First Team
Cymru Premier Fri 23 February Jenner Park
Barry Town United
Haverfordwest County
  • Abbruzzese (90+6')

A stoppage-time goal from Rhys Abbruzzese earned Haverfordwest County a dramatic late point from a 1-1 draw away at Barry Town United on Friday night.

The Dragons looked to be heading for victory at Jenner Park after an unfortunate own goal from Jazz Richards, but the Bluebirds fought right to the final whistle and got their rewards when Abbruzzese headed home at the far post ensure a share of the spoils, which was probably a fair reflection of a hard-fought contest under the lights.

Kai Whitmore had seen his first-half penalty saved by Mike Lewis, and it appeared as though County were going to pay the ultimate price until Abbruzzese’s late intervention.

The Town are now unbeaten in their last seven meetings with the Linnets in all competitions, stretching back to November 2021.

The result sees the Town remain seventh, and top of the JD Cymru Premier Playoff Conference, with Penybont’s 1-1 draw at home to Aberystwyth Town ensuring the gap between the two teams stays at three points.

BARRY, WALES – 22 FEBRUARY 2024: The 2023/24 JD Cymru Premier league fixture between Barry Town United AFC & Haverfordwest AFC at Jenner Park, Barry, Wales (Pic by John Smith/FAW)
Team news

Manager Tony Pennock made one change to the starting XI, with Luke Tabone coming in for Martell Taylor-Crossdale. On the bench, there was a welcome return to the fold for Oscar Borg.

Haverfordwest County: Jones, Wilson, Jazz, Jenkins, Tabone, Abbruzzese, Watts (C), Shephard, Whitmore, Hawkins, Fawcett

Substitutes not used: Knott, Humphreys, J. Owen, Borg, Taylor-Crossdale

First half

The Bluebirds had the first sight on goal after 9 minutes when Jack Wilson reacted quickly to retrieve a loose ball from his throw-in, before unleashing a well-timed scissor shot which was blocked on its path to goal by the home defence.

Corey Shephard then tried his luck five minutes later when he showed good technique to bring a high ball under his control before unleashing an effort which went wide of the left post.

County continued to be on the front foot as Kai Whitmore showed quick feet to beat his man inside the area, as his effort from the left side of the box took a deflection and went just wide of the right post.

Just a minute later, Tabone’s header from a corner was pushed away by Lewis from point-blank range.

BARRY, WALES – 22 FEBRUARY 2024: Haverfordwest County’s Corey Shepherd and Barry Town’s Lee Lucas during the 2023/24 JD Cymru Premier league fixture between Barry Town United AFC & Haverfordwest AFC at Jenner Park, Barry, Wales (Pic by John Smith/FAW)

The hosts could have gone ahead on the 20 minute mark when Keenan Patten’s cross took a deflection which sent the ball towards the top left hand corner, but Zac Jones reacted well to get across and tip it behind.

The defender then came close to finding the net when his low, driven effort from distance went narrowly wide of the left post, before Jones produced a strong save to push substitute Jordan Cotterill’s effort behind.

Then, three minutes before the interval, the Bluebirds were awarded a penalty when Dan Hawkins was brought down inside the area. However, Whitmore’s spot-kick was saved low down by Lewis, with the midfielder placing his effort over the bar on the rebound as the scores stayed level.

Second half

The Dragons had the first opportunity of the second period when striker Ollie Hulbert’s shot from outside the area went wide of the left post.

Ben Fawcett momentarily thought he had given the Bluebirds the lead seven minutes after the restart, however referee Ben Williams blew his whistle to signal a foul in the build up to the goal.

Having netted two stoppage-time goals on our previous visit to Jenner Park, Ricky Watts could have found the net once more on the hour mark when Abbruzzese’s ball into the area found him unmarked, but the captain saw his effort saved by Lewis.

Having created some presentable chances, Pennock’s men were made to rue not finding the net 10 minutes later when Michael George sent a cross into the area from the right side which was turned into the County net by Jazz to make it 1-0.

The Town were keen to find a swift response, and they could well have done so when a pinpoint diagonal ball from Shephard found Wilson, and he played an inviting ball across the face of goal which managed to evade Fawcett and Hawkins who were both waiting to divert it home.

BARRY, WALES – 22 FEBRUARY 2024: Haverfordwest County’s Rhys Abbruzzese celebrates scoring making it 1-1 during the 2023/24 JD Cymru Premier league fixture between Barry Town United AFC & Haverfordwest AFC at Jenner Park, Barry, Wales (Pic by John Smith/FAW)

Watts then directed his curling effort from the edge of the area over the crossbar as County continued to press for a leveller.

Pennock made two changes with 10 minutes of normal time remaining, as Rio Dyer and Aidan MacNamara came on to replace Wilson and Tabone.

Chances were few and far between in the closing stages, and the drama was only increased when the additional time was not disclosed on the touchline.

With those on the field not knowing how long was left to play, the Bluebirds kept the pressure on, and in dramatic circumstances they got what they were looking for in the 96th minute when a fantastic cross to the far post from Dyer was weighted perfectly for Abbruzzese to run on to it and head home from a matter of yards to spark more late scenes under the Jenner Park lights.