Cwmbach Royal Stars 1
Cadoxton Barry 2 - Curran, Oaten
FORGET the old cliché, a game of two halves, for this was most definitely a game of three thirds - the first 30 minutes seeing Cadoxton Barry fielding their full quota of 11 men, the next 30 seeing only 10 Cadoxton Barry players strutting their stuff, while the final 30 minutes saw them playing the game out with just nine players.
Cadoxton Barry found themselves playing up the slight slope for the first half and the Stars certainly took advantage of it as they took the game to their visitors from the off, a Jackhontaw shot into the side netting being Cadoxton Barry’s only move of any significance during these early stages.
Cadoxton Barry had to sustain further pressure before a breakaway saw Thompson send a perfect cross over from the right towards the far post from where Dawson might have done better than head over the bar.
But as the half hour mark approached a Stars surge down the left saw the forward cut into the box, Thompson miss-timing his challenge. The referee immediately pointed to the spot from where the penalty was comfortably converted.
Shortly after Warner was spotted forward in his box to tempt a long range Stars effort which went only just over the bar.
Then, Jackhontaw, whilst in the process of making a challenge, had his shirt pulled from behind to put him off balance. This caused an intended fair challenge to look slightly ugly. The result was a second yellow and a red.
Defending in depth with 11 players had been difficult, but with 10 players Cadoxton Barry now had to dig really deep to keep the deficit to the single goal until they could re-group at half-time. And this they managed to do.
There was a complete transformation from the start of the second half as the 10 men took their turn to attack down the slope, Thompson striking a post early on.
Then a Harris-Rafell free kick from the left saw Constant just failing to connect with an unguarded goal ahead of him. It was no surprise to see Cadoxton Barry converting their one goal deficit into a one goal lead in the space of five minutes.
Another Harris-Rafell free kick from the right was met with an excellent header at the far post by Curran for the first, whilst the second once again involved Curran.
He took a free kick from the right which looked to be going out past the far post until Oaten ghosted in to head Cadoxton Barry into the lead. And it was a lead that they were to hang on to until the end.
Liam Jones hadn't been on for long when he was booked for a second yellow card offence - the referee ruling that he had knocked the ball away at a Stars' free kick - to leave Cadoxton Barry to defend their slender lead for close on 30 minutes with just nine men.
Surprisingly, for a further five minutes, the nine continued to have as much possession as their hosts.
But it was not to last indefinitely as tired legs were forced to adopt a defensive posture.
Credit must go to manager Adam Harvey for the timing of his substitutions, firstly bringing Donnelly on for Oaten, a player who had run his socks off. But for a spell Cadoxton Barry looked as though they might cave in under the pressure as Warner brought off two top drawer close range blocks with Cwmbach looking almost certain to score.
Then Adamson was brought on for Ben Brown with 15 minutes still to play and the running in his fresh legs even set lone striker, Thompson, up with a couple of half chances before Cadoxton Barry returned to defending in depth.
Cadoxton Barry did all the right things as they either played into the corners or punted high and long downfield every time Cwmbach threatened.
It was an heroic stand by every single player and one which deservedly earned them all three points.
A special mention though goes to Casey Thompson for his never-say-die attitude, particularly when playing the role of lone striker during the final stages.
Next Saturday, Cadoxton Barry make the short trip the recreation centre when their hosts in a 2.30pm start will be Cogan Coronation.