Round 5 wrap: Newtown held without Oswell; Haverfordwest impress

Port Talbot Town and Newtown completed the fifth round of the Welsh Premier League this afternoon and the two sides couldn’t be separated as they finished up one apiece. Port Talbot’s lead last lasted just four minutes after Luke Boundford’s header cancelled out Joseph Jones’ 68th minute opener, in a game which neither side did enough to win.

Newtown’s chances were limited to being mainly on the counter and on a poor surface they took a more direct approach then we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the Robins. Perhaps the better side, Port Talbot lacked a cutting edge but looked most dangerous when they found space in wide areas in the second-half. Chris Jones – looking vastly improved on last season – tried his best to influence things, driving in from the left touchline but in Kieran Mills-Evans and Shane Sutton, Newtown, have one of the best central defensive partnerships in the league, and the pair turned in a solid performance at the GenQuip, with Goodwin also doing a good job shielding.

Coming off last weekend’s setback at home to Rhyl, you can’t imagine Chris Hughes being disappointed to take a point here, especially with main striker Jason Oswell sidelined. That meant Neil Mitchell led the Robin’s attack as Hughes remained loyal to his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation, with Matty Owen pushed higher up into the ‘number 10’ role, however I felt he struggled to find the space to impose himself against an energetic Port Talbot midfield.

A win would’ve been enough for Newtown to go top but their point in south Wales means Bala Town’s two-point lead at the summit remains intact. Bala remain unbeaten after a 3-0 win over inconsistent Bangor City – the three goals all came from substitutes with Mark Jones (2) and David Thompson all breaching the City defence in the final 11 minutes at Maes Tegid in Colin Caton’s 501st game in charge.

In Saturday afternoon’s TV game, TNS also remained unbeaten but the champions have now drawn three of their opening five following another draw, this time against Airbus. TNS led midway through the first period thanks to Mike Wilde but summer signing Tony Gray added to his growing reputation in the WPL by heading home Tom Field’s delivery late on. That goal putting Gray joint top of the scoring charts with his four already.

Two Aberystwyth players – Chris Venables and Jamie Reed – share that spot at the top of the scoring charts, and both were on target in a welcome 3-0 win in Carmarthen. The scoreline may well have flatted the Seasiders with all three strikes coming inside the final 20 minutes but three points and a clean-sheet will go a long way to steadying Ian Hughes’ ship after a disappointing start. They may have the joint-worst defensive record in the league (10 goals against) but they are also the league’s leading scores (11) – forthcoming games against Bala Town, Bangor City and Haverfordwest County will make for interesting viewing where goals shout be aplenty.

With the 2015/16 campaign still very much in its infancy, the story of the season so far has to be the fact that everyone seems to be beating everyone else, with the form-book holding little credibility.

Haverfordwest County epitomised this welcome trend on Saturday when they came away from Rhyl with a fine 2-1 win under their belts, having led 2-0 though a Ryan Batley penalty and a goal from captain Dale Griffiths, County then missed a second penalty, which would have put them three goals up, and held on to take maximum points despite John Owen’s consolation strike for the hosts – who had abruptly ended Newtown’s 100% record the weekend before.

After an excellent start, Llandudno now prop up the Welsh Premier table after their 2-1 reverse at Connah’s Quay . That defeat is their third in succession – the Nomads claiming their second win of the season thanks to goals from Callum Morris and Chris Rimmer.

Results – Fri: Bala 3-0 Bangor City, Carmarthen 0-3 Aberystwyth. Sat: Connah’s Quay 2-1 Llandudno, Rhyl 1-2 Haverfordwest, Airbus 1-1 TNS. Sun: Port Talbot 1-1 Newtown.

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