By Ashley Cox

SATURDAY’S scrap for top spot in the JD Cymru Premier turned out to be a disappointingly one-sided affair, as ten-man Barry Town were ripped apart at Jenner Park by ruthless Connah’s Quay Nomads.

After Town and Nomads warred to successive draws in their previous three league meetings, a close contest had been anticipated, with only goal difference to separate the two title-chasing contenders.

However, successive cards for Jonathan Hood within a matter of moments would force Barry to play for over an hour with ten men; a handicap that proved far too great against their rugged opposition.

In truth, Connah’s Quay had the edge from the early stages, with striker Michael Wilde heading in at the back post to open the scoring on 25 minutes, a stage where both sides remained at full strength.

However, the twin blow of Wilde’s opener and Hood’s dismissal for dissent three minutes later set the tone for a torrid afternoon, with Town goalkeeper Mike Lewis forced to retrieve the ball from his net three more times before the eventual respite of referee Dean John’s final whistle.

Having played an integral role in Barry’s qualification for Europe in 2018-19, the experienced Lewis appears in the midst of a crisis of confidence; something that Nomads were in full gear to exploit.

After Kayne McLaggon came close to equalising with a dynamic scissors kick, Jamie Insall went one better; leaping to connect with a diverted effort from an acute angle and double the Nomads’ lead, as luckless Lewis, who had dived to prevent the initial shot, could only scramble in vain.

Then, in first-half stoppage time, Wilde swept in to follow up on a low Lewis save, placing home Connah’s Quay’s third and presenting Barry with the most herculean task for the second period.

With the ever-physical visitors adding five further yellows to their pre-Christmas card collection, Barry found precious little opportunities to forge their way back, with a Luke Cummings strike from long distance one of few attempts that even slightly concerned the Nomads’ goalkeeper Lewis Brass.

Conversely, Town’s matchday misery was magnified after 55 minutes, when former Hibernian and East Fife forward Insall exploited the Barry backline to head in the fourth from close quarters.

The visiting supporters would even cheer in a fifth, although John had already blown up for a foul, sparing Barry’s blushes of potentially equalling their largest league defeat in eight seasons.

To his character and credit, Barry goalkeeper Lewis made two strong saves in the game’s final third, yet Andy Morrison’s charges were already home and dry, as they saw out the biggest ever win for a Connah’s Quay Nomads team at Jenner Park.

As the previous weekend, the introduction of a second-half substitute, in this case, the returning Jordan Cotterill, would be one of the only positive points for the Jenner Park outfit to draw upon.

Saturday’s result means Nomads now sit top of the Cymru Premier with 30 points from 14 games, ahead of Barry in second, with 27 points from 13 and Bala Town in third, with 24 points from 14.

Champions TNS saw their home game with Carmarthen Town fall victim of the weather, leaving the New Saints adrift in fourth, while Caernarfon Town and Cardiff Met University complete the top six.

This weekend, Barry tackle another side with top six aspirations in Cefn Druids, a team that had won each of their last three fixtures, before similar snow disruption prevented them playing on Saturday.

Kick-off this Saturday at The Rock is 2.30pm, with Barry’s next home match being the re-arranged and televised derby with Rhys Griffiths’ Penybont at Jenner Park on Friday 22nd November (8pm).

Meanwhile, Town have been drawn at home to Cymru Premier mainstays Newtown in the Third Round of the JD Welsh Cup; a draw that is remarkably the first time the two teams (who have contested seven finals apiece) have ever been paired together in the 132-year old tournament.

The Third Round’s only all-Cymru Premier tie, Barry vs Newtown will be played to a finish on Saturday 6th December; seven days after the sides meet at Jenner Park in the league itself.