MATCH REPORT: Ton Pentre 3-3 Cwmamman United

Ton Pentre were denied a first league win of the season after a controversial injury time penalty allowed Cwmamman United to snatch a point in an entertaining 3-3 draw at Ynys Park.

Ton Pentre’s captain Tom Davies was judged by referee Darren Adie to have fouled Cwmamman’s Ashley Curtis as he burst into the home side’s penalty area in the first minute of injury time.

It looked to all inside Ynys Park to have been a perfectly executed tackle by Davies – all except the man in the middle. Ton Pentre’s protests went unheard and Kurtis Rees coolly slotted home the penalty as Cwmamman continued a solid start to their first season at this level, while the home side were once again left to lick their wounds after a late goal denied them victory for the second successive league match.

United arrived in the Rhondda no doubt buoyed by a positive start to the season. Last season their exceptional away record powered their promotion to the first division and their first game on the road this season also came in the Rhondda, defeating Ton Pentre’s rivals Cambrian & Clydach 3-2 last month.

Ton Pentre, meanwhile, went into the game on the back of seven-game winless run in the league (extending back into last season) and without tasting a victory at Ynys Park since March (a run of five home league games).

Ton Pentre started like a side determined to end that barren run; more assertive, physical and direct than Cwmamman, who attempts to build play through midfield passing were shut down by the Bulldogs’ aggressive press and the uneven pitch.

Inside the ten minutes there were a number of half chances the home side failed to make the most of, while a brilliant piece of individual play from Corey Shepherd almost produced the opening goal; after dancing through a couple of challenges his curled effort from outside the box rocked the Cwmamman bar.  However, Ton Pentre wouldn’t have to wait too long for their reward.

In the 9th minute Andre Griffiths’s determination won a corner from the right hand side. Cwmamman failed to deal with the inswinging delivery and when Luke Harries’ weak punch went straight to Nathan Facey on the edge of the 18-yard line, the forward showed wonderful composure to volley home his 3rd league goal of the season.

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Ton Pentre continued to press, there where further chances for Huw Bowtell and Tom Davies, and well-worked corner routine in the 19th minute presented another volleyed chance for Facey; this time his effort was well-blocked.

After such a dominant opening first 20 minutes, Ton Pentre probably should have had more than a one-goal lead. Cwmamman’s threat was there on the counter, especially through the powerful runs of Ashley Curtis.

The right winger created Cwmamman’s first meaningful chance in the 22nd minute. Driving past his opposing full back, Curtis delivered a good cross for Ryan Thomas in the middle. But the midfielder couldn’t quite organise his feet and Ton Pentre’s defence scrambled to snuffle out the threat. Nevertheless the warning was there for the home team if they continued to squander chances.

Five minutes later Cwmamman did punish their hosts. Jordan Vickers received the ball on the left and after turning this way and that, twisting his marker inside out, he was able to cut inside and unleash a shot from 25 yards. Ryan Griffiths was beaten at his inside post and Cwmamman were level.

If you were being critical you would say Griffiths should be disappointed to have been beaten and looked slow getting down and across. In the goalkeeper’s defence, however, the ball did seem to hit a divot and bounce over his despairing dive.

If the equaliser knocked the wind out of the home side’s sails, it didn’t show. Within three minutes they were back in front. Building from the right, Ton Pentre worked the ball into Leon Jacka in a dangerous central position. From the edge of the box his poked finished beat Harries into his left hand corner.

There were little in the way of chances for the remainder of the first half. Jordan Vickers coming closest with another long-range strike after a Cwmamman short corner routine found Ton Pentre napping. This time, however, the left back’s shot was off target. The Bulldogs held firm to take their lead into the break.

The start of the second half saw Cwmamman United the much more assertive team, taking a more direct approach and dominating territory as Ton Pentre were hemmed in deep inside their half for long periods and forced into a sustained rearguard action.

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Gavin Morris took a blow to the midriff when bravely blocking a powerful drive from Colin Harris on 49 minutes. A few minutes later, Harris burst through the heart of Ton Pentre’s defence and just as a goalscoring opportunity looked about to present itself, the home side were able to recover and disarm the attack.

A long throw on 55 minutes presented another half chance for Ashley Curtis, but again desperate defending from the home side saw the effort blocked inside the six yard box.

Then in the 58th minute came the best move of the match. Lovely interplay involving Chris Allen, Harris and Curtis saw the latter played through on goal in the inside right channel.

Curtis fired across goal and beat Ryan Griffiths, but his effort rolled wide of the post. There was also a chance for Allen at the back post, but his effort was kept out by a combination of the post, Griffiths in the home goal and a bit of luck.

Despite being under the cosh and at times looking ragged at the back during this period, Ton Pentre did carry the occasional threat on the counter. Midfielder Andre Griffiths was set through with a clear run at goal, but he couldn’t bring the ball under control and a one-on-one chance with the goalkeeper went begging.

In the 67th minute, the Bulldogs also managed to work an opportunity for the hard-working Sam Small, but he dragged his shot wide and pulled up in the aftermath.

That forced Ton Pentre into their first change with defensive midfielder James Dury introduced for the striker. The tactical switch provided an added shield for the backline, Dury’s disciplined positioning allowing him to break up play and pick off the second balls; his introduction brought about period where Ton Pentre looked like they had weathered the storm.

Cwmamman would find a second wind though with the introduction of Ryan Harlow from the substitute’s bench; his pace and energy provided a new threat and his desire to chase lost causes brought its own reward in the 79th minute.

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Andre Griffith’s loose back pass provided the perfect through ball for Harlow, who beat Ryan Griffiths in the foot race before slotting home into the opposite corner. It was no more than the visitor’s deserved for their second half pressure and was symptomatic of Ton Pentre’s general lack of composure after the interval.

To their home side’s credit, they responded immediately and won a free kick in a central position 20 yards from goal. Leon Jacka’s beautifully disguised low finish found the bottom corner with laser-like precision. Ton Pentre were in front for the third time.

The final ten minutes saw the previous pattern emerge as Ton Pentre retreated to try and hold onto the lead, while Cwmamman picked themselves up again in search of a third equaliser. This time the home side looked more confident, staying compact enough to force Cwmamman to launch long, high balls that Tom Davies was happy to head away time and again.

United’s push forward left gaps at the back and twice Leon Jacka had opportunities to complete his hat-trick and seal the win; Harries also saved brilliantly from Shepherd and there were penalty appeals from the home fans when Jacka went down under a challenge from Harries. It looked soft.

As the match entered injury time it appeared Ton Pentre would hold out for that much needed win. Then came the game’s moment of controversy, when Curtis went down under Davies’ challenge, allowing Cwmamman to level for a third time. Even after that Ton Pentre had chances to win the game: first Jacka fired a free kick wide; then in the fourth minute of added time Huw Bowtell had a headed chance from another Jacka free kick, but the effort was tame and easily saved.

With the full time whistle Ton Pentre were left to rue another late concession, albeit in this instance they had every right to feel aggrieved that victory was snatched away. For Cwmamman that excellent record on the road continues and five points from the first four games represents a decent start to the season.

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