Ynysygerwn fight back in battle for survival

Ynysygerwn came back from two goals down at Cwm Welfare this afternoon and picked up a valuable point in a relegation battle that looks like it will be going right to the wire.

The Memorial Park ground was bathed in a glorious sunlight for an end of season affair between two sides fighting for their Welsh League survival, that ended with a share of the points after the home side seemed to be cruising to all three.

Ynysygerwn, who have risen through the Neath leagues, had a strong middle of the season after acclimatising to life at a new level, but have fallen away in recent weeks with chances in front of goal not being taken, leaving them watching nervously as others at the bottom have picked up points.

The first half may have felt familiar for manager Nicki Maggs, whose side controlled the ball for the first twenty minutes without really threatening the Cwm Welfare goal.  The opening twenty minutes had a surprising lack of spark for a game of such importance, but perhaps there were nerves on both sides.

It was Cwm Welfare striker Rhys Williams who began providing that spark, causing trouble particularly for Tom Phillips playing at centre half for the visitors.  Twice he beat his man and made inroads into the box, only to fail to make clean connections and fluff his lines.  It should have acted as a warning for Ynysygerwn, but they were nearly caught again on the half hour.

Joshua Roberts was beaten to a through ball by Cwm Welfare ‘keeper Chris Coles, who won the ball with his feet and passed up the line. A ball was played into the channel for Williams, who once again beat Phillips, got into the box but his ball hit the recovering defender and rolled across the goal with no Welfare player following in.

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The let off didn’t last long, the resulting corner cleared but the ball found its way back out left, a cross chipped in and Williams was unmarked around eight yards from goal. He made no mistake with the header.

However, Welfare still weren’t taking the most of their opportunities, shortly after Geraint Williams found himself free ten yards from goal, only to hit angle of post and bar.  The visitors fought back before half time, a 30 yard from Sam Pearson bounced in front of Coles, who didn’t look at all confident dealing with it and somehow the ball spooned over the bar.  On the stroke of half time, Tom Phillips headed over from a corner.

Whatever had been said at half time it was Cwm Welfare who came out sharper, looking to put the game to bed.  Rhys Williams denied by Richard Powell in the Ynysygerwn goal when trying to lift the ball over the ‘keeper under pressure from a defender. But it took only seven minutes from the restart for Welfare to double their advantage, as Gareth Lloyd headed home at the far post following a deep corner from the left.

With Tredegar Town 3-0 up at home to Trethomas Bluebirds, a return to the Neath Leagues was looking a distinct possibility for the visiting side. Their best chance came on the hour when Joshua Roberts latched onto a long goal kick, but he was denied by Coles, as was Ross Morgan on the follow up.

However, it can be the innocuous that changes the tone of these games. Welfare looked in complete control, but only partially cleared a corner to Neil Willis 20 yards from goal. His shot wasn’t particularly powerful, but it went through everyone in a crowded box and into the far corner, Coles unsighted. Two one. Game on.

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It was direct football for the last 20 minutes as Ynysygerwn looked to get the ball into the box.  Lloyd Jones got into the box but couldn’t get a clean shot away. James Newell volleyed true, but Coles was equal to it.

With five minutes to go the visitors got a free kick on half way. Roberts launched long, but possibly too straight. Coles game, but under heavy pressure – from which fouls have been given – couldn’t collect, the ball dropped to Carl Evans six yards out. Two all.

The visitors continued to press for a winner, but Cwm Welfare kept defending with determination, and they couldn’t fashion a chance.

There is no doubt the point does more for the visitors, who have one final game to come against Caerleon, the fourth team in the relegation mix.  With it likely that two teams will be relegated, a point there would surely see Ynysygerwn safe.

Cwm Welfare will look back at this as two points dropped and with Tredegar Town winning the nerves will be jangling at Memorial Park, especially as they now face two tough away games to secure their future, with visits to Llantwit Major and Caerau their remaining fixtures.

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