Bluebirds miss out against lowly Cwmbran Celtic

Super Wilson volley saved

JD South League:

Haverfordwest County 2 - Cwmbran Celtic 2


Referee: Teifion Cook

Assistants: James Shells and Tom Bateman


Men of the Match: Nicky Palmer (first half) and Jack Wilson, closely followed by Ben Fawcett and Tim Hicks.


For 44 minutes Haverfordwest County looked like a side vying for top spot whilst opponents Cwmbran Celtic were playing like a team in 13th spot out of the 16 clubs in the section – but then The Bluebirds gifted the opposition a goal to cut their lead to just one goal after two earlier strikes by Ben Fawcett.

Good defence by Cwmbran Celtic

Haverfordwest then had the strong wind in their favour after the break and for 20 minutes dominated territorially but failed to turn pressure into goals before Cwmbran battled back, as a couple of half chances and then the gift of an equaliser when keeper Kelland Absolom brought down Andrew Larcombe when the striker was running away from the goal and with little danger of a shot on target.

Up stepped Celtic midfield Rakesh Patel to slam home the spot-kick and although The Bluebirds had a good chance missed by Gwion Howell they had to settle for a draw.

Even worse for Wayne Jones and his squad came after the game when Swansea University, a point ahead of them at the top, appeared to be likely to lose against Pontypridd Town but grabbed a 96th-minute goal to stay in front.

An early aerial battle

Bluebirds start well . . . but concede a soft late goal

Early on Jack Wilson created the first real chance as he turned his marker on the left, cut across the Celtic box and fired just wide of the far post – and at the other end Tom Meechan tried a low drive which Absolom comfortably dealt with. Nicky Palmer, playing really well in midfield, put Marcus Griffiths away down the left flank but the striker’s shot lacked power and Celtic keeper Lewis Watkins spread himself well to block the danger.

Home fans were up on their feet to cheer a goal as Kieran Howard’s free kick was headed goalwards by Tim Hicks but somehow Watkins flung himself to his left to make a wonderful save.

But a Bluebirds’ goal was bound to come and after 34 minutes an inch-perfect Palmer through ball allowed Ben Fawcett to fire a powerful low shot that gave Watkins no chance.

Within six minutes some good work out wide by Harri Rowe and Marcus Griffiths out wide allowed Fawcett to try a shot and it had enough on it to fool Watkins as it went in at the near post through the keeper’s legs.

Perhaps Haverfordwest were collectively thinking of a warming break in the changing room but a careless foul allowed Alex McDowell to float in a free kick which was nodded down by defender Niall Yeates for Meechen’s final touch to reach the net.

Haverfordwest restart well but fail to score . . . and pay the price

With the elements in their favour The Bluebirds dominated the third quarter as they launched in a series of corners and long throws but were unable to add that final blow as Watkins also pulled off a finger-tip save from a terrific volley by Jack Wilson.

The warnings were there as Cwmbran absorbed the pressure and started to play the ball along the floor, with replacement Callum Wareham able to force Absolom to push his drive over the bar – and a header from Meechen going just wide of the upright.

And then came that vital moment when Larcombe was brought down and Patel blasted the ball home.

The Bluebirds did manage a clear-cut chance as Wilson chipped a clever ball to the unmarked Gwion Howell but his header was misdirected and the Bluebirds had to settle for a draw when a win would have put them back in top spot.

Bluebirds’ manager Wayne Jones: “Of course I’m hugely disappointed because at 2-0 we were playing well but we gave away a 45th minute goal and lost our shape after the interval, especially when they scored their penalty.

“I told the players that home matches against teams 11 places below us are ‘must win’ – but with eight matches left we are still very much in with a shout of promotion so we hope we will be back at full strength soon for that necessary late drive!”

Haverfordwest County: Kelland Absolom:  Jake Merry; Tim Hicks, Scott Tancock (Capt); Harri Rowe:  Jack Wilson; Kurtis Rees; Kieran Howard; Nicky Palmer: Ben Fawcett; Marcus Griffiths. Subs: Steve Hall; Cory Saunders; Gwion Howell; Kieran King.

Cwmbran Celtic: Lewis Watkins: Ben Jones; Niall Yeates; Dion Molyneux; Josh Hinwood: Rakesh Patel; Alex McDowell; Jai Johnson Jnr; Tom Neville: Tom Meechan; Andrew Larcombe. Subs: Lewis Sommers; Sam Powell; Callum Wakeham; Owen Cook.

Ben Fawcett - always a threat

Ben Fawcett - always a threat