MATCH REVIEW: Afan Lido 0-1 Port Talbot
This weekend would see old rivalries renewed and supporters in the locality divided as Afan Lido hosted Port Talbot Town.
The two clubs are only half a mile apart and have not met in the league since 2014. To further add to the mix many players have also had spells at both clubs with former Blues favourite Liam McCreesh now the manager of Afan Lido. For the visitors, manager Paul Evans had also played for the opposition and managed Lido during his footballing career with the club still remaining close to his heart.
But on a rain-swept afternoon there would be no place for sentiment with each manager and squad focusing on winning the fixture.
Port Talbot Town have found themselves at the wrong end of the league table heading into Christmas, however it would be the visitors roared on by their vocal supporters who started the game with more urgency.
The Steelmen were pressing and on the 6th minute a superb cross into the Lido penalty box saw Blues legend Jon Hood smash a superb volley and fire the visitors into the lead.
The weather conditions would play a large part in proceedings as the game progressed but early on it was the visitors managing the conditions better, Jack Hurley was looking very dangerous picking the ball up and taking on the Lido defenders.
The visitors were looking in a confident mood and shortly afterwards following a cross from Bidderscome, Herman was unlucky connecting with the ball only for his header to be saved by the home keeper, with the Blues pressing a few minutes later Hood fired a fierce shot which flew just wide of the home goal much to the relief of the home faithful.
Lido had few opportunities during the first half but showed great endeavour a great chance saw Cullen missing a great opportunity after being superbly set up by Walters. However it would the visitors who found the net again just after the half hour mark only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. The ball had bounced off the post and Herman knocked the ball in but the goal was immediately disallowed by the officials.
A free kick towards the end of the first half saw Lido blaze the ball over the crossbar but in truth neither team had created too many clear opportunities. The weather was now deteriorating and the pitch was cutting up quite badly, however it would be the Hood screamer separating the two teams as the interval approached.
The second half kicked off and early on the home team looked quite dangerous after some good play from Walters, Elliot Thomas hit a long rang attempt at goal only for the ball to go wide.
It is often fine margins in a tense derby game, unfortunately for the hosts on the 56th minute they would be down to 10 men as former Blues player Carl Evans was dismissed for Lido. The referee appeared to send him off for dissent. The game was quite scrappy in the second half and players were getting caught out by the ball not running in the mud, and tackles being slightly misjudged due to the conditions.
With the home team pressing despite having 10 men, frustrations were starting to boil over as the hosts could not get that important goal. Some unsavoury scenes in front of the grandstand on the half way line saw Carlos Indjai escape with a yellow card with the referee also booking Remi Whitelock for the visitors.
In truth a melee had ensued from a tackle and several more players could have been booked. Indjai looked rattled and soon afterwards booted the advertising hoarding in frustration.
With the hosts trying to change the game and go for the equaliser Shane Williams came on to replace Jordan Edwards. It was the hosts who appeared to have the ascendency in the game despite having only 10 men and soon made another sub with Allen replacing Cullen.
Both teams towards the end of the game had chances but the hosts suffered a further blow as Walters was sent off in the 85 minute after receiving his second yellow card. The referee was left with no choice after the player pushed both feet towards the Port Talbot player after a tackle that was judged to of been late.
The visitors were by now themselves making some changes and late on in the game Miller replaced Herman and Zola replaced Hurley. The home team were still giving it 100 per cent and nearly scored late on as Elliot Thomas connected with a superb cross only to hit the post. The game late on helped by the conditions had really opened up and minutes later the visitors Zola hit a superb free kick only to be denied by the post.
Unfortunately the game was marred by a serious injury late on to Afan Lido Josh Doyle. The game was held up by several minutes with both sets of players being sent to the dressing room. It was unclear if the game at been abandoned but after a delay and Josh Doyle being stretchered off the game re-started with the visitors holding out the final few minutes to record the victory.
The scenes at the end showed what it means to win this derby fixture. The away supporters were delirious as the players and manager came over to salute them. A credit to both teams given the conditions and there will be no doubt more drama in the return fixture with Lido looking to gain revenge for today’s defeat.