St Albans take pre-season Welsh League scalp as Ynsygerwn experiment
Preseason, of course, is not about the results but South Wales Alliance Division 2 side St Albans will no doubt gain a momentum boost in beating Welsh League Ynysygerwn 2-1 on Tuesday night.
The ‘Buns’ have had a hectic preseason schedule, with new manager Simon Croker assessing his options, and the commitment of his squad, ahead of a season where he and the club are targeting promotion. On a warm night in Tremorfa Park the home side had only a squad of 12, with several key players missing, but grew into the game to leave the manager with plenty to be pleased about.
Meanwhile, opposite number Nicki Maggs was running the rule over some potential new signings and some young players, fielding three 16 year olds in his match day squad, having lost seven players over the summer break. Maggs is looking for a bit more consistency in his sides’ second season in Welsh League Division Three, having used 34 players during the 2016/17 season.
The Neath side started well, scoring the opening goal after just two minutes as a free kick from 20 yards was played short to the outside of the wall and the low cross was fired home at the near post. At that point, those gathered might have wondered whether this would be a stroll in the park for the higher placed side, but the home side gradually got into the game, utilising an active front three who began to trouble the Ynysygerwn defence.
The home side levelled before half time, as they spread the ball quickly from midfield and used extra pace to get in behind.
Ynysygerwn were trialling a new formation, including three at the back, and uncertainty had begun creeping into their game. In the second half Maggs grew frustrated as his team became too direct for his liking. St Albans were able to nip in again, some ball watching from the defence left Joel Croker free at the back post to nod him a cross from the left.
The visitors worked to get themselves back in the game and dominated the final portion of proceedings, narrowly failing to get on the end of a couple of crosses and denied a penalty that could have been given.
The longer grass and slower roll of the ball meant this was by no means a preseason classic, but both sides got a good work out ahead of a season that is rapidly approaching. For Ynysygerwn, their next test comes against Welsh Premier Aberystwyth Town on Friday night.