end a superb transition by Cambrian and once again Reed was involved after dispossessing Ton Pentre inside their half.
However, the forward was unable to convert this opportunity. Cambrian were not to be denied, though, and three minutes later they extended their lead when Carn Thomas rose highest to power home a header from Keetch right-sided corner kick.
It was all one-way traffic at this point. Thomas, Reed and Shephard had good headed chances for the home side, while Welsh almost scored a spectacular back heel.
Leon Jacka tried to drag Ton Pentre back into the game with a free kick out wide that almost caught out Cambrian goalkeeper Dan Bradley, but he scrambled to tip the ball out for a corner.
Nathan Facey also found some space to counter attack, he played the ball inside to Sam Small, but the big number nine’s return pass was heavy and the chance was lost.
Ton Pentre captain Tom Davies was booked on the hour for dissent. In a period of rare dominance in the second half, the visitors bombarded Cambrian’s penalty area with a succession of crosses, leading to a number of physical challenges from Bradley.
There didn’t appear to be much wrong with the goalkeeper’s conduct and the officials agreed, whether it was purely frustration boiling over, the visitor’s took exception to this and Davies was ultimately punished with a caution.
Cambrian wrapped up the points 16 minutes from time, Lee Price rounding off a superb flowing move involving substitute Jacob Matthews, Liam Reed and Corey Shephard, who provided the assist to Price. Tom Davies was given his marching orders shortly after, when the referee adjudged a challenge to be a foul worthy of a second yellow card.
It did look a harsh decision as Davies appeared to get a toe on the ball, but he paid the price for an unnecessary booking earlier in the match.
Three goals down and a man light there was never going to be a way back into this match for Ton Pentre. With fifteen minutes still to play it seemed like damage limitation was employed, but Cambrian cut the visitors open at will in the closing stages as the Bulldogs looked increasingly disorganised and well-beaten.
Leon Anstee could have capped a useful cameo off the bench with a goal, Shephard was unlucky that his close range effort hit the post after he did well to bustle and trick his way into a shooting opportunity.
The icing on the cake for Craig Hughes and his side arrived with three minutes to play. Another sublime move that involved interplay between Matthews, Anstee and Shephard who crossed for substitute Richard French to score the easiest of chances and complete the rout to give Cambrian & Clydach a convincing victory at King George’s New Field.