Bluebirds beaten - and miss out on top-six elite spot

Kieran Lewis breaks for Haverfordwest County

JD Cymru Premiership Division:


Penybont 2 - Haverfordwest County 0

After a terrific first half of the season in the top echelon of Welsh domestic football Haverfordwest County missed out on an elite top-six place as they conceded the double against Penybont.
The Bluebirds had lost 4-0 at home but went into this match with high hopes, despite the absence of key players in club skipper Sean Pemberton, who has led the team so well of late, and new recruit Jazz Richards – but suffered a blow when they lost keeper Matthew Turner in the first half and although they had an adequate replacement in Wojciech Gajda it must have affected their play.
The defeat was perhaps made even worse by the fact that Caernarvon, the other team in danger of missing out, lost 4-1 at New Saints but could heave a sigh of relief as they heard the score from the SDM Glass Stadium in Bridgend.
It was at the start of the six minutes added on for Turner’s injury that the home side opened their account and they doubled their advantage after 59 minutes from a long-rang shot by Mael Davies

Pre-match equations evident as The Bluebirds knew the challenges

For Bluebirds’ manager Wayne Jones and his squad the pre-match equation was easy to work out – they needed to ease through against Penybont and then hope that New Saints would do them a big favour by beating Caernarvon, who would then find themselves in the bottom half for the second half of the season.
Alternatively, Haverfordwest County could beat Penybont by at least three clear goals and guarantee an amazing spot in the elite end of the table for the remainder of the campaign, no matter what other scores came through.

Cagey start as the teams tested each other out

With the result meaning so much in both camps perhaps it was the tension that saw an uneventful first ten minutes as the teams sounded each other out but then Penybont had the first half chance as skipper Kane Owen found Kostya Georgievsky, but the striker’s low drive was blocked by Alaric Jones.
At the other end Danny Williams had the first sniff of a 17th-minute chance as he drove into the area but a Jefferies tackle gave The Bluebirds a corner which came to nothing – and two minutes later an Owen corner found Lewis Harling but this time it was Scott Tancock who made the timely intervention.

Bluebirds’ body blow as Turner leaves injured

Summerfield and Williams set up the chance for a Ben Fawcett volley but the ball was well-covered by home keeper Ashley Morris but The Bluebirds suffered a blow as their young goalie Matthew Turner was injured in a collision with Owens and despite six minutes of treatment from physio Ben Ventura and Dr Richard Thompson had to be helped off the pitch with shoulder ligament damage, with Gajda on to replace him.
Ironically, it was at the start of that extended period of play that Penybont scored that vital first goal as Owens took a corner on the left and big striker Sam Snaith headed downwards in a packed six-yard box and Gajda saw it late and could only parry it into the top corner of his net!

Davies’ magic seals Penybont’s success

Elliot Scotcher can not hide his disappointmentHaverfordwest knew they needed to pick up the tempo after the interval and Ben Fawcett put in a typical thrust that had danger written all over it, only for Mael Davies to get back and cover.
Penybont threatened again from an Owens’ free kick but this time Gajda did well to push Snaith’s overhead-kick attempt onto the bar – and a route one clearance by Penybont keeper Ashley Morris gave Nathan Wood a half-chance but his shot was mis-hit and easily saved by Gajda.
But the Bluebirds’ keeper could do nothing in the 59th minute when some midfield magic by Mael Davies ended up with a low drive from 25 yards which found the net at the far post for a high-quality piece of play

Bluebirds now look forward to more matches

Wayne Jones tried to inject some pace into this formation with changes but although Ben Fawcett never stopped running and had appeals for a penalty turned down by excellent referee John Jones, there was no denying that Penybont were the better team and deserved their top-six place that will have delighted manager Rhys Griffiths.
So Haverfordwest County end up seventh, seven points ahead of Aberystwyth and 14 points in front of the bottom two teams.
Their start to the new phase of play begins with an away match against Cefn Druids next Saturday (10th April) followed by a home derby against old rivals Aberystwyth under the Bridge Meadow lights the following Tuesday (13th April).
Wayne Jones:
Haverfordwest County manager Wayne Jones spoke to straight after the match and told us:

“If I’m being honest I thought we didn’t turn up today as Penybont outgunned us so we can have no complaint about the result, and news of Caernarvon’s thumping at New Saints somehow made it worse.

“But we were missing key players, including Jack Wilson with a lengthy absence, so have done really well this season – and apart from scoring from a free header and a shot from distance they certainly didn’t over-run us.

“We know our new fixtures now and will be up for the challenge next Saturday.”
Rob Edwards:
Bluebirds’ new chairman was able to attend the match and afterwards said,

“I thought we didn’t play well in the first half and it was a sickener to concede such a late goal from a set-piece but were certainly better after that – although they were more clinical and street-wise than we were.

“But we have done really well this season and so it is onwards and upwards for a terrific manager, coaching staff and players, as well as the marvellous back-room team we have built – and I am really looking forward to being able to watch our next three matches as we go again.”
Penybont: Ashley Morris: Daniel Jefferies; Matthew Harries; Oliver Dalton: Matthew Davies; Lewis Harling; Nathan Wood; Ashley Evans; Kane Owens: Sam Snaith; Kostya Georgievsky.
Subs: R. Wilson; B. Borge; L. Charlton; M. Jones-Thomas; C Davies; I Yakubu; R Stevens.
Haverfordwest County: Matthew Turner (Wojciech Gajda 28 mins): Daniel Summerfield; Scott Tancock; Alaric Jones; Trystan Jones (Marcus Griffiths 55 mins); Cameron Keetch: Elliott Scotcher (Captain), Corey Shephard; Kieran Lewis (Kurtis Rees 75 mins): Danny Williams: Ben Fawcett. Sub: Nicky Palmer.
Referee: John Jones.
Assistants: Johnathon Beebee-Bryant & Bryn Jones.
Fourth Official: Ryan Kenny.
Observer: Ray Ellingham.