Match Review: Pontypridd Town 1 West End 1
Phil Russell was the hero and villain for Welsh League Division Two strugglers West End, who battled their way to an important point against promotion-chasing Pontypridd Town at Ynysangharad Park.
The centre-back headed the visitors in front just before the break, before Danny Hooper restored parity from the penalty spot midway through the second half.
An intriguing contest took another twist just a few minutes later, when Russell was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Ponty predictably dominated possession as the second half wore on, but largely failed to fashion any clear-cut opportunities.
Despite extending their unbeaten home record to five league outings, the result is a setback for Pontypridd, who are now four points adrift of second-placed Briton Ferry Llansawel.
In contrast, having avoided defeat in their last four games, West End are enjoying their best run of the season, and will see this as another point towards safety.
A tightly-contested opening 20 minutes yielded few chances at either end, although West End goalkeeper Ross Greenwood had to be alert to tip an Adam Johns header over the crossbar midway through the first half.
Ponty were made to rue that wasted opportunity just after half an hour, as an unmarked Russell calmly headed home Nicky Parvin’s freekick.
That strike handed the momentum to the visitors, with Ronan Templeton and Dan Burgess firing narrowly over just before half-time, while James Hill forced a smart save at the other end with a speculative effort from distance.
Jerome Begley and Chris Butt both went close to doubling the visitors’ lead after the break, but parity was restored just before the hour, after the referee apparently spotted a handball in the West End box, with Hooper making no mistake with the resulting spot-kick.
The visitors threatened to crumble just a few minutes later, as goal hero Russell was handed a second yellow for dissent.
Ponty pressed, but a breakthrough proved elusive, with Hooper twice coming close during the closing stages, before substitute Aiden Lewis headed Hill’s cross over the bar late on, as the Dragons were forced to settle for a frustrating point.