Llandudno 2 Barry Town 3

BARRY Town United’s North Wales coast double-header began with a victory on Saturday, as the JD Welsh Premier League Play-Off Conference winners edged out Llandudno FC by three goals to two.

Played in radiant sunshine, Barry’s second visit to the Giant Hospitality Stadium this season proved quite the contrast to their frustrated first; the Town playing with confidence and weathering the home side’s formative and late attacks to take their points tally for the campaign up to a dizzying 49.

With the play-offs soon on the horizon, Barry manager Gavin Chesterfield (who recently claimed his second successive Manager of the Month gong) left a handful of regulars at home; talisman Jordan Cotterill, midfield marshal Troy Greening and livewire Ryan Newman each missing the trip up north.

The changes gave opportunity to teenager Michael George and the Wales youth international duly entered a solid showing, against a capable Llandudno outfit that had competed in Europe in 2016.

Amongst the Llandudno line-up was striker Lee Thomas, who was playing his final home game for the Seasiders after 15 years of service. Presented with a guard of honour ahead of kick-off, Thomas was denied a goal to cap the occasion in the tenth minute, as his header was ruled out for offside.

Despite having little but pride to play for, the hosts were in no mood for a leisurely kickabout; impressive forward Marc Williams protesting vehemently after Jonathan Hood appeared to make contact with the Seasiders’ leading goalscorer inside the Barry area, following an in-swinging corner.

However, with the teams heading in goalless, it was the entertaining second half that really brought the game to life, with Macauley Southam-Hales demonstrating his superlative engine in the middle of the park and Hood causing problems for the Llandudno defence in his customary attacking role.

It was Hood who broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute, lifting the ball over Llandudno goalkeeper Patrick Rutter from the edge of the box, after a delightful, left-footed through ball from Drew Fahiya.

Looking to hit back, Toby Jones ended up hitting a post after a neat one-two with the James Joyce, before wild goalmouth scramble brought Llandudno equal on the hour mark; only for Barry to then quickly regain their lead when captain James Saddler netted his first of the season from close range.

Minutes after his free-kick brushed by the edge of the goalpost, Kayne McLaggon then showed his strength and skill to be the architect of Barry’s third, tucked away by Hood at the same back post.

Llandudno though stayed in the contest and the home team made it back to 3-2 with two minutes remaining; an unmarked Danny Shaw heading home from a corner to set up a grandstand finale.

The game’s decisive moment arrived in its dying seconds, when Barry goalkeeper Mike Lewis showed exceptional agility to react, leap and tip Jones’ deflected free-kick over the bar to safety.

Embracing their travelling supporters at the full-time whistle, this result took Barry’s Phase Two campaign up eight games unbeaten with two to play.

It was stretched to nine after a 0-0 draw at on Tuesday.

Barry omplete what has been an excellent return season in the JD Welsh Premier League this Friday night when Carmarthen are the visitors to Jenner Park in a 7.45pm kick-off.

The Old Gold were relegated at the weekend after failing to win against Aberystwyth Town, yet are holding onto hopes of a reprieve, should one or more clubs fail to be awarded the Domestic Licence.

The announcement of licensees for the WPL’s 2018-19 edition will go some way towards making May’s play-off picture clearer, with Barry’s path towards a potential play-off final to be outlined in the opening week of the month and play-off matches to be contested between May 8th and 20th.