BARRY TOWN 2 PONTARDAWE TOWN 1
BARRY TOWN travel to play bottom-placed Goytre United on Saturday (2pm), wary of evading another of the slip-ups that have undermined their MacWhirter Welsh League title challenge.
A welcome 2-1 win over Pontardawe Town at the weekend saw Gavin Chesterfield’s side climb to third, yet were it not for nine points dropped against newcomers Caerleon and Tata Steel (who comprise the remainder of the bottom three), the Dragons would find themselves on top of the pile.
Goytre United endured a trying visit to Jenner Park earlier this season, succumbing to a hefty 7-2 defeat that hastened the departure of manager Derek Brazil.
However, Glenhafod Park has traditionally proven a testing battleground for Barry sides and Saturday’s match is expected to be little different.
Having suffered consecutive losses either side of Christmas, Barry bounced back with gusto against Pontardawe; Chesterfield making a handful of tactical changes that proved both astute and effective.
Captain Dan Clare and Lewis Cosslett were rested at the back, with the returning Ryan Evans coming in for namesake Ryan Dorrian, and Dale Howarth earning a start after an energetic outing as substitute at Tata the previous weekend.
Nickie Jones, who has entered some vintage performances this season, resumed his midfield duties, while top scorer TJ Nagi led the line for the first time since picking up a knock against Haverfordwest County in December.
Prior to kick-off, Barry Town hero Charlie Dyke was remembered by today’s players and supporters - with Barry turning out in their old-style green strip as a nod of respect.
A special programme cover had also been issued in honour of the 1955 Welsh Cup winner, who turned out over 500 times for the team.
Bolstered by extra support from visiting Port Talbot Town fans with a free weekend, Barry started with a greater confidence than in recent outings - and capped a decent first-half display with a timely opener from Michael Hartley.
In spite of the cold, the hardy regulars and travelling nomads in the grandstand provided quite the atmosphere – though their spirits were dampened around the hour mark when Pontardawe struck back with an equaliser from Chris Allen.
It was, however, to be Barry Town’s day – the contest settled late on in their favour by an inspired and impact-making substitution, as Barry boy Lee Baldock proved the difference maker.
Arriving in place of Hartley, Baldock had limited time to make his mark, yet demonstrated quickly his quality and knack for conjuring up important goals when needed. His coolly-slotted winner in the final 10 minutes, following good set-up play by the skilful Nagi, could prove invaluable as the campaign hurtles towards its conclusion.
For now, though, these three points will serve nicely as a confidence boost for a Barry side who still have much to play for on two fronts.
Pontardawe will return to Jenner Park on Saturday, January 26, as opponents in the Welsh Cup fourth round, undoubtedly with retribution on their minds.
This Saturday, however, the quest for Welsh League points continues – with a Barry win potentially propelling the Town to the top of the table, alongside current leaders and favourites Taffs Well.
* For the latest news and updates on the match follow www.twitter.com/BarryTownSC