Under the floodlights of old road on Friday night, a derby was set. Derbies are always unpredictable, especially when Neath and Port Talbot based sides come together. For this one, Briton Ferry Llansawel hosted Goytre United…
Briton Ferry came into this one siting 12th in the table with two games in hand on, and only four points off 7th place Goytre United. But sometimes, derbies aren’t about where you are in the table. They are about pride. That’s why this one was particularly entertaining.
Goytre Utd kicked off in their blue and black while the hosts were in their all red home kit. In front off a nice, equal and fairly loud crowd for a Friday night, the game began. We hadn’t even played 10 seconds and with no more of a fitting start, there was a crunching tackle, but an illegal one. This foul in the first 10 seconds was the first of many all the way to the 90th minute.
In the first 10 minutes it looked like a game in which there were to teams desperate not to lose. Chances were low and the only way you would get one, was to be alert to any errors. Tom Walters in blue latched onto the first and one of the last errors of the night from Briton Ferry, and he found himself one on one with the keeper. But Conah McFenton in goal for the reds was able to deny the Goytre man with a good block with his body. Needless to say, but you have to take those chances in a derby like this.
After that, it was a back and forth, open and physical 20 minute spell with no clear chances, but the supporters always had something to shout about. Every foul created an echo of screams towards the ref coming from every direction – this was a proper local derby.
After 30 minutes of little chances, little errors but too much football you could say, you realised that it would take something special to break the deadlock. And what a man to do it. A corner on the left saw an in-swinging ball met perfectly by the head of the 6ft 4 giant, Lee Bevan. The man who last year lead Llanelli Town to the WPL as their skipper rose to the occasion quite literally and lobbed the keeper and a man on the line with a wonderful header to put the home side ahead on the 33rd minute. The half time whistle blew 12 minutes after and it was 1 – 0 to Ferry at half time.
So what would the second half entail? Goytre United hit back at the Briton Ferry defense with intent and confidence all through the second half. They dominated possession in the last 20 especially. But before that Briton Ferry had a spell which held a few chances to put the game to bed. However, they struggled to do that and the visitors grew in confidence even more. This was shown when Zac Brown shot from 40 yards out in an ambitious free kick that struck the inside post and so almost went in. It would have been one contender for goal of the season.
It was then all Goytre United. Ferry only had the ball to clear it and to counter. For the last 10, Goytre United had at least 8 players in the Ferry half at all times. Ferry had a couple of opportunities on the counter and they should have scored at least one considering that they were mostly 3 on 2 situations. They were wasteful and could have regretted that, because Goytre United could have so easily been level. Tom Blackburn had the ball on the edge of the area and struck it well with his right. But the crossbar was left shaking after the ball ricocheted off it and off the line as well.
Unfortunately for the men in blue, that was the closest they came. They put 9 players in the box at one point but from a defensive point of view, Ferry were brilliant. It could have been 3 – 3 or 4 – 4 but on the night only one went in, and it was the decider.