Report by Sam Roberts
A magical second half performance by Lee Trundle helped Neath FC on their way to a 2-0 win over current reigning Welsh Premier League champions Bangor City at the Gnoll on Sunday.
The home side made only one change from their win against Aberystwyth Town. Lee Kendall was welcomed back into the starting 11 after missing the Aberystwyth game due to injury, with experienced replacement Chris Doran dropping to the bench.
It was a very nervy opening as both sides defences stood strong, it was a long range drive that was the first test for either keeper. Chris Jones of Neath testing Lee Idzi in the Bangor goal with a stinging 25 yard strike that the keeper had to tip over the bar. It wasn’t long before Jones was troubling the away team again; linking with skipper Lee Trundle the ball was floated over to the left side only for Kerry Morgan to see his shot fly over.
The fear is that this game will not be remembered for the two good footballing sides showing a top quality Welsh Premier League football but for the amount of yellow cards shown. The first card of the afternoon was showed to Adie Harris after a rather hard looking slide tackle.
It wasn’t long after the first yellow was shown that Bangor should have taken the lead. Neil Thomas was played through one on one with Lee Kendall. The midfielder dragged his shot across the face of the goal and agonisingly saw it go just wide of the bottom right corner. A real let off for the home side with the Champions showing they are ready to fight to retain their title.
It was again the away side who came close to scoring, however it was another good chance spurned. Alan Bull finding himself in plenty of space in Kendall’s box only to poke the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy. Very lucky for the Eagles with the Citizens having two chances that possibly should have seen them going into half time with a lead.
And just before the break the games card count managed to reach three. Lee Trundle booked for dissent in the 40th minute and the cards were not in the referees pocket for very long as he booked a third Neath player in Luke Bowen a couple of minutes later. Both sides seemingly cancelling each other’s attacking threst in the first half.
HALF TIME: NEATH FC 0-0 BANGOR CITY
The second half began and it looked as if the home side had finally calmed their nerves with flowing football beginning to be shown. It looked as if Lee Trundle came out in the second half on a mission, within a minute of the half beginning Trundle had a penalty appeal turned down. Two minutes after this and the captain shot superbly from 25 yards out, only to see the ball saved by Idzi low to his right, Luke Bowen however should have scored the follow up. Idzi fumbling Trundles shot straight to Luke Bowen who smashed the ball into the side netting, up to this point this was by far the game’s best chance.
Winger Chris Jones was having a good game, for both sides. Rather strangely both sides had right wingers starting named Chris Jones, and both wore the number 7 shirt for their sides. It was the Chris Jones of Bangor who troubled next though. A fine right footed volley flew just past the post of Lee Kendall.
It was after Jones’ volley that we again got to notice referee Mark Whitby as the cards flew again. Within a 9 minute spell four yellow cards were shown in a game that was not particularly violent at all. Les Davies was the first man booked for Bangor, and then Ian Hillier, Kai Edwards and Kristian O’Leary all followed making it six bookings for the home side on the day.
It was at this point that a substitution was made that seemed to really change the game. Craig Hughes getting his first appearance of the season for Neath in place of Luke Bowen. And it was the introduction of Hughes that seemed to give the attack something new. Within a few minutes of coming on Hughes played the ball to Lee Trundle on the edge of the area whose shot went just wide. It was the build up play between Hughes and Trundle that lead to Neath taking a crucial lead in the 70th minute.
Brilliant passing on the edge of the area between Trundle and Hughes lead to Trundle playing the ball through to Kerry Morgan one on one with Idzi. The young forward struck the ball well, a good save by Idzi but the former Swansea man wasn’t to be denied as he rounded the keeper and placed the ball into the corner of the Bangor net. A second goal in two games for Morgan and a crucial goal for the Eagles.
Bangor attempted to find a way back into the game but it wasn’t long before the job got a lot harder when Neath scored a second. Again the Neath skipper was at the heart of the move as Trundle played the perfect through ball, straight through the middle of the Citizens centre halves and onto striker Craig Hughes just inside the box who shot left footed beautifully into the bottom corner. A well worked goal with Hughes and Trundle combining superbly to give Neath an unassailable lead.
>The second Neath goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the away side as the Eagles looked to play down the clock. The home side gave young forwards Garyn Preen and Toby Jones a run out in the final minutes and gave Chris Jones and goal scorer Kerry Morgan a well deserved rest.
A third Neath goal nearly came from a rather unlikely source. Left back Jack Lewis had strode forward on the left and played a good cross into the box but nobody could be found in the right area, however the ball was played back across from the right by Hillier and as the ball fell out wide on the left Lewis struck a superb volley that beat the Bangor keeper but unlucky for Jack was cleared off the line by the defence. Such a sweet strike probably deserved a goal.
A third goal for the home side wasn’t meant to be and the Citizens probably should have pulled a goal back with 2 minutes to go. Alan Bull found himself with a straight run at goal and with only Kendall to beat the striker pulled the ball across the face of the goal and wide. A fantastic chance that should have made for a tense 4 minutes added time. However it wasn’t meant to be and as referee Mark Whitby blew the final whistle the home side knew they had taken an early lead in the title race.
FULL TIME: NEATH FC 2–0 BANGOR CITY
A fantastic result for the Eagles, by beating the reigning league champions the side have proved why many people believe they are favourite’s for the title this season. Lee Kendall had a fantastic game in the Neath goal, his positioning was perfect all game, and his calls from set pieces stopped the certain errors that were shown against Aberystwyth.
Another great game for Kerry Morgan, it is getting very rare when the young forward doesn’t have a good game, again he showed great composure when in an attacking position and scored a crucial goal.
Another fantastic game for the skipper Lee Trundle, whilst the big man had a quiet first half and received his critics from the travelling fans he soon showed why people rate him so highly by assisting in both goals.
Neath’s defence were solid and were not overwhelmed by the Champions quick play, they held strong and deserved the clean sheet.
Overall it was a great display by the home side, who find themselves top of the league, now they have the more difficult task of staying there.
The season continues for Neath this Friday away at local rivals Afan Lido. The game has extra interest as many former Neath players are currently with the recently promoted side as well as former Eagles manager Andy Dyer; kickoff is at 19:30.
Neath FC: Lee Kendall, Ian Hillier, Jack Lewis, Kris O’Leary, Kai Edwards, Chris Jones (Garyn Preen 79), Paul Fowler, Lee Trundle, Kerry Morgan (Toby Jones 85), Luke Bowen (Craig Hughes 60), Adie Harris. Subs not used: Chris Doran, Matthew Rees, Matthew Collins, Luke Cummings
Goal scorers: Kerry Morgan (70) Craig Hughes (77)
Yellow Cards: Adie Harris (18) Lee Trundle (40) Luke Bowen (44) Ian Hillier (58) Kai Edwards (62) Kris O’Leary (63)
Red Cards: None
Bangor City: Lee Idzi, Peter Hoy, Chris Roberts, Dave Morley (Eddie Jebb 83), Michael Johnston, Chris Jones (Craig Garside 68), Shaun Pejic, Les Davies (Kyle Wilson 74), Neil Thomas, Alan Bull, Sion Edwards.
Subs not used: Mark Smith, Michael Walsh.
Goal scorers: None
Yellow Cards: Les Davies (54) Dave Morley (76)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Mark Whitby.
Next at The Gnoll
Saturday 17 Mar 2012
Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League
THE NEW SAINTS