BARRY TOWN 2 PONTARDAWE TOWN 1
BARRY TOWN'S reward for this hard-fought FAW Welsh Cup victory is a quarter-final clash against Cymru Alliance outfit Flint or near neighbours Caerau Ely.
The other last eight games, after a draw made on Monday at FAW HQ by former Wales internationals John Hartson and Nathan Blake, are: Haverfordwest County v TNS or Rhyl; Carmarthen Town v Prestatyn Town; and Bangor City v Newtown or Airbus UK. The ties are to be played on the first weekend of March.
With a thick blanket of snow covering the Jenner Park pitch on Friday, there were major doubts over whether the cup clash would go ahead - but the Friday night rains cleared the 'white stuff' and a larger than average crowd wound its way to Jenner Park to watch a little bit of history, as Town's wholly amateur team reached the last eight.
It was a far from convincing display from the home side and, following the game, manager Gavin Chesterfield admitted: "Saturday was not a great performance from us, but I'm extremely proud of the players for the way they dug in and ground out a result.
"I'm pleased that we grew stronger as the game went on and that will stand us in good stead. I'm immensely proud to reach the quarter-finals but, as a group, we don't intend to let our cup run end here.
"We know that playing either Flint Town United or Welsh League rivals Caerau Ely in the quarter-finals will be equally as tough, if not more so than the previous round, and we will prepare as professionally as we can.
"But between now and then we have four league games and those must remain our priority."
Bearing in mind that previous Barry Town teams which had reached this stage of the competition and further in the past were pros and semi-pros, this honest and talented bunch of youngsters have been absolutely tremendous.
The Barry players may not be being paid but players in receipt of payments would have been hard pressed to match the Town's second-half performance - and the result was just reward for a fantastic effort.
This incarnation of the Town needs to play regularly to be at its best and, with recent postponements and interruptions to training affecting early rhythm, the visitors certainly had the better of the first half. With better finishing, they could have been out of sight with 30 minutes gone.
The pitch was surprisingly good, if a little sticky, but the full strength visitors took the game to the Town from the kick-off, forcing a fruitless corner in the first minute. Using the flanks wisely, Pontardawe constantly pulled at the Barry defence and several good headed chances were spurned.
As it was, the visitors went ahead after 18 minutes when their best player, winger Josh Dorward, seized on an error by the Dragons defence and curled home a great shot from 25 yards.
The visitors created and wasted chance after chance and they paid for their profligacy when Lee Baldock's left footed drive from the edge of the box took two slight deflections to give Town a surprising 35th minute equaliser.
Four minutes later, the visiting central midfielders were split by a through ball and Ryan Jenkins slipped the ball past the goalkeeper to give Town a fortunate 2-1 half-time lead.
On the balance of the first-half play, the score certainly flattered the Dragons, but, if you fail to take chances offered, especially in cup football, you pay the price.
Blessed by good fortune, Barry were a different proposition in the second half when they more than matched Pontardawe's efforts. With goalkeeper Dan Bradley exhorting his defence of Baldock, Geraint Frowen, Ryan Evans and Dan Clare into greater levels of concentration, visiting attacks became less frequent.
Town's midfield began to dominate and, with the excellent Nicky Jones and James Saddler looking to feed wide men Mike Hartley and Dale Howarth, the game opened up nicely.
A classic blood and thunder cup tie followed and, with Jenkins and TJ Nagi unable to add to Town's lead, the worry was a breakaway goal from the visitors. An equaliser almost came with 15 minutes left when ref Dan Boyle awarded Pontardawe a penalty - harshly it seemed for a high foot by Town's tallest player, Ryan Evans.
The noisy crowd fell silent, and up ran centre forward Christian Evans to blaze the ball over the bar and almost on to Gladstone Road. This just about signalled the end of the visiting side's hopes as the Dragons comfortably saw out the rest of the game.
On the final whistle, a huge cheer greeted the Dragons who had gained a deserved win over determined opponents who would be ruing their missed first-half chances on the trip home west down the M4.
For Town, Gav Chesterfield and his management team, this was a huge team effort again.
Good things are happening on the pitch at Jenner Park these days so if, you have a few hours spare the next time Town are at home, why not pop down. You will not see any lack of effort or skill from this brood of Dragons.
Barry squad: Dan Bradley, Geraint Frowen, Lee Baldock, Ryan Evans, Dan Clare, James Saddler, Michael Hartley, Nickie Jones, TJ Nagi, Ryan Jenkins and Dale Howarth. Substitutes: Bobby Briers, Lewis Cosslett, Paul Morgan, Nathan Williams and Damon Searle.
* This Saturday Town return to league action with an away clash with Monmouth Town; kick-off 2pm.