First Team
Cymru Premier Fri 29 March USW Sport Park
Pontypridd United
Haverfordwest County
  • Abbruzzese (88')

Rhys Abbruzzese’s successful penalty with two minutes of normal time remaining gave Haverfordwest County a valuable 1-0 victory away at Pontypridd United on Good Friday.

With 88 minutes on the clock, substitute Iori Humphreys was brought down inside the area by Dragons goalkeeper Ashley Morris, and Abbruzzese made no mistake from 12 yards to clinch a dramatic and priceless victory in Treforest.

The Bluebirds had been the better side throughout the contest, and should arguably have been ahead much earlier in the game, but Tony Pennock’s side weren’t able to convert their good play into goals.

The Town showed the greater attacking initiative at the USW Sport Park, and were ultimately rewarded with what was a second victory in as many games, after the win over Aberystwyth Town a fortnight ago.

The result sees County extend our lead over eighth place Penybont to three points with three games remaining, after the Bridgend side were held to a goalless draw away at Barry Town United on Friday afternoon.

Team news

Manager Tony Pennock made one change to the side that defeated the Seasiders last time out, with Luke Tabone – who missed the victory through suspension – coming into the side for Dan Hawkins, who was left out as a precaution. The substitutes bench included Jacob Owen and Fletcher Picton, who had both played 45 minutes in Haverfordwest County Development’s 3-0 victory over Merthyr Town the night before.

Haverfordwest County: Jones, Wilson (Humphreys 57′), Jenkins, Tabone, Borg, Abbruzzese, Watts (C, Dyer 65′), Shephard, Whitmore, Fawcett, Taylor-Crossdale (Carroll 90′)

Substitutes not used: Knott, J. Owen, John, Picton

First half

The Bluebirds started on the front foot, and created a glorious chance to open the scoring after just two minutes when Jack Wilson’s long throw down the right touchline gave Ben Fawcett space to break forward, and the striker played a ball across goal which found captain Ricky Watts at the far post, but his effort came back off the left post from a matter of yards out.

Pennock’s men had a second opportunity to open the scoring after 10 minutes when Abbruzzese’s corner to the far post picked out Fawcett who, under pressure, headed just wide of the left post.

Jack Karadogan had the hosts’ first effort five minutes later when his effort from just outside the area comfortably cleared the crossbar.

County kept the pressure on inside the opening 20 minutes, and they again came close when a clearance from the home side fell into the path of Watts and, from just outside the area, his first-time effort whistled narrowly wide of the left post.

Three minutes later, home stopper Morris was called into action when Wilson’s long throw into the area was met by the head of Lee Jenkins who sent a glancing header goalwards which was tipped over the bar.

Second half

The message at half time will have been to come out and play with the same purpose that was on display in the first half, and 10 minutes after the restart County won possession back in midfield before a through pass looked to have played Wilson in, however Morris came off his line just in time to smother the ball and prevent a clear-cut chance.

In this action, Wilson collided with Morris and was unable to continue, with Humphreys coming on in his place.

Four minutes after the hour mark, Pennock turned to his bench for a second time when Rio Dyer was introduced in place of Watts.

The Bluebirds weren’t as threatening as we had been in the first half, with the Pontypridd defence closing down the majority of our openings going forward, but nevertheless it was the Town who looked likelier to create something in attack.

The contest appeared to be meandering towards a stalemate, with much of the Bluebirds’ focus being on ensuring they would return west with at least a point, however with the 90 minute mark approaching there was a late twist as a pass over the top from Dyer was perfectly weighted for Humphreys, who brought the ball down on his chest and broke free of Ethan Vaughan before advancing to the byline where he was brought down by a sliding challenge from Morris.

This gave Abbruzzese the chance to be the hero once more for County, and he duly obliged as he sent the ball to Morris’ right and into the net to secure our first top-flight victory at the USW Sport Park.