During this extensive wave of summer conditions it is the perfect time to decide the tight outcomes. Penydarren, looking to boost their chances of lifting the WFL3 title, would face a tough test from 6th placed Panteg in a game that could tip the scales heavily. The Bont Playing Fields was the venue, breezy and overcast was the setting, and three points was the aim for both sides.
With the excitement of the Champions League quarter finals on the minds of all, you wouldn’t expect to see such a large crowd in Merthyr on a Wednesday night; the crowd as usual in welsh football, certainly did not disappoint. Of course the game that they’d all sacrificed was potentially one of the greatest of all time, but who needs that when you’ve got the feisty battle of Christopher Colvin-Owens and Ashley Johnson to entertain your night?
The back-line of Panteg was under constant pressure in the opening 10 minutes with Penydarren preying on their aerial advantage upfront. Both Adam Lewis and Sam Gamble came close in the opening 5 minutes from simple set plays for the hosts. The warnings were there for Panteg, and shortly after the first goal came with the home side taking the lead in the 7th minute through Connor Keating. And it was from poor defending by the visitors you’d have to say. Colvin-Owens, who’d emerged as the clear threat in the opening stages, picked the ball up in space about 25 yards out. He was allowed to chip a ball through to Keating who had lost his man and had acres of space, on the right of the 6 yard box. He took a composed touch to control the ball, and poked it home for a deserved 1 – 0 lead to Penydarren.
The team in front would continue to dominate. Colvin enjoyed being the nightmare that tore apart the away side’s defense – he was good at it too. He was the man responsible for teaching Mark Randall how to fly. The man in between the sticks for Panteg had been superb despite having the clean sheet ripped away early.
As the chances slowed, the physicality increased. Ashley Johnson, the man at right back for the visitors, had decided to put his foot down in an attempt to warn the Pen attack. He put a lunging challenge in to wrong man as it was. Instead of scaring Colvin-Owens, Johnson had only put a target on his back, marked by an eager figure.
Nevertheless, by the end of the half, Panteg were surprisingly on top and came within an inch of equalizing just prior to the break. A long throw in evaded everyone, reaching the back post where Kirk Hicks was ready to pounce on a sure tap in. But the regretful Hicks had not manged to keep his effort down from 8 yards out.
Going into the second, the first half pattern re-emerged where Penydarren began to take control. It became more back and fourth however and until the last 20 minutes, there was really nothing to shout about. Penydarren started to seek counter attacks for the second goal that would put the game to bed. Many chances did come for them on the counter but they couldn’t find the clinical finishing they needed. Could they find themselves regretting their wasteful character in the second half? Panteg were on the up in the last 15 and were banging on the formidable doors of Penydarren. Surely the equalizer would come with patience.
But the title challengers would not be broken in their own back yard and on the 86th minute, the game was wrapped up. The man perhaps most deserved of the goal called upon a moment of audacity and brilliance to score the second five minutes from time. A free kick from 25 yards out for Pen, eyed up by a goal-starved Colvin Owens was cheekily placed in the bottom right hand corner. Mark Randall, who’d had a top class game, had chose his side too early and left where he was originally, an open space for the ball to roll in. Penydarren on the night, had won by two goals to nil, but overall how vital will this win be in the outcome of the season.