Haverfordwest County were unable to make it three consecutive victories in the JD Cymru Premier Play-Off Conference as they were beaten 3-0 by Connah’s Quay Nomads at Deeside Stadium yesterday.
A first-half brace from Callum Morris was added to by a wonder strike from Declan Poole after the break to give last season’s champions all three points.
The Bluebirds battled hard throughout the game, but were ultimately unable to replicate the intensity and energy they showed in the 2-0 win over Barry Town United on Friday.
The result sees County drop down two places to ninth ahead of Saturday’s mouthwatering clash with Cardiff Metropolitan at the Ogi Bridge Meadow, with the Bluebirds needing a victory if they are to reclaim seventh and the final play-off spot for next season’s Scottish Challenge Cup.
Manager Nicky Hayen made just one change to the team from Friday’s success, and it was enforced with the on-loan Jordan Davies ineligible to play against his parent club. Jack Wilson came into the starting lineup in his place.
And Hayen’s team made a decent start to the game, with a good attacking move creating a chance for Ricky Watts, who saw his shot from close range deflected behind for a corner.
Less than 10 minutes later, Henry Jones’ clever ball over the top of the Nomads’ defence played striker Ben Fawcett into space inside the area, but his well-struck effort flew narrowly wide of the left post.
Having gone close to taking an early lead, County suffered a setback shortly after when the hosts were awarded a penalty when Elliot Scotcher was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area. Morris converted from the spot on the half hour mark to put his team ahead.
The Nomads created a couple more opportunities with half-time approaching, as Giácomo Mello saw his shot well saved by Lee Idzi, before Paulo Mendes headed wide from John Disney’s cross.
County were dealt a blow just before the interval when striker Byron Harrison rose highest to win a header from a corner, which he directed into the path of the unmarked Morris who had the simple task of poking the ball in from the goal line to make it 2-0.
Hayen’s side knew they needed a good start to the second-half in order to get themselves back into the contest, but their task was made even harder when Poole collected the ball on the right side before cutting back in onto his left foot and unleashing a curling effort which found the top left corner of the net – leaving Idzi with no chance.
This goal, as expected, took the wind out of County’s sails with the contest all but ended. The Bluebirds knew that finding four goals to turn the game around was always going to be a difficult task, considering the Nomads have only conceded one goal – from the penalty spot – throughout the entirety of Phase Two, with Craig Harrison’s side only letting in 17 goals all season.
The visitors kept on plugging away in search of a consolation goal in the closing stages, as Hayen made use of the bench to give valuable game time to youngsters Iori Humphreys and Alex Worley, while Danny Williams played the final 20 minutes having missed the last couple of games through injury.
Last season’s champions remained resilient to the Bluebirds’ forays forward late on to maintain the clean sheet, as County left empty-handed from their final away game of the season.
Our attentions will quickly turn to Saturday’s game against Cardiff Metropolitan, with both teams – along with Aberystwyth Town and Connah’s Quay Nomads – still in with a chance of finishing seventh. Hayen’s side know that only a victory will do, as well as the result at Park Avenue having to go their way.
The game, which has been selected for live TV coverage by Sgorio, will be free entry for all ages, as we look to end the regular season on a high. We look forward to seeing as many of our supporters at the Meadow as possible to cheer the team on!
Connah’s Quay Nomads: Byrne, Disney, Holmes, Owens, Eardley (Harrington 89′), Mendes, Morris (C), Poole (Mullan 74′), Edwards (Williams 89′), Mello (Insall 85′), Harrison (Curran 74′)
Substitutes not used: Calderbank-Park, Price-Griffiths
Yellow cards: Disney 9′, Mello 59′, Mendes 88′
Haverfordwest County: Idzi, Richards, D. Rees (C), Scotcher, George, K. Rees, Watts, Lewis, H. Jones, Wilson, Fawcett
Substitutes not used: Z. Jones, Le-Grice