Alex Gammond scored the winning brace for Lido
AFAN LIDO 2 GAP CONNAH’S QUAY 1.
Cultured finishing along with composure, provided Alex Gammond with jubilation, as he guided Afan Lido to their first home Corbett Sports Welsh Premier victory of the season, against out of form GAP Connah’s Quay at the Marston’s Stadium. (reports Robert Clement).
The tricky teenager underlined his capabilities with an early and late second half application, after Jack Rowlands had swiftly cancelled to Lido’s lead, with the Kelsterton Road visitor’s finally being denied a life-line of returning to Flintshire with a creditable point.
It was Quays who attempted to gain a positive foothold after only five minutes, only for Michael Hayes to despatch a rising shot narrowly over the top.
Four minutes later the Lido defence was once more under scrutiny, with a Hayes cross into the goalmouth finding Gary O’Toole, and the established striker delivered a superb headed finish which goalkeeper Brian Thomas did exceptionally well to save; then it was full back Ryan Batley who prevented Simon Everall from drilling home from close range.
On the half hour Chris Hartland linked up with former Cardiff City youth product Scott McCoubrey, but he was prevented from applying the vital finishing, forcing Terry McCormick into making a first class save.
With the interval approaching the North Wales outfit were awarded a free kick in their penalty box; it was then a golden opportunity to catch Lido flat footed, with the bursting forward at speed, with O’Toole finishing off the opening created by Hayes, only for the potential lead to be ruled out for offside.
Early in the second half, there was once again an additional goal disallowed, following a goalmouth infringement, with a looping effort by Mark McGregor dropping into the far corner of the net from a Paul Mooney free kick.
The breakthrough for Lido arrived during the fifty fifth minute with Gammond delivering an infield pass to Kieran Howard, the Morriston based player then saw his shot intercepted by McGregor, with his attempted clearance then deflecting off Howard and it was Gammond whose lightning reaction allowed him apply a superb angled right footed finish from eight yards.
That lead was to last for only three minutes, with Rowlands being unmarked, with him having time to send a sure footed drive goalbound, which Thomas was unable to stop following McGregor’s free kick.
Connah’s Quay continued to be a tough nut to crack open, but with eight minutes remaining it was Howard who delivered a quality corner for skipper Mark Crutch to apply a glancing header; it was then the alertness of Gammond who gave McCormick no chance of stopping the sweetly struck left footed drive from the edge of the six yard box.
Connah’s Quay were then reduced to ten men for the final five minutes, with O’Toole being issued with a yellow card for a second time, bring down Hartland, adding to an earlier incident, six minutes prior to the interval.
WPL reporter Robert Clement later spoke with Afan Lido’s two goal hero Alex Gammond, in the Marston Stadium Media Suite, with him being congratulated with quality debut finishing on a great afternoon, with him being asked how satisfying had the two goals been?
“I’m very pleased”, responded the nineteen year old locally born striker. “It was two nerve wracking moments to say the least, but on both occasions I saw the gap and just went through with my head down, hoping for the best, with the ball flying into the net”.
“Personally I think that the second goal was the better, with the ball bouncing up in front of me, and I connected well, which gave me a great feeling”.
What does this do for the team? Is the dressing room a jubilant place?
“Yes, it always has been, and the three points are a massive boost, with us right on Port Talbot’s tails and also Bala, but we felt that we were nearly there with us needing the lucky break, and we got it today”.
And you personally, do you think that you’re in the real heart of the team?
“I hope so, I think that I’ve done myself justice over the last few weeks, having previously been in and out, but now I hope that I can kick on and move forward”.
With Afan Lido manager Paul Evans having celebrated his fortieth birthday on Thursday, he was asked if this belated successful first win at the Marston’s this season was deserved.
“On our second half performance, yes; we’ve gained our first victory here, so I’m glad with us having got that monkey off our backs as well. but I think that we shouldn’t have in the contest during the first half, with Connah’s Quay being unlucky with a couple of good opportunities”.
Evans added, “Connah’s Quay had a series of chances which unfortunately didn’t go their way; I had a few words to say during the interval with me not being happy with the first forty five minutes, we then came out for the second half, and the players demonstrated what we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks”.
Do you think that the win is a little overdue, considering your form over the last couple of weeks?
Yes, certainly, we won at Prestatyn a fortnight ago, but then we came up against the champions last Friday and put a very good account of ourselves with a great performance, and being a little bit unlucky not to get something out of the game”.
“Obviously we were looking for something positive today, but during the first forty five minutes we were disappointing, then in the second half we done what was expected of us earlier, and got our just rewards”.
Alex Gammond played a key role in attack, and rubber stamped his name on the scoresheet for the first time.
“Yes, it was a very good performance from Alex; we’ve been looking for it from him for a few weeks now. He’s been in and out of the team due to his inexperience level and certain ways we want to play, but he’s recently been getting in the side, and today he took his goals well and really performed to the level we know he can achieve”.
Talking of your players, tell us about this goalkeeper of yours.
“Young Brian Thomas, he’s not that young to be honest, having played with him about seventeen years ago myself, with him behind me in the sticks, but the save he made in the first half just shows how good he is and the level that he could be playing”.
“He hasn’t been featured for a while; he’s been coaching our goalkeeper’s here as part of the team and doing very well. Craig Richards had an injury in the prematch warm-up and thankfully Brian stepped into the breach; he’s disappointed with the Connah’s Quay goal with him thinking that he should have done better, but he’s a character, he’s loud and communicates well with the back four and his experience is vital for us, and long may it continue”.
Connah’s Quay manager Mark McGregor was later asked if the scoreline was a fair reflection of the game.
“No, I don’t think so. I think that we probably wasted three really good chances in the first half. It was a battle in the second half and our luck is not going for us at the moment, and we then concede a goal from a set piece to lose the game”.
What was missing today, was it the luck?
“It was probably the finishing in the first half which would have given us a massive boost if we had stuck one away, but the keeper has saved a header from Gary O’Toole from a couple of yards out”.
“I thought that there was a lot of knit picking going on today, three of my main players have been booked following a tallying up of free kicks. Overall if everybody is going to get booked after giving away three fouls, I don’t think that there would be many players that wouldn’t get a booking”.
Was this a game that you were perhaps targeting, with Afan Lido being bottom of the table, along with yourself not being on a great run of form; was it a win that was expected?
“We target every game with us trying to get a win, but when you’re down there you just sometimes want to scrape a point. I thought that maybe we’d done enough, but it’s tough at the moment and something will have to change”.
What do you think will change it around?
“I don’t know whether it’s management, if it’s not that then maybe we cannot get quick enough to January to get different players in, but at the minute it’s tough”.
With you having referred to the management a few moments ago, are things that serious, are people really concerned about the form?
“Any other league in the world, six defeats on the bounce, I would be looking over my back even though I think I’ve done a pretty good job over the last four and a bit years, this is the toughest it’s ever been; I’m not throwing anything in as I want to keep this club in the division”.
“Everything we do at the moment is just not paying off and the first forty five minutes is probably the best we’ve played for about four weeks, so we’re doing all we can, but we’re getting punished in both boxes”.