I caught up with the Welsh Premier League’s man of the moment on ‘that’ hat-trick during Rhyl’s stunning derby victory.
Forty-five minutes second-half minutes was all it took for Rhyl’s new number nine to earn a place in Lilywhites’ folklore.
His previous Belle Vue appearance – a home debut back on the opening weekend of the season – was tinged in disappointment when the bustling, 23-year-old Liverpudlian striker received his marching orders after accumulating two yellow cards against Cefn Druids. Yet the name of Aaron Bowen is now the talk of the sunny seaside town after a true Roy of the Rovers-esque display in Sunday’s derby against Bangor City.
Under pressure to earn their first league win of the season, Rhyl found themselves trailing Bangor by two-goals at half-time, staring at yet another defeat.
With Jack Laird and Les Davies giving City the advantage and a legitimate goal from Bowen being disallowed, the odds were stacked in the favour of Bangor ending their very own winless run at the expense of Greg Strong’s Rhyl.
But soon after the restart Bowen was able to open his goal account for the Lillywhites, as he took full advantage of a soft cleared header to send a return header beyond Jack Cudworth in the Bangor goal.
With five minutes remaining, Bowen again demonstrated his strength to force Rhyl back on level terms and with the momentum fixed firmly in the hosts favour, Bowen saved the best for last thumping Ashley Stott’s neat cut-back firmly into the net as Belle-Vue erupted. Not a bad way to win a derby.
“I already knew from playing lower-league that Rhyl versus Bangor was a big game, so I was really up for it and when we got the winner I was delighted. All the lads have really worked hard and it was just great,” Bowen explained.
“[At half-time Greg Strong] said the goals we had given away were really poor but he said there are goals in it for ourselves. We need to tighten up and get tight on them. I felt in the second-half they never really got out of their own half, we got right at them and that’s the way we need to carry on.
“As soon as I scored the first, the whole of the team got a big boost. I thought another two goals would be a bit much but definitely thought we would get the equaliser. Then, when we eventually got the equaliser I thought ‘the winner’s here’ and Strongy said to me to go and get the winner.
“It just fell to me in the box and I just though I’ve got to get it on target and when I watched it back I didn’t realise I’d hit it so hard so I was made up.”
Having featured for Barrow and Warrington Town last season, I watched Aaron Bowen make his WPL debut away to Carmarthen. Though his physicality was obvious, his ability to make an impact on the game was curbed after two early red-cards forced Rhyl forced to abandon their attacking game-plan.
“The manager got sacked at Barrow and the new manager came in and brought all his own players with him, the travelling was also quite far for me as it was two and a half hours from where I live in Liverpool. Warrington then put an offer in for me and I finished the season there,” said Bowen.
“Strongy rung me pre-season and I signed for Rhyl, I spoke to Andy Preece and Airbus as well but Strong rang me a good few times and just the way he came across on the phone with the club’s ambitions swayed me towards coming here and I’m made up I did now.
“For the squad we’ve got we’re massively underachieving at the moment. The lads are all good lads and all quality players – in the first game we went down to nine-men, in the second game we were winning at home and got sent down to nine-men again, then we played TNS away so I think those three games were a bit of a false start for us, but after this we win we should be right up there and hopefully it’ll turn the tables a bit for us.
“After the end of the game we were all buzzing and all the lads have a bit of a group text on What’s App so we’re all quite close and looking forward to Friday now [against Connah’s Quay] and can’t wait.
“I’m enjoying the WPL so far. It’s a very well-run league and it’s quite a good standard – it’s a better standard than I thought it would be.
“I scored, I think it was 15 last season but this season I want to get to the 20 mark, if not more to be honest with you and I think as club we should be right up there in third, fourth and we want to try and get into that European spot.”