TOM BARBER FIRES YOUNGSTERS TO NERVY CUP WIN
PORT Talbot Town’s Under-19s booked their place in the League Cup quarter-finals at the weekend after overcoming Aberbargoed Buds 4-3 a.e.t.
In a rollercoaster victory for Mark Pike’s side Tom Barber send the tie into extra-time with a stunning 88th-minute free-kick before firing another spectacular effort to snatch a dramatic win.
“It was a great win on the road for the young lads who have got a ‘never say die attitude’, we never know we’re beaten and with a bit of luck in front of goal, the game could’ve been over inside the opening half hour,” said head of development Mark Pike post-match.
“Some of the lads are looking a wee tired at the moment – some are doing way too much in their respective colleges and there are concerns that they are burning up and we are not yet half-way through the season.”
The opening period saw Port Talbot dictate but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal with Lloyd Jones, Tom Barber, Sam Bell, Evan Corcoran, Keiron Williams and Ben Ryan all guilty as the Blues missed a host of chances to go ahead in a goalless first-half.
A quick-fire start to the second-half brought with it a flurry of early goals. Aberbargoed pushed and pressed early on to take a second-half lead before Town substitute Joe Holland wasted no time making an impact on the game, levelling on 53-minutes. But the hosts re-gained the lead when Connah McFenton fumbled a Buds corner.
A change in shape to a more familiar 4-3-3 saw Port Talbot rediscover their momentum as they pinned back Aberbargoed for long periods. With just two-minutes remaining Tom Barber’s free-kick from 25-yards made it two apiece to take the game into extra-time, where Ryan Kos scored an opportunistic effort from all of 40-yards, chesting and volleying the ball exquisitely into the top corner to put Port Talbot in front for the first time of the afternoon.
Another defensive lapse in concentration allowed Aberbargoed back into the game however and another free-kick found its way through the Town back line to make it 3-3.
But with penalties looming and four-minutes left, a great passage of play saw the instrumental Keiron Williams link well with Kos and attacking full back Same Pearson, who sent a perfect pass into the path of Barber who unleashed a splendid long-range effort to snatch a crucial victory.
“The lads had to dig in today, with so many looking tired, we are having too many injuries of late and our big squad is down to its bare bones as we play out our final league game of 2013 this coming Tuesday at GenQuip (7.30),” added Pike, who believes members of his squad are at risk of suffering from playing too many fixtures.
“We will be shut down at end of this week and told to rest and freshen up for an extremely busy second half of season. We need a big squad to cope with the games that are in front of us, while we at the club try to look after them, they (players) need to do the same, they are involved in too many set ups and we need to look at it all and prioritise for them if they are going to make it at this club,” he said. “Other set ups need to look at it as well as the expectation on the quality players is far too great outside of club football and they risk ruining them and running them into the ground.”