10-man Haverfordwest County were defeated 2-0 by Pontypridd United in the JD Cymru Premier on Saturday evening.
Joe Hunt’s goal gave the hosts the lead after 10 minutes, before Jack Karadogan struck with 17 minutes remaining to secure the victory after midfielder Tyrese Owen had been shown a second yellow card.
The Bluebirds struggled to impose themselves in the first half as the Dragons started well, with Andrew Stokes’ side visibly motivated to end their three-game losing streak in the league. Despite this, County were still very much in the contest, trailing by just one goal at the break.
Tony Pennock’s side were much improved in the second half, and created a couple of good opportunities to get back into the match, but they were unable to take them and ultimately paid the price when Karadogan doubled Pontypridd’s advantage and take the game out of reach for the Bluebirds.
The result sees the Town drop one place to ninth at the half way stage of Phase One, with our focus coming away from league matters for the time being, as we host Baglan Dragons in the JD Welsh Cup at the Ogi Bridge Meadow next Saturday.
Manager Pennock made one change to the side that drew with Cardiff Metropolitan on Tuesday, with Kayden Williams-Lowe coming in for Oscar Borg in defence. Aidan MacNamara was playing at the Ogi Bridge Meadow for the first time after making his debut against the Archers in the week, while fellow defender Lee Jenkins was making his 50th appearance in all competitions for County.
Haverfordwest County: Knott, Williams-Lowe, Jenkins, Tabone, MacNamara (Borg 23′), Abbruzzese, Watts (C), Whitmore (H. John 53′), T. Owen, Hawkins, Wilson (Dyer 86′)
Substitutes not used: Jones, Davies, Humphreys, D. John
The first opportunity of the game fell the way of the visitors, and it resulted in the opening goal as a cross into the area from the right by Luke Cummings picked out Hunt, who looped a header over Ifan Knott to make it 1-0.
The Dragons thought they had doubled their lead eight minutes later when Cummings rolled the ball into an empty net from inside the area, however it was ruled out for a foul on Aidan MacNamara in the build-up, which caused the defender to leave the field and be replaced by Oscar Borg.
The only other moments of note in the first half were a couple of penalty appeals from Pontypridd, both of which were waved away by the referee as the Bluebirds headed into the break a goal down.
County knew that they had to step things up if they were going to get back into the contest, and just two minutes after the restart they had a great chance to draw level when Tyrese Owen managed to get a snapshot away from close range, which was tipped over the bar by George Ratcliffe.
The Town were dealt a blow just minutes later, however, when Kai Whitmore was unable to continue after picking up a knock in midfield. He was replaced Harri John.
This setback didn’t knock the Bluebirds too much, though, and they came close again four minutes later when Borg’s ball into the area picked out Dan Hawkins who diverted it goalwards from close range, but Ratcliffe was there to deny him.
The game was still in the balance as it went past the hour mark, however County were dealt a blow shortly after when Owen was shown a second yellow card following an altercation in midfield, leaving the Bluebirds with 10 men for the remainder of the contest.
To their credit, Haverfordwest County continued to carry a threat in attack, rather than prioritising damage limitation, and they went close just a minute after the sending off when Hawkins’s effort from the edge of the area flew narrowly over the crossbar.
The challenge was made doubly difficult five minutes later though, as the hosts broke down the left flank before a ball into the area from Hunt picked out Karadagon, whose first-time effort found the net to make it 2-0.
The Bluebirds had one more opportunity before the end of the game when Hawkins beat his man before unleashing an effort which was pushed away by Ratcliffe, ending a frustrating night in Treforest for the Town.