Haverfordwest County booked their place in the fourth round of the JD Welsh Cup with a 2-0 victory over Ammanford at the Ogi Bridge Meadow on Saturday.
Second-half goals from substitute Ricky Watts and Martell Taylor-Crossdale were enough to seal the win against the JD Cymru South outfit, who made it difficult at times for the Bluebirds.
After a relatively low-key first half, the Town knew they had to go up a gear after the break, and they were able to do just that with the result a fair reflection of how the second period panned out.
We will now wait to discover who we will face in the last 16, with six fellow JD Cymru Premier teams still in the hat, along with a host of JD Cymru North and JD Cymru South teams and a couple of sides from the Ardal Leagues.
Manager Tony Pennock made three changes to the side that beat Colwyn Bay 5-0 last Saturday, with Ifan Knott, Kayden Williams-Lowe and Iori Humphreys all coming in to the starting 11. Meanwhile, on the bench, there was a return for striker Ben Fawcett, who had missed the last few weeks with illness.
Haverfordwest County: Knott, Humphreys, Jenkins, Tabone (C), Borg, Williams-Lowe (J. Owen 45′), T. Owen (Watts 29′, C), H. John, Hawkins (Fawcett 73′), Dyer, Taylor-Crossdale (D. John 87′)
Substitutes not used: Jones
Prior to kick-off, a minute’s silence was observed ahead of Remembrance Sunday, and to also remember former player, Ronnie Rees, who sadly passed away last month. Ronnie played for the Bluebirds at the end of a distinguished career that saw him win 39 caps for Cymru and play more than 300 times in the Football League for Coventry City, West Bromwich Albion, Nottingham Forest and Swansea City.
After a rather subdued start to the contest, the first opportunity of note arrived on the 20 minute mark when Williams-Lowe’s cross in from the left picked out Dan Hawkins, but he was put under enough pressure by the Ammanford defence so that his header went just wide of the left post.
Hawkins was involved again just a couple of minutes later as a cross from the opposite side of the field found the attacker unmarked inside the area, but his header was straight at Luke Martin who was able to gather.
County were forced into making their first change of the afternoon with the half-hour mark approaching, as Tyrese Owen headed off to be replaced by Watts after sustaining a knock.
While he still chasing what will be a deserved first goal of the season, Hawkins’ creative play has been impressive, and he came close to setting up Taylor-Crossdale when his free-kick was headed over the bar by the striker.
The visitors had their first chance of the half shortly before the interval when a through ball played Tristan Jenkins in, with his effort going narrowly wide of the right post.
Lewis Reed has been in good goalscoring form in the second tier so far this season, and he had a presentable opportunity to give his team the lead before the break when he collected Liam Samuel’s cross-field pass and advanced inside the area before directing his shot wide of the right post with the final action of the note before the break.
Pennock made an alteration at the break with Jacob Owen coming on for Williams-Lowe, who had been on the receiving end of a heavy challenge in the first half.
A strong start to the second half was going to be important for either side with the game still tied at 0-0, and it was the Bluebirds who were able to capitalise just seven minutes after the restart when Hawkins chipped a high ball to Jenkins who headed it back across goal and into the path of the onrushing Watts who arrived to head home from a few yards to put County 1-0 ahead.
After Martin had been alert to tip Hawkins’ goalbound corner over the bar, Haverfordwest County doubled their advantage 15 minutes later when Harri John did well to beat his man before rolling the ball to Oscar Borg who laid it off to Taylor-Crossdale, with the striker given time to stop and place his shot from inside the area into the left-hand corner to make it 2-0.
With seven minutes left on the clock, Watts had the chance to double his tally for the day but his header from Jacob Owen’s corner was gathered by Martin.
The Bluebirds’ main focus in the closing stages was on preserving their clean sheet, and they had goalkeeper Knott to thank for helping to do just that when he made an excellent diving save to push Jenkins’ free-kick from just outside the area to safety.