Welsh Cup Third Round:

Pontypridd Town 3-1 Haverfordwest County

Haverfordwest County suffered a shock exit from the Welsh Cup at the hands of an excellent Pontypridd Town side which belied their second division status with a deserved victory that halted The Bluebirds’ excellent run of recent victories.

“It was very much a case of After the Lord Mayor’s Show” said one Bluebirds’ fan after their 7-1 away win against Goytre United the previous weekend was followed by this sub-par performance where the experience of Sean Pemberton, Rickie Watts and Matthew Broome was clearly missed at the back.

Ponty are currently second in division two but had loads of experience for this match which was played at the University of South Wales’ headquarters on the Treforest Industrial Estate, with James Hill, Luke Gullick and skipper Scott Hillman vying for the man of the match award.

Hill in particular had a field day on the left for the homesters, setting up chance after chance as The Bluebirds were on the back foot and unable to settle into a pattern of constructive football, with their long-ball efforts dealt with at ease by Hillman, Nyran Bird, Jamal Easter and Zac Iheanacho.

But the visitors had the first chance when a good cross into the danger zone by Alaric Jones saw Roden’s volley fly just the wrong side of the bar and Dan Williams’ low shot was comfortably saved by Ponty keeper David Burnett.

Haverfordwest’s inability to clear periods of pressure resulted in their finding themselves two goals down after the first quarter as a curled ross in from the right by Andrew Smith saw Adam Johns head past a stranded Conah McFenton.

Worse was to follow as a powerful strike by Gullick saw McFenton save well but Adam Johns followed up to net the rebound before The Bluebirds claimed a goal back after Steff Williams won possession, and hurt himself in the process, before the ball fell nicely for Dan Williams’ and his mishit shot bobbled over Burnett and into the net.

This goal inspired Haverfordwest for a while but they gave the ball away too easily and another Hill surge saw his squared ball to Gullick flash just wide of the far post before The Bluebirds almost had the final word but Williams was unable to get the vital last touch to Greg Walters’ slide-rule through ball.

Haverfordwest needed a good start to the second half but were rocked back after Declan Carroll was dispossessed in midfield and a ball into the box allowed home defender Nyram Bird, up for the ensuing set-piece’ to head strongly in the top corner.

Carroll’s long range free kick was comfortably pouched by Burnett and things went from bad to worse as referee Ryan Kenny booked four Bluebirds and then sent off Roden as he was perhaps influenced by some pressure exerted on him by the home players and coaches.

Ponty almost added a fourth after some more careless Haverfordwest play in midfield resulted in Andrew Smith being played in by Aiden Lewis but his shot thudded against the woodwork and was scrambled clear.

Carroll’s trickery provided a late chance for Leahy but the striker failed to get a good contact and the final whistle saw Pontypridd as comfortable winners and in with the chance of playing against Welsh Premier League ‘Big Guns’ in the next round.

Ironically, Bluebirds’ manager Sean Cresser was presented with his ‘Welsh League Manager of the Month’ award for November at half time but one suspects he would willingly have swapped this terrific achievement for a win by his subdued squad!

Pontypridd: David Burnett, Scott Hillman (Capt), Nyran Bird, Zac Iheanacho, Luke Gullick, Jamal Easter, Aiden Lewis, James Hill, Adam Johns, Andrew Smith, Aiden Lewis. Subs: Abraham Cordle, Ellis Bellamy, Daniel Hooper, Matthew Hibbs,

Haverfordwest County: Conah McFenton, Leon Luby, Sam Roden (Capt), Tim Hicks, Alaric Jones, Greg Walters, Dan Williams, Declan Carroll, Kristian Speake, Joe Leahy, Steff Williams. Subs: Nick Jones, Charlie Davies, Fraser Finlay, Jimmy Wilkes.