NEWCASTLE EMLYN 0
BARRY TOWN UNITED 1
A second-half header from midfielder Nickie Jones kept Barry Town United on track at the weekend, ensuring a valuable 1-0 away win at Newcastle Emlyn in Welsh Football League Division Three.
Barry's 20th league win of the season did not come easily and the West Walian hosts looked worthy of a point for long sections of the match, played at a sun-kissed Parc Emlyn.
However, the experienced Jones made no mistake when he headed home in the 56th minute, allowing the Town to keep up the pace as the race for promotion intensifies.
Gavin Chesterfield's side, missing injured skipper James Saddler, struggled to make their mark on an indifferent and, at times, scrappy first half in the Teifi Valley.
To that extent, the most notable action before the break came when Barry defender Ryan Evans and Emlyn's Portuguese goalkeeper Namir Queni were both grounded by a heavy collision.
With Barry's passing game producing more misses than hits, and the hosts playing to a higher standard than their league position would suggest, few could object to the scoreline as the sides went in on level terms.
Nevertheless, as three points hung invitingly in the balance, the match opened up after the interval, with Barry crucially seizing an advantage that they would ultimately maintain. With the Town winning a free-kick near the middle of the park, Evans whipped the ball forward into the danger zone, giving Jones the impetus to break through and head past the outrushing Queni.
As the travelling supporters celebrated, Barry were now in position to break the 60-point mark though the the home side almost equalised minutes later from a similar attack.
On his way to a seventh clean sheet of 2014, Barry goalkeeper Dan Bradley pulled out an important double save to keep the Town's noses in front. It would prove to be his 16th shut out in 24 Welsh League outings.
Chesterfield then introduced returning substitute James Dixon, hoping to inject further life into a Barry attack that had stuttered for much of the contest. Dixon soon went close, as did Jones to getting his second, but the goal that would have killed the game off remained elusive.
An overhead kick from Evans struck a home defender in the face, leading to a confrontation that was soon diffused.
Barry's pursuit of a second goal resumed, with Cotterill bursting towards goal and carrying the ball past several Emlyn players before eventually firing just wide.
Meanwhile Dixon, who impressed in his brief foray, battled well to create a chance for himself, only for an Emlyn defender to close him down, tackle and clear effectively.
In the late stages, Scott Jones attempted to join his brother on the scoresheet. However, his low curling effort was blocked on the goal line by Queni.
Ultimately, while the home side remained competitive, they could not convert their positive passages of play into an all-important equaliser. As a result, the Town were able to take another important three points on the two-hour trip back to Barry.
Although a grounded scuffle ended this good-spirited encounter on a somewhat ill-fitting note, the Town enjoyed a warm welcome in picturesque north-west Carmarthenshire and will hope to offer the same in the reverse fixture at Jenner Park on Tuesday, April 1.
Barry are back on the road this Saturday (March 22) as Chesterfield takes his team to Blaenau Gwent for their fourth away game of the month. Opponents Tredegar Town are currently fifth in the division, but have played the most matches of all 19 clubs.
In the previous meeting of the sides in early December, Barry ran out 3-0 winners at Jenner Park, with goals from midfielder Troy Greening (two) and full-back Lee Baldock.
The boys in yellow and blue then return to Jenner Park for the first of five consecutive home games on Tuesday (March 25), as they entertain former Welsh Premier outfit Grange Quins, who currently lie in seventh.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 2.30pm, with Tuesday's match at Jenner Park commencing at 7.45pm. Admission for the latter is available on the turnstiles, priced at £4 (adults), £3 (OAPs/students) and £2 (unaccompanied children).
Barry: Bradley; Frowen, Baldock, Evans, Briers; Dorrian, N Jones, S Jones, Hartley; Cotterill, Jenkins. Subs: Dixon, Greening, Howarth, Morgan and Cosslett.