Improving Ynysygerwn disappointed with point

A superb late strike from Jack Huntley secured a point for visitors Bridgend Street at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport on Saturday afternoon, leaving home side Ynysygerwn disappointed as they were the better team through most of what was, in all honesty, a scrappy game.

The home side set up in a 5-3-2 formation, and the midfield three Andrew Miller, Joe Phillips and Adam Davies were able to impose themselves on the game in the centre of the park, outnumbering the Street duo of Owen Bancroft and Paul Fowler.

Home team manager Nicki Maggs had spoken before the game of needing to keep Fowler quiet and they certainly succeeded in a first 45 minutes during which the experienced midfielder barely had a touch of the ball.

The other danger man Maggs had identified, Nicky Davison, had the first early chance of the game, pulling the ball towards goal and seeing it pushed out for a corner.  After that, the remainder of the chances in a scrappy first half all fell to the home side. 

Paul Sedgmore was industrious down the left flank and got some good balls into the box – firing one ball across the face of goal that only needed a tap in, but didn’t find a boot.  Later in the half a corner from the right dropped at the back post, but despite two Ynysgerwn players in the vicinity, the ball drifted out for a goal kick.

Davison had the best chance for Bridgend St not long before the interval, put through by Fowler he’ll have been disappointed not to have done better than drag wide of the far post. 

James Newell drove in a shot from distance that was palmed away by custodian King – searching for another clean sheet – and it was 0-0 at half time.

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Maggs spoke before the game about how his side were creating plenty of chances but not taking them and if he wasn’t sensing déjà-vu at half time he may have been early in the second half.  Twice from corners the home side should have done better.

First a looping header hit the cross bar, then Alex Powell hit the crossbar with a header, the ball fell to Carl Evans inside the six yard box with a gaping net ahead of him, but somehow he put it wide.

On the hour mark Paul Fowler hit one of his trademark shots form distance, but it was neatly parried away by Richard Powell in the home side’s net. 

Then came the best move of the match, Joe Phillips latched onto a ball down the right and got close to the by-line outside the box, before swinging in a cross that James Newell headed into the top corner.  It was no less than the home side deserved.

Bridgend Street were preparing to bring on Harry Burge before the goal and he came on soon after (joined ten minutes later by Jack Huntley) as the visitors became more direct in search of getting back in the game. Jeff White saw a shot blocked from distance, a Fowler free-kick from 35 yards was pushed wide and Davison saw a header from a corner pushed over.

It looked like the home side had done enough to hold on for the win – but there was to be a late sucker punch. 

An Ynysygerwn free kick in their own box was sent long, Street centre half Dale won it and launched the ball back up field, striker Jeff White, under pressure, did well to hold up the ball and then fed into the path of the on-rushing Huntley who fired home sweetly from 25 yards.

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There was still time for Davison to be denied by the leg of ‘keeper Powell – but it would have been a very undeserved winner.

Visiting boss Craig Dale accepted his side had been lucky to escape with a point. He said,

“Too many had bad games and overall we were poor.  A great strike has salvaged the draw, which we didn’t deserve over the 90.  We had a few early chances and if one goes in it changes the dynamics of the game, but the opposition gave everything and worked hard all over the pitch.  Although we were poor, I still see it as two points dropped – but with a late goal you could say it’s a point gained, too.”

Home boss Maggs was left with mixed emotions, pleased with the performance but disappointed to only get a point. He said,

“It was the story of our season in a lot of ways, plenty of chances, hit the woodwork and then they score an excellent goal. I thought defensively we were doing enough to see the game out, but you switch off for a minute and let the midfield run free and he’s scored a great goal.

“We spoke about keeping Fowler and Davison quiet and certainly I think we were very disciplined in midfield and our defensive lines were good – even though we were missing our captain Tom Phillips. Our midfield dealt with their pair really well.  We only gave Fowler space on about three occasions and he probably played the best three passes of the game when that happened.

“We are confident that we can win every game and I think we showed that against Bridgend Street.”

Maggs was also keen to reflect on a season that has been a massive learning curve for the club, following a rise through the Neath leagues.

“We have a tremendous group of people at the club on and off the pitch and they’ve all committed to it and bought in to what we’re trying to do.

“The key now is to make sure we stay in the league. We’ve got Caerau next week who are one of the big boys, then seven games against teams around us where we need to get the points to ensure we stay in the league and then we can push on. Dai Burrows only joined us after the season started, so it’d be great to go into a second season in the league with him with us for a full pre-season.

“We had a good Welsh Cup run, but it was a double-edged sword. It made a few more people aware of us and how we were trying to play.  We had four wins in that competition – at the moment I’d probably prefer to have had the 12 extra league points – we probably need 10 more to stay up and we want to get them as soon as possible.”

Full Time: Ynysygerwn 1 (Newell 66) Bridgend Street 1 (Huntley 85)

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