With Bala Town and Airbus both on the receiving end of defeats, a memorable evening at Latham Park saw Newtown record an incident packed 2-1 over Valletta.
Newtown’s win gives the WPL a 50 per cent win rate so far in European football this summer but few will disagree in saying that the tie is far from concluded.
Newtown can however take heart in a hugely spirited performance and in doing so, they have certainly got some way to go next week to match tonight’s level of performance which gave them a thoroughly deserved win.
Newtown have become a side synonymous with a strong team ethic and a combative style and boy, did Chris Hughes tap into that tonight.
From front to back the side’s work rate helped install confidence in the Robins, right from the goalkeeper to the forwards, and that was the basis of their success against a Maltese side who looked neat in possession but were sporadic in quality in front of Newtown’s rarely tested goal.
There was a risk that Newtown would regret early missed chances from an awkward Valletta defence, and when Luke Boundford took the advantage Newtown were able to take that lead into half time and give themselves a foothold going into the second period.
Newtown looked like they could tire in the second half given the intensity of their performance, which was outstanding given the off-season scheduling of the European ties and credit must be given for Hughes’ preparation for the game.
Even when Valletta disappointingly netted deep into the second half, Newtown remained positive in their shape introducing the attack minded Sean Evans and their bold approach served them well.
Throughout, Valletta never looked truly comfortable at the back and that was clearly evident as Newtown unlocked their back four with a wonderfully built up goal to clinch a deserved win in what was a thrilling game.
Plenty of positives for Newtown to take into next week’s away leg but there is also still plenty for the Robins to be wary about given that Valletta are banking on key players to return.
A great night at Latham Park and great to see supporters of other WPL teams getting behind the Robins!
My verdict: Jones 7, Williams 8, Edwards 7, Mills Evans 8.5, Sutton 7.5, Owen 8, Goodwin 8, Mitchell 7.5, Hearsey 7.5, Oswell 8.5, Boundford 9. Subs: Price 7, Evans 6.5, Cadwallader 6