The New Saints’ Ryan Brobbel scored a nine-minute second-half hat-trick to condemn Haverfordwest County to a 5-1 defeat at Park Hall on Saturday afternoon.
The Saints had taken a two-goal lead thanks to Leo Smith’s first-half strike and a goal which, provisionally, has been awarded to Blaine Hudson, but will require official verification with numerous bodies surrounding the ball as it was diverted into the net from a corner.
Lee Jenkins’ header then halved the deficit and looked like it would set up an intriguing finale in Shropshire. However, in the blink of an eye, substitute Brobbel struck three times to take the game away from the Bluebirds, who were made to pay in devastating fashion by the champions.
The final scoreline was difficult to take for Tony Pennock’s men, who had battled hard all afternoon and been in the contest for large periods, but were ultimately reminded of the ruthless nature of the JD Cymru Premier.
The result sees County drop down a place to 10th for the time being, with our focus now turning towards ending a two-game losing run when we welcome Connah’s Quay Nomads to the Ogi Bridge Meadow on Saturday.
Manager Pennock made one change to the team from last week’s defeat to Newtown, with Jack Wilson coming in for Iori Humphreys at right wing-back. Ricky Watts returned to the squad to take his place on the bench, while youngster Jacob Owen was named in a senior matchday squad for the first time.
Haverfordwest County: Jones, Wilson (Watts 45′), Jenkins, Tabone (C), Borg, Abbruzzese, T. Owen, Whitmore (H. John 57′), Hawkins, Fawcett, Taylor-Crossdale
Substitutes not used: Knott, Williams-Lowe, Humphreys, D. John, J. Owen
It was the Bluebirds who had the first moment of note in the game when we won possession back inside our own half before a through ball freed Martell Taylor-Crossdale, however, after advancing to the edge of the area, the striker’s shot was blocked before ricocheting off him and resulting in a goal kick.
The Saints then had a few attempts on goal as they searched for the opener, with Brad Young’s effort hitting the side netting before Jordan Williams’ cleared the crossbar and Ryan Astles directed his close-range effort from a corner wide of the right post.
Craig Harrison’s side were on the front foot at this point, and they were able to make their pressure tell after 24 minutes when Smith collected the ball on the edge of the area before opening up space to shoot on his right foot and finding the right side of the net to make it 1-0.
Zac Jones had to be alert three minutes later to push midfielder Dan Williams’ effort to safety, before Smith missed the chance to score a second goal when his effort from inside the area cleared the bar.
County keeper Jones and Young then both saw yellow after an altercation which resulted in the home striker colliding with the Kiwi in the air.
With the interval approaching, Taylor-Crossdale was able to fashion some space to shoot from the edge of the area, however his path to goal was largely blocked and Connor Roberts was able to make a comfortable save.
With the game still very much in the balance as far as the scoreline was concerned, the Bluebirds knew it was important to stay in the fight for as long as possible if they were to take anything from the contest. However, just four minutes after the restart, the Town found themselves two goals down when a corner was inadvertently directed into the net by captain Luke Tabone.
This setback could easily have had a negative impact on Pennock’s side, however, to their credit, they continued to battle away. Jones was called into action to keep the scoreline at 2-0 when his brilliant reaction save from point-blank range denied Young, before Jake Canavan rolled an effort from the right side of the area narrowly wide of the left post.
Then, with just over 20 minutes remaining, Dan Hawkins’ free-kick into the area was met by the head of Jenkins who directed the ball past Roberts and into the left-hand corner to halve the deficit and give County hope.
Unfortunately, despite their renewed optimism, this would prove to be as good as it got for the visiting Blues as substitute Brobbel displayed the kind of clinical finishing that has made him one of the league’s main marksman in the last seven years. First, his free-kick from just outside the area found the right-hand corner, before a delicate lob over Jones found the net after the forward was perhaps slightly fortunate to benefit from a 50-50 challenge with Tabone. He completed his hat-trick by heading home from a matter of yards after the ball had been directed into his path from a corner.
This proved to be the final moment of note in a game which ended in comfortable fashion for the hosts, who eventually made their quality and experience tell after being made to work hard by the Town, who will have to lick their wounds and regather themselves in time for the visit of high-flying Nomads on Saturday.