STM Sports 2-0 Pontypridd Town: Gardiner’s men make big statement after top two win
STM Sports strengthened their grip on top spot by beating second-placed Pontypridd Town at Llanrumney University Fields.
It’s revenge for STM after Pontypridd won the reverse fixture 6-1 back at the USW Sport Park on December. It now provides a nine-point gap for the St Mellons side.
STM Sports had the earliest opportunity at goal, Ashley Park swung the ball in and Lamin Conteh headed over the bar from close range. Pontypridd had their own opportunity as the ball was played over the top, with Adam Johns trying to loft it over the keeper, but instead, it hit the side netting.
The home side was dealt with an early blow as they made two substitutes in the twentieth-minute mark, both due to injury. Lamin Conteh and Josh Graham were replaced by Jordan Francombe and Callum Bateman.
Chris Worsley attempted to catch Callum Meyer out with a speculative effort after attempting a long-distance shot, but fortunately for the Dragons stopper, it sailed just over the bar.
Pontypridd had their best chance of the half when Danny Hooper delivered in a well-driven corner to Scott Hillman who hit a powerful shot at goal but Chris Hajgato cleared it off the line.
Callum Meyer ensured the game would go into the half-time level as he denied Callum Bateman and Joel Queni. Bateman hit a shot outside the box which Meyer parried, before denying Queni on the rebound at the near post with a good save.
As the second half resumed, the game had its first breakthrough. A corner was flown into the box from Chris Worsley and Joel Queni bundled the ball over the line before Pontypridd cleared, but the linesman saw enough to give STM the goal.
Pontypridd had the opportunity for an immediate response after Hooper dallied past the defenders, but put his shot over the bar. Dale Gardiner’s men were certainly enjoying the second half, after being second fiddle in the first half.
Meyer was forced into action, Worsley attempted a long-range shot just over half way with Meyer tipping it behind, to avoid being caught out. He then denied Worsley again, as he dived down low to deny the STM attacker for an easy finish, claiming the ball on the second attempt.
The Broads went attacking as they sought an equaliser, Zac Ihenacho came off and was replaced by attacker James Hill. Jamal Easter and Gavin Beddard later came on to change things.
Chris Golton had to be on high alert to deny Pontypridd’s Danny Hooper as he hit a thunderous shot at goal, palming it away from goal.
Pontypridd kept peppering Golton’s goal with a number of chances. Danny Hooper saw his free-kick whistle just past the post. The Dragons very nearly levelled things, but before an import clearance by Michael Nessbert.
Bobby Briers put a cross into the box which Golton punched to, but Beddard headed in and Nessbert headed it away. Beddard went close again after Briers launched a throw into the box, hitting the post.
Despite STM suffering a number of scares, they had the chance to double their lead. Nyran Bird was yellow carded after pulling back Bateman in the box, denying him the opportunity to shoot. Bateman stepped up with a small run-up before calmly putting away the penalty.
After the goal, Pontypridd had one last chance, where Beddard hit a strike from off the floor, but Golton denied the experienced frontman, making another important save at the near post.
(Featured Image: Mike James)