Connor Bell’s hat-trick will have grabbed the headlines following Rhyl’s shock 3-0 win against Port Talbot on Saturday, but perhaps more encouragingly is the growing partnership of their lively three forwards.
A productive second-half saw Rhyl score three times without reply in south Wales giving the side renewed vigour as they look to climb off the foot of the table after a slow start saw them pick up a worrying six points from their opening 10 WPL fixtures.
On the account of yesterday’s performance however, there may well be light at the end of tunnel for Rhyl as manager Gareth Owen looks to have struck on a winning formula in the shape of a restructured forward line of Connor Bell, John Owen and Rob Hughes.
Though it was only Bell who made the scoresheet, the Wrexham loanee was able to reap the benefits of a convincing second-half display from the Rhyl attacking trio. The three looked positive, confident and showed plenty of desire to get in and attack the Port Talbot goal.
Bell, who has now scored four goals in his last two games, drove repeatedly into key attacking areas where he was able to punish Port Talbot on the back of a tireless John Owen. Owen was one of seven players in the Rhyl line-up to have joined the club during the summer and appears to have dislodged Aaron Bowen as the team’s main centre-forward. He showed perseverance, strength and growing understanding with Bell which saw him claim two assists with Rhyl’s first two goals arriving in similar fashion. The contribution of Rob Hughes should also not be overlooked. Hughes seems to have been around the WPL for an age but he is still only 23 and Saturday’s game was just his second start of the season. Hughes possesses bags of talent with the ability to go past people as well as an eye for goal but after being believed to have been unsettled at the club, it appears he is about to write a new chapter of his Rhyl career and is potentially a real match winner for the club.
McCreesh return key for Port Talbot
As for Port Talbot, I believe the answer to their current woes lies in midfield. Port are now coming off three-straight home defeats yet they were untroubled by Rhyl in the opening 45 minutes. Things quickly went downhill after the opening goal gave the visitors a boost in confidence and Port Talbot were never able to reassert themselves onto the game from that point on.
For me, the absence of midfield general Liam McCreesh has been telling. Injury has ruled McCreesh out of Port Talbot’s last eight WPL matches and there is little doubt that they have missed his energy, experience and leadership in the heart of the side.
The good news for Port Talbot is that McCreesh is near to making a return. He participated fully in the pre-match and half-time warm-up which suggests his return is imminent. Whether Tuesday’s tough League Cup quarter-final derby against Carmarthen is too early remains to be seen.