Llantwit Major 3-1 Pontypridd Town – Sam Snaith stars as Major sink Dragons amidst controversy
Sam Snaith’s first half double helped ten-man Llanwit Major to a crucial win over Welsh League Division Two promotion rivals Pontypridd Town at Jenner Park.
This victory moves Llantwit Major above Pontypridd into third place, level on points with Ammanford and six behind leaders STM Sports.
While Llantwit Major were deserved winners on the balance of play and chances, Pontypridd were aggrieved with the controversy around Major’s second goal shortly before half-time. Goalkeeper David Burnett’s free kick struck a Major player that appeared to be less than ten yards away, the rebound falling kindly for Snaith who prodded the ball into an empty net.
Snaith’s opportunism added to an earlier acrobatic strike, which was quickly cancelled out by Ponty forward Andrew Smith. Josh Jones added Major’s third goal early in the second before receiving his marching orders for violent conduct. Despite player over forty minutes with ten-men, Major produced a display in keeping with their record boasting Division Two’s meanest defence.
The result is not decisive for either side with so many games still to play, but further enhances Major’s promotion credentials, while there will be concerns at USW Sports Park about Pontypridd’s recent poor away form. The Dragons have now lost three consecutive games on the road.
In a fast-paced, end to end opening twenty minutes both sides had chances to break the deadlock. Inside two minutes Josh Jones’ pace carved open the Pontypridd backline and from his low cross Anthony Rawlings somehow side footed wide from a couple of yards out. At the other end, a Dan Hooper corner caused havoc but Gavin Beddard failed to keep down his half volley at the back post. Luke Gullick produced a characteristic charge down the right flank, his pull back found Matthew Hibbs in space but he dragged his effort wide.
The closest to an early goal arrived in the Ponty penalty area. From a long Darren Robinson free kick, Sam Snaith’s deflected header forced a superb acrobatic save from Burnett, whose touch pushed the ball onto the post and away from goal.
Snaith was not to denied though and he got his first goal shortly after the half-hour. A corner from the Major left was cleared only as far as the edge of the area. With his back to goal, the young centre forward produced an athletic overhead finish that beat Burnett and the defender on the line.
With their first attack from the restart, Gullick again beat his marker and from the byline picked out Smith; the forward made no mistake, sliding the ball across Ben McCrum and into the far corner. As half-time approach both sides seemed happy enough to go to half-time all-square until Snaith’s controversial second gave the home side a narrow lead at the interval.
From a Pontypridd corner, Major broke through midfield, Connor Goldsworthy’s pass releasing Josh Jones, who pace was too much for Zac Iheanacho and the winger finished calmly when one on one with Burnett.
Snaith should have completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute, but his attempt at a nonchalant finish from another excellent Goldsworthy delivery produced only a tame effort easily saved by Burnett. From Burnett’s clearance the game turned on another flashpoint. A clash between Josh Jones and Aiden Lewis in midfield saw referee produce a red card for Jones after consultation with one his assistant referee. Jones’ retaliation to Lewis’ challenge deemed violent conduct by the officials; a poor end to an otherwise outstanding performance by the winger.
The game took on the expected pattern of Llantwit sitting deep, with forward Rawlings drafted into a more defensively minded midfield role, while Pontypridd dominated possession. However, the Dragons never really made their extra man count, too often showing impatience with the ball and lumping speculative balls forward. Meat and drink for Sean Williams in a dominant aerial display at the back for Llantwit Major.
Such was Llantwit’s control in their defensive effort Pontypridd didn’t register a meaningful effort on goal until the 83rd minute, substitute James Hill forcing a rare save out of McCrum and Luke Gullick had a header that threatened to drift inside the back post cleared in injury time. However, these chances were few and far between on day in which Pontypridd’s attacking play lacked its usual fluency.