Haverfordwest County 0 Swansea University 1
Bluebirds’ manager Wayne Jones and his coaching staff must have been scratching their heads when pondering over the events of this important top of the table clash. Almost from the off, the Bluebirds took control of the game and much of the first period was played in the Swansea University half with several good chances being created.
Kieran Howard had the first sight of goal, the midfielder getting on the end of Ben Fawcett’s cross from the right but his effort took a deflection and flew over the crossbar. Minutes later Harri Rowe’s cross from the left caused danger in the box and again Howard fired over the bar.
On two occasions in the first quarter of the game the students did look dangerous when breaking quickly. Once from a corner, Absalom in the home goal seemed to misjudge an awkward looking cross and again In the 26th minute the visitors carved out another decent chance. Ahmed Sayes struggled with Scott Tancock and the striker unselfishly squared to Airon Sobers-Assue whose shot was well saved by the home keeper diving to his left. Minutes later at the other end, visiting ‘keeper Luke Martin pulled off a stunning save to deny Fawcett who struck a wicked shot goal bound from close range. Indeed Martin’s Man of the Match performance was crucial when denying the Bluebirds’ strike force on several occasions.
On 38th minutes there was more chaos inside the visitors’ box where the often dangerous Miles John somehow missed an opportunity from inside the six-yard box. As the first half drew to a close, several half chances went begging in opposition territory.
In the early stages of the second half the Bluebirds continued to play positively though no real chances were forthcoming until the 53rd minute when the hosts were awarded a penalty. A good run by Marcus Griffiths resulted in the striker being taken down inside the box however, his spot kick rebounded firmly of the upright and clear of any danger.
The students acknowledged that lucky let off and they started to push forward with greater urgency. It was following one of their forays into the Bluebirds’ penalty area that things appeared to go belly up for the home team. On the hour mark, home skipper Sean Pemberton gained possession on the edge of his box and was working his way up field when a slight loss of control saw him clash with the visitor’s burly Oliver Roberts. He went to ground, won back the ball only for referee Richardson to adjudge it as dangerous play. The red card looked a very harsh decision by many but the Blues were down to 10 men.
The complexion of the game immediately changed and from the resulting free kick, William Toms received the ball in the penalty box and his cross into the 6 yard area was unluckily guided into the back of the net by home central defender Scott Tancock. Wayne Jones introduced the experienced Nicky Palmer and the 10 men of the Blues worked hard to get the equaliser and more chances were created. However, Luke Martin remained solid in the student’s goal.
Sadly, in the closing minutes of the game, home midfielder Jack Britton was given a second yellow card for an unfair tackle which saw the Bluebirds finishing the game with 9 men.
This was a smash and grab win for Swansea University who now move one point in front of the Bluebirds in the promotion race. Of course this outcome was a disappointing one but Wayne Jones and his squad can travel to Swansea for the return fixture in a month’s time in the knowledge that they are well capable of reversing this disappointing and unfortunate result. Sadly, that harsh red decision sees skipper Pemberton missing three matches and Britton will miss next Saturday’s game.
On Saturday, 8th February, Haverfordwest County entertain Cwmbran Celtic at the Bridge Meadow Stadium, kick off 2.30pm.
Haverfordwest County: Kelland Absalom, Miles John (75 Jack Wilson), Harri Rowe, Sean Pemberton (Captain), Kieran Howard, Scott Tancock, Ricky Watts, Jack Britton, Ben Fawcett (60 Nicky Palmer), Marcus Griffiths (85 Corey Saunders), Tim Hicks.
Substitute not used: Jake Merry, Steve Hall.