A CARDIFF City side packed with several first-team players edged past Port Talbot Town 2-1, in a closely contested encounter at a well-attended GenQuip Stadium on Wednesday. (Writes Matthew Burgess)
Gethin Jones gave his former club the lead when he turned Kadeem Harris’ low cross into his own net midway through the opening period.
Ten minutes into the second-half, Lee Surman rose highest in the packed goalmouth to meet Sacha Walters’ corner, to head in past the despairing Dave Richards and peg the Premier League newcomers back.
The visitors quickly restored their lead, when five minutes later, Joe Ralls found himself through on goal, to round Steven Hall, and apply an easy finish.
With much of the pre-match build-up focussing on Scott Young facing his former side for the first time, the Port Talbot manager was pleased to see his players come through a stern test against quality opposition.
“It’s not about me, to be fair, obviously I enjoyed it; Kenny Cooper and Dick Bate are big friends of mine and I’d like to thank Malky for letting this happen and we got a decent crowd,” he said.
“But for the players, to play against Premier League stars is a great challenge for them and one they came out with a lot of credit with.”
Both teams showed their attacking attentions from the off in front of a 850 crowd, with David Brooks and Simon Lappin shooting wide for either side early on.
With a host of senior players involved for Cardiff, including Nicky Maynard, Tommy Smith, Joe Mason, Craig Conway, Kevin McNaughton and Matt Connolly, Port Talbot did well to keep a firm foothold in the game, with only Gethin Jones’ own goal separating the two sides.
Indeed, the Steelmen were allowed plenty of possession but had largely failed to trouble the Cardiff defence until young Miles John combined well with Brooks, who forced the outstretched Richards to parry the ball to safety, as the first-half drew to a close.
“We came in at half-time and we were really positive about what we had done when we were without possession,” said Young. “I was slightly disappointed about what we did when in possession, as I thought we were a little bit negative and we could’ve played a little bit more positively.”
Young’s side certainly took heed to the manager’s words at the interval and within ten-minutes of the re-start, Lee Surman’s climbed above the Cardiff defence to head Port Talbot back on level terms.
Cardiff restored their advantage soon after as Port Talbot were punished for a brief lapse in concentration, which saw Joe Ralls break through one-on-one with Steven Hall and finish.
Despite changes being made throughout both sides in the second-half, which included Port Talbot-born youngster Kane Owen and former Welsh Premier League striker Rhys Healey take to the field for the Bluebirds, the game maintained it’s competitive edge throughout as Cardiff exerted more pressure on Young’s tiring side.
All-action midfielder Kadeem Harris proved to be increasingly influential for the visitors in the latter stages, despite being switched to the left-flank and Etien Velikonja rattled the crossbar with a thunderous 20-yard drive.
In the final few minutes, Slovakian midfielder Filip Kiss looked to have added a third for Cardiff, but his attempt was coolly cleared off the line by a well-positioned Lee Surman, having beaten the keeper.
“I was really pleased at half-time and in the second-half we expressed ourselves a little bit more and got back into the game, but one little mistake on the halfway line and it’s 2-1. That’s what could players do, they punish you when you make a mistake,” surmised Scott Young post-match.
“I think they used 24 players tonight, whereas we’re at a stage of our pre-season where we need to get our players through 70-80 minutes, so with tiredness mistakes started creeping in. But overall I’m pleased where we are, especially fitness-wise, and it was a great test for us.”
'Roedd Rheolwr Port Talbot, Scott Young yn fodlon iawn gyda pherfformiad ei glwb er iddyn nhw golli 2-1 yn erbyn ei gyn-glwb Caerdydd ar faes y GenQuip nos Fercher.