By Ashley Cox

BARRY Town's up-and-down JD Cymru Premier campaign continued to form this week, with defeat on the road at Haverfordwest County and victory at home to Cefn Druids.

Promoted County had given Barry a competitive game at Jenner Park in late September and the Wednesday night return promised similar, despite Town having never lost a Cymru Premier fixture at Bridge Meadow.

It was a statistic soon to change.

Looking to wing their way up the table, the Bluebirds soon had an opportunity to put their beaks in front, as Barry's Clayton Green was deemed to have run over a Haverfordwest forward, prompting referee Ryan Kenny to signal to the spot.

Barry And District News:

Josh Graham opened his account with the equaliser in Haverfordwest

However, ex-Town midfielder Elliot Scotcher could only strike the crossbar with his penalty, before Green was in action at the opposite end, the son of 80s Jenner Park mainstay Phil Green going close with a header, from winger Curtis Jemmett-Hutson's well-judged cross.

Within a matter of minutes, the returning Curtis McDonald picked up a booking for fouling the lively Ben Fawcett and, much like the fate of centre-back Luke Cooper, three days earlier at Caernarfon, McDonald's caution would come back to haunt the visitors.

First though came the opener and having found himself involved in a number of first-half chances, Fawcett flooded through the Barry defence in the 54th minute, advancing with confidence and slotting past goalkeeper Mike Lewis to complete a well-worked, high-tempo attacking move.

Barry And District News:

There was elation for Mikey George as Barry defeated Druids

Then, another unwelcome reminder of that Caernarfon defeat, as midfielder David Cotterill hit the woodwork for the second successive match, this time with a soaring shot from open play, after the former Wales international cut inside from the left.

Nevertheless, Cotterill would kickstart the move that led to Barry's equaliser, pinging a smooth, 30-yard pass across the Bridge Meadow turf to enterprising full-back Chris Hugh.

Hugh's dangerous delivery into the Bluebirds' box prompted Polish-American goalkeeper Wojciech Gajda to spill, allowing substitute striker Josh Graham to score his first for the Town since arriving in October, the former Taffs Well hitman twisting and turning to convert after 66 minutes.

However, Barry's level footing would last no more than three minutes, as Fawcett drifted away from any marker and found space to stab home what would prove to be the winner.

Town's efforts were given an additional setback on 76 minutes, when McDonald received what looked a harsh second yellow for a tug on Fawcett, reducing the visitors to ten men for the closing stretch.

This midweek defeat in Pembrokeshire sent Barry spiralling to fifth, but Gavin Chesterfield's team would quickly reclaim fourth by way of a morale-boosting 4-1 win over the Druids at Jenner Park on Saturday.

The first visit under Portuguese manager Bruno Lopes would not be one to remember for the Ancients, who came to the Vale of Glamorgan in search of a third successive triumph, having knocked off both promoted clubs, Haverfordwest and Flint, in the preceding week.

After almost landing a bicycle kick on Wednesday at Bridge Meadow, Saturday saw hitman Kayne McLaggon return to the scoresheet, with the former Southampton striker bagging a brace before the break to put his hometown club in the driving seat.

Making the most of his starting berth, it was another local boy in Mikey George who served up the opportunity, picking out McLaggon at the far post for a bread-and-butter finish with 21 minutes played, after Evan Press found the 21-year old in good space on the right flank.

McLaggon's second after 39 minutes was another multi-man effort, launched by Barry's loan goalkeeper Josh Gould, helped along by Green and controlled by Jordan Cotterill, who found fellow forward McLaggon moving ominously into the Druids' area.

Under pressure from an Ancients defender, McLaggon's first attempt was undercooked, but the subsequent block and rebound fell to him favourably, allowing the Wales C international to squeeze his shot under goalkeeper Michael Jones.

Two-nil at the interval, yet two minutes after the restart, Druids were right back in it; the former TNS and Wrexham man Alex Darlington climbing to connect with a Josh Green cross, heading past a reeling Gould to give the travelling north Walians renewed hope.

However, while Darlington's teammate Jacob Wise would be next to ripple the net, his unusual goal on the cusp of the hour came crucially at the wrong end.

It was an unfortunate twist of fate for the Ancients, as upbeat Barry found their two-goal advantage fortuitously restored.

Late in the contest, underutilised Rhys Abbruzzese sprung from the Barry bench, the former Cardiff City fledgling impressing with a reminder of his attacking abilities.

It was a current Cardiff prospect though in 19-year old Sam Bowen who would have the final word, forcing Barry's fabulous fourth goal, five minutes into stoppage time.

Watched by ex-Barry manager David Hughes, the one-time Aston Villa player having taken up the role of head of academy coaching at the Cardiff City Stadium, loan ranger Bowen showed his skill to beat three Druids defenders, before drilling into the bottom corner.

A flourish of a finish, Bowen's goal took Barry's tally to ten across two home fixtures, but the win over Druids was only Barry's second success in ten Cymru Premier outings, with the likes of Caernarfon, Haverfordwest and Penybont all gaining ground in the meantime.

At the time of writing, it was yet to be confirmed whether back-to-back fixtures against Penybont would go ahead as intended, with the Welsh Government's latest lockdown halting Welsh Premier League women's football on Sunday, as clarification was still to be received.

Penybont started the week three points behind Barry with two games in hand, making their matches on Tuesday (22nd December) and then Boxing Day important ones for both, should they play as planned.

In truth though, as clubs across the country continue to face huge challenges, the results of such fixtures will pale in significance until the greater victory of a safe return for spectator sport is achieved.

As 2020 veers towards the dustbin of history, supporters will raise a glass at a distance this Christmas, whatever the fortunes of their team.

While some will long for trophies, the biggest success for 2021 will be repairing these communities; and winning, or losing, together again.