Haverfordwest County opened their 2023-24 JD Cymru Premier season with a goalless draw against Pontypridd United at the Ogi Bridge Meadow.
Both teams had opportunities to find the back of the net in a keenly-contested game under the lights, but eventually had to settle for a point apiece.
An excellent crowd was in attendance to welcome home a Bluebirds side who had performed so admirably on the European stage in the past few weeks, as County extended their unbeaten home record which dates back to October 2022.
Manager Tony Pennock handed league debuts to Luke Tabone, Kai Whitmore and Tyrese Owen, with Tabone taking the captain’s armband on his maiden outing for the Town.
It was County who had the first opportunity to get a shot on goal, as a free-kick into the area landed at the feet of Owen, however he was unable to get the ball out from under his feet in time to get a threatening effort away.
Jack Wilson’s long throw into the area was then flicked on by Lee Jenkins into the path of Ben Fawcett, but the striker’s effort went over the crossbar.
Having played a pivotal role in our European exploits, goalkeeper Zac Jones was again in impressive form. The New Zealand stopper was called into action just before the half-hour mark when Owain Jones collected the ball just inside the area and unleashed a curling effort which was heading for the top right corner, but Jones made an excellent diving save to tip the ball over the bar.
Jones was required for a second time shortly before the break when a scramble inside the area resulted in a looping effort heading on goal before again being tipped over by the Kiwi.
Owen could have given goalkeeper George Ratcliffe a save to make in the 45th minute when Rhys Abbruzzese’s teasing ball to the far post almost picked him out, but it agonisingly evaded the midfielder as the teams headed into the break level.
The visitors had the first opportunity of the second half when a shot from distance shaved the left post, before Jones was denied for a second time by his namesake as Zac reacted sharply to push his shot from close range around the left post.
Just after the hour mark, striker Martell Taylor-Crossdale was introduced from the bench to replace Harri John and make his league debut for the club.
It was the Bluebirds who finished the stronger of the two sides, as Pennock’s men pressed for a late goal, and there was a close call when Jenkins again got on the end of Wilson’s long throw to direct a header goalwards, but Ratcliffe reacted in time to get across and make the save.
Taylor-Crossdale then combined with strike partner Fawcett on the edge of the area to give the latter a chance to shoot on goal, but his effort was pushed away to safety.
This proved to be the final opportunity of note as the Bluebirds got off the mark for the new campaign.
We are back in action next Friday, August 18 when we travel to Bridgend to take on Pen-y-Bont.
Haverfordwest County: Jones, Wilson, Jenkins, Tabone (C), Borg, Abbruzzese, Owen, Whitmore, H. John (Taylor-Crossdale 65′), Hawkins, Fawcett
Substitutes not used: Knott, Humphreys, Uddin, Davies, Woodhouse, D. John
Yellow card: Whitmore 90+3′
Pontypridd United: Ratcliffe, Davies, Williams-Margetson, Knott, Williams, Shephard, Ahmun, Wright, Jones, Pritchard, Green (C)
Substitutes not used: Morris, Vaughan, Jackson
Yellow cards: Shephard 35′, Green 64′