Haverfordwest County came from 1-0 down to defeat Colwyn Bay 2-1 at the 4 Crosses Construction Arena yesterday, earning their first victory of the 2023-24 JD Cymru Premier season.
Matthew Hill’s goal early in the second half had given the Seagulls the lead, but the Bluebirds fought back with goals from Kai Whitmore and Martell Taylor-Crossdale – their first in the league for County – handing the Town a deserved three points in north Wales.
Tony Pennock’s men had the better opportunities throughout the game, and could easily have led at the break with Harri John and Whitmore hitting the crossbar and the post respectively.
While the opening goal could have resulted in a different outcome, the visitors were able to regather their composure on a warm afternoon on the north coast, and were able to head back down south with a morale-boosting win.
The result lifts the Bluebirds one place to eighth ahead of next Saturday’s encounter with Newtown at the Ogi Bridge Meadow, in what will be the first meeting between the sides since last season’s European play-off final.
Manager Pennock made two changes to the team that drew 2-2 with Barry Town United at Jenner Park on Tuesday night. One of them was enforced, with club captain Ricky Watts getting married on Saturday afternoon, while Ben Fawcett started on the bench with Iori Humphreys and Harri John coming in to the starting 11.
Haverfordwest County: Jones, Humphreys (Wilson 60′), Jenkins, Tabone (C), Borg, Abbruzzese, Owen, Whitmore, H. John (Williams-Lowe 66′), Hawkins (Fawcett 60′), Taylor-Crossdale (D. John 89′)
Substitutes not used: Knott, Davies, Woodhouse
Whitmore had the first effort on goal after three minutes when he collected the ball after a well-worked move from a corner, with his shot clearing the crossbar.
Playing up front alongside a new strike partner in Dan Hawkins, Taylor-Crossdale had an opportunity to pick out his fellow front man when he was played in and chipped a ball across across the area, but the home defence recovered in time to get a block which allowed goalkeeper Alfie Brooks to gather.
As has been the case in every game to date, Whitmore was heavily involved for the Bluebirds, and he came close to providing an assist on the 18 minute mark when he broke into the area and put the ball across the face of goal, but it just had too much pace and evaded everyone.
The hosts had their first effort on goal shortly after the half-hour mark, as a header from inside the area was easily gathered by Zac Jones.
With the Bluebirds looking for the opening goal before the interval, Whitmore tried his luck from distance with an effort which wasn’t too far away from the goal.
Pennock’s side finished the first half well on top, and in the space of two minutes they came agonisingly close to taking the lead. Three minutes before the break, County worked their into the Seagulls’ area before Rhys Abbruzzese’s shot was blocked into the path of John, who hit a first-time half-volley which came back off the bar before being cleared. Then, a minute later, Whitmore found space to break into left side of the area, allowing him to unleash a shot which hit the right post with Humphreys just unable to get a clean contact on the rebound.
The Bluebirds were keen to ensure that they wouldn’t be made to pay for their missed chances late in the first half, however, with the first real opportunity of note after the restart, the hosts took the lead when a long pass upfield from Brooks was headed into the path of Hill by Jamie Cumming, and his first-time effort beat Jones to find the corner and make it 1-0.
The Town now had a real game on their hands, and Pennock responded four minutes later by making a double change which saw Jack Wilson and Fawcett come on to replace Humphreys and Hawkins, with these alterations also resulting in a change of formation. Kayden Williams-Lowe then came on to replace John shortly after for what was his first appearance in the league for Haverfordwest County.
Having threatened to get back into the contest, County did exactly that with 20 minutes of normal time remaining when a precise through ball from Taylor-Crossdale freed Wilson down the right side, and he rolled a pass across the area which picked out Whitmore at the back post to divert home and set up a grandstand finish.
Although both teams knew that the game was there for the taking, and the next goal was likely to decide the outcome of the contest, neither side was able to fashion a clear-cut opportunity. That was until, with a matter of minutes remaining, Taylor-Crossdale opened his account for the Bluebirds when a corner from Abbruzzese resulted in something of a skirmish inside the area, and after seeing his initial effort blocked, the striker was on hand to poke the ball home at the second time of asking and secure a very welcome victory for the Town.
Player of the Match
(Featured image: Damon Mead)