Pontyclun 0-0 Tredegar Town – points shared in entertaining encounter between two of WL3’s surprise packages

Pontyclun and Tredegar Town played out a goalless draw at Ivor Park in a Welsh League Division Three encounter.

Despite failing to trouble the scoreboard there was no shortage of enterprise from both sides and on another day the sides could easily have shared five or six goals.

The rain and snow during 2018 have hit both sides hard in terms of postponements and between them, they still have 22 games to play this season. However, both still harbour realistic aspirations to finish in the top five of Division Three, while still needing a few more points to make their place in the Welsh League next season a mathematical certainty.

At kick-off both sides hadn’t seen any Welsh League action in weeks: Pontyclun’s last outing coming on March 31st; while Tredegar Town was on an even longer enforced break, their last game taking place on March 24th. Nevertheless, it was the away side that started more assertively amidst warm, sunny spring conditions.

Jack Cullinane showed good footwork to find some space on the edge of the Pontyclun penalty area, but his second minute snap-shot lacked power and direction. The early bombardment by Tredegar saw another chance in the 7th minute, this time Danny Hillman on the end of it but he ballooned his volley from close range over the bar.

As Pontyclun found their feet in the game the chances dried up, although most of the pressing came from Tredgar Town and several set plays failed to yield any further opportunities. Pontyclun’s first foray into the Tredegar defence came in the 22nd minute, Jamie Williams bustling his way towards goal, but his attempted pull-back was deflected for a corner. From this came the home side’s first effort at goal, but Jarrad Hill blazed over from the edge of the box.

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The rest of the half saw the attacking play transfer from end to end. Lewys Cruickshank came closest when his effort on the half hour was cleared off the line by a Pontyclun defender; at the other end, the strength and hold-up play of Jamie Williams continued to cause problems. After bullying some space, his goal-bound shot required the intervention of a defensive block. The home side also felt they had good claims for a penalty after a challenge on Kieran Lawrence, but referee Darren Ould was unmoved.

The second half took its time getting going, but it was Pontyclun who took the early initiative. Jason Bertorelli found space down the left and saw an effort saved, while Joel Woodington was denied a minute later by a smart Angus Lewis save. Tredegar eventually found their groove going forward, a lung-bursting run by Owen Thomas setting up a chance for Cullinane, but James Billington was on hand to save. Centre-back Thomas Jones headed wide from a brilliant Craig Hewitt cross and Cullinane again shot wide when well placed.

As the game entered the final half hour, both managers made changes to try and force the win. Former Cardiff City midfielder Kevin Cooper was introduced for Pontyclun and it didn’t take long for his former class to show, playing a perfectly weighted lofted through ball for Jamie Williams, but the forward’s touch lacked conviction and he was forced wide. Another substitute, Sam Shilton, had Pontyclun’s best chance, heading over from close range after fine work by Joel Woodington at the near post.

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Tredegar Town continued to carry their own threat, James Price forcing a save from Billington off a long free-kick and as the game moved towards the final whistle, it was the visitors that seemed to have the energy and desire to take the points late on. Danny Hillman was denied a tap-in by a last-ditch interception following good work down Tredegar’s right wing. Then in the fourth minute of injury time, one Tredegar’s substitutes found a route to goal but his cross-come-shot drifted across goal with no team-mate there to capitalise.

A point apiece at the final whistle that was no less than each side deserved. Pontyclun and Tredegar Town will meet again in a few weeks, the return fixture at Tredegar Leisure Complex scheduled for Wednesday 2nd May.

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