Caldicot Town 1-0 Llantwit Major – Connah Hughes the goal-hero as 10-man Caldi hold off Major threat
A resilient performance from Caldicot Town earned them a hard-fought win over Llantwit Major in Welsh League Division Two, despite playing 70 minutes with ten men after Ashley Palmer was sent off.
In a game low on quality and goalmouth action, the red card for Palmer, after two unnecessary yellow cards inside the opening twenty minutes, looked like it might swing the match.
However, Tony Wallis’ side dug deep and scored the only goal through Connah Hughes’ point-blank strike. Caldicot were even allowed the luxury of a penalty miss en route to a win that keeps them 3rd in Division Two.
Going into the game both sides harboured promotion aspirations, but the picture in Division Two is complicated due to the lack of uniformity in the number of games played. This was Caldicot’s 22nd league game, while Llantwit was completing just their 14th league fixture. Caldicot have been around the top three for the most of the season, but realistically they are relying on the sides below failing to take advantage of games in hand.
Major are mathematically genuine contenders and before this game had lost one league game, but fixture pile-up could pose serious problems for the Vale of Glamorgan side.
On a gloriously sunny day in Monmouthshire, there was little between the two sides and with both teams preferring a more direct, longer style of play the stiff breeze was as problematic for the players as anything on the pitch.
In a scrappy first half chances were few and far between. Caldicot could have taken the lead as early as the second minute when Richard Sharrat met a corner unmarked, but his close-range header lacked conviction and presented an easy save for Llantwit Major goalkeeper Jack Lansdown. For the visitors, the dribbling of Connor Goldsworthy seemed the most likely source of inspiration and one his runs presented their first shooting opportunity, Rob Jones firing over from just outside the box.
The big talking points of the first half centred around the sending off of Caldicot Town full back Ashley Palmer for two bookings. The first came in the 11th minute after a wild lunge at Jamie Millar on halfway, that left the Llantwit Major player requiring lengthy treatment.
Palmer was arguably lucky to escape with just a yellow for that foul so when his high foot caught Jonathan Fletcher flush on the face as Fletcher tried to clear a corner in the 20th minute, it was no surprise referee Ben Schofield issued a second booking to end Palmer’s involvement for the day.
While there is no doubt Palmer’s contact with Fletcher was purely accidental and a genuine attempt to win the ball, it was reckless and potentially dangerous; in the circumstances, given Palmer was already on a yellow card, it was arguably an unnecessary challenge to make.
The man advantage allowed Llantwit Major more space and a greater share of possession, but in a toothless display, they were unable to produce the quality required to break down a stubborn and well-organised Caldicot defence. Major huffed and puffed, but the closest they came was a scuffed effort by Rhys Llewelyn that left Caldicot’s stopper Gareth Wesson with an easy save to make.
The second-half was just as scrappy with Llantwit Major continuing to enjoy periods of possession to little success or end-product. Such as the discipline in the Caldicot ranks, the first (and best) effort the visitors could manage was a long-range drive from centre-half Sean Williams. The longer the half wore on, the more confidence grew for the hosts and they increasingly added an attacking threat to their defensive work.
A breakaway eleven minutes into the second-half created a good shooting chance for Garin Withers but he fired wide and in the 69th minute came the decisive moment from the best-attacking move of the match. Controlling a long throw, Richard Sharrat flicked the ball around the corner for the run of Garin Withers, whose low cross picked out Connah Hughes to slide home from six yards. It was the former Torquay United trainee’s first goal for Caldicot Town, on his home debut, and the vigour of his celebration reflected that.
Four minutes later the home side had an opportunity for seal the win when referee Schofield adjudged Darren Robinson to have dragged down Sharrat in the penalty area. Withers stepped up, but his poorly directed penalty was comfortably saved by Lansdown.
There was plenty of endeavour from Llantwit Major as they pressed for an equaliser, but the wide deliveries were meat and drink for their tall and physical centre-backs Matt James and Jacob Guy, while a lack of movement and quality on the ball from Major meant Caldicot were able to see out the game and take the three points without any significant threat to their goal.