Two goals in the final six minutes of the game from Ricky Watts helped Haverfordwest County come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 away at Barry Town United on Tuesday evening.
First half goals from Ollie Hulbert and Evan Press had given the Dragons a two-goal advantage, and they appeared to be heading for victory until Watts – who had been shifted from midfield to wing-back – popped up to score twice from an almost identical position, earning County a valuable point.
It is the second time in four days that the Bluebirds have struck in stoppage time to salvage a point, after Rhys Abbruzzese’s 96th-minute free-kick saw us draw 1-1 with Caernarfon Town on Saturday.
The Town had their opportunities to make life much easier, but were unable to make the right decision in the final third, with the hosts’ three attempts on goal in the first half resulting in the ball finding the net three times – with Kayne McLaggon’s effort ruled out for offside.
County remain ninth for the time being, and will look to record their first victory of the season when they travel north to face newly-promoted Colwyn Bay on Saturday afternoon.
Manager Tony Pennock selected the same starting 11 that began the game against Caernarfon a few days earlier, with the only alteration being a positional one as Dan Hawkins shifted to right wing-back, with Watts taking his place in the midfield.
Haverfordwest County: Jones, Watts, Jenkins, Tabone (C), Borg, Abbruzzese, Owen, Whitmore, Hawkins, Fawcett (H. John 74′), Taylor-Crossdale
Substitutes not used: Knott, Humphreys, Davies, Woodhouse, Williams-Lowe, D. John
It was County who had the first opportunity of the game, as a long pass upfield from Oscar Borg picked out Ben Fawcett, who controlled it well before taking another touch and seeing his shot from inside the area pushed behind by Mike Lewis.
Jordan Cotterill had the Linnets’ first effort on goal a couple of minutes later, and shortly after that the hosts were ahead when a ball into the area deflected off the boot of Lee Jenkins and into the path of Hulbert, who controlled it before shooting past Zac Jones into the right side of the net to make it 1-0.
Steve Jenkins’ side had the ball in the net for a second time five minutes later, however McLaggon was adjudged to be in an offside position before diverting the ball into the bottom-right corner from inside the area.
Within the same minute, the Bluebirds went up the other end of the field and came close to finding an equaliser when Dan Hawkins chipped a ball across the area which picked out Fawcett, who saw his shot from close range blocked by the home defence.
Eight minutes before the break, Pennock’s men had the ball in the net from a free-kick which was conceded by former Bluebird, Jamie Veale, however there was an offside in the build-up and the scoreline remained 1-0.
County were keen to ensure that the deficit remained at just one heading into the break, however in the first minute of time added on, Chris Hugh’s free-kick from the right was met by the head of Evan Press who directed it home to deal a real blow to the Town.
The Bluebirds knew that a quick start after the break would go a long way towards getting them back into the contest, but the first 15 minutes of the second period were relatively low-key, as it took until the 60th minute for Pennock’s men to fashion an effort on goal when Abbruzzese’s effort from just outside the area was gathered by Lewis.
Opportunities were proving harder to come by than they were in the first half, with Barry content to protect their two-goal cushion and the Bluebirds not able to trouble their goal. The game could well have been over with just under 20 minutes remaining when Hulbert broke into the area and headed for the centre of the box, but Jones was able to recover just in time to prevent the forward from having a shot at an unguarded goal.
County continued to push forward, and they came agonisingly close with a quarter of an hour remaining when Martell Taylor-Crossdale’s ball across the face of goal just evaded Hawkins, who was waiting to divert it in from close range.
As the clock continued to tick down, Kai Whitmore – who was impressive throughout – saw his shot from just outside the area narrowly clear the crossbar. Then, three minutes later, the midfielder was involved again, and this time it produced a positive outcome as his left-footed cross flicked the glove of Lewis before finding the unmarked Watts at the far post, and he headed in to halve the deficit and set up a grandstand finish.
The Town now sensed an opportunity to get something from the game and, almost unbelievably, they were able to do just that as in the final minute of stoppage time, Hawkins’ ball into the area was dropped by Lewis before hitting the head of Hugh and landing at the feet of Watts, who was in the right place to sweep it home and spark wild celebrations from the travelling Bluebirds fans on the near side.